February 29, 2012
By Mona Abdel-Halim
You probably read a lot of resume advice about how to ensure your resume makes it in front of your competition. With all of these rules and guidelines, it can seem like a difficult task to get your document to stand out among the tens or hundreds of other applications. You might wonder, How can I insert my personality into my resume? How can I ensure my experience and skills stand out among everyone else’s?
First, let’s make one thing clear — it is not a good idea to use fancy fonts or formatting in order to stand out. In fact, it can disadvantage you by distracting from your content, the skills and achievements you want someone to remember you for.
So how can you ensure your resume shows everything an admissions team member needs to know about you?
Put your achievements at the forefront. Quantify what you’ve done at previous positions. For instance, if you were in sales, how much business (in dollars) did you deal with while at your position? If you broke company sales records, what were they? If you exceeded personal goals, by what percentage or dollar amount?
Don’t hide periods of unemployment. Schools don’t want to think you’re applying to their program as a last result of forced unemployment. Ensure you address gaps and aim to fill them with relevant experience, whether it’s paid or unpaid. This can be a great way to showcase how you’re transitioning your skills into a new direction that aligns with what you say you want to do post graduation. You can do this through volunteer work, temporary positions, part-time jobs, leadership experience, or project-based work. Other ways to fill resume gaps are with continued education, freelancing or starting a business. Just because it’s not a full-time position does not mean it shouldn’t be included on your resume. Use your resume to show prospective schools what you learned and accomplished at these other experiences and how they benefited you professionally.
Include links to your social media handles or your personal website. While you should still include traditional contact information, such as your phone number and email address, consider providing your Twitter handle, LinkedIn profile link, or the Web address to your personal website or portfolio. This way, if your resume has made it to human hands, they can look at you in more detail on their own. Doesn’t hurt to include these in your email signature, either!
Save personality for your essay. An essay is a great way to introduce yourself and convey passion for the program you are applying to or the industry you want to enter. Your resume should be focused on your tangible achievements.
When you’re evaluating your resume, ask yourself “If there was another candidate with the same positions and work history, would I be differentiated with my resume?” If not, then it’s time to cut out the mundane tasks and responsibilities and do more work on showcasing what you’ve accomplished in hard numbers.
What challenges have you faced while trying to make your resume stand out?