The One Question Your Resume Must Answer


Resumes are a dime a dozen, so making yours stand out is of great importance. You may think that filling your resume with a head shot, industry buzz words or graphics will capture a recruiter’s attention, but in reality, it may just get your resume thrown to the bottom of the pile. Creating an attention-grabbing resume that makes someone say, “wow” and want to call you is no easy feat. To accomplish this, you must be able to answer this one, single most important question on your resume.

The Question.

Ultimately, your resume has one purpose: to get someone to contact you. Whether that person is a recruiter, hiring manager or HR generalist depends upon the job you applied for and the structure of the organization. So, how do you get your phone to ring? What is the one question you must answer?

From the perspective of the recruiter or hiring manager, your resume needs to answer this: What makes this person (you) a better candidate than all others who have applied for my job? If your resume can clearly paint a picture of why you’re the best fit for a specific job within a specific company … someone will get in touch with you. I can almost guarantee it.

Think about it. What makes you stand out from all other job seekers? Why are you better than the 100 other people who’ve applied for the same job opportunity? That’s the information you need to include on your resume. That’s your golden ticket.

Don’t just think about and include the day-to-day, menial tasks that you do to pass the time between 9 and 5. Think about the greatness you’ve delivered over the course of your career. Your Achievements + Accomplishments + Awards + Accolades + Articles = Your Awesomeness.

Recruiters and hiring managers see a whole lot of mediocrity when it comes to resumes. Take yours from böring to booyah by focusing on what truly makes you better than any other potential candidate.

Standing Out.

How do you stand out in the crowd of resumes?

Shannon Smedstad

Shannon Smedstad has nearly 20 years of recruitment, employer branding, and communications experience. Currently, she serves as the Principal Employer Brand Strategist at exaqueo. Previously, she held employer branding and recruiting leadership roles at CEB and GEICO. She’s a work at home mom raising two awesome girls who also enjoys reading, running, leading a Girl Scout troop, and her morning coffee. You can connect with Shannon on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Reader Interactions


  1. Melissa says

    So important. I get resumes every day that are vague, and they certainly don’t grab my attention. Many people start with a template, which is a great jumping off point, but be sure to focus it on the particular job to which you’re applying and how you really are the best candidate! When I see a generic résumé, I may as well have not seen it at all.


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