By Laura Sweeney
I’m no expert, but after 16 years in the industry, I’ve seen some really good resumes and some really bad ones too, so I think by now I have a pretty good understanding of how this works. So hear me out on this one.
Some people have a great amount of experience but can’t write a resume to save their lives. And there are those who just try to fake it with big words, large fonts, lengthy explanations about the company, etc. Employers can see right through it.
To help you with your resume writing, I’ve put together a list of what I consider to be the dos and the don’ts of a good resume:
• Starting from the top, you can lose the “Objective.” Nobody uses that anymore. Finding a good job, with a good company, in your field of expertise is pretty much everybody’s goal and goes without saying. Instead, a nice summary of your most important skills and accomplishments will do just fine.
• You don’t need to have your picture in your resume. This isn’t Match.com, and we trust that you’re good looking.
• Formatting is very important. I’ve seen resumes written in 5 different fonts, 4 different sizes, capitalized letters that don’t need to be capitalized, bolded stuff that’s not relevant to that specific job, so on and so forth. That’s a mess! Keep it simple. Choose a font and size, and keep formatting consistent. Believe it or not, it can be distracting for the anal retentive Hiring Manager (we know they are out there) to read “Jun/2013” in one paragraph, and “6/2012” in another. See the difference? Two different formats.
• Speaking of dates, they are important. Hiring Managers want to know when you worked for each company and for how long. If you have gaps in between, let them know what happened during the down time (going to school, taking care of an elderly parent, had a baby, etc.). It will help the hiring manager to better understand your situation and it will give you a better chance of getting the job.
• You do not need an entire paragraph about the companies you’ve worked for. If you worked for a small company or some company in another country, maybe a brief one line description would help. But I cannot tell you how many times I’ve seen lengthy descriptions on large American corporations. We all know that CVS is a pharmacy, Bank of America is a bank, Starbucks sells coffee, etc. Let’s just talk about YOUR position and what YOU have done for that company. That’s all it matters.
• I once read in a resume “Hobbies: I enjoy danger and interpreting dreams”… No joke. Unless you are applying for the next cast of Game of Thrones, this is not helpful. Try to keep your hobbies to yourself. Instead of helping, it can be the thing that will keep you from getting the job.
• Describe your duties and responsibilities for each job. Don’t worry if it goes over one or two pages. It’s important for the hiring managers to get a full grasp of your capabilities and how you can apply them to your next job. I’ve seen resumes with just the name of the company and the person’s titles. Hiring managers are not mind-readers.
That’s it. Pretty straight forward. I hope this helps.