Resume Pump Up

7 Ways To Pump Up Your Resume


Hiring managers sometimes have to read over hundreds of resumes each day. They all start looking the same, as you can imagine. What does it take to write a strong, compelling resume that will catch their attention? Pump up your resume to make sure you’re considered for the position you want.

Related: 3 Tips To Get Your Resume In The ‘Yes’ Pile

That’s the prize-winning question! Because hiring managers, recruiters, or HR assistants are individuals, they have different things they find appealing. What works for one, might not work for the next. But, there are some universal qualities that comprise a “good” resume that will appeal to the vast majority.

And, that’s what you’re shooting for. Something that gives your resume a better chance of getting read than the other resumes that are putting these poor folks to sleep. You want to improve the statistical probability that your resume will be selected for an interview.

Here are some safe bets for turning your light-weight resume into a heavy-weight contender. Nothing crazy here, folks, because you don’t want to stand out in a bad way! (Imagine your resume being passed around to other recruiters for them to giggle at.) For the right kind of attention, try these ways of pumping up your resume.

1. Avoid Using A Template

According to The Undercover Recruiter: “Using a template will never make you stand out and chances are your application will be cut short due to your resume being the same as every other job seeker’s.”

Your resume should have a unique design. But, what if you’re not a Microsoft Word wiz? Look on Youtube for lots of formatting how-to videos and tips.

2. Don’t Be Predictable

Avoid Times New Roman. Use a font that isn’t the default in Word, because that’s what just about everyone else is using. But, don’t pick a font that is so unusual, people won’t have it on their computers.

You could even use two complimentary fonts (I like the Arial Suite), using one to accent headlines and one for body text. Sometimes I use serif for the section headers and sans serif fonts for the body, since sans serif fonts allow for more on a page and are easier to read on a computer screen.

Don’t know what serif and sans serif fonts are? Check out this awesome infographic.

3. Use SMART/CAR/STAR Stories

What are these? Briefly, they describe the challenge you faced, the action you took to resolve it (with metrics), and the result you got. Bullet points written this way pack a lot of power, as you can see in this sample.

4. Emphasize Your Personal Brand

Write about your personal brand strengths throughout your resume. Check out this article if you’d like to know more about personal branding. Here are some ways to get ideas for yours:

  • Ask others what they value in you and how you work.
  • Look for accomplishments on old performance evaluations.
  • Consider assessments to gain a deeper understanding of ways you can describe your strengths.

5. Target Your Resume To The Job Description

Jab those key words in where ever you can. My eBook Target Your Resume to Win Over the Applicant Tracking System has some great tips for how to do this.

6. Know Your Resume Grammar

Resumes are written in first-person, but omitting pronouns (I, me, my, etc.). To avoid confusion, I now use only the past tense. Other weird resume rules are omitting articles like “the,” “an,” and “a,” using a serial comma, and using an endash (not a hyphen) between numbers. I’ll have to write another whole blog on that alone!

Along with this comes the obvious advice: proofread! Read aloud, backward. Have an editor check it over. Do a “find” search for words to delete such as, “the,” “a,” “an” “I,” “me,” “my,” etc. Turn on the “show/hide” button to see extra spaces. Sleep on it.

7. Put Your Best First

To really knock out your competition, don’t save the best for last! Front load each bullet point, putting the biggest part of the success first. Like this example:


Navigated intense challenges of recruitment to onboard astounding 17 director-level and researcher recruits.


Brought onboard unprecedented 17 director-level and researcher recruits, navigating intense recruiting challenges.

You can also frontload your document with your biggest accomplishments in the summary. Don’t wait to hook them with your greatness! Put it out there right from the start.

Employers want to know what sets you apart! Why should they hire YOU? If your resume lands you an interview, but there’s another candidate you’re sparring in the ring with, it could be your amazingly strong resume that puts you over the edge and wins you the job.

That’s the sweet science of pumping up your resume. Now, go get ‘em, tiger!

This post was originally published at an earlier date.

