How To Make A Resume Stand Out
Resume writing is a life-long skill!
I’m really excited about this post because we’re always asked about this process – formatting, wording, grammatical structure etc. etc. It can be daunting, and there’s really no one right way to do it. But there are better ways to do it.
The sooner we get comfortable with writing resumes, the easier the process will be over the course of your high school, college, and working career. Applying to colleges and for jobs obviously isn’t only what’s on paper. But it’s an important step in opening the conversation with your dream school / employer. It’s the “first impression rose” if you will.
AND…keep reading. WE’RE SHARING A RESUME TEMPLATE AND A LIFE-HACK TIP that will eliminate the dread of resume writing forever!
Whatever format you ultimately use, keep in mind what a resume SHOULD be:
- Clear and Concise
- Aesthetically Pleasing / Legible
- Qualitative and Quantitative
- Grammatically consistent
1. CLEAR AND CONCISE
Resumes should be cohesive. That doesn’t mean every job, experience, extracurricular, or class you took needs to contribute to a traditional or specific path. We’re entitled to a myriad of experiences and interests. At the same time, it’s important to find the red thread between what you have done and want you want to do. Were you a barista for a summer but are applying to the communications program at your reach school? Great. What you learned at Starbucks about communication, leadership, and prioritization of responsibilities is a great start to show your value-add to that school. It’s about connecting the dots and finding the crossover.
Be concise. Choose words that are direct and to the point and convey your message without being verbose. Be sure to KEEP YOUR RESUME TO ONE (1) PAGE!
I believe in having one “base” resume and a bunch of “tailored” resumes for (almost) each of the schools or jobs you want to apply to. Each school and job is different. The culture and core values of each place is unique. Schools and HR can tell when you are mass producing your credentials. So in turn, make them feel special! Do the research, understand the language they use, what they care about, and customize your resume to reflect how you fit into that.
3. AESTHETICALLY PLEASING / LEGIBLE
A resume is not the time to explore with your favorite new font and design. While we at Novel Education Group are huge proponents of nontraditional and unconventional thinking and learning, for most applications, there’s still a semblance of parameters that are required to make sure your resume doesn’t hit the bin before it’s gotten its fair review. Clear headings, subheadings, bullet points, and clean font are all “DOs.”
4. QUALITATIVE AND QUANTITATIVE
A resume reflects how we work and a small part of who we are. Colleges and employers love a balance of soft and hard skills. Sharing an example of your ability to be a good leader can complement the fact that you raised $x at the fundraiser you helped execute. Being a good communicator is just as important as the numbers and tangible takeaways to which you contributed. So make sure your resume has a strong balance of qualitative and quantitative achievements. Be specific, using examples, and demonstrate the HOW of your accomplishments.
5. GRAMMATICALLY CONSISTENT
Each bullet or sentence should have a consistent flow in grammatical structure. Start each bullet with a present or past verb. Don’t meander between action and gerund (if you’re as rusty on grammar verbiage as most of us are, the template below will help clarify).
And for those of you who have come this far…
HERE’S A LIFE-HACK TIP: Start an Achievement bank
What is an “Achievement Bank?” It’s a template resume you keep stored, for your eyes only, where you incrementally add and keep track of your achievements as you go. Whenever you accomplish something noteworthy that can contribute to making your college and job applications shine, whether right now or for the future, write it down – and with this template below, it pretty much formats itself as you’re writing your achievement notes! It will change the way you do resumes, interview, think about your academic and working career in general. One of the hardest things about writing a resume is remembering what to include from the past few months or years of your work.
An achievement bank completely eliminates the procrastination that often comes along with doing our resumes, and it inherently reframes the way you think about your accomplishments as well.
At Novel Education Group, we have some of the best resume reviewers for both college and job applications in the country. Luckily, these days, so much of the resume review process can be done digitally/online so no matter where you’re based, we can help you work through it. Feel free to reach out to us!
And last but not least, here’s a resume format template to get you started on your resume journey! If you’re reading this, you’re already ahead of the curve!