4 Tips: Prevent Your Resume from Blending Into the Crowd

Your resume is terrific! At least, your grammar is error-free and your formatting decisions align with traditional business standards. But… as it happens, 80 percent of the resumes in the applicant pool are also mistake-free and by-the-book.


Your qualifications are ideal for this job! At least, you have every one of the requirements listed in the job post. Bachelor’s degree? Check. Two years of experience in a similar position? Check. Proficiency with Microsoft Word and Excel? Check and check. You’re a shoo-in. But… so is everyone else. These qualifications aren’t that rare, and after they remove all the non-contenders from the initial applicant pool, these managers will still have dozens of perfectly qualified candidates to sift through.

So what now? Your squeaky clean resume isn’t quite enough, and neither is your paint-by-number work history. You still need to find a way to keep from falling through the cracks and disappearing into the crowd. Try these moves. 

1. Get ready to follow up.

This may be your best weapon in the race for this position. Once managers hear your voice and make a connection with you over the phone or by email, it will be just a tiny bit harder to turn you away. And if you can use those brief seconds of voice-time to add to your pitch and make your interest clear, this may be just enough to give you a critical edge. As the old saying goes, sometimes to best way to get what you want is to simply ask for it.

2. Tailor your resume and cover letter to this company’s culture.

Visit the company website to glean as much information as you can about what this company stands for, how its business model works, and what this specific job will entail. But while you’re conducting your research, read between the lines. What do you think it might be like to work here? What kinds of values and personality traits do you think these employers might be looking for? What kind of person will most likely to fit in and thrive in this kind of culture? Work your findings into the tone and message of your application.

3. Focus on the specific tasks you’ll be facing in this role.

Look closely for lines of text in the post that sound like this: “We need someone who can help us create marketing copy as we launch our new product line”, or “We’re looking for a drama-free, seasoned pro who can help us implement our new back office management system”. Or “We’re looking for a hard-charging, fully committed candidate who can aggressively take over new sales territory after our recent merger.” Each of these statements offers a clue (or several) into the kind of wording and phrases that might help your resume get a little extra attention. Try to reflect these phrases in your own text.

4. Choose a rule and break it.

Choose one rule (or two or three) and break it wide open. Think carefully, and be deliberate. Use bright garish colors in your resume text. Or get personal and pour your life story into your cover letter. Go ahead and say something negative about your former employer. You can even take the “one-page-only” rule and toss it out the window. But whatever you do, break your rule with confidence and stand behind your calculated risk.

For more on how to get out in front of the crowd and make waves with your resume and cover letter, explore the tools and guidelines available on LiveCareer

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