We all know that the interview is your best chance to shine when applying for a new job. You can prove your case as to why an employer needs YOU to fill an open position, and you are certain you are much more charming in person than you can ever express in a cold, impersonal resume. However, the only way to score that interview is to make sure your resume does its job to get you there.

Well-designed resume example

When considering how to make a resume stands out among the competition, ask yourself these questions, and if the answer isn’t a strong “yes” to each of them, you need to do some work on your resume format and content. Once you’ve identified your weak areas, Ladders has free resume templates to help whip your resume into fighting shape.

Is your resume format easy on the eyes?

Formatting is the first thing a hiring manager notices when reviewing hundreds of resumes. Any sort of funky font, size, or color may be an automatic turn-off and shunt your resume into the discard pile. Your resume should be clean and modern with proper indentation and appropriate bolds or italics on JUST job titles or companies (only one or the other, whichever you feel makes the best impression).

Your resume should also be no more than two pages, but preferably a single page if you don’t need to cut truly important information to get there.

Are your past responsibilities and skills presented in bullet points?

No more paragraphs! Anything that requires a reviewer to read a large block of text is a waste of their time. They want you to get to the point in short, succinct lines that they can skim quickly. Leave out any minor parts of a job that don’t help argue your worthiness. You are going for quality over quantity.

Did you cut out all older, irrelevant employment history?

The standard used to be to pad your employment history as much as possible so that the broadest array of duties would be presented to an employer. These days, they want to know what you’ve been doing most recently and what applies to the open position.

A job applicant writing resume and its cover letter

Did you craft your objective yourself?

If your opening statement has been heard a million times before, there is less incentive for the reviewer to move any further down the resume to see what you’re offering.

Having great communication skills and being detail-oriented are important traits for you to have, but every other candidate also claims to have them. Make it clear what you personally can bring to the table that other resumes wouldn’t dare to lead with. You want to get noticed.

Is your resume focused enough to land the specific job you are looking for?

If you’ve written your resume in such a way that it is more of an autobiography rather than a sales pitch, it’s not going to suck the hiring manager in. This might mean slightly tailoring your resume for different positions you are applying for. Use the job description to your advantage and include those types of keywords in your resume.

Is your resume written FOR the employer?

Today’s saturated job market means that it’s no longer about just presenting yourself in the best light. You need to convince an employer that they NEED you to work for them.

A very effective resume can make an impression, and even if an employer decides another candidate is best suited for the current position, they may look to other areas where they can use your particular skills and experience.