11 Tips from HR Pros on Making Your Resume Stand Out

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If you want to get your resume out of the slush pile and into the hands of someone who’s ready to interview you for the job, you have to make sure it's accurate and chock-full of qualifications, skills, and experience. But sometimes that's still not enough to make your resume stand out from a sea of equally qualified candidates.

We talked to a number of human resources professionals, recruiters, and hiring managers to get their advice for job seekers. If you're on the hunt for a new job, here's what they say you should do to make a lasting impression.

1. START WITH A BANG.

You want to grab the hiring manager's attention right off the bat, says Rebecca Barnes-Hogg, a recruiter and author of The YOLO Principle: The Ultimate Hiring Guide for Small Business. "Today's reality is that you have less than 10 seconds to get the attention of the person who reads your resume," she says. "The first two sentences on your resume are the most important."

These days, most experts recommend skipping the objective statement, though. Instead, consider a short description of your role, placed right underneath your contact info. "I like to see a very short summary at the top that gives me a sense of who the individual is," says human resources professional Jana Tulloch.

2. ECHO THE JOB POSTING.

The best way to grab the attention of a hiring manager is to use their own words from the job posting on your resume and cover letter, says Lauren McAdams, a career advisor and hiring manager at ResumeCompanion.com.

"There are probably a few key things they are looking for, and using their exact language on your resume is going to draw their attention," McAdams says. "Make your resume sound like it's directly replying to the job post."

This is also a great way to organically add keywords to make it through the applicant tracking system, she adds.

3. THINK LIKE A COMPUTER.

Speaking of which...

"Most companies have some form of automated applicant tracking system that will assign a rank to each resume. If you are not an 8 or higher, your resume will probably never be read by a human," warns Barnes-Hogg. "Think in terms of SEO and keywords."

This means using buzzwords that highlight what the employer is likely seeking: words like achieved, managed, and delivered, for example. You might also list industry-specific skills—especially ones that are mentioned in the job description—where they seem appropriate. Overdo it, and it'll be obvious you're trying to game the system.

4. KEEP IT NEAT.

You probably want to squeeze in all the highlights you can, but keep in mind that your resume should also be easy on the eyes. "Resumes are often pretty boring and repetitive," says Tulloch. "If someone wants to make theirs stand out, keep it simple, uncluttered, and highlight the important stuff. Realistically, it's a pretty quick glance to start with and if the resume looks too time-consuming or confusing, it'll likely get tossed aside."

Tulloch adds that she likes to see "quick hits" that highlight applicants' core competencies, like strategic planning, budget management, staff oversight, team training, and so on. "When it comes to work history, be sure to highlight what you brought to the company and how you added value," Tulloch says.

Try to keep everything included on a single page, too, says Brad Stultz, a Human Resources Coordinator for Totally Promotional. "A candidate wants to draw in a hiring manager with their resume. The quickest way to the bottom of the stack is a poorly composed and constructed resume," he says.

5. ASK NOT WHAT YOUR EMPLOYER CAN DO FOR YOU...

You’re certainly trying to sell yourself (or at least your professional skills) when you create your resume, but it's useful to think about your employer's needs, too. When you know what they're looking for, you can hit on their pain points, so to speak, and give them what they need. If an employer is looking for a web designer, for example, you may want to highlight the fact that you’ve helped companies increase traffic or convert more site visitors into customers.

"Resumes need to speak to what the candidate can do for the company, not what the candidate is looking for," Tulloch says. “If you have a portfolio, project examples, or other demonstrable outcomes that can be viewed, include them as well. These can be links in the resume or as a link in the email when you apply."

6. DON’T TRY TO BE TOO UNIQUE.

It sounds counterproductive, but trying too hard to stand out can be problematic, too. Ironically, it's what everyone else is trying to do, says Tony Warren, CEO at BreatheSimple.

“I have spent too many Friday evenings going through piles of resumes all striving to be better or different but all having read the same books on 'how to write a good resume,'" Warren says. "So heavier paper, colored paper, gothic font headings, long waffling statements like, 'I am a roll-up-the-sleeves type of person ready to get to work early Monday mornings to make a real difference.' Yawn!"

Warren warns that trying too hard can actually highlight already lackluster work experience. Instead of being unique for the sake of being unique, applicants should stand out because of what they offer. He echoes advice about focusing on the value you bring to the employer. "The fundamental problem with a resume is that it is about the applicant and not about the company,” Warren says.

7. FOCUS ON WHAT YOU ACHIEVED, NOT WHAT YOU DID.

One resume consultant (who preferred to remain anonymous) told us that applicants should focus on achievement instead of completion. "Sure, you've done things. But were you any good at them? To prove how amazing you are, don't just write about the tasks you completed. Instead, write about your achievements."

