Top 10 Résumé Tips to Get You Noticed

From highlighting your skill set to presenting your portfolio

According to a recent survey from employment site CareerBuilder, nearly 1 in 4 employees currently in the workforce are actively looking for a new job. Couple that with this recent U.S. Chamber of Commerce poll, which reports that almost 1 in 5 people are looking to change careers.

If you’re in either of these groups, it’s time to dust off your résumé to land a job interview in the field that you want.

Make sure you are a solid candidate to get past any job applicant tracking system (ATS) and onto the human review. The components of your résumé may vary, but they should include:

  • Personal contact information in the heading; if you are submitting your résumé to an online job board, you may want to omit your home address.

  • An objective or summary of skills at the beginning, or both.

  • An education section. You may want to highlight any certificates or training if you are switching to a new field.

  • Relevant professional and volunteer experience.

  • Optional: affiliations, awards or publications as they relate to the position for which you are applying.

Your information should be presented in a professional format that is clean and consistent. By using clear headings, bullet points and an easy-to-read font, the hiring manager will easily see your achievements and put your résumé at the top of the pile.

So how do you get it noticed? Here are 10 tips to make your accomplishments stand out:

1. Tailor your résumé—to be both a generalist and a specialist.

You will want to have a generic résumé that you can post widely on job boards, as well as a more tailored one for each individual job opening. In your tailored résumé, use keywords to highlight the skills, jobs and achievements most relevant to the posted job description.

2. Highlight your unique selling points.

Your education does not always need to be placed at the bottom of your résumé. Identify what sets you apart from other candidates—whether that is specialized programs, industry certifications or internships—and make sure those experiences stand out. Especially if you are a career changer and have recent education or training in a new professional area, list these new skills closer to the top of the résumé.

3. Use your real estate wisely.

Rather than use a generic heading like “Summary of Skills” or “Objective,” use that space to highlight your particular skill set, professional background and/or career goals. Examples include “Marketing and team leadership expertise,” or, “English as a Second Language educational professional.” Pay attention to specific submission instructions from the job posting such as what to include or how to format your résumé so you can edit it appropriately. 

4. Use action verbs and check their tenses.

Get away from the overused “managed” or “developed.” Use a thesaurus or search online, such as Boston College’s Resume Power Verb. When describing your current position, use the verb’s present tense (“leads a team of 12,” “coordinates weekly newsletter preparation”). If you are describing a previous position, use the past tense (“led a team of 12,” “coordinated weekly newsletter preparation”).

5. Balance relevance and chronology.

You want your most relevant experience to jump out at your future employer. Link your relevant experience and skills in reverse chronological experience. This includes extracurricular activities, volunteer work or professional associations that demonstrate your skills or interests and provide additional context to employers.

Rather than labeling this as “Relevant Experience,” for example, use “Project Management Experience,” and list the positions (paid or unpaid) in reverse chronological order. Under each job or role, use a maximum of six bullet points to describe the relevant experience.

6. Quantify achievements whenever possible.

Employers need to be able to translate your skills to the size of their operation. Try to quantify values whenever you can to demonstrate the impact you’ve had. According to, doing so shows you are results-oriented and makes your résumé more effective with “a clearer representation of the value that you provide.” Examples could include “Managed 15 team members on company move,” “Saved employer $100,000 over three years,” “Built and fostered relationships with 20-plus community partners, contributing to more than $500,000 of growth.”

7. More is not necessarily more.

Keep it concise. Most modern résumés can be contained to one page, though that may be difficult if it means paring down your extensive experience. Remember that you are focusing on relevant experience, so you do not need to include every one of your paid or unpaid positions. Challenge yourself to create a one-page document. If you absolutely feel like you need a second page, make sure you are using that space wisely, knowing that a possible employer may not pay much attention to the second page. Three-page résumés are generally reserved for academic CVs.

8. Use their language.

Describe your skills and experience to mirror the job posting. If you are sending in your résumé that is not tied to an open position, search the company’s website or other publications to mirror language that demonstrates the organization’s philosophy, goals, challenges and overall personality. Matching language is also helpful if you’ll be submitting your résumé to a database that uses scanning. Incorporating relevant keywords from the job description or company’s materials into your résumé can help get it past an ATS and increase the likelihood of it being seen by human recruiters.

9. Proofread, proofread and proofread some more.

Avoid typos, grammatical errors and formatting inconsistencies by thoroughly proofreading your résumé before submitting it. Consider asking a friend or colleague to review it as well to catch any mistakes you may have missed.

10. Tap Into Your Network.

In addition to submitting your résumé online, network with professionals in your industry, attend networking events and connect with hiring managers on professional networking sites such as LinkedIn. Personal connections can help your résumé get noticed. Share your portfolio with potential employers, clients or collaborators through your website, social media profiles, networking events and job applications to promote yourself.

Bonus Tip: Don’t Forget to Maintain Your Portfolio.

A professional portfolio, in either electronic or hard-copy format, showcases your skills,
experiences and accomplishments to a potential employer. A portfolio can help guide your conversation with the interviewer about your professional goals. It can include pieces from your professional work, education and training, volunteer experience and personal interests, and should be updated as you complete more projects.

The best way to present your portfolio depends on the type of work you do and the industry you're in. You might have a professional website with a clean and user-friendly design that highlights projects you've completed with high-quality images, videos or screenshots, or you might have a comprehensive binder that you maintain with abridged versions that interviewers can keep for reference. Consider including descriptions to help you recall details about the experience and client testimonials that promote you and your skills. Just make sure the portfolio supports your skill set and effectively showcases your work.

Your portfolio should be used to enhance your interview experience, but the focus needs to still be on you and not your documents! Group your work into categories or projects to make it easy for viewers to navigate. This could be by industry, type of work or specific projects you've completed. Generally, it is more effective if you refer to your portfolio to provide an example in response to a specific question. A brief description that explains the context, your role, the challenges you faced and the results achieved can help potential employers or clients understand the significance of your work.

Remember, your résumé is just one part of your portfolio and your personal brand.