Great Resumes Fast » Resume Writing Tips » How to Find and Convey What Sets You Apart on Your Resume

Do you struggle to know what distinguishes you from other candidates? Are you unsure how to reflect your value on your resume or present your accomplishments in a way that gets you noticed by hiring managers? In this article, I’ll share how to identify what makes you stand out and how to convey that on your resume.

How to Find and Convey What Sets You Apart on Your Resume

Kathryn was a global communications executive who was extremely committed to her work. She worked 18-hour days and managed and built departments from scratch. She wrote all the company’s communications, bids, and proposals. She was so committed to her work that she had only taken two days off in two years. But the long, hard days were beginning to wear on her.  

She was incredibly successful and made great money. However, her company engaged in some dishonest practices, and she and eight other employees chose to resign. Four weeks before working with me, Kathryn went to a large resume service provider that took her current resume content and input it into a new format without changing her content, communicating her value, or presenting her accomplishments in a way that made her stand out to hiring managers. 

After four weeks of job searching with zero interviews, she began feeling desperate and doubting her value to potential employers. That’s when she reached out to me for help. Kathryn was a connection of mine on LinkedIn and had followed several of my social media posts. She was getting stuck in the applicant tracking systems and couldn’t get in front of the hiring manager. 

I discussed how applicant tracking systems worked, explained what HR looks for on resumes, and how templates alone don’t produce results.

We discussed her current job search strategy and her struggles communicating how she was different from other similarly qualified candidates. She didn’t know her personal brand or unique selling proposition. 

We worked with Kathryn through our five-step VIP branding process and job search strategy coaching to flesh out her personal brand and value proposition. We dug deep to uncover her key differentiators during her phone interview so that when we created her resume, the content spoke to the value she could deliver for a new company. 

Her resume showed what she had achieved—not just what she did—and because past performance indicates future success, employers love to see the challenges, actions, and results in each recent position held. 

We ensured her resume reflected her value and accomplishments and resonated with employers. 

Kathryn landed interviews with five of her top-choice employers in Silicon Valley: Amazon, Facebook, and three others. In less than 30 days, she accepted a great new VP role with Amazon.

She followed up with me recently to tell me that within eight months, she was promoted. 

Kathryn was stuck, using a template that wasn’t working, and couldn’t get through applicant tracking systems. She didn’t know how to reflect her value or present her accomplishments on her resume. She also didn’t know what set her apart from other candidates. She needed an outside perspective.

If you’re struggling, here are some strategies we used while helping Kathryn that you can apply to your resume and job search.

How to Find Your Competitive Advantage

Resume writing is a personal process, and sometimes, you need an outside perspective to help you see those exceptional qualities that elevate you above the competition.

One of the ways that you can dig deep to uncover your value and personal brand is to answer questions like these that we use internally with our clients to write their resumes.

Deep Dive Questions

  • What do you do better than anyone else?
  • What is unique about how you do what you do?
  • What do others tell you are your greatest strengths? What words do they use to describe you when introducing you to others?
  • What is your favorite part of your job?
  • What do people come to you for?
  • What are you most proud of?


Search for themes across your career. Is there something you’re known for no matter where you work?

For example, when I worked in recruiting, I could find qualified candidates who stayed—no matter who I worked for. My retention rates across the board were higher than average. This was one of my signature strengths.

With my company, Great Resumes Fast, I emphasize personal branding because it’s the secret to gaining a competitive edge over your competition. We dive deep into our work with clients to unearth and convey what sets them apart from other candidates. Communicating this properly on a resume can mean the difference between zero interviews and multiple offers. 

What do you know and love about what you do? What’s your special emphasis? Are you quicker, more detailed, productive, or knowledgeable in a certain area? It doesn’t have to be just one thing. It’s most likely a combination of things that define your brand and value. 

Add Your Wow Factor

The questions I shared above will help you identify your personal brand. The following questions will help you to pull meatier content as you write about your accomplishments.

  • What problems did you encounter, and how did you overcome them?
  • How did you make that company better, stronger, competitive, efficient, or profitable?
  • How did you benefit coworkers, clients, and customers?
  • What ideas did you come up with, and what were the benefits?
  • How did you save money, cut costs, improve productivity, and increase efficiency—and by how much?