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Kristin Johnson Award-Winning Resume Writer

About the author

Kristin S. Johnson is a TORI award-winning, 6-times certified resume writer, job search coach, and social media consultant. Her approach is cutting-edge, creative, and kind. As owner of Profession Direction, LLC, she works with professionals and aspiring executives across the country.



Disclosure: This post is sponsored by a CAREEREALISM-approved expert. You can learn more about expert posts here.


Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Kristin Johnson

Kristin is a TORI award-winning, 6-times certified resume writer, job search coach, and social media consultant. She's the proud owner of Profession Direction, LLC, which was recently named one of Forbes' Top 100 Career Sites of 2013.


  1. Maxelo – put the web address in the same area where you list your other contact information. I put a link for my LinkedIn profile (although I’ve run the web address through so make it easier to read/input) with mine, and in my cover letter I include “I encourage you to check my LinkedIn profile above to get a good sense of who I am and what I can do for [COMPANY NAME].”

  2. Such a well-organized article! Especially I totally agree with number 3 and 5. First of all, I think targeting the resume for every different job description is the most important part to write a resume. However, If I just listing the things I did, It would be rambling. Therefore we should use methods of number 3, CAR/STAR/SMART. They are really really useful to organize things. Thanks for sharing and I’ll keep it in my mind.

  3. FONTS: if you are not using a cross-platform default font, and you are sending the resume digitally, you have to create a PDF with embedded fonts. All other applications (including email) require the end user to have your exact font in order to see the document in its proper format.
    Sending a document in a propriety format (Office, iWork, etc) risks the recipient seeing a seemingly badly formatted resume when the font spacing shifts, especially if you are guilty of using the space bar instead of properly set tabs and indents. If you send a file like that in Word format, you are screaming “I have no idea how to use a word processor!”.

  4. These are all nice suggestions to improve your resume a little bit. In my experience, the resume is highly over-rated as a tool to get you the interview, which is what you want. Just make sure your resume does not use any fancy formating (this screws up the automated screening software companies use) or weird fonts. Also make sure your resume is scannable by having plenty of white space…resumes get on average a 20 second scan by a human. Best advice? Give your resume to someone who does not know you very well and let them look at your resume for 20 seconds, and take it back. Ask them what they think you are all about.

    • stephen q shannon

      Bill, You are on target too. You might want to recommend, as I do, the classic first book by Jeffrey Fox, DON’T SEND A RESUME. Based upon alleged validated survey published recently by Fortune Mag., the new average time spent with a resume AND a LinkedIn profile is 6.5 seconds. So 11 or 20 or 6.5 seconds, the escalated challenge is to catch the human eye so the human will keep the resume in the virtual or actual pile. As to the demise of the resume, grapple with this article that I think has more fact than fiction by Mitch Joel, one of my favorites. In other words Mitch thinks you are on to something with your comment. Thanks. sQs Delray Beach FL

  5. You can also provide links to external sources that prove your worth. For example, providing your personal website or portfolio is a great add-on to your resume. Just be sure it’s up-to-date and can highlight the points you made in your resume, such as results or awards. That way, the employer will be able to cross-reference every claim you make.

  6. Thanks for sound advice. I volunteer at a local job networking ministry, and last night, I spoke with several people about improving their resumes. EACH one had at least one typo on their resume! (One of the individuals is trying to land a job as an admin assistant!)

    Thanks, Steve Lovig

  7. This is a very good read Kristin, thank you. I do have a question though. I am currently in my final year of completing my Industrial Engineering degree and will soon be looking for placement however the only thing that sets me apart from my competitors is the mere fact that I have my own personal website (personal branding) whereby I write IE related articles, etc. I once sealed an interview after sending an email to the HR manager after she had told me that there are no vacancies available. What happened is that within that email, I included a link to my website ( How then do I reflect this on my resume that I have something quite unique and that indeed it is me they should hire because I can really be an asset to their organisation? How do I use this as a competitive advantage?

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