Having a good resume is a start, but it is just not enough to really get yourself out there on the market. Many professionals out there have amazing technical experience but lack good resume writing skills and are missing out on the best jobs because of it. There are some things that help your resume get to the top of the pile and catch the recruiters eye. Unfortunately, the reverse is also true. There are other things that take the resume right to the trash can.

4 Ways To Put Your Resume At the Top of the Pile

If your resume is stale or you feel like you aren’t getting any good hits despite the amount of professional experience you have, you can change that narrative. Some things are very simple while others take more of an effort on your part to get it done. Here are the top 5 ways to get your resume noticed.

1. Simplify It

I’ve become the defacto family resume writer.  Everyone comes to me with a resume they think is amazing but can’t figure out why it isn’t getting attention. Usually within the first 5 seconds of looking at it, I know why it won’t work.  That being said, I don’t want to come across like I’m the resume god by any means, but these are obvious mistakes.  One family member gave me their resume, and it was filled with multiple colors. It was so distracting. Not only that, there were multiple fonts in use. Bolds, italics, large font, small font, and yes… there were a couple of emojis (insert smh emoji here).

Please keep your resume simple. It is the single most impactful thing you can do to your resume to improve it. Remove all of the extra font styles, colors, and fonts. When in doubt, keep it simple. Your experience and accolades will speak for themselves.

2. Use Keywords

Recruiters tend to use keyword searches when digging through hundreds of resumes in their databases. Keywords such as SQL, VMware, or Windows Server will return a list of resumes that have those keywords in them. If you don’t have keywords on your resume, add them and you will find that you start getting an increase in phone calls and emails. Ensuring your resume has keywords that match the type of job you want is a big step towards moving your resume to the top.

3. Employ the Top ⅓ Rule

Why the top ⅓ of your resume? If your job required you to sift through hundreds of online resumes, how much in depth would you really read each one? Recruiters generally only get through the first ⅓ of your resume, and if it doesn’t shine, it goes in the trash. The most important parts of your resume need to be in the top ⅓. Your name, address, phone number, email address, certifications/awards, skill set, career highlights, and most recent job experience should go in that top ⅓. If you have those items in that top ⅓, then the recruiter will mark for a phone call or email, and you are on the top of the pile.

4. Keep it Short

In keeping with the top ⅓ rule, keeping your resume short is essential to having it stand out. Some will disagree and say that every job you’ve ever had needs to be on your resume. However, if you are applying for a job as the Director of Human Resources, the hiring manager won’t care that you worked at McDonalds in high school. Leave off the unimportant things, and focus on the experiences and accolades that will get you an in person (or Zoom) interview right away.

Don’t Be Afraid to Phone a Friend

Recruiters sift through so many resumes daily. If your resume isn’t following these tips, it will likely end up getting ignored. Put in the effort and make your resume stand out. If need be, don’t be afraid to pay a professional to help you get it where it needs to be or enlist the help of family members or friends. And of course, don’t forget about calling in support from your network.

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Greg Stuart is the owner and editor of vDestination.com. He's been a VMware vExpert every year since 2011. Greg enjoys spending time with his wife and 3 kids. He has 20 years of IT experience and currently works as an IT Consultant both in the private and public sector. Greg holds a BS in Information Technology and an MBA degree. He currently resides in Southeast Idaho. You can follow him on Twitter @vDestination, read his blog (vDestination.com) and listen to his podcast (vDestination.com/feed/podcast).