You can spot them a mile away - resumes that look like someone loaded up a Microsoft Word template, punched in their information, then sent it to every job posting they could find.

Does this sound at all like your resume?

They probably start with an Objective statement proclaiming the candidate’s desire to secure a position among a progressive and upward-mobile organization.

Next up is the candidate’s skills, a veritable alphabet soup of every technology they ever came across. Honestly, does anybody really have useful knowledge of everything including ASP, Java, C++, Assembly, COBOL, Lisp, Python, Erlang, Ruby, PHP and Haskell? Yes, we get that you are smart and can work in any environment we throw at you, but what are you awesome at? I can’t tell.

Next is education, usually just the program name and sometimes a GPA. No real details about what the program consisted of - the point, after all, is that the candidate has an education, right?

Finally, the awful listing of every company the candidate has ever worked at going all the way back to the summer job they had in high school. Each is illustrated with so many jargon-filled bullet points that the resume takes up three pages and gives no really useful information about the candidate or their skills.

Sad to say, most resumes fit this pattern. The good news for you is the bar is set low which means it can be incredibly easy to stand out from the crowd.

Lose the Objective The objective statement is the biggest sin academia has thrust into the world. The company you’re applying for does not care about your objectives and long term plan; their concern is finding a skilled worker who can meet their objects. Sorry to re-use a tired paraphrase, but ask yourself what you can do for the company, not what the company can do for you. Leave your expectations out of the mix until you hit the negotiation stage.

Less is More Rather than listing every programming language you’ve ever heard of, list the top 2 or 3 you’re best at. If that means you can only list PHP because you live breathe and eat it, do so.

This is a bit intuitive: Showing a dozen skills will not keep the doors open for the best possible job. The reverse is true - rather than leaving recruiters confused as to whether you’re a good fit for their job, let them filter you if need be. Think about it - if you are that amazing PHP programmer, do you really want to be developing COBOL on mainframes all day?

Tell a Story Try to put yourself in the shoes of the person who will be reading your resume. They will be reading other people’s resumes as well, most of which will look alike except for the author name at the top of each page. It should be a fairly easy job - just pick the candidate whose skill set matches the requirements of the job and hire them.

The reality is much more difficult. Even if a manager has the budget needed to hire someone, they may not be able to find the right person to fill the job. Skill is only part of the story - personality also plays a large factor. It isn’t enough to have someone who knows the job; it has to be someone who will fit in with the team and be a pleasure to work with.

Don’t just talk about your skills - talk about you. What do you bring to your work that no one else on earth can duplicate? You could start with a ‘hobbies’ section on your resume, but I recommend injecting as much of your own voice everywhere you can.

Rather than simply describing your job functions for each position you held, write about what your learned during your time at each company. What contributions were you able to make to the bottom line? Remember, your potential employer is hiring you because they want to make money.