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Five ways to make your resume stand out

  • Story Highlights
  • With 12.5 million unemployed, you must work harder to get your resume seen
  • Employers receive 75 applications on average for each open position
  • Tracking systems are becoming increasingly popular so incorporate key words
  • Include a career summary at the top of your resume
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By Jason Ferrara
CareerBuilder.com vice president
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CareerBuilder

Editor's note: CNN.com has a business partnership with CareerBuilder.com, which serves as the exclusive provider of job listings and services to CNN.com.

Eric Clardy, left, hands his resume to a recruiter at a job fair in the parking lot in Los Angeles, California.

Eric Clardy, left, hands his resume to a recruiter at a job fair in the parking lot in Los Angeles, California.

With a record 12.5 million people unemployed in today's labor market, it's apparent that now, more than ever before, the people looking for employment must work even harder to ensure that they stand out to employers through their applications.

Nearly 25 percent of human resource managers said on average, they receive more than 75 résumés for each open position and 42 percent receive more than 50 résumés per position, according to a nationwide survey released in March 2009 by CareerBuilder.com.

The majority of these managers say that at least half of those résumés are from unqualified candidates.

With that type of pressure and competition, the question becomes, how will you stand out among the masses? The answer is simple: through your résumé.

If crafted effectively, your résumé is perhaps the most valuable marketing tool you've got. After all, in a matter of seconds, its contents can make or break your chances of landing an interview.

Thirty-eight percent of human resource managers say they spend one to two minutes reviewing a new application, while 17 percent spend less than one minute, according to the survey.

Five tips to make your résumé stand out

Now that you know you have approximately 60 seconds to impress an employer, you better make sure that your résumé is the best possible representation of you and your achievements.

Here are five tips to help you produce an effective résumé:

1. Include a career summary at the top of your résumé

You only have a matter of seconds -- a minute if you're lucky -- to impress a human resource or hiring manager with your résumé. Don't make them search for the important material. By including a career summary at the top, it will give managers an immediate snapshot of your skills and accomplishments.

2. Keep it up to date

No matter the state of the economy, you should always have a recent résumé and portfolio on hand. Fifty percent of the 8,038 employees surveyed by CareerBuilder.com said their résumés aren't up to date.

Any time your responsibilities increase or you accomplish something significant, update your résumé with that information. You never know when you'll need to produce a current résumé.

3. Incorporate keywords

Tracking systems are becoming increasingly popular to screen and weed out unqualified candidates. In fact, 51 percent of human resource managers report using them in the hiring process.

To avoid the discard pile, integrate keywords from the job posting into your résumé. Doing so will heighten your chances of showing up near the top of the employer's ranking of the most relevant candidates.

4. Use a functional résumé

Almost every major industry is experiencing mass layoffs, with the exception of a couple. That being said, many job seekers are looking for work in new industries and professions where they might not have much experience.

Listing your experience by skill categories rather than chronologically shows employers the proficiencies you possess rather than those you lack.

5. Include all relevant experience

Whether you're expanding your job search to a new industry or you're a new college graduate, you might not have the necessary experience to land that job you want.

Make sure you're including all pertinent experience on your résumé. Volunteer work, leadership roles or community involvement are all areas most employers consider to be relevant experience.

Now what?

Now that you've incorporated these five tips into your résumé, the worst thing you can do is send a generic copy out to the masses while you sit on your couch and pray for a response.

Be proactive with your résumé and take advantage of the tools available to you. On job boards like CareerBuilder.com, for example, you can use resources like cbResume, cbResumeDirect and Resume Upgrade, all of which can increase your visibility to employers.

Additionally, you should utilize social networking sites to host your application materials, as well as target your résumé to the company where you're applying.

Taking advantage of all the resources at your disposal will help ensure that your résumé stands out among the masses.

Copyright CareerBuilder.com 2009. All rights reserved. The information contained in this article may not be published, broadcast or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority

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