11 Brilliant Resume Tricks That Worked

rizal999, iStock
rizal999, iStock

A mildly terrifying, but true, reality: A hiring manager spends 15 to 30 seconds, maximum, looking at your resume before deciding whether it belongs in the "yes" or the "no" pile (and some say they can do it in fewer than 6 seconds. Which means that no matter how qualified for your dream job you may be, none of it matters if your resume can’t prove it in less than a few blinks. Scary, right?

Thankfully, there are a few tweaks you can make to your CV's content and formatting to help it stand out the way you know it deserves to. Here are 11 tried-and-true tricks, care of the experts, that have actually worked to get a resume into the "yes" pile.

1. KEEP IT CLEAN.

"I've spent most of my time in corporate settings, so a format that has clean lines and is easily scannable is best," says Casey Carr-Jones, PHR, Founder of JumpStartResume. "Remember: A recruiter or hiring manager may only spend 15-30 seconds looking at your resume, so if it's a big jumbled mess they'll toss you into the 'no' pile without a second thought."

2. TAILOR YOUR RESUME TO THE JOB YOU'RE APPLYING FOR.

Make sure your resume fits the role, whether it’s corporate or creative, and edit it as you see fit. Resumes that stand out in a bad way, says Carr-Jones, could cost you a job. Her examples? "A cringe-worthy funky design for an accountant position. A three-page resume for a recent college grad with no work experience. An objective statement that reads for a position with Google, not my company." Don’t let yours be a document that gets discarded simply because of inappropriate formatting (or worse, for listing the wrong company!)

3. UPDATE CONSTANTLY.

The best thing you can do for yourself, just in case your dream job opens up? Keep your resume current. "I've seen many friends and colleagues scramble to update or put together a resume last-minute for a dream job," says Carr-Jones. "Plan ahead and try to revise your resume at least once per year to save yourself the stress and likely sloppy rush job."

4. SHOW OFF WHY YOU'RE A PERFECT FIT FOR THE ROLE.

Use the structure of your document to make your main qualifiers really pop off the page. "Organize and customize your resume to highlight the transferable skills and experience so they can tell in 10 seconds that you are qualified," says Carr-Jones. "Focus on the job posting's terminology and reflect that in your resume and cover letter."

5. ENLIST AN EXTRA PAIR OF EYES.

After staring at the same objectives and skills for hours (or in some cases, years), you’ll wind up seeing what you want to see, and won’t necessarily be able to recognize any faults. "Send it to a friend or relative who you trust along with the position to which you're looking to apply," says Carr-Jones. "Have them proofread for spelling and grammar, and ask for their honest opinion on the content."

6. USE HARD NUMBERS.

Hiring managers ultimately want to know how you’re going to save them money, so the more you can hit them with facts, the better. "What’s been very successful for candidates I’ve placed with prominent businesses is using hard numbers," says Mark Rubick, a Cincinnati-based Regional Developer with Patrice & Associates. "A hiring manager will spend 15 to 30 seconds looking at your resume, so put your quantifiable numbers up front and give them a reason to interview you within the first 15 seconds." Include things like your conversion rate and how much revenue you’ve brought in with your past roles to show how much you could really be "worth" to the company.

7. SEND SOMETHING PEOPLE WANT TO KEEP.

Your resume doesn’t necessarily need to be a traditional one-page document. "Create something people will find hard to throw away—something that can't be added to a pile of other resumes and forgotten," says graphic designer Jon Ryder, who cheekily sends his resume on a pill box. "Send something that they think is worth keeping on their desk, even if it's only for a few days longer than all the other resumes before it's chucked in a drawer." Especially if you’re applying for a job in a creative field (we wouldn't necessarily recommend this route for lawyers or bankers), consider spicing things up a bit with an outside-the-box resume, like one of these.

8. MIRROR THE JOB DESCRIPTION.

If it’s in the job description, it should be on your resume … in the right way. "Using a specific job posting, structure your current or most recent position to reflect the language and responsibilities listed in the posting—in order," says Jaclyn Westlake, a San Francisco-based career coach. "This trick works because it makes it hard for a recruiter to miss the fact that your experience lines up perfectly with what the company is looking for and shows that you took the time to tailor your resume. It'll help with keyword optimization, too."

