Posted By: Deanna DeBenedictis

When employers select a resume from the stack for review, they typically have several questions in mind: Is this candidate an interesting person? Is she smart? Will he be fun to work with? Will she be needy or independent? Will he be reliable or flighty?  The information your resume offers about your work history and education will answer some of these questions and leave others unexplored until the day of your interview. But there’s one question you’ll need to answer in order to make that interview happen: Why are you a better candidate for this job than all the other applicants in the pool?
What do you have to offer this company that nobody else has? What can you do in this role that others can’t do? What will you do that others won’t? What makes you stand out?
Here are a few things that DON’T make you stand out:
1. Your familiarity with industry buzzwords.
2. Your “drive for success”. Be careful with the word “success” in your resume, as in “success oriented” and “committed to success.” These terms describe everyone in the world, not just you.
3. Your ability to meet minimum standards. If the job post asks for a two-year degree in marketing and you have a two-year degree in marketing, that’s great. But this information doesn’t really answer The Question.
4. The same applies to your ability to meet minimum standards in your previous positions. If your last job required you to “process orders as necessary,” you don’t need to include this in your resume. Instead, focus on your unique accomplishments and the ways in which you exceeded basic expectations.
5. The fact that you’re submitting a professional resume. Don’t try to stand out by defying the conventions of this straightforward business document. Using purple ink instead of black won’t help you make your case.
Here are a few things that set you apart from the crowd. Include them in your application and discuss them in detail:
1. Your “bonuses”. If the job posting includes a list of basic requirements followed a statement like “French fluency a plus”, and you lived for five years in Paris, make sure your resume makes this qualification clear.
2. Your unique accomplishments. If you exceeded your order-processing quota five times in the last two years, or you won a plaque for Employee of the Month, realize that not everyone can say this.
3. Your unique ideas. If you proposed a new idea that made your company money or rose the profile of your department, make this clear. Employers love to see candidates with the ingenuity and courage to suggest new ways of doing things.
4. Your unique initiative. If you launched a new program, assembled a team, or started a new community-building activity in your workplace, list it proudly.
For more on how to identify and showcase the traits that set you apart from your competitors, reach out to the Boston staffing and employment experts at Fanning Personnel.

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