How to make a resume that catches the eye
Ditch the boring resume format you’re used to. Use these super-simple tips to get a hiring manager’s attention.
Dozens, if not hundreds, of job applications bombard recruiters every day. The candidate who figures out how to make a resume that gets noticed wins a prize: the recruiter’s attention. Improve your resume, and watch your search follow suit.
Unfortunately, boring resume templates are the go-to for many job seekers, laments Monster resume expert Kim Isaacs. If you don’t want to blend in, you’ll have to invest some time in creating a fresh design. And, here’s a little secret: You don’t have to be in a creative field to craft a creative resume.
If your very-average resume is crying out for help, check out these easy ways to spruce it up.
Include your title
“At the top of your resume, beneath your name and contact information, should be a job title that describes your role or the value you bring,” says executive resume writer Donna Svei. This could be either the job title that you’re applying for (e.g., “Real estate CFO”), or it could be a title that demonstrates your level of expertise (e.g., “Fortune 500 Marketing Executive”). This adds a professional, unpretentious polish.
Call out your big career accomplishments
One of the best ways to improve your resume is to point out some key wins. “Most people know to include career accomplishments in the experience section [of their resume] to show how they added value to their employers,” says Isaacs. What many job seekers don’t know, though, is they should be highlighting these achievements at the top of their resume, she adds.
To capture a recruiter or hiring manager’s attention, Isaacs recommends calling out your big career wins and unique skills in the career summary section toward the top of your resume. Here’s one example:
Accomplished executive with a proven ability to develop and implement real estate strategies that support business and financial objectives. Have led key initiatives that reduced operating budget by $32 million and contributed to 550 percent stock increase. Recognized as an expert in applying financial concepts to asset management decisions.
Notice how the summary uses numbers to highlight the results. It’s much more impressive than simply writing what you did. Employers like to see proof of your accomplishments, and numbers help tremendously.
Use charts, graphs, and diagrams to highlight important data
Few resumes break away from the standard bullet point formatting. Therefore, one way to make your resume stand out is by incorporating graphics into the layout. “From line graphs that illustrate sales performance to column charts with before-and-after comparisons, these elements draw attention to key points that you want to emphasize,” says Isaacs.
However, bear in mind that applicant tracking systems (ATS) might not be able to parse information from charts or other graphics, so “also weave crucial data into the body of the resume,” Isaacs advises.
Make it pop
Don’t be afraid to take risks with other aspects of your resume’s design. Specifically, consider adding a splash of color to job titles, in your resume header, or section headings (see how it’s done in this sample resume for an interior designer); this will not only make your resume easier to skim but also more visually appealing. Pro tip: Take a cue from your prospective employer’s brand and choose the dominant color from the company’s logo.
Quickly and easily improve your resume by opting for a modern font. “I can’t remember the last time I used Times New Roman on a resume,” says Lauren Milligan, founder and chief executive of ResuMayDay. Milligan recommends using Calibri, Arial, or Verdana; this sample resume for a social media manager uses Century Gothic. “These fonts will translate well between operating systems and ATS,” she explains. Meaning, avoid anything too fancy otherwise your resume might get overlooked in the machine-screening process.
Include live links
While you don’t want to include samples of your work unless you’re explicitly told to do so, including a live link to your online portfolio or work samples give employers the option to see what you’ve done. That said, it’s important to exercise restraint. “I generally recommend one or two hyperlinks on a resume,” says Milligan. “Anything more and it could be distracting to the reader.”
Need more help?
It's not like you grew up one day and knew how to write a perfect resume. It takes practice to get the details right. Could you use some help? Get a free resume evaluation today from the experts at Monster's Resume Writing Service. You'll get detailed feedback in two business days, including a review of your resume's appearance and content, and a prediction of a recruiter's first impression. Monster's experts will show you quick and easy tips to improve your resume—and your chances of scoring a great new job.