Omega Phi Alpha National Service Sorority is excited to partner with Vivian Chen, founder & CEO of Heyo and Rise. Her work in career development and personal branding have been recognized in Forbes, Business Insider, Fast Company, and more. Vivian is providing great career content for our members. We encourage you to visit Rise and set up a free account. 

*This post is part 1 of 3 of an article that originally appeared on HeYo on February 3, 2023. Check out this post and more content at

Find yourself scouring the internet for the answer to, “How to make my resume stand out?”  A resume is a place to tell your story; pique the interest of recruiters, HR, and managers; and convince them to hire you — over hundreds of other applicants. And all in a matter of seconds. But a resume can be (and should be) so much more.  It can be used to convey what you can do for potential companies. It can help you get your foot in the door. And it can show off your personality. Before you even get your first face-to-face meeting. Here is a list of tips from industry leaders, career coaches, and hiring managers (and us here at Heyo) to help make your resume stand out.

Tips to Make My Resume Stand Out

Before Building a Resume

  • Research company culture
  • Get a referral
  • Talk to current employees
  • Schedule practice interview
  • Apply — to a lot of jobs
  • Create a well-crafted cover letter

Foundational Resume-Building Tips

  • Find out what hiring managers want
  • Create a compelling narrative
  • Write and rewrite your resume
  • Quantify accomplishments
  • Keep your interests interesting
  • Use objective subjectively

Applying for the Job

  • Target keywords
  • Make it visually appealing
  • Pay attention to details

Tips from HR and Recruiters

  • Write your resume for humans and ATS
  • Address resume gaps head-on

Part I: How to Make My Resume Stand Out

Are you spending so much time wondering, How to make my resume stand out? that you can’t seem to actually make the resume itself? You’re not alone. 

95% of resumes don’t even see the light of day and are immediately rejected by recruiters. The good news is that the problem isn’t you, it’s your resume! And most resume problems can be fixed. 

Part I: 6 Tips for Before Building a Resume 

Now is the time to research the culture of target companies, search for referrals, talk to current employees, and schedule practice interviews.

1. Research Company Culture

These days, company culture is everything to employers — maybe now more than ever, in the age of remote and hybrid work. Understanding company culture will not only show that you’ve done your homework, but this knowledge will give you a leg up over other candidates.  Most companies post their mission and values directly on their website (most even dedicate an entire page to this).  Check out some company profiles on Rise, they are packed with helpful information.

2. Get a Referral

One of the best ways to get your foot in the door is through a referral. A job seeker who is referred is up to 14 times more likely to be hired than someone who applies without a referral. This is one of the many reasons why growing your network is valuable.  Check your network or connect with someone who already works for your dream company to boost your chances. Ideally, it’s even better if you can proactively build relationships before you start looking for a job. Many employees are more than willing to refer as many companies have general bonuses for successful hires.  Platforms like Rise lets recruiters reach out to passive professionals, so make sure you are always networking and putting your best foot forward with the most up-to-date professional presence. 

A job seeker is 14x more likely to be hired than someone who applies without a referral

3. Talk to Current Employees

Know anyone who works for your dream company? Use this person as a major resource. It can be intimidating to ask directly for a referral, instead you can also mine them for info that can help you make an informed decision. Things like:

  • Company culture
  • Skills and experience
  • Major company initiatives 
  • Common career trajectories
  • Company downsides

4. Schedule Practice Interviews

Once you know what recruiters want, it’s time to put your skills into practice. Practice interviews can help you ensure you’re:

  • Hitting your talking points
  • On-brand with messaging
  • Communicating effectively

You can practice interviewing with friends and colleagues or hire a pro to help you hit your talking points.

5. Don’t Disqualify Yourself

Always apply for a job. Even if you don’t meet 100% of the requirements.  Did you know that women don’t apply for jobs if they don’t meet 100% of the requirements? Whereas men will apply for a job if they only meet 60% of them. If you want a job, go for it. 

6. Create a Well-Crafted Cover Letter 

Another way to make your resume stand out is not the resume itself, but the cover letter! Cover letters are a great opportunity to really show potential employers your personality. While there’s limited real estate on your resume, you have almost an entire page to show your communication skills, personality, and passion on a cover letter. Consider adding a personalized video introduction on why you, your professional experiences, and references to stand out from the pack. One common cover letter mistake? Inconsistencies with their accompanying resumes. Cover letters should enhance your resume, and if the two aren’t consistent, you will look flakey to potential employers.  When asked about how to stand out in an application, Paige Pollara, Head of Professional Learning @NoRedInk, said: “Be able to articulate your why. So many objectives I’ve seen are broad and vague. It’s generally a signal that the applicant is mass-applying and isn’t interested in a specific company or role. Take the extra few minutes to update your application to show how you see yourself in this role. It’ll also help you in future interviews when this question is bound to come up!”

Anne Genduso, Certified Career Coach, sums this up well: “Playing a numbers game of “spray and pray” with your resume gets you one thing in a job search: burned out.”

A few ways to target your search:

  • Know the exact type of role you’re seeking before you even start looking.
  • Identify a handful of companies you’d love to work for because they align with your values.
  • Connect with people who have the job you want and chat to learn more about their path (i.e., solicit an informational interview).
  • Cater your resume & cover letter to highlight your accomplishments and skills that matter most to each individual employer.
  • Targeting your search may take time, but you’ll save your mental energy in the process.”