5 Ways to Create a Resume/CV That Gets You Noticed

choose your wordsLast year, a study found that recruiters only spend an average of six seconds looking at a resume. Yikes.

The good news is your resume or CV is what you make it. It can be boring and run of the mill. Or it can leave an impression and give a powerful snapshot of the mover and shaker you are.

Which would you prefer?

If you want to stand out and have a resume that makes someone say, “Wow…”, read on. Or I should say, if you’re willing to do the work to make that happen, then read on. Because creating a great resume/CV takes work. But it will be worth it, we promise.

1. SHOW, DON’T TELL – NUMBERS ARE YOUR NEW BEST FRIEND

Most people are too general when they talk about what they do on their resume or CV. So let’s skip that. I need you to be as specific as possible. SHOW – don’t tell. This means, give me numbers:

  • What success can you quantify with a number? How MANY people did you manage? How many projects did you lead? How many partners or sales did you acquire?

  • By how much percent did you increase revenue, or visitors, or partners, or sales? What numbers can you use to represent the growth you helped create?

  • What did you contribute? What did you start? What did you implement?

  • How is the company better for you having been there? How can you show or represent that?

2. USE ACTION VERBS LIKE YOUR LIFE DEPENDED ON IT

Every bullet or sentence should lead with an action. What did you do? Accomplish? What skill are you exhibiting? Use terms like:

  • Developed
  • Created
  • Collaborated
  • Managed
  • Produced
  • Led
  • Helped
  • Collaborated
  • Increased
  • Built
  • Assisted
  • Captured
  • Published
  • Generated
  • Served
  • Spearheaded
  • Conducted
  • Added

3. TRIM DOWN THE FAT: CHOOSE WHAT IS MOST IMPORTANT

You’ve probably accomplished a lot of really impressive things at your job. So the trick is drawing out what is most important. BE STRATEGIC. This means:

  • Highlight the accomplishments that directly relate to the new job you’re applying for. If it is a sales job, then put things on your resume that show skills that relate to sales. If it is a leadership position, highlight accomplishment and skills that show leadership. You get the idea.

  • Put things in order of importance. If they only look at the top line, what would you want to communicate? What would you want them to see? If they only read two lines…etc.

  • Put things in order of importance overall. You probably want your EXPERIENCE to go first. Then what? Education? Travel? Skills?

  • Don’t be too wordy. Again, they probably won’t read it all. So be too the point – focus on the accomplishment, the action, the quantifiable result of your work.

  • If you are bad at trimming it down, or knowing what to cut out, recruit a good, honest friend or mentor. Ask for them to trim off the fat to create a lean, sharp resume.

4. PROOFREAD, PROOFREAD, PROOFREAD…AND THEN PROOFREAD SOME MORE!

After you have the content down and have written all the important pieces you want represent you – proofread like a maniac. This cannot be emphasized enough. Here are some tactics to make it your best:

  • You should read your resume out loud. How does it sound? Rewrite to be easy to read. You don’t want the recruiter or employer to stop out of confusion or a typo.

  • Send your resume or CV to a few trusted people for their feedback – a mentor, a friend, and someone who is a good writer. Ask for their edits. Ask for their first impressions, their advice. It doesn’t mean you have to take it! But be open.

5. USE DESIGN TO YOUR ADVANTAGE (WHEN APPROPRIATE)

The layout and design of your resume/CV matters. It’s up to you to do the necessary research to see what is most accepted or expected in your field of work.

Since I have been in the communications field, I felt like I could take more design freedom in my resume. I enlisted the help of a graphic artist friend to help. I wanted to keep it simple and clean, with a tiny bit of color and creativity in the alignment so it would stand out in a pile of resumes and make a first impression.

For me, that meant putting my name in big font across the top right, all lower case. I didn’t put my address since I wanted to be more contemporary, and instead just listed my email, phone number, and Twitter handle. I used a little green to accent the layout. The font type was unique, but easy to read. I used dark gray and light gray color type, and used lower case type in the titles (since I did with my name).

But most importantly, I did all of the above things after I made sure the content was solid and perfect. Then the design helped me accent what was an already good resume. Design can’t help you if you don’t have the basics down.

I know this type of freedom would be frowned upon in some areas of business. So use your discretion, or ask someone you trust for advice that is in that line of work. When in doubt, ask others (mentors, role models, experts, etc).

AND REMEMBER: ALWAYS BE PERFECTING

Your resume or CV is a living document, a work in progress. If you don’t update it regularly, be sure you keep track of your accomplishments where you are now – write them down! That way, when the time comes, you can update your resume and quantify your accomplishments with confidence.

One last thing…

Another important way to be noticed is to create an excellent LinkedIn profile using the same guidelines above. You can send send a link to your LinkedIn profile to recruiters or people you are networking with. Increasingly, the first stop for many recruiters and companies searching for new employees is LinkedIn, so in today’s environment, a strong and up-to-date LinkedIn profile is a MUST HAVE.

You are amazing – so make sure your resume/CV shows a recruiter or employer the same thing in a concise, sharp, and brilliant way – even if six seconds is all you have!

Erin Risner

Erin Risner

Director of Community Engagement

Writer. Creative. Brand Strategist. Content Curator. Social Media and Marketing Maven. Passionate about connecting with women around the world and telling their success stories.