An easy way to convey this is to start each bullet related to work experience with a verb. "For example, if you want to show that you were 'involved in making a marketing plan,' write: 'Co-developed a marketing plan that delivered $500,000 in profit,'" our source says.

8. PROOFREAD. THEN PROOFREAD AGAIN.

"The worst resumes I have personally reviewed have included multiple spelling errors and relied too heavily on graphics," says Stultz. "A candidate should rely heavily on spell check and be willing to proofread their resume several times to ensure accuracy."

Even better, send it to a friend who can give it a glance with a pair of fresh eyes.

9. THINK BEYOND THE WORKPLACE.

It can work in your favor to get a little personal, too. Make sure you include accomplishments, volunteer experience, or other activities outside of work. "Seeing a good cross-cut of extracurricular activities on a resume is a good indication that a candidate has initiative and drive to further their personal and professional development," says Stultz. "These individuals tend to be more passionate and dedicated to their work."

This also makes you relatable. If you can humanize yourself beyond Job Applicant No. 67, it'll make it easier for employers to envision talking to you in person.

10. USE THE RIGHT FORMAT.

Tailor your resume format to highlight your best experience and skills, says Maritza De La Cruz, a Senior Staff Recruiter for Combined Insurance. This may mean foregoing the usual chronological order. "For example, a resume in a chronological format showcases what you have done most recently and moves backwards. A functional format more specifically highlights relevant skills and experience and may be a better format for someone looking to make a career change or with a gap in their employment history," De La Cruz says.

11. MAKE SURE YOU’RE QUALIFIED.

"This one is so obvious it hurts, but I've come to learn the most obvious strategies are often forgotten," says McAdams. "It doesn't matter what the position is, from janitor to rocket scientist, how much experience and familiarity you have with a given type of work is going to be clear."

Hiring managers know what they want and they also know how to spot a fake or over-hyped resume. If you're skilled and qualified for the role, an experienced hiring manager will be able to tell. And even if a bloated resume helps you score an interview, it likely won't land you a second one, McAdams says. "So be honest and specific about your skills and experience and apply to positions you will be competent with."

Turn Your LEGO Bricks Into a Drone With the Flybrix Drone Kit

Flyxbrix/FatBrain
Flyxbrix/FatBrain

Now more than ever, it’s important to have a good hobby. Of course, a lot of people—maybe even you—have been obsessed with learning TikTok dances and baking sourdough bread for the last few months, but those hobbies can wear out their welcome pretty fast. So if you or someone you love is looking for something that’s a little more intellectually stimulating, you need to check out the Flybrix LEGO drone kit from Fat Brain Toys.

What is a Flybrix LEGO Drone Kit?

The Flybrix drone kit lets you build your own drones out of LEGO bricks and fly them around your house using your smartphone as a remote control (via Bluetooth). The kit itself comes with absolutely everything you need to start flying almost immediately, including a bag of 56-plus LEGO bricks, a LEGO figure pilot, eight quick-connect motors, eight propellers, a propeller wrench, a pre-programmed Flybrix flight board PCB, a USB data cord, a LiPo battery, and a USB LiPo battery charger. All you’ll have to do is download the Flybrix Configuration Software, the Bluetooth Flight Control App, and access online instructions and tutorials.

Experiment with your own designs.

The Flybrix LEGO drone kit is specifically designed to promote exploration and experimentation. All the components are tough and can totally withstand a few crash landings, so you can build and rebuild your own drones until you come up with the perfect design. Then you can do it all again. Try different motor arrangements, add your own LEGO bricks, experiment with different shapes—this kit is a wannabe engineer’s dream.

For the more advanced STEM learners out there, Flybrix lets you experiment with coding and block-based coding. It uses an arduino-based hackable circuit board, and the Flybrix app has advanced features that let you try your hand at software design.

Who is the Flybrix LEGO Drone Kit for?

Flybrix is a really fun way to introduce a number of core STEM concepts, which makes it ideal for kids—and technically, that’s who it was designed for. But because engineering and coding can get a little complicated, the recommended age for independent experimentation is 13 and up. However, kids younger than 13 can certainly work on Flybrix drones with the help of their parents. In fact, it actually makes a fantastic family hobby.

Ready to start building your own LEGO drones? Click here to order your Flybrix kit today for $198.

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12 Smart and Simple Kitchen Hacks

Merlas/iStock via Getty Images Plus
Merlas/iStock via Getty Images Plus

Use these quick and simple tricks to save time in the kitchen and make cooking easier—and safer.

1. Put a damp paper towel under your cutting board.

Take a paper towel, wet it, wring it out, and place it under your cutting board. This will keep the board from slipping all over your counter and allow you to cut more safely. You can put a damp paper towel under mixing bowls to keep them from sliding around, too.

