Making Your Resume Stand Out Like a $3 Dollar Bill
Now, you shouldn't take this awesome title to mean your resume should be a forgery, like a $3 dollar bill, or like the first Limp Bizkit album for some of my older readers.
I have hired and fired, the former being much more desirable than the latter. Often the best candidates are missed by overworked hiring managers who have become blinded by a sea of black text on white 8x11 paper.
Making Your Resume Stand Out From The Rest
While studying graphic design for my eventual Bachelor's, my instructors could not stress this enough. As graphic designers, we were not only expected to produce a resume, but also to design the entire project as if it were our first assignment with the new job we were applying for.
In my opinion, this should not only apply to graphic designers. I know for a fact that when I moved to Phoenix, Arizona my resume jumped the rest of the pile because of the 80's Miami Vice inspired theme that I had designed my resume around.
Tired of the logistics field I had worked my day gig in for over 8 years, while still living in Chicago, I decided to make my resume stand out from the rest. I love 80's culture. I love the color palettes from the 80's. So designing my resume in this fashion was easy, a no brainer, and extremely fun!
When I arrived in Phoenix, I wasted no time in applying to any graphics related positions I found available. I literally spent 8 to 12 hours daily, tied to my computer chair, sending what I considered to be a very outstanding resume to every graphic design job posting in the valley.
Luckily, my future co-worker Michelle came across my resume and immediately emailed it to my future direct manager. I received a call soon after to come in for an interview, did the interview the following Monday, received a job offer via phone call an hour after the interview.
I don't believe this was luck. Granted, like any eager job seeker should, I educated myself on what my future employer specialized in and determined how my skills and qualifications would be an expansive fit for their organization.
How To Make Your Resume Stand Out From The Rest
You don't have to take the drastic measures that I did as a graphic designer, those are the expectations associated with that career.
But there are many things that are easy to do on your own.
Color Me Hired!
Consider using color. Most hiring managers will see black and white for the entire period they are reviewing the resumes of applicants. Smacking them in the face with a little bit or a lot of color will definitely get their attention. It will be up to your resume whether or not the results of their attention nets a call back or interview.
Sizing Up The Competition (or sizing down?)
Consider making your resume substantially bigger or smaller (but not TOO small!) than the conventional letter sized resume. Because most hiring managers will be most likely looking at your resume via email first, and then printing, this can be risky.
I suggest if you wish to stand out with this method, consider bringing in your hard copies in a variant size, which will also act as leave behinds once the interview has concluded. Those leave behinds are going to physically stand out (especially if bigger) from the other resumes that have been retained, so the hiring managers will have no choice but to at least remember the interview.
Use Interactive Media as a Resource.
I have heard of and considered making a custom video to send along with materials to perspective freelance clients. It takes little more than a bright work lamp ($6-$10 at Walmart), a clean wall, and your smartphone to make a good quality (usually 1080P) HD video.
Being able to send this along with your resume will definitely get the attention of anyone that will be opening flurries of applicant emails. Let this video be the trailer to your perspective job interview, showcasing your knowledge and understanding of what the company needs and how you exceed their expectations in a future employee.
Dress smart, speak with utter enthusiasm, and keep the ringer on your phone up high, because you will be receiving a call back very soon.
But What If You (THINK) Can't Do Any Of These Things On Your Own?
Hiring a graphic designer to do them for you. This does not have to be an insanely expensive job for a graphic designer, especially if you have friends that are able to do design work.
If you do get a designer to do the job for you, make sure you get the editable work files. These will be most likely InDesign, Illustrator, or Photoshop files. By possessing the work files, you will be able to have the designer (cause sometimes your designer will lose things ☹ ) or a different designer / printer edit and update the files to reflect any changes in job history. Do not forget to ask for these.
If you're starvin like Marvin (girrrrrrrrl) consider bartering with a designer. I have come across two types of graphic designers in life. Those that basically price clients out with insanely marked up prices and those who are willing to charge fair prices for the love of the game.
I cannot say that these attitudes are related to experience or tenure, as I've seen college graduates charging veteran prices and veterans working borderline pro bono to help a brother out. Find a designer that has a fair price, good portfolio, and a that actually will follow through with their promises (sometimes designers can be a box of corn flakes).
You Have Your Amazing Resume - Now What?
Send this out to job postings you qualify for immediately. You may come across situations where your awesome PDF exceeds the very dated file size limits (CareerBuilder, I'm calling you out) and you cannot send the file as is. In this event, having a traditional resume unfortunately will have to be maintained as a Plan B.
Most companies post identical job openings on their websites and social media streams, so seeking these alternative avenues out may yield an email address, where you can send your awesome custom resume.
Get your resume out there now. If you have any questions or comments on this article feel free to Email me here and I will give you my thoughts. Good luck on building your stand out resume and happy hunting for the dream job of a lifetime!