5 Ways To Give Your Resume the Wow Factor

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In this tight job market, making your resume stand out is crucial. We all know that our resumes are our chief marketing tool, but still, there are many people who send out resumes that don't have what it takes to impress employers in the digital age. Years ago, a well-written, neatly typed resume could be photocopied and mailed out to companies with great success. The document was the same for each potential employer and it served as a written work history. Those days are gone.

In today's digital job market, a resume has to be internet-friendly. We have to understand and accept the fact that the document we email to employers will be subject to Google web searches and even scanned by an applicant tracking system. Although the change has made work easier for human resource departments, it makes things more difficult for a job seeker.

If you are struggling to find a job, here are 5 ways that you can add some "wow" to your digital resume:

Research companies and keywords: When starting your job search, look at job boards and print out all of the job listings for companies you are interested in. Compare the ads and look for the most frequently used keywords. These words will be related to the most desirable skills and experience for the position. Once you've identified the important keywords, make sure that your resume contains those same words. Since most companies use some sort of applicant tracking system that scans resumes for specific keywords, the more hits your resume has, the better.

Always customize your resume for the job: The days of cookie-cutter resumes are long over, which is why it's important to edit your resume to match the keywords for each job. Every time you send out a resume, you should customize it to target the specific company. It's a little more effort, but if the prize is a job that will pay you a good salary, it's worth the extra 30 minutes. After all, this is the first deliverable to your new company - make it count.

Address your cover letter to someone: If you aren't sure who is in charge of hiring or don't know the name of the person, do some research and find out. These days, almost everyone has an online presence. With a quick web search or by using a professional networking site like LinkedIn, you should be able to discover the name of the person in charge of hiring. If your internet sleuthing doesn't give you a name, you could try cold calling the company and asking. Addressing a cover letter to "Dear Hiring Manager" should be avoided at all costs.

Use your network to get a personal referral: Having someone you know recommend you for the position is the best way to make sure that your resume is actually read by a real person. Once you submit your resume, make a list of people you know. If you don't personally know someone who works for the company, ask the people on your list if they know anyone. If, after checking with everyone, you still don't have a contact on the inside, use networking sites to find someone. Start a conversation and ask for help. You'll be surprised at how many people, even the ones you only know through distant friends, would be more than happy to help.

Follow up with the hiring manager: After sending in your resume and cover letter, it's a good idea to call the hiring manager personally to confirm that they have received your application. This doesn't mean that you should call and say, "Did you get my resume?" Instead, use the call as an opportunity to give your pitch and stand out. For example, you could call and say, "Hi, this is Ms. Smith. I've been working in sales for 10 years and I have a proven track record of success. I'm very interested in working with your company. I just sent you a copy of my resume. I wanted to take a moment to touch base with you and make sure that you've received it." This gives you a moment to state your name and say why you are someone they don't want to miss out on. It shows that you are determined and sincere about your interest in the position and illustrates how you get things done.

Giving your resume the "wow" factor involves doing more work at first, but it can make you stand out and help you land the job you really want. Do you customize your resume for each job? How do you make your resume memorable? Please share your thoughts in the comments.


