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.


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  • Dian b
    Dian b
    i like the approach of customizing your resume to your prospective employer's request. i now know what i have been missing from my resume. but what if you are seeking employment overseas and the vacancy is advertised via the net where i know a referee? please take into consideration that i am responding based on my desire/need.
  • RAY L
    RAY L
    Very beneficial
  • Victoria B
    Victoria B
    Very helpful, thanks!
  • Ray De D
    Ray De D
    The part of the article that says to follow up with a call is way off base. It tells you you should follow up with a phone call to the recruiter or hiring manager after applying to a job.  He's kidding right ?Recruiters don't even take the time to review your resume, let alone take phone calls from applicants. With an average of 500 applicants for each position opening you really think they're going to take phone calls ? This he even states in the article. He says most resumes are automatically scanned, not personally looked at. So I doubt they will accept phone calls.
  • margy f
    margy f
    Sounds like a real good idea to me. I am fixing to update a resume and I will give it a try. Thank you.
  • Caesar V
    Caesar V
    Melissa is probably right from the pragmatic view of many  applicants. My vision of the situation, which is apparently idealistic, is in reality more rewarding to gifted individuals, companies, and societies in general, and consequently to people. it goes as follows: (1) a humbly qualified individual knows there are masks and tricks which enable him to overtake a truly good one. (2) a director is easily influenced by complementing statements and mislead by appearances (3) a company which is run by  such a director and relies on these average mediukas, in planning,  tests, development, evaluation of the market as well as  competitiveness, in addition to many factors which one can think of.... constraints because of laws, ...). . I honestly doubt that such a company can be competitive in a true free fair open market. We should stick to choosing the best according to some suitable objective criterion. I agree of course that for some positions in the company, appearance, manners, reflex, verbal skills, .. are essential, but only as a part of a larger package. Moreover, think of a society in which appearance,  presence, and masks are key factors of success. You may   form a reasonable picture of the dynamics which govern the development of this society. It is a long subject which draw us to consider many fields in sociology, economy,  ...
  • Heather K
    Heather K
    I think you did a great job with this article. I read this and am planning on trying your tips to land my dream job. I do believe if you want something bad enough you'll go the extra mile to achieve it. Taking the time to customize your resume and cover letter to fit a position is a great idea and worth the time and extra work. Thanks again for the great article.
  • Mark B
    Mark B
    Thanks some times i forget these things and now i will put back in motion. Again THANK YOU
  • Marcia G
    Marcia G
    This article is very helpful, but it has been my understanding to never contact the hiring manager, if they have specifically asked applicants not to call..what is your opinion on this. Thanks.
  • Roberta A
    Roberta A
    Everyone knows to address a cover letter to the person named as contact on an advertisement.Is this advice for very small businesses or for all employers?Most jobs posted on internet job boards, however, are either: (1) via headhunters stating "company confidential" or (2) a link that takes you to the company's web site. 98% of these listings do not provide a contact name. Are you suggesting that we address our cover letters to any one of the employees listed on a headhunter's web site or the president of the bank where you are applying to or any name that comes up from an internet search? If you apply to a job offered by NYC, do you address your cover letter to mayor Bloomberg? I personally would find it absurd to receive a letter addressed to the president of the company where I work or the mayor of governor or president (if it's a federal job), but if this is what is getting people hired, then so be it. There are times when I would think "Dear Hiring Manager" would appear much more appropriate than its alternative(s).What if you address a cover letter to the wrong person? Is that impressive too? Let's say you are supposed to send your cover letter to Helen Hayes but instead address it to John Smith. Now, Ms. Hayes receives your cover letter. Does she think, hmm, I can't believe this applicant addressed their cover letter to John Smith when everyone knows he is under me in the chain of command. Does Ms. Hayes think, hmm, John Smith doesn't even work here. Who is John Smith? Or does Ms. Hayes think, "good effort, s/he made a huge mistake, but made the effort."
  • Paul H
    Paul H
    Article gave only two tips related to the resume itself, both pretty standard approaches.  The other ideas presented related to job-hunting, but not specifically to writing or distributing a resume.
  • Anthony Omari Yaw O
    Anthony Omari Yaw O
    Thats wow indeed.
  • John K
    John K
    This article is very good. It was instructive to me. For example, in the past, I have addressed my cover letters as: Dear Sir/Ma'am. Certainly I will begin the practice of addressing my cover letters to a specific person. Also, I will discontinue my tendency to fail to follow up with the hiring manager. Further, I have never thought about seeking a personal referral from someone I know who works for the company to which I am applying. Finally, I did not know how very important it is to use keywords in my resumes. In fact, I had no idea that companies use scanning programs to find keywords. I give this article an A rating. Thank you.
  • Norma B
    Norma B
    Great info.......thanks
  • Frances Y
    Frances Y
    I work in an Employment Center and offer a free resume class. You covered the key points quite well. I printed this off to give to the teacher. Thanks for your input
  • Murali S
    Murali S
    sir i waiting for the suitable job but i applied so many time no reply your side so what i do?
  • Mark R
    Mark R
    If this were the case, I would have had some kind of job 12 months ago. I've done everything you listed, in addition to keeping a log of when and whom I applied to, and send handwritten followups and thank you's. I carry business cards to hand to people who might be able to help with my job search. I have 15 years in IT, lots of past certifications, no criminal record, a reference list including business owners and University Deans, and a short list (last position, 8 yrs) of happy previous employers; NOTHING. If you don't pay $ to have your resume screened by in-the-loop HR scammers, or have a brother-in-law in the biz you're applying for, you're not hired. This is a happy fluff piece, and my comments probably won't be posted.
  •  Sherry D. G
    Sherry D. G
    Thanks for these tips. This was a very helpful article. I will use these tips in my job search.
  • Rhonda D
    Rhonda D
    Good article.  I have been interviewed for jobs, but never here back. I need guidance.  I am very discouraged.
  • George L
    George L
    Great article with timely information.
  • Lila D
    Lila D
    Beyond.com is a great recruiting company, unfortunately I have not been successful.Your Wow resume did help me a geat deal, thanks
  • Peter B
    Peter B
    Thank you for your article Melissa.
  • Robin C
    Robin C
    Most of what this says is 'old news' and in today's climate, it is usually impossible to reach a real person, let alone a hiring manager. This does not give ideas on how to help my resume stand out, as the title implies.
  • Gary G
    Gary G
    All been said 50 times in the last year
  • JOAN G
    JOAN G
    I think that your provided information was very helpful for me.  Thank you!  There are way to many things to consider as I see while submitting my online resumes and cover letters if required.

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