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."

10 of the Best Indoor and Outdoor Heaters on Amazon

Mr. Heater/Amazon
Mr. Heater/Amazon

With the colder months just around the corner, you might want to start thinking about investing in an indoor or outdoor heater. Indoor heaters not only provide a boost of heat for drafty spaces, but they can also be a money-saver, allowing you to actively control the heat based on the rooms you’re using. Outdoor heaters, meanwhile, can help you take advantage of cold-weather activities like camping or tailgating without having to call it quits because your extremities have gone numb. Check out this list of some of Amazon’s highest-rated indoor and outdoor heaters so you can spend less time shivering this winter and more time enjoying what the season has to offer.

Indoor Heaters

1. Lasko Ceramic Portable Heater; $20

Lasko/Amazon

This 1500-watt heater from Lasko may only be nine inches tall, but it can heat up to 300 square feet of space. With 11 temperature settings and three quiet settings—for high heat, low heat, and fan only—it’s a dynamic powerhouse that’ll keep you toasty all season long.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Alrocket Oscillating Space Heater; $25

Alrocket/Amazon

Alrocket’s oscillating space heater is an excellent addition to any desk or nightstand. Using energy-saving ceramic technology, this heater is made of fire-resistant material, and its special “tip-over” safety feature forces it to turn off if it falls over (making it a reliable choice for homes with kids or pets). It’s extremely quiet, too—at only 45 dB, it’s just a touch louder than a whisper. According to one reviewer, this an ideal option for a “very quiet but powerful” heater.

Buy it: Amazon

3. De’Longhi Oil-Filled Radiator Space Heather; $79

De’Longhi/Amazon

If you prefer a space heater with a more old-fashioned vibe, this radiator heater from De’Longhi gives you 2020 technology with a vintage feel. De’Longhi’s heater automatically turns itself on when the temperatures drops below 44°F, and it will also automatically turn itself off if it starts to overheat. Another smart safety feature? The oil system is permanently sealed, so you won’t have to worry about accidental spills.

Buy it: Amazon

4. Aikoper Ceramic Tower Heater; $70

Aikoper/Amazon

Whether your room needs a little extra warmth or its own heat source, Aikoper’s incredibly precise space heater has got you covered. With a range of 40-95°F, it adjusts by one-degree intervals, giving you the specific level of heat you want. It also has an option for running on an eight-hour timer, ensuring that it will only run when you need it.

Buy it: Amazon

5. Isiler Space Heater; $37

Isiler/Amazon

For a space heater that adds a fun pop of color to any room, check out this yellow unit from Isiler. Made from fire-resistant ceramic, Isiler’s heater can start warming up a space within seconds. It’s positioned on a triangular stand that creates an optimal angle for hot air to start circulating, rendering it so effective that, as one reviewer put it, “This heater needs to say ‘mighty’ in its description.”

Buy it: Amazon

Outdoor Heaters

6. Mr. Heater Portable Buddy; $104

Mr. Heater/Amazon

Make outdoor activities like camping and grilling last longer with Mr. Heater’s indoor/outdoor portable heater. This heater can connect to a propane tank or to a disposable cylinder, allowing you to keep it in one place or take it on the go. With such a versatile range of uses, this heater will—true to its name—become your best buddy when the temperature starts to drop.

Buy it: Amazon

7. Hiland Pyramid Patio Propane Heater; Various

Hiland/Amazon

The cold’s got nothing on this powerful outdoor heater. Hiland’s patio heater has a whopping 40,000 BTU output, which runs for eight to 10 hours on high heat. Simply open the heater’s bottom door to insert a propane tank, power it on, and sit back to let it warm up your backyard. The bright, contained flame from the propane doubles as an outdoor light.

Buy it: Amazon

8. Solo Stove Bonfire Pit; $345

Solo Stove/Amazon

This one is a slight cheat since it’s a bonfire pit and not a traditional outdoor heater, but the Solo Stove has a 4.7-star rating on Amazon for a reason. Everything about this portable fire pit is meticulously crafted to maximize airflow while it's lit, from its double-wall construction to its bottom air vents. These features all work together to help the logs burn more completely while emitting far less smoke than other pits. It’s the best choice for anyone who wants both warmth and ambiance on their patio.

Buy it: Amazon

9. Dr. Infrared Garage Shop Heater; $119

Dr. Infrared/Amazon

You’ll be able to use your garage or basement workshop all season long with this durable heater from Dr. Infrared. It’s unique in that it includes a built-in fan to keep warm air flowing—something that’s especially handy if you need to work without wearing gloves. The fan is overlaid with heat and finger-protectant grills, keeping you safe while it’s powered on.

Buy it: Amazon

10. Mr. Heater 540 Degree Tank Top; $86

Mr. Heater/Amazon

Mr. Heater’s clever propane tank top automatically connects to its fuel source, saving you from having to bring any extra attachments with you on the road. With three heat settings that can get up to 45,000 BTU, the top can rotate 360 degrees to give you the perfect angle of heat you need to stay cozy. According to a reviewer, for a no-fuss outdoor heater, “This baby is super easy to light, comes fully assembled … and man, does it put out the heat.”

Buy it: Amazon

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Want to Fall Asleep Faster? Try This Breathing Technique

Andrea Piacquadio, Pexels
Andrea Piacquadio, Pexels

Struggling to fall asleep can feel like a hopeless battle. It often seems like the harder you try turning your brain off, the less likely it is to happen. One way to trick yourself into falling asleep fast is finding something to concentrate on other than how long you've been awake. For nights when your thoughts just won't stay quiet, try the 4-7-8 technique.

According to Simplemost, the 4-7-8 breathing method is meant to combat anxiety, restlessness, and other enemies of a good night's sleep. The actual technique is simple: Just inhale for four seconds, hold your breath for seven seconds, and exhale for eight seconds. Like counting sheep, measuring out your breaths gives your brain something to do that isn't obsessing about your hectic day or the day ahead.

Taking slow, deliberate breaths has also been proven to reduce stress. Neurons that influence calmness have been found in the breathing control centers of mouse brains. In humans, deep breathing has long been central to mindfulness practices like yoga and meditation. The 4-7-8 breathing technique functions as both a distraction from your thoughts and a way to combat any anxious sensations that may be keeping you awake.

The next time you find yourself tossing and turning at night, try anywhere between three and eight rounds of this breathing technique to calm your body and mind. And to get the best rest possible, make sure you're settling into the best sleep position for your health.

[h/t Simplemost]