How to Get Your Resume to the Top of the Stack

Boomsa, is a recruiter with over 15 years of experience. A Super Seller, she has helped thousands of people get hired with her resume writing and consulting.

Do I need a video resume? How about an infographic resume? Perhaps an eBook-style resume? Drawing attention to one’s credentials is important and we’d like to offer tips and ideas on how to make your resume stand out.

When you are competing with hundreds of qualified applicants for the same job, you must think outside the box to get noticed – however there is a fine line between standing out and going overboard.

Crafting your resume

You need to consider your field and the type of company you want to work for. There are several styles of resumes you can choose from – a sleek executive/professional style (my top recommendation for everyone to have), a graphical PDF file (for hand delivering your resume or to use at job fairs – NOT for online applications), personal websites/portfolios and even creative video introductions on YouTube or Vimeo! Larger companies that use standard or customized HRIS software (Peoplesoft, etc.- known as Applicant Tracking Systems) in the Recruiting/HR world require that your resume be in a Microsoft Word document with no pictures, columns or graphics.


This is for several reasons – programs parse your resume and pick up your key words and add this to a page that recruiters can glance at without having to open a document. When a recruiter has 1,000 applicants and chooses 15 key words to search from, you want to make sure your name pops up! The best way to do this is with a 2-3 page (yes 2-3 pages, 1 page resumes are a thing of the past) Word document that has accomplishment-based bullets and key words in each section.

During my recruiting career, I have had numerous Hiring Authorities tell me they will not even consider a graphics-based or “pretty” resume – they feel the candidate was trying to overcompensate by using a colorful resume due to lack of achievements or experience. This is usually not the case (I had to decline a Chief Technical Officer an interview with our panel due to the format of his resume – he had all the qualifications and interviewed perfectly with me, but his resume was just not presented in an executive manner). Even new graduates with NO experience have accomplishments from school, including projects, community work, clubs/activities, etc.

Resumes are a list of accomplishments, remember that and you will land interviews!

When to get creative

If you are attending a job fair, a one page graphical resume with a professionally taken photo on it (so they can remember you. Photos are usually not included on standard resumes) is a good idea. To impress the recruiter even more, offer that as an introduction with your 2-3 page executive style resume attached. It is all about showing initiative.

Sample Resume

If you are planning on applying to a start up company with less than 100–300 people, and if the job posting just states: please email your resume to (not using a database),you can push the creative boundaries more. This is when more of a graphic layout can stand out – but only for specific jobs. Make sure that if you use a graphic format, you still have exceptional, proofread content in accomplishment format (do not list just duties, but how your contributions improved the project/company/etc.).

If you are in a creative field, or entering Digital Marketing/Social Media/Public Relations, etc., you can take it a step further. Although I always recommend the standard resume in addition to these, I will never forget when I sent a Director a video resume that a candidate sent to me (finding me via LinkedIn – another tool you should use). Although the candidate was not qualified, the excitement and personality he exuded in the video gained him an interview. I would not recommend this for all types of positions, but it can help! This is a great idea to use when you have the recruiter’s or hiring manager’s direct contact information. A referral is even better.

You can also create a simple website that has your resume, a portfolio (depending on your career), client list and even a bit about your personal life. I always recommend including both volunteer work and hobbies/interests. I cannot tell you how many times as a Recruiter I would choose one candidate over another with identical skills due to their interests or community work that was in line with the mission of the company. Personalized websites show the complete picture of who you are, which can be a determining factor for a company that hires with an eye towards fostering company culture, which is more and more common due to huge retention issues in every market.

Summing up

You first need a keyword-rich, professional resume (2-3 pages, even for new graduates). From there, you can add on graphics, videos, websites and even power point slides. Just be sure when applying online that you use a Word document, not a PDF, and continue to network to find out who you can email a follow up message to. The follow up email is your chance to wow them with additional videos, graphics, etc. Most applicant tracking systems will allow you to attach multiple files, so make sure the first is your Word resume: but then, add on a video, PDF and cover letter.

And remember – a resume is a list of accomplishments, NOT a list of duties and tasks. Rephrase every bullet to demonstrate how you made a positive impact, not just what you did.

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