Economy & Jobs

Make Your Resume Stand Out Beyond the 6-Second Scan

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Creating a resume that accurately captures your talent and experience is the first step in shooting for that dream job. In essence, a resume allows you to present yourself in the best light possible. In a sea of candidates, however, the resume is often just another page to flip past. Here are some simple tips to make your resume stand out in a crowd.

Create a Clean Layout

Six seconds is all it takes for most recruiters to scan a resume and decide if they like a candidate, according to a study conducted by job search engine TheLadders. To make sure you make the first cut, your resume needs to be visually appealing both digitally and in print. That means professional fonts and a clean, simple visual structure that makes the resume easy for recruiters to read. Use bullet points for listing job tasks. Align dates with job titles, separating them with the same amount of space each time. Embrace white space between sections, as it is easier on the eyes. And be sure not to go over one page. If you really want to add details about your job history and skills, expand on them in your cover letter and your LinkedIn profile. (You have a LinkedIn account, right?)

You might also want to consider online resume builders such as VisualCV or even build your own website. This can be especially useful for those with multimedia elements and portfolios to share. A visually appealing layout is one step in the right direction to make your resume stand out. From there, the content of your resume needs to pop if you want to land that interview.

Emphasize Your Star Skills

A resume isn’t just for highlighting past job experience. It’s for highlighting the skills you have that make you the best candidate, too. Once the recruiter selects your resume for a more thorough review, they’ll start paying attention to your skills to determine whether you’re a good fit. Be sure to tailor your resume to the specific job you’re applying to, rather than listing a general set of skills. You should have multiple versions of your resume on file for different roles. Your accomplishments and awards will also help spotlight your skills, so include a section of your top three career achievements.

Expand Your Online Professional Presence

Once you make it past the resume critique, the recruiter will conduct an informal background check online. Before they reach that point, you should conduct a background check on yourself. What comes up in search engines under your name? Are there any photos online that might cast you in a negative light professionally? Is there anything you’ve posted online that might go against your potential employer’s values? Now’s the time for a social media self-audit and thorough cleanse.

In a study conducted for CareerBuilder, 39 percent of employers said they use social networks to screen job candidates. Of those employers, 43 percent found information that caused them not to hire someone. To combat the negative, embrace your professional online presence and have it reflect relevant achievements and additional information you had to leave out of your resume. Link appropriate websites, profiles, and portfolios in the contact section of your resume for your interviewer’s convenience. Today, the professional resume is no longer restricted by the borders of a page. Proving that your resume’s story continues online will help make your resume stand out.

The resume is still a necessarily evil, but with the right layout, an emphasis on job-specific skills, and the expansion to further material online, brushing up on your interview skills may be your next stop.