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10 Resume Tips to Help Your CV Stand Out, Experts Say

Here's how to rise to the top of the applicant pool.

When you're hoping to land the job of your dreams, your resume can serve as the secret weapon you need to get your foot in the door. As the first touchpoint you'll have with a potential employer, it needs to stand out from the crowd if you want to be invited in for an actual interview. This is especially true in today's highly competitive job market.

"A great resume isn't simply a piece of paper on which to record employment history; it's a strategic tool for marketing yourself as the perfect job candidate," says Vit Koval, a global hiring and remote work advocate at the hiring company Globy.

With that in mind, experts say there are a handful of ways that you can upgrade your resume to ensure that it ends up in the right hands and makes the right impression. These are the top 10 resume tips to put your career goals within reach.

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Focus on results, not just experience.

Portrait of confident businesswoman with colleagues in boardroom. Using digital tablet during a meeting.
Zamrznuti tonovi / Shutterstock

Employers want to know the highlights of your career until now, but simply listing your experience won't paint the full picture.

"Too many resumes simply list experience," says Renee Fellman, a turnaround expert and interim CEO at Renee Fellman & Associates. "To make your resume stand out, clearly and concisely include the results you achieved that can be verified by the person to whom you reported."

She recommends asking yourself: "What were your goals? What did you accomplish?"

To that point, the experts all agree that it's a good idea to lean on data to quantify your achievements and showcase your impact. "Data is one of the most underused resume enhancement techniques," says Daniel Space, a senior HR director and content creator who goes by Dan from HR.

For instance, explain how you helped save the company $100,000, how you optimized a process for 11 percent efficiency, ensured training for a data analysis skill set of 900 employees, or managed a budget of $6 million, Space says, emphasizing the importance of specificity.

Tweak the resume to fit the job description.

male candidate giving an answer to a question during a job interview

Next, you'll want to adjust your resume to fit the job description and demonstrate a strong match for the role, says Jason LaMonica, COO of the staffing company Spec on the Job.

Sharon Hull, MD, MPH, PCC, author of the new book Professional Careers by Design: A Handbook for the Bespoke Life, suggests keeping a master document and updating it regularly, then tailoring it to specific job applications. This will save you some time and allow you to highlight your greatest and most directly related strengths and skills.

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Use a professional format for easy readability.

female smiling during a job interview with a male

LaMonica also recommends giving careful consideration to your resume formatting, opting for a "clean, professional" style that's easy to read.

Hull agrees that "format matters." She recommends using standard fonts (Arial, Cambria, Garamond, and Times New Roman are all considered standard for CVs), appropriate use of white space, and clear margins and alignment.

Though consistency is key, Space adds that you can also use visual cues to highlight your CV's most important pieces of information. "For your best achievements, use bold lettering to call the reader's attention," he suggests.

Consider your order of presentation.

Cloesup of hands looking at resume

The order in which you share your experience, results data, education, and skills can also make a difference. "Highlight key skills and accomplishments at the beginning for emphasis," advises LaMonica.

"Your most important information is your experience—that should take up 80 percent of the page," adds Space, noting that education should go at the end. "You do not need a professional summary if your resume is directly appropriate for the role."

Keep it short.

man looking over someone's resume while sitting at his laptop next to a city window

Submitting a resume that's many pages long may signal to your potential employers that you're unable to synthesize information into digestible formats. Your biggest achievements are also likely to get buried in too much information.

"Brevity and clarity are key qualities of a great resume," says Hull, who was also the founding director of an executive coaching program for faculty at Duke University Medical Center.

She recommends keeping your CV to between one and two pages, depending on the volume of your previous work experience. Recent graduates or people who are new to the workforce with under 10 years of experience should stick with a one-page resume.

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Use digital formats to your advantage.

Young Man looking at laptop screen, leaning back with his hands behind his head
fizkes / Shutterstock

Submitting a resume is different today than it was even a decade ago—one of the biggest differences being that most resumes are now digital.

By using the right relevant keywords, you have an opportunity to optimize your CV and pass through any automated tracking systems (ATS) used to screen candidates initially. In particular, you can include keywords, including specific skills and qualifications, that stand out from the job description.

LaMonica also recommends providing a link to a professional online profile or company website for additional information.

Address any gaps in employment.

Cropped shot of a young woman in a red suit waiting for an interview, holding her resume

Submitting your resume for consideration is the very first opportunity you'll have to tell your story. If you leave gaps in that story, your potential employers might make unfair assumptions.

This is especially important to remember if you've had any major gaps in your employment. "Tell the story of what was going on. Explain, don't be defensive, and focus on how the gap may have improved your skills, including resilience," suggests Hull.

Use a "Previous Experience" section.

A businessman reads a resume during a job interview with a woman

Having lots of job experience is a good thing, but including details about jobs you held two decades ago can take away from your more recent achievements. Space adds that, unfortunately, "ageism is a thing"—meaning you may not want to highlight just how long you've been in the workforce.

However, there's a simple solution. "Having a 'Previous Experience' section that's just bulleted like a 'Skills' section with title and company is more than enough," Space says. "You don't need a full entry for the one-year job you had in 2009."

RELATED: 5 Things You Should Never Lie About on Your Resume.

Proofread, proofread, proofread.

young woman wearing a yellow-orange blouse taking notes in a notebook while on her laptop
Kateryna Onyshchuk / iStock

Nothing will turn off a potential employer faster than noticing typos or careless errors in your resume. Since your CV is your one chance to put your best foot forward, even minor mistakes in spelling, punctuation, or word choice can signal that your work is sloppy or rushed.

To avoid this mistake, read it slowly, ask a friend to give it a second pass, and run your work through a spellchecker. "Proofread meticulously to ensure error-free content," advises LaMonica.

Always include a cover letter.

businessman in a black suit holding a letter while seated in front of his laptop showing a graph

Making a point of always including a brief but thoughtful and personalized cover letter "will greatly enhance your chances" of employment, says Koval. This is where you really get to tell your story, share your enthusiasm for the position, company, or general field of work, and let your personality shine.

"It provides you with an opportunity to state why you are passionate about the job and how your background makes you the perfect fit. A cover letter personalizes your application and can make a memorable impression," Koval notes.

Lauren Gray
Lauren Gray is a New York-based writer, editor, and consultant. Read more
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