Gather the answers to the questions above, and use the next tips to help you flesh out the content for your resume.

How to Convey Your Unique Value

Understanding and expressing your signature strengths is what will get you in front of hiring managers and help you earn interviews. 

The C.A.R. Format to Convey Unique Selling Points

One of the best ways to do this is by using a C.A.R. format—this stands for challenge, action, and result. 

For each position, focus on the challenge you faced, the action or actions you took to address the problem or challenge, and the results of the action you took. 

An example of a resume bullet written using this format is:

Secured $2.1M+ savings in banking fees across all UAE markets by negotiating RFPs. Created new platform, implemented SEPA-compliant services, and restored troubled bank relationships to optimize payment services. 

The result is that the client secured $2.1M in savings.

The action is negotiating RFPs, setting up a new platform, implementing SEPA-compliant services, and restoring bank relationships.

The challenge is implied—restoring troubled relationships.

Notice how we used action verbs to communicate what the client achieved? 

Secured, created, implemented, restored

Try doing the same when writing about your own unique differentiators. 

Start with an action verb, follow it up with a quantifiable result, and then show how you delivered the result and the challenge you faced. 

If you’d like a list of action verbs, check out this free PDF list I created with 170+ resume action verbs and high-impact phrases. 

Sometimes, you can leave off the challenge and just mention the action and the result. An example of a resume bullet that’s focused on just the action and result looks like this:

Transformed Prudential’s treasury organization to support EMEA, achieving $2.2M savings by consolidating treasury into a centralized operating model.

Pro tip: Use bolded text to draw more attention to the result you want the employer to read.

Tailor Your Resume to the Role

I don’t know of any other piece of resume writing advice that makes job seekers groan more than hearing they need to customize their resumes for each role. If I were applying for hundreds of jobs, I’d groan, too. It’s just not feasible. 

The truth is, you don’t need to customize or create 200 different versions of your resume. 

Instead, make a list of your target roles—the ones you really want and that are the best fit for you. These are the ones you’re giving priority to. Let’s say my dream job is to work for LinkedIn as a senior editor. I will invest more time into making sure my resume is just right before I submit my application because I really want this job. 

I’m going to make sure the keywords, skills, and content in my resume mirror the job posting. I’ll identify the requirements for the role and then give prominence on my resume to my accomplishments that best reflect my ability to meet those requirements.

To tailor your resume to the role:

  • Use the exact job title at the top of your resume.
  • Use the hard skills from the job description in the keyword section of your resume.
  • Put the accomplishments that prove your ability to fulfill the requirements of the role in the first third of your resume and as the first bullets under each role.
  • Share examples of soft skills necessary to the role in bullet points attached to accomplishments.

Three More Quick Tips to Make You Stand Out

  1. Include testimonials on your resume. Do you have feedback from a coworker, past supervisor, or employer that embodies what your target role is asking of their “ideal” applicant? Or, one that really hits the nail on the head of your personal brand or what sets you apart from other similar candidates? Add this to your resume. 
  2. Add relevant professional development. Taken courses or certifications relevant to or required for your target role? Make sure they’re included on your resume.
  3. Choose a professional format that works for you. Simple resume designs—with white space and that are in an easy-to-read F or Z pattern—will capture and keep the hiring manager’s attention. If you need a template for this type of resume format, I have one you can download for free here.

Feel like it’s time for a professional/outside perspective to help you better convey your value and accomplishments on your resume? Schedule a no-obligation phone consultation with us here.

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About the author

Jessica Hernandez, President, CEO & Founder of Great Resumes Fast

Hi, I’m Jessica. I started this company back in 2008 after more than a decade directing hiring practices at Fortune 500 companies.

What started as a side hustle (before that was even a word!) helping friends of friends with their resumes has now grown into a company that serves hundreds of happy clients a year. But the personal touch? I’ve kept that.

You might have seen me featured as a resume expert in publications like Forbes, Fast Company, and Fortune. And in 2020, I was honored to be named as a LinkedIn Top Voice of the year!

I’m so glad you’re here, and I can’t wait to help you find your next perfect-fit position!

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