Make your resume stand out: Change the picture, impact the outcome

Key to differentiating your candidacy is creating a unique picture of your background.

Meet Bailey!Bailey came to me — seeking resume assistance — as a new nurse wanting to advance her career and gain entry into a graduate nursing program.

The challenge...Bailey's original resume looked likes thousands of others I have seen throughout my career. Instead of showcasing her experience, Bailey's original resume hid her differentiating factors in a sea of black and white text. With a lackluster format, no appropriate prioritization of the most important elements of her candidacy, and a focus on what Bailey wanted in the next stage of her career — instead of how she could add value to an employer or graduate school cohort — her resume fell short of helping her stand out.  

The turnaround...Key to differentiating your candidacy is creating a unique picture of your background. As you will see from Bailey's new resume, focus was paid to creating a unique picture full of personality.

Qualifications summary...Instead of opening Bailey's resume with a self-serving objective statement, a qualifications summary leads the resume. This section allows the prioritization of the most important aspects of Bailey's candidacy, providing recruiters with a quick overview to facilitate their ever-so-brief screening process. An extension of the qualifications summary, a slightly more detailed overview was presented on the right side of the resume. This section was designed to create visual interest, engage the reader, and extend the screening process.

Experience...A fully developed experience section was presented to ensure that Bailey's impressive early-career experience was conveyed well. In this section, highlights were noted, even when they were not of a quantifiable nature. Early experiences were noted, briefly, in order to ensure focus was on the most relevant and recent aspects of Bailey's background.

Education...You will notice the education section was relocated toward the end of the resume, as Bailey is no longer considered to be a recent graduate. As her education did not differentiate her from competitors, it was important to relocate this section so attention would be placed on the aspects of her career—the uniqueness of her candidacy—that provided her with a competitive edge over her peers.

Value-added...Rounding out Bailey's candidacy was the presentation of value-added information in the form of volunteer work and affiliations.

Bailey's reaction..."My resume has been transformed into AMAZING!!! It looks absolutely fabulous yet very professional!! I LOVE IT!!!"


Samantha Nolan is a Certified Professional Resume Writer and owner of Ladybug Design, a full-service resume-writing firm. Do you have a resume or job search question for Dear Sam? Reach Samantha at For more about Sam's resume writing services, visit or call 614-570-3442 or 1-888-9-LADYBUG (1-888-952-3928).

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