How to make a professional resume stand out

When you apply for a job, your goal is to get a recruiter or hiring manager to give your resume a second look and land an interview. If you have any hopes of making that happen, you should have a polished, professional resume that aligns with the job you’re applying for.

If time is an issue, make sure your resume is optimized by experts for you.

A resume that has errors screams a lack of professionalism. Also, if it’s not up to par with industry standards and is difficult to read, your resume won’t even get a complete look over. Instead, it will end up in the trash.

Your resume is typically the first impression an organization sees, and if you come across as unpolished and unprofessional, why would they want you to work for them? So, if you want to get your foot in the door, it’s vital to create a resume that stands out and makes you appear as the professional you are.

Making a professional resume stand out – Tips

Here are some trusted tips on how to take your current resume up a notch (or craft a new one from scratch):

Choose the best format

There are different formats you can choose for your resume, including functional, chronological, and a combination of chronological and functional. A chronological resume lists your work experience in chronological order, with your key job duties provided for each.

A functional resume, conversely, focuses on your skills and experience, with some reference to the jobs you held, though not necessarily in chronological order.

A combination resume will highlight your skills and experience while also listing your jobs in chronological order. The format you choose will be based on your personal circumstances.

Select the right font

Font is one of the most important elements when it comes to the appearance of your resume. It’s essential to choose a font that is easy to read and visually appealing. Some standard resume fonts to choose from include Times New Roman, Calibri, and Arial. The font size should be between 10 and 12, as well.

Along the same vein as font size, avoid incorporating dense blocks of text that are difficult for the eyes to read.

Be consistent

The formatting of your resume needs to be consistent so that it appears uniform and easy to follow. The headings for each section should have the same font size and type. Also, format all positions and their related job duties the same.

Remain focused

A resume should only include information that allows you to meet its primary goal—to land you an interview. Avoid including information that is irrelevant to or doesn’t directly help you land the job. Keep your resume to no more than one to two pages.

Refresh every so often

Review your resume every so often and ensure it is current for your skills and responsibilities. You also want to make sure it appears modern and up-to-date. Proof your resume twice and make any necessary edits before finalizing it.

Get (appropriately) creative

The rule of thumb is to provide a clean, easy-to-follow, simple, traditional resume when applying for a job. However, if you’re in a creative field, like marketing, graphic design, or public relations, then it might make sense to secure a resume template for creative jobs. Creative resumes will include all elements of a traditional resume, in addition to items like infographics, images, and links to your portfolio.

Review resume templates and examples

There are many resume templates available for free. Why not refer to them to make your resume the best it can be? You can research and access resumes for specific industries, as well.

Proofread and edit

It should go without saying that you must proofread and edit your resume prior to submitting it. Still, it’s not uncommon for recruiters and hiring managers to report that they often receive resumes with grammatical and punctuation errors. Not only should they not appear, but your success highlights should pack a punch by using power verbs to catch the eye. So it’s smart to get someone else to look over it for you and provide you with any necessary edits they find.

Seek assistance

There’s a reason many people furrow their brows at the thought of creating or updating their resume—because it’s hard work. Fortunately, there are professional resume writing services to help you. Some charge a fee, while others offer a certain level of resume writing services for free.

Tweak it before sending

Before you apply for a job, review the job description, and update your resume so it aligns with the job and organization. If you submit a standard resume for every application, you miss out on an opportunity to stand out from the competition by highlighting the skills and experience you have that align specifically with the job. Adding relevant keywords also helps your resume get found by applicant tracking systems.

Resume example

Here is a resume example to help you get started on your own (insert link to resume template download).

Johnny Application
111 Main Street Morgantown, WV 26501
[email protected]

Senior Accountant

Astute and detail-oriented Senior Accountant with 10 years’ experience in the energy sector.

  • Skilled in QuickBooks, Excel, SAP, and other accounting software
  • Diligent and timely in completing month-end and quarterly reports
  • Outstanding collaboration and team-building skills
  • Excellent work ethic and willing to work weekends to meet end-of-month, quarter, and year deadlines

Professional Work Experience

Power Energy Company, Morgantown, WV

Senior Accountant, June 2016 – Present
Perform accounting duties and responsibilities for eastern division of organization.

  • Oversee accounting data maintenance and review of 10 accounts with $500K or more in revenue
  • Created a training program to onboard new accountants
  • Awarded “Employee of the Month” three times based on peer and management input
  • Saved $50K in one quarter by catching a client’s error in billing and receivables

West Virginia Energy, Charleston, WV

Accountant, June 2011 – June 2016
Worked closely with Accounting Lead to support 5 accounts from the southern WV region.

  • Adhered to accounting principles and best practices for data entry, account reconciliation, and quarterly tax documents
  • Selected by manager to train interns on time entry and how to use accounting database
  • Spearheaded team meetings for better team collaboration and client support


Master’s Degree, Accounting, 2011
West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV

Bachelor’s Degree, Business Administration, 2009
West Virginia State Community College, Morgantown, WV

Get noticed with a professional resume

Use these tips to help you craft a professional resume to get noticed and land your next job. And there’s no need to go it alone. Hire a resume writing service or seek out a friend to help ensure you have a final version you’re proud of.