Stand Out! (But Lose The Leopard Print Resume)

Disclaimer: In full transparency, this article makes the case for why my coaching services around interviewing and job seeking may benefit you. However, it’s not an entirely selfish plug as I am a strong believer in the need for education on this subject, so read on for objective tips even if you have no interest in me being your personal coach.

Over the years I’ve received resumes on leopard print paper, ones stapled to copies of a candidate’s social security card and driver’s license (which only slightly screams “If you don’t hire me, at least steal my identity”), and ones that include the candidate’s felony convictions as part of their one-page resume, leading the document even over their experience. We already covered my appreciation for transparency, but maybe leave the drug distribution charges for the phone interview so you can at least make a case for your rehabilitation. Or don’t work for a cartel in the first place, but that’s a whole other blog series on ethics.

So back to you. You wrote a resume, submitted applications to a whole bunch of job openings, and sat back for a few weeks bracing for the inevitable onslaught of interview invites and job offers….

which never came.

Sound familiar?

Every job seeker has a resume, (almost) every job seeker needs a job, so why are you anything special? Chances are, you are, but are you doing everything you can to showcase that?

Resumes are meant to be attention getters for human resources and hiring managers, but often become generic descriptions of your work history, not advocates for your awesomeness and wealth of accomplishments. Recruiters commonly review from dozens to hundreds of resumes for a single position, so it is absolutely vital that you find ways to stand out from the pack. Plainly stating your job responsibilities, probably by copy/pasting them from your company’s website, is not a great way to do this. Similarly, stating nearly ubiquitous skills like a basic grasp of Microsoft Word is not any more impressive in 2018 than stating an expert level proficiency in text messaging.

What did you ACCOMPLISH? What IMPACT did you make? Be honest, don’t just make things up. Chances are you did not invent the internet. No matter how well worded, it probably won’t be an effective tale for selling your value, so stick to the facts. But not just any facts. Think about your best self on your best day. How did you make a difference? What victories did you have above and beyond the expected? Share that.

Then there’s the cover letter. This is your chance to show that you actually care about the company and position to which you’ve applied and aren’t simply spamming every job with a quick-apply button on Indeed. Maybe you are, but don’t make it look that way. Stand out. Show you care. Connect your experience and passions with what they do and what the job entails. This is truly your chance to stand out from the pack, as many applicants don’t take the time to include a cover letter, and the ones who do typically squander it by including a generic one that might as well be an informal second resume. Don’t be that candidate. If you’re going to just copy/paste a generic resume for every job, don’t bother including one at all. At least then you’ve wasted less time of yours and the recruiter.

Resume and cover letter writing are a skill which can be learned. Even if you don’t go with a professional service [SHAMELESS PLUG AHEAD], like mine, you should still get additional eyes on yours to provide feedback. Be open to it. Have a thick skin and beg for criticism, because this isn’t your creative writing hobby but your career on the line.

And finally, consider enlisting an expert with a lengthy history of drafting and critiquing resumes, who can support your job search with first-hand experience of what they look for in the hundreds of people they’ve hired at all skill levels. Reach out to me at or reach out through the contact page. Best wishes for success in your search, whether as candidate or hiring manager.

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