How to Make Your Resume Stand Out

In my reader survey earlier this year, many of you indicated you’d like to see career-related posts here on Small Towns & City Lights. Being in the midst of graduation season, I thought this would be the perfect time to kick that off.

One of the biggest struggles people face when dealing with the job hunt is getting noticed. It’s no easy feat, especially with so many people vying for the same position. BUT there are some things you can do to rise above the competition. Here are my top tips for how to make your resume stand out, whether you’ve been in the workforce for a while or are just getting ready to jump in.

How to make your resume stand out

Use an Easy-to-Read Format

As a hiring manager (and also someone who works in marketing), the first thing that my eye goes to in a resume is the formatting. If you’re using a bunch of random fonts all over and the formatting is out of whack, it’s on to the next one. Remember, your resume is your first impression, so be sure to clean it up and put it in an easy-to-read format with bullet points! If you can keep it to a single page, even better!

Tailor Your Resume to the Job

Every job description includes a list of tasks you’d be responsible for. Be sure to read them carefully and adjust your resume (truthfully) as needed. Since you typically only want to include a few points for each position you list, there’s a good chance you have some other points you could include on the backburner!

Add in Power Keywords and Show Achievements

Use words like led, delivered, managed, planned, developed, and increased, when possible. They show leadership and that what YOU as an individual were able to contribute in your previous role(s). If you have metrics or achievements you can include as well that really helps prove your value as to what success you had in the past and what you’d likely bring to this new company, if hired.

Check Grammar and Spelling

This might seem like a no-brainer, but make sure you check the grammar and spelling throughout your resume before sending it in. If you need a sanity check, have a friend or family member look over it. This is SO important. If grammar or spelling errors are found, it’s often the fastest way to get your resume put into the “reject” pile.

Include Relevant Contact Information

This is a big one and has two parts. First, you don’t need to include your entire home address, because that’s not something the hiring team needs to see to decide if you’re qualified or not (including your city and state are fine though). The second part of this is for those of you living in one location and applying to a job in another. The hiring team might think you’re not serious about the job or that it would be more complicated (since a move would be required) if you’re out of state, so if you want to improve your chances, leaving off your location is a safe bet. But the main takeaway here is that you should include the most relevant contact info of how you want the recruiter to reach you – your email address and phone number!


What tips do you have to make your resume stand out?



  1. June 20, 2017 / 7:44 AM

    I’ve had my address on my resume throw off some potential employers before! What a mess having to justify the reality of my move. It cost me that job. Great advice!

  2. June 20, 2017 / 8:29 AM

    These are great tips! Especially the part about using a clear format and making it easy to read! Less is definitely more on that paper :) I’m a teacher and, to get the job I have now, I also included a brochure with color photographs of my students in action and a graph of their test score growth… when I went to interview, they told me that it really made my resume stand out!

    Kirsten Horton |

  3. June 20, 2017 / 10:02 AM

    YES to all of this!! Also… as someone who reads resumes… please follow the directions! If they ask for a resume and cover letter… send both! Please don’t just send your resume and expect that your resume will be enough. Further, please put it in a PDF. Don’t just send me a link to your google drive. It’s awkward when we’re both looking at it. ;)

  4. June 20, 2017 / 11:58 AM

    Definitely focus on achievements and metrics! I rewrote a former coworker’s resume for him when he was job-searching and he received 3 requests for an interview the very next week. He was too focused on job duties instead of his contributions and achievements.

    Also, use a professional email address! I hate seeing email addresses that look like something an applicant used in high school. It screams immaturity and carelessness. I also recommend creating an email address that is only used for business purposes. I have (and do) search social media by email address and it has influenced whether or not I’ve hired someone.

  5. Jenny Pillans
    June 20, 2017 / 12:59 PM

    This is such a good idea. I’ve been thinking about revamping my resume, even though I’m not job hunting, just in case!

  6. June 20, 2017 / 2:50 PM

    These are awesome tips! My husband just recently went through a job search, after getting laid off, and we were scrambling to get his resume all shined up before putting in applications.

  7. June 20, 2017 / 4:06 PM

    This can definitely cross over to media kits for blogging purposes so these tips are really helpful!

  8. Neely
    June 20, 2017 / 5:21 PM

    These are awesome tips! I haven’t written a resume in years. But this is so helpful!

  9. June 20, 2017 / 9:00 PM

    These are all such great tips for making your resume stand out! I think the biggest thing I see when reviewing resumes are spelling/grammar mistakes and we have passed on applicants because of those types of mistakes. Reviewing your resume a few times for spelling or grammar mistakes is SOOOO important!

    Kristen |

  10. Kristen Rodriguez
    June 20, 2017 / 10:08 PM

    Love these tips! I just made a new resume a few months ago, and as I was reading, I was making sure I did everything you have listed! :)

  11. Rachel Ritlop
    June 20, 2017 / 10:08 PM

    I love this post! I couldn’t agree more with the importance of setting up your resume and learning how to stand out!

  12. June 21, 2017 / 12:25 AM

    These are all so important! I haven’t refreshed my resume in awhile. Might be time to do that.

  13. June 21, 2017 / 6:48 AM

    This is a great reminder that I desperately need to do a refresh of my digital portfolio, resume, LinkedIn, etc. Loved these tips girls and thanks so much for sharing!

  14. Julie Torres
    June 21, 2017 / 1:52 PM

    Good reminders here, thanks for sharing, will share with my team, I like to find others to share from different perspectives.

  15. Jordyn Upchurch
    June 22, 2017 / 11:28 AM

    As a second year teacher that’s looking for a new job, I needed to read this! Definitely pinning it to help me re-do my resume this weekend! Thanks for the clue about using certain words :)

    xoxo, SS

    Southern And Style

  16. June 22, 2017 / 12:18 PM

    Yes to all of this! I used to be in charge of hiring at my job on campus and these were all important things I looked for. If a resume had a spelling error, I immediately threw it out. Also, I hated resumes that were longer than one page!