09/12/2008 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

How To Make Your Resumé Stand Out

Dear Christine,
How do I get noticed by potential employers when they are receiving hundreds of resumes a day? - Wanting to Stand Out, Boston, 24

Dear Wanting to Stand Out,

There's nothing more disheartening than feeling like a tiny fish in a sea of hundreds of applicants. Sometimes it's just the luck of the draw and knowing the right people that lands a job; however, there are several things you can do to make yourself more visible and a stronger candidate to a hiring manager that go beyond chance and connections.

My first tip is perhaps the most obvious, but the most necessary. Make sure your resumé and cover letter are tailored to each job and are 100% error free, clearly organized and look extremely professional. You would be amazed at the number of applicants who neglect this vital step and whose resumés get discarded first. Consider even downloading a unique, yet professional font so your resumé stands out.

While you are proofreading and drafting your application materials, really showcase your experience in short, powerful statements that pop off your resumé like "increased sales by 75%" or "promoted to senior position in less than 6 months" or "supervised over 20 employees." And make sure your resume has words and NUMBERS - people like tangible things. These small changes make your resume easier to read and thus more enticing to future employers.

Another important step is to become more than a name on a piece of paper. Do whatever you can to find some kind of "human" connection at a company; don't just rely on submitting your resume on-line. Remember the six degrees of separation rule. I have a client who when she is applying for a job, sends an email out to her contact list asking if anyone has a connection at the place she is applying. This extra step will take you no time at all, and you would be surprised at how wonderful the "friends of friends" network can be. And even if you can't find a connection, try to find a number for the HR department and call to speak with the hiring manager in charge of your desired position.

And finally, in addition to your resume, create a web presence. Consider keeping a blog which showcases your abilities and expertise in a certain area. For example, if you are applying for marketing jobs, blog about current marketing trends you are seeing. Be "Google-able" and include your blog page on your resume. This shows hiring managers that you are really passionate about your future career.

Now for a different voice than my own, listen to the expert advice of Misti Burmeister, author of From Boomers to Bloggers: Success Strategies Across Generations, and CEO and Founder of Inspirion Inc., a company formed to create partnership in the world through increased communication between generations. "First, recognize that over 90% of jobs are filled by referral. The vast majority of job seekers are searching through the same medium you are, so you have to be different to get noticed. There are three ways to do this: 1. Do your research about the company you are applying to and the individual you are interviewing with, 2. Tailor your cover letter and resume to each job, 3. Professionalize your social media while searching for a job (employers DO look at them!)."

You really only get one chance to make a first impression, and your cover letter and resumé are your calling card so do some legwork and make them great. The more proactive and focused energy you invest in the way you go about your job search and present yourself, the more likely you are to stand out.

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