A lot goes into a successful job search, as any job seeker can confirm. You need to have a decent resume and cover letter, ace interview questions, dazzle hiring managers, and finally negotiate reasonable terms. With the proper approach and training, all of these are doable. However, everything rides on your resume inspiring confidence in employers to consider you for the position. Resumes and cover letters are the first things to hit an employer’s desk (or screen) when you respond to a job listing. If the resume does not pique their interest, then chances are they will not even open that cover letter. In essence, your resume is the most critical thing in a job search. With so much riding on a resume, it is important we take the time to put it together correctly. If you want to get the perfect resume, then adhere to these resume dos and don’ts.
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Keep It Concise
It is all about quality, not quantity. Length is one of the more common resume mistakes people make. When it comes down to writing a resume, the term short and sweet is the perfect way to look at it. The goal here is not to give a detailed life story, but the relevant experience that is concise and to the point. They can find out more about you in the cover letter or interview. The ideal length for a resume is one or two pages. You want hiring managers to be able to skim through and get a clear picture of your experience. While you don’t want the resume to be too long, remember to add the following when writing your resume:
- Contact information
- Summary section
- Professional experience (job titles and length)
- Education and certifications
- Skills and accomplishments
- References – ONLY if requested
Feel free to play around with what information you want to include, and even the order of the list from application to application. Just keep in mind that it should be easy to understand for hiring managers. This means that a professional resume must prioritize more important information before moving on to less important details.
Adjust to Job Description
Having a good template to fall back on is important. However, sending your resume should not be a simple act of copy-pasting. Customize resumes to the position you are applying for. Highlight accomplishments, skills, and experiences that suit that role. Remember to add keywords that are relevant to roles when possible.
Get the Proper Formatting
While actions like adjusting your resume to the job description, along with highlighting skills and experiences, are important, paying attention to the resume format is just as important. Things to consider here are:
- Font and Size – Avoid fonts, sizes, and text effects that would make a text difficult to read.
- Page Margins – You don’t want there to be excessive white space on the resume. This will reduce the amount of space you have to sell yourself. Consider the standard page margins of 1″ margins on the top, bottom, left, and right sides of the page.
Include Data if Possible
Quantifying achievements with numbers and percentages is a great way to show just how much of a change you helped facilitate. Remember not to go into lengthy explanations with data. Simple bullet points with a little note will be enough.
Label Resume – Resume
There is no need to label your resume. Hiring managers should be able to make out what it is by simply skimming it.
Date the Resume
Some people, out of habit probably, end up putting a date on their resume. This is completely unnecessary. Employers do not need to know when you put the resume together.
Avoid Sending Photographs – U.S.
While this might not apply to foreign companies or certain jobs, such as acting or modeling, it is worth remembering. Unlike a lot of foreign countries that require a photograph, U.S. companies do not. Most of them would prefer it if you did not attach a photo so that they can adhere to the Equal Employment Opportunity legislation (prohibits companies from hiring for discriminatory reasons).
Don’t Misrepresent Yourself
When it comes to resumes, honesty is the best policy. Misrepresenting yourself in a resume might get you a job interview, but chances are that you will be caught in a lie then or during employment. This can be grounds for termination in most companies.
Don’t List Your Highschool
The only time you should list your high school education is if that is your highest level of education. The moment you complete a higher level of education, omit your highschool completely from your resumes.
Don’t Include Unrelated Skills
When listing skills and attributes on your resume, make sure that they are current and relevant to the position. Adding unrelated skills will do very little to help elevate you above the competition, and it can be a red flag for recruiters.
Don’t Justify Reason for Leaving Jobs
While you might get asked why you stopped working at one of your previous positions during the interview, you should never talk about this in your resume. The resume should just give an overview of previous work experiences and rolls. There is no need to add paragraphs explaining why you left or anything else.
Avoid Saying – References Available Upon Request
The term references available upon request has become so overused in resumes, that it is now a given. Employers now naturally assume that you will be able to provide a reference if they request it. There is no reason to write it out on the resume. However, make sure to follow the specific job post; some might request names upfront.
There is a lot that goes into writing a good resume. Follow these tips, and you will find yourself ever closer to getting called in for that interview. If you need some additional advice on putting together a resume or practicing for an interview, consider our career services. Through our Career Services, we help students connect with potential employers, as well as provide them proper training and career search assistance to start their careers. For more information, contact us today!