Does Your Resume Answer the Key Question?

Resumes are a vital tool for any job seeker, but crafting an effective resume that gets attention can be a real challenge. Today’s hiring managers wade through hundreds of resumes for every position they fill, usually deciding in less than a minute whether they’ll consider an interview or reject the candidate entirely. Your goal is to land in the interview pile — but what’s the secret to passing that first glance?

The best way to catch the attention of an overloaded, often time-pressed hiring manager is to use your resume to answer one simple question: What makes you different? If you can demonstrate how you stand out from your fellow job seekers, you’re practically guaranteed more interviews, and ultimately a more successful job search.

What does “standing out” really mean?

Savvy job seekers understand that standing out from the crowd doesn’t mean mailing a printed resume on lime green paper, loading your resume with pictures, writing sarcastic copy (such as an objective that states “Rule the world”), or using a wildly nonstandard font — in fact, those are all beginner mistakes that will get your resume immediately trashed. So what’s the right way to make your resume different?

Most resumes read like a list of job descriptions. The skills sections might have been copied and pasted from the job listing the candidate is applying for, and the experiences are static lists of duties and responsibilities. Therefore, the best way to make your resume stand out is to explain not what you’ve done, but what you’ve accomplished — in other words, how your actions have delivered positive results for former employers, internships, or projects.

This accomplishment-driven approach should be reflected in every section of your resume, from objectives to experiences to education.

Tips for showcasing your stand-out qualities

How can you make sure your resume answers the key question of what makes you different? Apply these three tips to each section of your resume to help you bring out your best as a candidate and catch the attention of employers.

Point out specific results: Wherever possible, provide actual numbers that demonstrate the effects your work had for past employers—the return on investment (ROI) for your employment. For example, if you work in sales and you built a leads database, state that you increased leads by X percent.

Of course, numbers and percentages aren’t always possible, especially depending on your industry. If this is the case, look at each of your experiences or projects, and ask yourself: What did you accomplish that someone else wouldn’t have? You might have increased visibility by introducing a new initiative, or took on the responsibilities of another position in addition to yours when someone left the company. Figure out how you went the extra mile, and highlight that on your resume.

Make it relevant: In addition to describing what made your job performances different from your peers, you need to show employers why your accomplishments mattered. Look for ways to frame your achievements against a familiar benchmark — such as an industry standard, or average performances of other employees in your company. For example, if you were one of several people who wrote blog posts for a company website, you might say “Wrote 5 blog posts a week, compared to the company average of 2 posts a week.”

Less is more: Many job candidates make the mistake of trying to cram everything they’ve ever done onto their resumes — but when hiring managers see rambling, bloated resumes, they’ll typically skip right over them. When it comes to your resume copy, go for quality over quantity.

Go ahead and write out everything in detail, including what makes you different. But when you’re finished, go back and streamline things to make your entire resume succinct, relevant, and readable. Remove any experience that isn’t relevant to the position you’re after, and use white space and bulleted lists to make your resume scannable and easy to digest.

Hiring managers will thank you by inviting you for an interview. To learn more about how we can help you find your next behavioral health position, contact us today at (513) 651-9500 or by email at

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