Resume Secrets that Work

Some companies—not all—welcome applicants who take risks to stand out. In these cases, the following clever resume moves will draw positive attention to your job application. And once you’ve gained your reviewers attention, your true credentials can take you across the finish line. Here are few moves—you can call them tricks if you like—that will actually help you stand out.

1. Humor

Usually, resumes and cover letters are no place for jokes. The standard tone for a job application is formal, professional, and straightforward. Double meanings, puns, and irony are off the table. But who says your application has to be “standard?” If you have the confidence to pull this off and get a genuine laugh out of your reviewers and hiring managers, go ahead. Chances are you’ll be the only applicant who takes this path.

2. Unconventional Formatting

Grajob provides templates and formatting tools that can keep your resume in line with professional standards while appearing balanced and harmonious on the screen and the printed page. But these formatting guidelines are just that: guidelines. If you decide to organize your details in your own way, that’s fine. Just make sure your readers can understand them, remember them, and compare them to those of other candidates.

3. Buzzwords

Empty, jazzy buzzwords (like paradigm, systematize, and synergy) usually don’t add much to a resume. But there’s a distinct difference between hollow buzzwords and precise, well-placed industry jargon. If your use of terms will reveal the true depth of your experience in this industry and a strong command of its internal language, don’t hold back.

4. Color

Using only one color will help you control what your resume looks like if employers print it in out in black ink or fax it to each other. And adding too much color can come off as juvenile or an attempt to substitute style for substance. But if you set off your heading and contact information by providing just the right degree of contrast, your name might linger in an employer’s mind just long enough to win you a second look.

5. Action Verbs

Your verbs are the most important words in your resume. Go back through your resume draft and circle every verb you find. Then replace each verb with something so precise and hard hitting that it adds volumes of meaning to the point you’re hoping to make.

6. Name Dropping

If you share a personal connection with your reader, no matter how remote, use it. Is this move a bit manipulative? Sure. But it also works. And it’s a standard and widely accepted practice in the professional marketplace.