In 2018, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to stand out as a candidate. While the ease of online applications makes it possible to apply to a job with a single click of your mouse, it also means that more resumes are making it through to the recruiter, and that means more competition.

The good news is that most candidates are still sending resumes their parents created for them in 1999, so, going against the grain, even a little bit, could potentially put you miles ahead of the pack. Here are 5 ways that recent college grads can use their resume to create a lasting impression:

1. Think outside the box:

For most people, spicing up the presentation of their resume doesn’t get much more exciting than going with Calibri over Time New Roman. However, there are a few brave souls who are willing to really shake things up. Take, for example, the candidate who dropped off a resume in a shoebox. Yes, I said a shoebox, with previous experience, skills and education all attached decoratively around the inside and fabric covering the outside. It was fully customized to fit an open position I was recruiting for and it must have taken hours to make. Here was a resume that I would not have given a second look at if it had come through the ATS, but this was a move so unconventional, so bold, that I had to call the candidate back.

Okay, so maybe we all can’t go around handing out shoebox resumes, I realize it is a bit kooky. However, the point is that you’ve got to do something to make your resume stand out from all the others. Get creative and think outside the box.

2. Use your voice:

Once, a resume made me laugh. It made me laugh, not because it was bad, but because it was witty. Not only was it a completely refreshing (seriously, that NEVER happens) but it was a pleasant surprise. I honestly hadn’t realized, until just that moment, that it was the first time a resume had moved me to do anything but squint my eyes.

Now, I’m not suggesting stacking your skills section with knock-knock jokes but try writing your resume like you’re expecting a person to read it. Don’t be afraid to add a touch of your own personality where you can, a little preview of what makes you stand out from everyone else.

3. Go retro:

Thousands upon thousands of resumes are submitted online every day. Resumes are scanned by HR artificial intelligence for arbitrary keywords before (maybe) getting dropped in a heap in the recruiter’s inbox. So, how do we beat the system? Easy, we circumvent it.

Everything old, is new again and job hunting is no exception. More and more, people are looking for ways to ditch electronic communications for good old-fashioned person-to-person contact. Try dropping off your resume in person, heck, even sending it through the mail could work wonders to separate you from the other millions of ‘results-oriented professionals.’ Sure, it takes more time, and a little more effort but it’s worth it if it helps you land your dream job, right?

4. List unconventional experience:

We all know it’s important to list your education and previous jobs, internships, skills, etc. While this information is still crucial, don’t forget to also list the experience that you gained outside of the office or classroom. I’m talking about everything from networking events and conventions you attended to that gap year you spent hiking in Europe. Show your future employer how eager you are to learn in any environment and how easy it is for you to take knowledge gained in the real world and apply it to your career.

5. Cover letters have not gone out of style:

Even as we strive to innovate and push boundaries, remember that the cover letter is the little black dress or classic blue blazer of job hunting: it’s timeless, always appropriate and everybody needs one. Of course, that doesn’t mean that you can’t find ways to spice it up. I once received a cover letter that was addressed and written to the office pet, who was prominently displayed on the company’s website. It was a refreshing, tongue-in-cheek twist on a vital piece of the process. The cover letter is a must have, but just like the LBD, it can be dressed up or down, it can be understated or bold and, yes, it can even be funny.

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