Photo courtesy of Bram Naus
The perfect resume. Does it exist? Can it be done? Is it too much power for one woman to have?
While it’s impossible to read the mind of your potential future employer, there are some general resume dos and don'ts to keep in mind that will ensure you come off looking your best. From what to include to how to polish off the finishing touches, here are the top tips for refining your resume.
Do: make your name and contact details obvious
Include your phone number, email, and address, and position it all as close to the top of the page as possible.
Don’t: use the same email address you’ve had since middle school
You’re a professional. After all, firstname.lastname@example.org sounds a lot more professional than does email@example.com.
Don’t: include an objective statement (unless you’re changing careers)
A summary might be appropriate if you have extensive experience or are making a big career change, but otherwise, ditch it.
Do: include any degrees and education that you’ve received in chronological order
(Although you don’t need to list the dates), as well as the school name, your major, and any honors you received.
Don’t: list your GPA
Unless the application asks for it, it won’t be relevant information—and could even end up hurting you.
Do: detail your work experience in chronological order, not order of relevance
As far as content, be sure to list at least three of your main duties, as well as any notable accomplishments or awards you received. Don’t sweat if your experience isn’t a perfect match for the position—you’re likely more qualified than you think.
Don’t: include skills that are obvious
For example, most people are familiar with Microsoft Word and Google Docs—instead, highlight skills that are more tailored to the position (check the job description to find these), and don’t overlook soft skills, either.
Read more: How to List Certifications on Your Resume
Do: be truthful with your job experience, skills, and accomplishments
You don’t want to promise potential employers things that you won’t be able to follow through on.
Don’t: include that you have references available upon request
If you make it to the next round of interviews, then you may be asked to provide them. While you should have a list of references prepared should the request come, it doesn need to be mentioned on your resume.
Do: know the buzzwords for the job
Some companies use software or sorting systems that allow them to search and select resumes by keywords and phrases. While this isn’t to say that you should practice keyword stuffing, you should be sure to pick the language intentionally. Here’s how: How to Use Resume Buzzwords the Right Way.
Don’t: lift the exact wording from the job description
During the sorting and interview process, recruiters will likely be comparing your resume to the job description. By copying and pasting what they’re looking for, you’ll risk seeming not only disingenuous, but also like a slacker.
Do: use numbers to your advantage
Have impressive benchmarks that you hit? Maybe increasing engagement on social media posts by 20 percent? Landing a few million in sales? Talk yourself up by showing that you’re not all talk.
Don’t: use passive voice or trite language
For example, instead of saying that you’re a team player, provide specifics about how you led a project to organize cross-team communication.
Do: keep it succinct
It’s okay if your resume is more than a single page—as long as it’s all important information. But remember, recruiters will be sorting through a lot of candidates, so the longer your resume is, the less of a chance that they’ll actually read it all.
Don’t: get too fancy with the formatting
Stick to only one or two fonts, leave plenty of white space, and consider using a template to serve as a guideline at the very least.
Do: make your headlines and titles stand out
Whoever’s reading your resume will be skimming, so make it easy for them to pick out the highlights.
Do: double-check that your resume is tailored to the position
You should tailor your resume to each position you apply for, so don’t overlook any changes that you can make to cater it to the position.
Don’t: send your resume over as a Word document or Google document
Unless otherwise specified in the job description, PDF is likely the best format, as it ensures that the formatting is set in stone. That way, if recruiters print it out or open it using another program, it can still be clearly read.
Do: save and label your resume files
If you’re applying to a lot of jobs, you’ll want to tailor your resume to each, but you can save time by keeping your iterations labeled and organized. That way you can easily reuse language when tweaking new revisions, and you’ll be prepared to reference the specific resume you applied with when the recruiters come knocking.
Read more: How to Make a Resume for Your First Job