5 Ways to Humanize Your Resume On or Offline

Most of us are familiar with the scented pink resume that the character Elle Woods brought with her to Harvard Law School in the Legally Blonde movie. Did it seem a bit over-the-top? Yes. But what do we have in common with her? She was trying to stand out from other smart, qualified candidates.

The hiring process is no easy task, especially when there is a daunting pile of resumes sitting there waiting to be flipped through. Applicants always wonder, how can I make myself stand out from others applying for the same position? 

Incorporate your human voice

Liz Ryan, former Fortune 500 human-resources vice president and CEO of Human Workplace, an online community and consulting firm focused on reinventing work and career education, wrote a special for the Denver Post about the very topic of humanizing resumes. A human voice can be anything from using more casual language, admitting flaws or areas of improvement, and minimizing the use of cliches. As Ryan says, “when you use a human voice in your résumé, you allow the reader to get a feel for you as a person, rather than a faceless bundle of skills and certifications.”

Use specific words/phrases to replace generic ones

We find ourselves annoyed and bothered by robo-calls that are generic for everyone, so we shouldn’t produce versions of ourselves that are generic for hiring managers either! Draft your resume, read through it aloud, and highlight the words and phrases that seem vague or ask someone else to support with this. Then, try using terms that speak to you as an individual that you would feel comfortable discussing in an interview.

Tell a unique story about yourself to stand out from the crowd

Regurgitating facts about yourself isn’t enough to make you stand out, but telling a story is. This will come with adopting a more conversational tone throughout your presentation of self. Communicate your “why”—in other words, what inspired or motivated you to tackle your previous work/volunteer experiences? Everyone has a different story, and that’s how you’ll spark interest and set yourself apart. 

Don’t write what you think the company wants to hear. Share what’s important to you!

We craft our resumes according to the positions we apply for so that we have our best shot at securing that job. However, if we tailor our resumes to what we think is important to the company, we should pay mind not to lose ourselves in the process. Be sure to include relevant experience, but more importantly, what you value; it’ll make for a better long-term fit if they choose you for being your authentic self in the first place.

And this is the most shocking idea yet: be honest

This seems like a no-brainer, but it’s a good one to keep in mind. If job descriptions require knowledge of a certain software or technology that you don’t have under your belt yet, don’t say that you know how to do it. A resume would be an ideal place to share that you have other skills that can help you learn how to operate that desired software or technology quickly after you get the job. 

Feedback is very important to me, and I’d appreciate hearing your thoughts and insight. What do you think would stand out to you if you were faced with reading a stack of resumes? How else do you think people can humanize their resumes?

Please connect with me on my social accounts @HilaryCorna, contact me on my website, and follow me on LinkedIn (even if we’re already connected). Thank you!



Hilary Corna

Bestselling Author, Keynote Speaker, Podcast Host, Founder of the Human Way ™...

Hilary’s favorite title is HUMAN.


I am starting a revolution. One business and one person at a time.



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