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6 Ways to Make Your Resume Stand Out

by | Feb 8, 2021 | Business, Productivity

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Having your resume stand out is the first step in the job application process. But, the average hiring manager only spends 7.4 seconds on each resume. And, that is only if it passes the applicant tracking system.

When you read a job description and think, “this is my dream job,” then you need to have that perfect resume to stand out from the rest. 

1. Format, Format, Format

A man sitting at a laptop with two people around him.

Formatting is essential when it comes to the best resumes. A potential employer wants to see that you know what a resume should look like, how to best showcase yourself, and your work experience.

While it is tempting to make your resume stand out by getting creative, it is best to keep it simple. It can be best to use a resume template but make adjustments where they are necessary. 

Follow an E or F shaped format, because that is the best for readability.

It is enticing to put more text on one page by making margins smaller, but keep the at the standard 0.7 inches. 

Whatever format you choose to make, highlight your skills with using keywords. Later in this article, we will share the importance of keywords and how to utilize them. 

With your format, only put your most relevant workplaces for that individual job posting. Then, within a cover letter, is when you can expand upon these relevant experiences further.

Something that should be easily accessible is your contact information. If a hiring manager wants to speak with you, they should easily know how to speak you. 

Lastly, when naming your document, format it as “Last Name, First Name Resume”


In terms of font sizing, keep it between 10 and 12 points. The most common style is a Times New Roman 12 point font. Other acceptable fonts to use are Cambria, Georgia, Garamond, Didot, Calibri, Helvetica, Verdana, and Lato. 

Use bolding, capitalizing, and italicizing to your advantage. Make important things stand out, but stay consistent with them throughout. 

2. Clean Up Your Layout

Three people looking at sheets of paper sitting on a table.

Similar to formatting, you will want the layout to be simple. It can be tempting to pack your resume with a lot of information. But, the layout should have a header, be one page long, easy to read and have a good amount of white space. 

The header should be the biggest font and bolded at the top of a resume. It should have your first name, last name, phone number, email, and LinkedIn link. It is debatable to have a location in the header. Therefore, that is up to your own discretion. 

Resumes should be under one page long. There are few exceptions such as, if you are an executive resume or someone who has 15-years of experience, in academia, or in medicine. If you feel like you need well over a page, consider creating a curriculum vitae. 

For bullet points under each work experience, keep the sentences under one line long.

3. Understand the Applicant Tracking System (ATS) 

A desk setting with hands typing on a keyboard.

Almost all hiring managers will use an applicant tracking system, or known as ATS. This is because the technology allows them to save time and money. 

As an applicant, you can use this to your advantage. You have to think more carefully about how they will screen your resume. The system will screen for keywords and types of backgrounds. 

While using keywords is important, do not try to trick the system because that will be an automatic rejection as well.

Because of the system, consider using a template that is ATS friendly, but add some personalization without changing the formatting too drastically. Something to consider is making your resume a PDF because this can go through the system better. However, the job application will typically clarify the format they would like.

4. Keywords

Close up of keyboard

Keywords are key in resumes, especially because of ATS. Use industry-specific buzzwords but do not keyword stuff. The bottom line is to include one keyword per bullet point in a resume. 

Along with keywords, you want to use metrics to show successes when possible. The best things to include are hard numbers in percentages or dollars. 

5. Leverage LinkedIn

A smart phone with a LinkedIn profile displayed, with a keyboard next to it and a plant.

Job seekers should view their Linkedin profile as an extension of their resume. This is an area that recruiters will look for. LinkedIn should encompass all experiences a job seeker has. It should be a place where all work history and skills are. 

The first thing that people look for is the profile picture. For LinkedIn, it has to be a professional, clean photo. It should be a headshot and not any photo that you would post on other forms of social media. 

Then you will want to customize your URL. When signing up for LinkedIn, they give you a URL with your name but also numbers and letters mixed in. When you have a customized URL, this will allow people to remember it better and look better on the top of your resume. Ideally, your LinkedIn URL should look something like this: 

Because of the nature of LinkedIn, it allows for extra details that a resume doesn’t allow for such as college courses, awards, languages, and volunteer work.


A LinkedIn summary is a tool that most users leave out of their profile. While it takes a while to craft, it is worthwhile because this is the second part that a viewer will see, following your profile photo. In this section, include details about your career thus far, and what your goals are for the future. Including your future goals will help recruiters who view your profile understand more about your job search.

6. Give It a Set of Fresh Eyes

A woman's two blue eyes staring at the camera
Photo by Andriyko Podilnyk on Unsplash

All the other pieces of resume advice are great, but no matter what you do with a resume, make sure it is error-free. The best thing to do is have multiple people review your resume for both spelling and information. When you look over your own resume, wait 24 hours and review it again. This gives it a fresh set of eyes on it. 

If you are looking for resume tips specifically for applying for an internship, read more about those here.

For more advice for all types of job seekers, especially college students, read the Scholars blog and tune into The Internship Show!

About Scholars

Scholars helps companies build engaging candidate experiences at scale. Create personalized journeys for all of your candidates from application through onboarding.

About Scholars

Internships and early-career jobs are unlike any others. They are often accepted months, if not years, in advance of the start date leaving plenty of time for candidates to change their minds and decide to work elsewhere, costing your team time and money.

There are two ways that have been proven to decrease renege rates for any company: keeping candidates engaged by sharing personalized information and helping them make connections with their future teammates. Companies use Scholars to accomplish both of these at scale.