9. LOAD UP ON KEYWORDS.

"Using word counting tools to scan job postings for relevant and recurring keywords can help you to figure out which terms you should include on your resume," says Westlake. "You can then create an 'areas of expertise' section where you can list each and every keyword you come across. Bonus points if you're able to weave them into the body of your resume. Loading your resume up with the keywords you find in a job posting will help you to get past those pesky applicant tracking systems and in front of a real live recruiter."

10. POP IN SOME EASTER EGGS.

Recruiters spend hours (and hours, and hours) reading through boring resumes, so sneaking in fun little "Easter Eggs," as Westlake calls them, can help you stand out. "It could be something as simple as hiding 'Crushed the office all-time highest ping pong score' between a bullet point about your project management and budgeting experience," says Westlake. "I've also had clients purposely include interests that they know the hiring manager shares or a pie chart with a breakdown of their day, in which 5 percent of every day is spent 'being awesome.' Just make sure whatever you’re including would still be considered appropriate for the job you’re applying for."

11. UP YOUR TEMPLATE GAME.

A little bit of design goes a long way. "Most resumes look pretty similar—adding pops of color, leveraging unique layouts, or designing creative headers can really help you to stand out from a sea of black, white, and boring," says Westlake. Just be sure you don't sacrifice readability for design.

10 Reusable Gifts for Your Eco-Friendliest Friend

Disposable tea bags can't compete with this pla-tea-pus and his friends.
Disposable tea bags can't compete with this pla-tea-pus and his friends.
DecorChic/Amazon

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By this point, your eco-friendly pal probably has a reusable water bottle that accompanies them everywhere and some sturdy grocery totes that keep their plastic-bag count below par. Here are 10 other sustainable gift ideas that’ll help them in their conservation efforts.

1. Reusable Produce Bags; $13

No more staticky plastic bags.Naturally Sensible/Amazon

The complimentary plastic produce bags in grocery stores aren’t great, but neither is having all your spherical fruits and vegetables roll pell-mell down the checkout conveyor belt. Enter the perfect alternative: mesh bags that are nylon, lightweight, and even machine-washable.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Animal Tea Infusers; $16

Nothing like afternoon tea with your tiny animal friends.DecorChic/Amazon

Saying goodbye to disposable tea bags calls for a quality tea diffuser, and there’s really no reason why it shouldn’t be shaped like an adorable animal. This “ParTEA Pack” includes a hippo, platypus, otter, cat, and owl, which can all hang over the edge of a glass or mug. (In other words, you won’t have to fish them out with your fingers or dirty a spoon when your loose leaf is done steeping.)

Buy it: Amazon

3. Rocketbook Smart Notebook; $25

Typing your notes on a tablet or laptop might save trees, but it doesn’t quite capture the feeling of writing on paper with a regular pen. The Rocketbook, on the other hand, does. After you’re finished filling a page with sketches, musings, or whatever else, you scan it into the Rocketbook app with your smartphone, wipe it clean with the microfiber cloth, and start again. This one also comes with a compatible pen, but any PILOT FriXion pens will do.

Buy it: Amazon

4. Food Huggers; $13

"I'm a hugger!"Food Huggers/Amazon

It’s hard to compete with the convenience of plastic wrap or tin foil when it comes to covering the exposed end of a piece of produce or an open tin can—and keeping those leftovers in food storage containers can take up valuable space in the fridge. This set of five silicone Food Huggers stretch to fit over a wide range of circular goods, from a lidless jar to half a lemon.

Buy it: Amazon

5. Swiffer Mop Pads; $15

For floors that'll shine like the top of the Chrysler Building.Turbo Microfiber/Amazon

Swiffers may be much less unwieldy than regular mops, but the disposable pads present a problem to anyone who likes to keep their trash output to a minimum. These machine-washable pads fasten to the bottom of any Swiffer WetJet, and the thick microfiber will trap dirt and dust instead of pushing it into corners. Each pad lasts for at least 100 uses, so you’d be saving your eco-friendly friend quite a bit of money, too.

