You’ve got one page – and an average of f5 seconds – to grab your potential employer’s attention and set you apart from thousands of other applicants. (Talk about pressure!). That means you can’t afford to waste a single word. If you’re applying for jobs but not seeing results, it’s time to take a fresh look at your resume.

Here are ten ways to make your resume stand out from the crowd:

  1. Show Don’t Tell: The number one resume mistake applicants make is forgetting to include quantifiable results. Don’t just tell recruiters and hiring manager you’re highly motivated, and leave it at that. Show them by including specific examples and metrics (e.g. ranked number one in sales three years running, increased market share by twelve percent, created and launched a new program in two months). Use numbers to back up your claims and tell the story of your achievements.
  2. Slim Down: When you want to fit into those jeans from two years ago, you cut down on the carbs. When you want to fit your resume (comfortably) onto one page, cut down on ‘fillers’. These include vague phrases like detail oriented, strong communicator, and team player. Remember, you’re trying to stand out from the masses. If you’re using generic phrases that could apply to any applicant, you’re wasting precious space.
  3. Play it Safe: Though you’ll probably create your resume in Microsoft Word, don’t submit a Word document to potential employers (unless specifically requested). Depending on the reader’s specific computer settings, your previously-perfect document formatting may look completely different. Instead, save and submit your resume as an Adobe PDF document. Your formatting and fonts will be ‘locked’ in the PDF, so you can be confident things show up exactly as you intended. You can download Adobe’s free PDF creator software online.
  4. Maintain Order: Don’t try to get creative when it comes to naming your document. Save your file as Last Name, First Name so it’s easy for recruiters and hiring managers to save and find your materials among other applicants.
  5. Be Easy on the Eyes: Unusual font styles won’t help you stand out – at least, not for the right reasons. Stick with standard system fonts like Times New Roman, Courier New, or Cambria. Make all text at least 10-point. Avoid sans-serif fonts (e.g., Calibri, Helvetica), which are more difficult to read. Also, don’t mix and match different fonts in one document.
  6. Keep It Clean: Appearance is everything, which is why your one-page documents must be both functional and attractive. White space is your friend. Bullet points are your friends. Margins are your friends. Not sure you can create a great looking resume from scratch? Try using on of the preloaded resume templates in Microsoft Word as your starting point.
  7. Cover Your Bases: Recruiters and hiring managers expect to see specific content areas, which make it easier to quickly scan and compare applicants. Make sure to include the following: Name and Contact Information, Work Experience, Education, Skills, Honors & Awards (if applicable), and Activities and Interests (optional).
  8. Beware the Overshare: The Activities and Interests sections can be a double edged sword. Include one or two lines (at most), and only if you’re sharing items that also speak to broader strengths and skills. For example, “Traveled to more than 15 countries” would be a great addition if you’re applying to a job that may require travel or familiarity with other cultures. On the other hand, “Visited more than 30 local breweries” could raise some red flags.
  9. Be Stingy: You’ve got limited space and time to stand out from hundreds (or thousands) or other resumes. So it’s okay to be stingy – more than okay! Dedicate at least 75 percent of your available ‘real estate’ to work experience. Similarly, be intentional about how far back in your career to include. If you’ve been in the workforce for twenty years, your college internships probably don’t need to be included.
  10. Proof. Proof. Proof. You’ve slaved away creating the perfect resume, and you’re eager to hit ‘Submit’. Don’t do it! You should always have at least two other people proofread your resume before turning it in. One spelling slip-up or grammatical faux-pas could equal a trash toss.

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