2. Use cooking spray on your cheese grater.

A person using a cheese grater
Whichever way you have your grater positioned, a little cooking spray will make the job easier.
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Before you start grating cheese, lay your grater down on its side, which keeps it from moving around and catches all of your cheese in once place. Then spray the surface with the cooking spray of your choice. The oil lubricates the surface and makes grating easier, especially for sticky cheeses.

3. Put felt glides under countertop appliances.

Not only will this save your countertops from getting scratched, but it also makes oft-used appliances easier to move when you need them.

4. Put a spoon on top of boiling pasta water.

A person holding a spoon with penne pasta over a pot of boiling water.
Foam be gone!
Andrii Pohranychnyi/iStock via Getty Images Plus

Does the foam of your starchy pasta water boil right up out of the pot? There’s a simple fix: Lay a metal or wooden spoon over the top of the pot. According to Gizmodo, this method works because the foam is “thermodynamically unstable," so when the foam’s bubbles reach the spoon, they burst, "breaking the layer of foam and sending all the bubbles collapsing down again.” If you opt for metal, though, make sure to use oven mitts to remove it from the top of the pot—it will be hot.

5. Keep dental floss handy.

You can use it to cut soft cheeses. “If the cheese is small, you can hold it in one hand while your other pulls the floss taught and does the cutting,” cheesemonger Nora Singley writes at The Kitchn. “For larger situations, place cheese on a surface, shimmy the floss beneath it, and simply slice up, holding both ends of the floss and crossing the two ends to complete the cut. Then repeat in equal intervals.”

You can also use non-minty dental floss to cut cookie dough, burritos, and hard-boiled eggs; slice melons and layers of cake; to tie things together; and get food unstuck from baking sheets.

6. Preheat your baking sheet.

A baking sheet in the oven.
Pre-heating your baking sheet saves time.
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If you’re making something like French fries or roasted veggies and your baking sheet is hot right from the get-go, you won’t have to go through the process of flipping your food later. Plus, both side of your food will be evenly browned and cook faster.

7. Save burnt pans with a dryer sheet.

Have you charred a pan so badly that the food you're trying to cook essentially became a part of the pan? Before you throw the pan out, try tossing in a dryer sheet, adding warm water, and letting it soak for 15 to 20 minutes. Then wash with soap and water as usual, and the burned bits will come right off. Karen Lo at Food52 writes that “It feels like an absolute miracle—because it is. But, according to lifestyle reporter Anna De Souza, it’s also ‘likely the conditioning properties of the dryer sheet’ that do the trick.” If the burn is really bad, Lo says you can use two dryer sheets and hot water for severe cases if you’d like, and let it soak overnight—use your judgment.

8. Leave the root end on your onion when cutting it.

A person holding an onion by the root end and dicing an onion with a knife.
Leaving the root end of your onion on gives you something to hold onto while you're dicing.
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This method is a game changer: It allows you to dice your onions safely and quickly. First, according to Real Simple, you should cut the top off of the onion; then lay the onion on the now-flat top and cut the vegetable in half through the root. Next, peel off the skin, being careful to leave the root attached. Take half of the onion and lay it, flat side down, on the cutting board. Holding on to the root end, slice the onion vertically in strips of your desired size, without cutting through to the root. Then slice in the opposite direction to dice. When you’re done, save the root end of the onion to make stock.

9. Use a Bundt pan when cutting corn.

When you’re cutting corn on a flat surface, the kernels tend to fly everywhere messily. But if you hold the ear of corn—pointy end down—on the center of a Bundt cake pan, then rotate as you cut, the kernels will fall neatly into the pan.

10. Put away your potato peeler and use this method instead.

A pot of boiling water with potatoes.
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Peeling potatoes is time-consuming and wastes delicious potato. Instead, use this potato peeling hack from Foody Tube: Make a small cut into the skin around the circumference of the potato, then boil it. Once the potato is cooked, peel the skin off. It’s that easy.

11. Keep your plastic wrap in the fridge.

When it’s cold, plastic wrap is easier to handle and less likely to get stuck to itself.

If getting plastic wrap to stick is the issue, wet the rim of whatever you’re trying to cover before putting on the plastic. The water will help it cling to the surface.

12. Use magnets to hold down parchment paper.

Two rolls of parchment paper on a white surface.
Keep parchment paper from rolling up on your baking sheet with this clever trick.
Viktoriia Oleinichenko/iStock via Getty Images Plus

To keep parchment paper from rolling up on baking sheets—and therefore making it incredibly difficult actually to put anything on the sheet to cook—Le Cordon Bleu-educated pastry chef Amy Dieschbourg uses magnets to hold the paper in place. Once everything is on the paper, remove the magnets and get cooking.