After a hiring manager reads your resume, how will it be remembered? It is likely your resume will be read along with dozens or hundreds of others. The person screening the resumes will only remember a few, perhaps only five or ten. If your resume doesn't stand out, it's unlikely to be remembered.
Some people worked for a highly respected company or went to a top tier school. These can make a good impression and are often remembered by a hiring manager. If you didn't go to a top school or work at one of the most respected companies, your background may still standout to some employers. Direct competitors of an employer may consider your experience exceptional.
Another way to standout is to present impressive accomplishments. This is possibly the best way to be remembered. Accomplishments show what you have done and demonstrate what you can do for a potential employer. Giving good examples of your successes will help you stand out. The key to being remembered is creating a picture that is absolutely clear in the hiring manager's mind. This requires giving specific details of what you did and what results you achieved.
You can also stand out and get remembered by showing you have a skill that is in demand. Most fields have skills that are rare and difficult. If you can show a high skill level in these areas, you can make a very strong impression and get remembered. The key to making an impression with a skill is to demonstrate your skill level by showing what you have done using that skill.
There are others ways to get remembered. Your resume could have a highly unusual style or structure. You could add information that is rare on a resume. You can also have glaring mistakes and typos. All of these will get attention and help the hiring manager remember you. Unfortunately, being remembered for these reasons isn't going to help you. In fact, it will hurt your chances since you will be remembered for a negative reason.
The main reason you want to be remembered by the hiring manager early in the process is to become one of the front runners. If you are qualified and competing against other qualified candidates, you need to find a way for the hiring manager to think of your background in a simple manner. In essence, you are providing the hiring manager a way of giving you a title or nickname – the Harvard grad, the SAS expert or the operations executive that turned around a plant in under a year. These are simple tags that can help a person remember your background – much more than just what the tag conveys.
You don't want to be a nondescript person that is qualified but doesn't bring anything unique to the table. This will make it tough to beat out your competition. Additionally, if you do beat out everyone else, you still need to convince the company to hire you. They have the option of leaving the position open to continue looking. This makes it essential to show why you should be hired and give the hiring manager a simple way to remember this.