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Make Your Resume Stand Out: Hiring Managers Reveal What Works

If you’re on the job hunt, you have one task: to stand out from the crowd. Easier said than done when you’re up against massive databases and weary hiring managers. So we’ve gotten insights from hiring and resume experts in the academia, government, design, and tech worlds to talk about what makes a resume pop, and pulled together shining examples to inspire you into action. Whether you go with a classic one-sheet resume or surprise them with a snappy video CV, these four guiding questions will put you on a path toward resume success.

How can I show the positive impact I will have on the company?

The only reason anyone gets hired ever is because they’ve proven they can make a positive impact on the organization. One rookie mistake hiring managers see all the time are resumes that focus on the applicant (what they’re looking for, their ambitions and aspirations etc.), rather than what the applicant can do for the company. Resume expert Hagan Blount, who designs infographic resumes for job seekers, says there are three reasons people get hired: (1) they can make company money, (2) they can save the company money, or (3) they can reduce time for others. Figure out which unique solution you offer to employers and make sure that information is front and center in your resume. Don’t force the reader to make those connections on their own—they likely aren’t spending enough time with your content in order to make those mental jumps.

Am I putting numbers to my accomplishments?

Sally Perez-Ramos, Manager of Communications at St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas says, “What makes a resume shine is the ability to articulate and quantify accomplishments.” Similarly, whenever Hagan works with clients, he asks them to give him five numbers that speak to their accomplishments and contributions. He then designs infographics to make those stats come to life. And he insists that you don’t need to be in analytics or finance to speak in numbers. Even writers can whip up a winning statement like, “X words in X months seen by X people.”

Once you’ve quantified your worth, the goal is to make sure those pieces of information shine. Consider forgoing the typical black-and-white resume for eye-catching graphics that speak to your work. Take the visual resume below created in Adobe Spark Page. Embedded Spark Post graphics put a spotlight on key wins, while bold headers highlight the most important information for quick and easy reading.

Adobe Spark Page

Am I showcasing my skills in an engaging way?

Most companies still require a Word Doc or PDF resume that can easily be filed in databases, forwarded to team members, and passed around a table. But that’s table-stakes. Go above and beyond by following up with a piece of content like an about-me video or portfolio that adds a bit of color to your story. Ignacio Romero, Advertising Manager for the California Department of Public Health in Sacramento says he likes when candidates reveal their personalities in the hiring process: “Tell your story and don’t be afraid to share how your experiences will impact the organization.”

An intro video that speaks directly to your prospective employer is a great way to show that you go the extra mile. The example below works well because it gets to the point within the first few seconds. Consider placing the URL on your PDF or Word Doc email or including it in a follow up email.

Pro-Tip: Personalize the video for each job you’re applying to—and don’t spend a ton of time doing it! Simply duplicate your winning video with one tap in Spark Video and modify the intro or outro slide to make mention of the job or company. You’ll look like the most devoted candidate around—your interviewer doesn’t have to know it only took you a few minutes.

Does my resume represent who I am?

You might not be able to add your signature perfume to every resume you send out like fictional branding icon Elle Woods does in Legally Blonde.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t make a memorable impression by adding a bit of your own unique flair to your resume. Tiffany Wagner, Senior Director of Global Account Planning at SAP says, “A resume that stands out in my mind was a graphic designer who actually used graphic design to create her CV. There were images, color, and creativity at the forefront. I knew right away she knew what she was doing and might be a good fit for our project.”

You don’t need to be a graphic designer to put your creativity out there. Try creating professional-looking header in Spark Post, like the example below. Simply click the image to customize the header. Make sure your design is readable and emphasizes your name and the most important message you want to communicate to employers.

Am I marketing myself on social media?

The job search game has changed in recent years thanks to social media. It’s a much more fluid now with employers and recruiters turning to LinkedIn to seek out applicants rather than waiting to be inundated with responses to an ad. As such, it’s more important than ever to maintain a consistent, professional social presence. In fact, Forbes recently noted social media, creative resumes, and engaging cover letters as some of the major ways the job application process is changing. Like all social networks, LinkedIn thrives on compelling—and increasingly—visual content. Consider posting your portfolio to your profile (you can update a Spark Page and Video project periodically while retaining the URL) or curating and creating content around your professional interests by sharing articles, images, and quick thoughts on the professional networking site. And why wait for your dream job to become available when you can connect directly with professional contacts and dazzle them with your creative content?!

More Inspiration

These Spark-made portfolios and creative resumes wowed us! Create something similar to share on your social pages or send directly to potential employers. The content will look great on any device and requires no design experience.

Adobe Spark Page

Adobe Spark Page

We want to see your creative resumes! Share your projects with the hashtag #AdobeSpark for a chance to be featured here and on our social channels.

Interviews and research by Annie Crawford

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