When you are applying for jobs, you will write a resume. For most people, a resume will follow a simple format and contain some stereotypical information. Education, work experience, and volunteer work are the norms. And while I’ve already shown you how to write a killer resume, the content within your resume is far more important than the format you use.
If you can add unique items to your resume, you will stand out from your competition. While having a degree with a high GPA or a solid employment history is very important during a job search, it is the little things that can oftentimes make the difference.
I’m pretty proud of my own resume, especially of the somewhat unusual pieces that I have on it. It includes some real accomplishments that show potential employers real strengths of mine. These aren’t little extraneous statements like “I have 4000 Facebook friends” or “My baseball card collection is worth $50,000”. They are accomplishments, skills, and experiences that have helped me get jobs, and will continue to do so in the future.
Some of these examples I will show you are easy to do yourself, while others take more time and effort. By doing as many of them as you possibly can, you will appear a well rounded and creative person to employers, which is exactly what many of them are looking for. Here are some of the most unusual, and yet awesome ways to boost your resume:
Start a Business
For my senior project last year, I started a freelance web design business, and it has expanded to include all of my online projects. Not only has the experience been the most valuable learning experience of my life, but it is a huge piece of my work experience on my resume. Starting and running a business shows not only drive and independence, but also that you are a well rounded candidate for a job.
It is actually much easier to start a business than many people think. The simplest is of course a small freelance operation like mine started out as. For the sake of boosting your resume, the business doesn’t have to be massively successful or established. Even if you only one client and some business cards, it is still a significant accomplishment and worthy of having on your resume.
Publish a Book
Another thing I’ve done that surprisingly few people do is self publish a book. Being able to put that on a resume has been huge for me. It shows that I am a driven and creative individual who is knowledgeable on the subject I wrote about. I published The Basics of Deer Hunting, which I wrote to compliment a website I built, about six months ago on the Amazon Kindle platform. While it hasn’t sold many copies, it is still something that I can point to and say “How many people do you know that have done THAT?”. I am going to be publishing another kindle ebook within the next couple of weeks, and have plans for a total of four this year.
Everyone is an expert at something, or at least knowledgable enough to write about it to an extent. It might be your hobby, your job, or something else entirely. You could also write fiction if you wanted. And in today’s world, self publishing is easy and totally free. Once your book is up, you may even make some money if it sells well!
Unique Volunteer Work
Most people will have some sort of volunteer work to put on a resume. However, it is almost always the same kinds of things. Most resumes will have something along the lines of “help with son’s basketball team” or “part of group that adopted a highway” or “volunteer at the local animal shelter”. And while those are great things not only for your resume, but for your community as a whole, there are some more unique things you can do on a volunteer basis to stand out from the crowd. Here are a couple of my personal examples.
- Take a Leadership Role: Last summer, I served as a Young Adult Advisory Delegate to the Presbyterian General Assembly in Pittsburgh. This was not only an extremely fun and valuable trip, but it serves as both an example of leadership and volunteer service on my resume. Any time you have an opportunity to be a leader in a volunteer setting, you can showcase multiple types of skill and experiences from only one source.
- Do Something Uncommon: The summer before my trip to Pittsburgh as a YAAD, I was a part of a 20 member team from my church that went to three different countries in Africa on a mission trip. While the lessons learned and experiences had on that trip are worthy of a good sized book, I will say here that being able to put that trip on my resume is highly valuable. That kind of experience is very rare, and shows employers that you aren’t just another John Doe trying to make a living somewhere. You don’t have to go all the way to Africa to have that same effect. Just find an uncommon way to contribute to your community.
In my various student leadership positions, I have had a ton of opportunities to do public speaking. It is something that I absolutely love doing, and not many people have experience in. One of the items in the “other” section on my resume states that I have given speeches in front of as many as 2000 people, and ran meetings with as many as 400. The jobs I apply for may not all require public speaking skills, but it still sounds impressive to potential employers.
This one is pretty self explanatory. Winning an award in your industry establishes you at the forefront of your competition, and adds a huge amount of credibility to your name. Personally, I’ve won many different awards, mostly from a Professional Technical Student Organization called Business Professionals of America (BPA) at both the state and national level. These awards have helped me tremendously, and have opened many doors. I highly encourage anyone and everyone to find awards they may be able to win and try to earn them. Whether it is employee of the month at Walmart or a Nobel Peace Prize, it will boost your resume.
Of course, these are only a few examples of the many unique ways you can boost your resume. If you are proud of something and think it will look good on a resume, it probably will. Sometimes the little things are what make you stand out from the crowd.