June 20, 2017

4 Secrets to a Standout Resume


Team player. Results-oriented. Self-motivated.

You already know where this is going. These are some of the most generic terms anyone could use on their resume, and yet everyone uses them. Why? Because we’ve been trained to think that this is what companies want to hear.

To really stand out and grab a reader’s attention, your resume needs to tell your unique story. Skip the clichés and follow these four steps instead:

1. Be Honest and Genuine in Your Summary

Really dig down to the heart of what you do and why. Include what drives, excites, or motivates you about your work. This is your chance to make a connection with the reader. Don’t squander it.

2. It’s Okay to Be Brief

While your inclination may be to write a list of everything you were responsible for under each position you held, don’t. Job duties don’t mean much without real results. Share your “so what” instead of “responsible for.”

For example, you could say you were responsible for new client development. In this case, the “so what” might be: “Consistently brought in $2 million dollars of new business each year.” More significant, right?

Rather than “responsible for mentoring junior sales staff,” you could say: “All junior sales staff under my direction were promoted to senior sales associates within three months, well above the company average of seven months for other departments.”

A couple of good “so whats” will make more of an impact than a laundry list of “responsible fors” could ever make.

3. Look to Your Legacy

Wherever you worked, you either added value or detracted from it. Think about what you did, initiated, or implemented that left the organization better off. It could be that you made the push for the company to revamp their corporate culture. Did you start the internal communications plan the company still follows long after you’ve moved on? If you created it, it’s yours to claim on your resume!

4. Convey Your Desired Career Path

All hiring managers are interested in your career progression. Naturally, they will be curious about why you left each job and what you hoped to gain in each new position. If you can offer them insight into these areas, they’ll get a much clearer picture of your career growth and the thought process behind it.

Remember, a resume is supposed to generate interest in the reader. It doesn’t have to offer all the details of your story – it just needs to tell a compelling story. You can fill in all the blanks in person.

A version of this article originally appeared on the Atrium Staffing blog.

Michele Mavi is Atrium Staffing‘s resident career expert.

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Michele Mavi has nearly 15 years of experience as a recruiter, interview coach, and resume writer. She is Atrium Staffing’s resident career expert, as well as director of internal recruiting and content development. She also founded Angel Films, a division of Atrium Staffing focused on the creation of recruiting and training videos.