Buy it: Amazon

6. SodaStream for Sparkling Water; $69

A fondness for fizzy over flat water doesn’t have to mean buying it bottled. Not only does the SodaStream let you make seltzer at home, but it’s also small enough that it won’t take up too much precious counter space. SodaStream also sells flavor drops to give your home-brewed beverage even more flair—this pack from Amazon ($25) includes mango, orange, raspberry, lemon, and lime.

Buy it: Amazon

7. Washable Lint Roller; $13

Roller dirty.iLifeTech/Amazon

There’s a good chance that anyone with a pet (or just an intense dislike for lint) has lint-rolled their way through countless sticky sheets. iLifeTech’s reusable roller boasts “the power of glue,” which doesn’t wear off even after you’ve washed it. Each one also comes with a 3-inch travel-sized version, so you can stay fuzz-free on the go.

Buy it: Amazon

8. Countertop Compost Bin; $23

Like a tiny Tin Man for your table.Epica/Amazon

Even if you keep a compost pile in your own backyard, it doesn’t make sense to dash outside every time you need to dump a food scrap. A countertop compost bin can come in handy, especially if it kills odors and blends in with your decor. This 1.3-gallon pail does both. It’s made of stainless steel—which matches just about everything—and contains an activated-charcoal filter that prevents rancid peels and juices from stinking up your kitchen.

Buy it: Amazon

9. Fabric-Softening Dryer Balls; $17

Also great for learning how to juggle without breaking anything.Smart Sheep

Nobody likes starchy, scratchy clothes, but some people might like blowing through bottles of fabric softener and boxes of dryer sheets even less. Smart Sheep is here to offer a solution: wool dryer balls. Not only do they last for more than 1000 loads, they also dry your laundry faster. And since they don’t contain any chemicals, fragrances, or synthetic materials, they’re a doubly great option for people with allergies and/or sensitive skin.

Buy it: Amazon

10. Rechargeable Batteries; $40

Say goodbye to loose batteries in your junk drawer.eneloop/Amazon

While plenty of devices are rechargeable themselves, others still require batteries to buzz, whir, and change the TV channel—so it’s good to have some rechargeable batteries on hand. In addition to AA batteries, AAA batteries, and a charger, this case from Panasonic comes with tiny canisters that function as C and D batteries when you slip the smaller batteries into them.

Buy it: Amazon

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The Reusable Rocketbook Smart Notebook Is the Ultimate Recycling Move

StackCommerce/Rocketbook
StackCommerce/Rocketbook

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You may be conscientious of your environmental footprint, but some habits are tough to change, like transitioning from writing notes on paper to typing notes and saving trees. There’s just something about physically writing with a pen and paper that’s fulfilling, engages your memory, and just feels right. You can keep jotting without the guilt on this smart reusable notebook from Rocketbook that translates all of your written text to your favorite cloud services so you can recycle the pages to use again and again.

Once you start using cloud storage for notes, it’ll be hard to go back. You’ll have every song lyric, appointment, and list of directions you jot down anywhere you have internet access (which is basically everywhere these days). The set comes with 42 pages for various uses, like calendars and to-do lists that wipe clean with a damp cloth to reuse after you save your notes to the cloud.

One of the reasons it’s hard to ditch traditional pen and paper is the feeling of your favorite writing utensil gliding on the page. This set comes with a FriXion pen that writes smoothly on the synthetic paper just like the old-fashioned way—except you can’t misplace or ruin these notes in a shuffle or coffee spill since everything will be stored digitally. It’s better for the environment and kind of like an insurance plan on your personal thoughts and notes.

For a limited time, you can replace all of your archaic and environmentally wasteful notebooks with one easy set. Score the Rocketbook Fusion Executive book in black, the Rocketbook Mini in black, two FriXion pens, and two microfiber cloths for wiping with a 12 percent discount. You’ll get unlimited paper from the sleek large and small black notebooks for just $44.

Prices subject to change.

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