Image by digitalart / freedigitalphotos.net


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  • Annette S
    Annette S
    By reading this, I know I am on the right track.  I've been through several job skills classes and your article replicates what the instructors were teaching.Thank you for confirming my understanding.Sincerely,Annette
    Dear Melissa, I found your article interesting.  However, I have done the things that you mentioned, but, I am still unemployed (since 2010).  I will continue on with my job search.  Hopefully, someone will allow me the opportunity to prove my skills/abilities.Enjoy the rest of your day!Sincerely,Dolores
  • James D
    James D
    I think you article is very useful. I just had similar thoughts from checking linkedin.
  • Michael S
    Michael S
    looks good and sounds like the best way to go.  I am trying to work for Chrysler/Fiat and would like to know how I can peal through the layers of employees and find out who will read my resume.  I am 350 miles over lake Michigan from where my resume needs to be. I am offering a months salary to anyone who can get me a job with Chrysler.
  • Michael M
    Michael M
    There is so much different information on the web now about what employers want. I really don't believe that anybody has a clue. I have had my resume looked at by different people, and they tell me different and conflicting things. People even try to tell me what the proper format is for laying out the information, and they can't even agree on that! I've had people comment on the use of a word twice in describing my background. It's very irritating and rather ridiculous. I'm beginning to believe that getting a job has very little to do with what's on your resume, but rather who you know. It might be better to try to parlay one's skills into their own venture than try to rely on others to read a resume and glean information, since that appears to be really difficult for people nowadays with their short attention spans.
  • Vincent M
    Vincent M
    Great information.
    Great tips
  • Shawanna H
    Shawanna H
    Very helpful and something I didn't think about, especially the calling. But I have been chewed out before because I called and the hiring manager said that it was unprofessional of me to do so.
  •  Ruben C
    Ruben C
    This was very good.  The points covered will certainly help me in preparation of my resume.Thanks a  lot,Ruben
  • Patricia M
    Patricia M
    This advice is very helpful.  I sent out at least 35 resumes & applied to jobs online & heard only from 3 people.
  • Norma Jean G
    Norma Jean G
    For the most part, I have found that hiring managers do NOT want to be contacted by phone, and usually this is spelled out in the online job description.  However, folks, you can and should try to follow up with the HR department by phone a couple days after submitting your electronic application, cover letter, resume, recommendations, and any other supporting documentation required/requested.  When calling, I think it would be appropriate to begin with, "My name is [name], I have applied for the [whatever] position, and I would like to be sure that your office has received my application."  I can tell you that, for every admin professional opening posted, over 120 resumes are received!  What this means to applicants is being exceptional is not an option.
  • Niranjana B
    Niranjana B
    It's a great idea.  I will be sure to use the suggestion for my job search.  Have a good day!Niranjana
  • Annetta A
    Annetta A
    This article gave me insight on a company's tag words/keywords in job descriptions.  I had heard of this practice, but was unsure if there was credence to it.  I will adjust my resume accordingly, and am grateful for this comfirmation.
  • Keith A
    Keith A
    Very interesting article
  • Donna J
    Donna J
    Great article, very useful info.
  • Verla G
    Verla G
    This very helpful for me. Thank you!
  • Nwe O
    Nwe O
    This article give me valuable input for my resume. I want to know how to write 3D resume.
  • Jodi D
    Jodi D
    Thank for the idea of keywords. I did send a resume with cover letter and followed up with a phone call and have an interview this week before I read your article. Thank you for the help. I have always found it a great idea to call and follow up to let them know you are interested. Thanks again.  
  • Desiree N
    Desiree N
    Thanks for sharing.  I was one those people who used generic resumes.  From this article, I will change my ways and go that extra mile to submit a decent resume.
  • Alison M
    Alison M
    Ditto on Roberta A. and Mark R.'s comments, both submited on 10/5. I am far from a pessimist, but this job market truly sucks. I also have done all the aforementioned "tricks", because let's face it, that is what they are....and also, nothing. I did hear of another tick, as of yet personally untried, but seemingly feasible: it's called white words. Putting the key words in white color so that they are unseen on the resume when printed but apparently visible to the applicant tracking system. Just for the heck of it, I will try to see if I FINALLY get an interview, and get my resume higher up in the pile. Good luck everyone!
  •  Kay C
    Kay C
    The article was very informative and nicely written.  Thanks
  • Roselle C
    Roselle C
    As much as you try, it is not always possible to get the specific name of the person who's doing the hiring.  
  • manjusha n
    manjusha n
    WOW!!! It was really great article.. especially the consideration  of Resume.. Thanks Melissa, u had a great job!
  • DR. LULU B
    DR. LULU B
    Somewhat helpful, thank you!
  • Janet S
    Janet S
    I really enjoyed this article and thank you for sharing it with us.Janet

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