As a former human resources recruiter with over 10 years experience, I would commonly go through hundreds of resumes for any one particular position. And while it became tedious to sift through the same inadequate pieces of paper over and over, there was always a diamond in the rough.
A resume that stands out can create a sense of urgency for a recruiter to present it to the hiring manager without even calling the candidate first. Of course, that isn't the reality, because we do have to pause and track down the one with the "golden eggsume." Recruiters investigate all candidates to see if they really do match up with the opening.
Now you're asking, "what did that person have on his or her resume to make them stand out?" Simple... they can do the job and the resume reflects that. As much as I would like to just spend time on top candidates, I still want to help the rest of the fold, should they ask why they didn't get chosen. With that, I give you five surefire resume killers that can become deal breakers, in no particular order.
Get Rid of the Fluff - People tend to use too many adjectives (i.e., "fast learner", "hard working") when describing themselves or their experience. Do not be one of those people! Anyone can say they are a "team player". These descriptions are subjective and cannot be proven. We also don't need to know how you helped Bill get to work for a week when his van broke down.
It Isn't a Novel - You do not need to write a paragraph for each job description. I once had a candidate send me a summary of his work experience, as opposed to a nicely formatted section including employment dates, employer, location and title. My hiring manager told me it had to be cleaned up before he would even review it, so I passed the memo along to the candidate and apparently he was too lazy (or offended) to make any edits. Even though he was a fit for our opening, it was on to the next candidate!
Lack of Depth - Write tangible descriptions relating to your skills and duties. Provide numbers or results you produced and quantify the statement with that information. Anything is better than broad statements. They are annoying and a major turn-off for HR people and managers. Data and numbers showcasing your ability to impact the bottom line is what they want to see. So find out how you were able to increase revenue or decrease expenditures for your previous employers and make it known on your resume.
One Title, One Resume - Tailor your resume to the job you are attempting to land and market yourself specifically for this job. Hiring managers are focused on what they need and expect your resume to be geared towards that need. If you are interested in multiple job titles, create multiple versions of your resume. Make sure they are based on the company's job descriptions/titles you apply to and tailor them towards those openings.
Not Enough Buzzwords - Use words from the job posting to customize your resume each time you send it out. If the job posting says "project management," use that same term in your resume as it relates to your experience. Most recruiters are not experts on every single facet of every single opening, so they constantly are seeking out information from actual candidates to further their knowledge about the openings. With that said, try to help them out and put buzzwords onto your resume so they can see that you actually have comparable skills to that job posting. Plus, when recruiters search databases to find your resumes, most of the time they use those same buzzwords.
A superior resume displays your marketable or transferable skills and experience and "pre-sells" you. Not to only gain an interview, but make it so that when you walk in, the interviewer's reaction is: "I've read your resume, and I'm really looking forward to meeting with you." A superior resume puts you ahead of the ever-increasing competition, so you can be confident that you get noticed over the hundreds of other people applying.