Resume Dos and Don'ts

It's no secret that the art of resume writing has grown more complex over time. If you're applying to a traditional field, certain criteria must be met. If you're applying to a non-traditional role, your resume needs to stand out and showcase your creative persona.

Reading a resume and identifying all relevant information takes as much energy as writing a resume. Therefore, it’s important to keep your resume clear and concise with a layout that highlights the most important information. From entry level to C-Suite, here are some timeless resumes Dos and Don'ts that every candidate should consider.



Lead With a Professional Summary or Objective

An objective should read like a headline; one sentence that is specific to your needs as a reflection of the role that you’re applying for. You can alter this for each application but keep the purpose consistent overall. This is your opportunity to let the recruiter or hiring manager know exactly what your expectations are in terms of responsibility, location, industry, and/or title.

Place an Emphasis on Job Tasks

Your resume should reflect the job’s responsibilities and required skillset throughout your previous roles and outline how your previous roles have shaped you to be the ideal candidate for this position through direct experience, accolades, and transferable skills. Use keywords from the job description and responsibilities within your work experience whenever possible.

Acknowledge Your Relevant Accomplishments

Day-to-day task descriptions from your previous roles should be supported by at least one relevant accomplishment for each job listed. Most roles require a combination of technical skills and soft skills. Your accomplishments related to previous roles can help the person reading your resume identify some of your more qualitative skills.

Highlight Key Information

On average, a one-page resume with a well-written cover letter is enough space to highlight your most relevant information. Depending on the seniority of your role, it can be longer, but should not exceed 3 pages.

Breaking your resume down into sections prompts the reader to specific important pieces of information:

  • Work Experience – list up to the last 5 jobs that you held
  • Education – List your last 2 - 3 degrees, certifications, trainings, or courses
  • Related Skills - Condense the skills related to the programs you will be using in this role. For example, if you’re competent in all of the Microsoft applications, list Microsoft Office, rather than separately listing Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc…

Always list your most recent experience first, and your oldest experience last.

Have Multiple Versions of Your Resume

In a world where everything is digital, recruiters and hiring managers often work with different types of software. Ensure that your resume is accessible in all of the following formats:

  • PDF
  • Plain Text
  • .png or .jpeg
  • Printed/Physical Copy



Ignore Formatting

A poor first impression can get your resume thrown out without consideration for the position, so proper formatting is a must. Some of the top mistakes that we’ve seen (that you should be sure to avoid) are:

  • Spelling errors
  • Grammatical errors
  • Misalignment
  • Multiple fonts
  • Inconsistent tenses (present vs. past)
List Your Full Address

Including contact information and general location is important (Ex. City, State). You can choose to add your professional email and phone number, but never put your full address for personal security reasons.

Include Unrelated Skills

Unfortunately, your ability to balance 10 spinning plates at once is not a skill that should make it onto a resume (unless you are applying for a position in the entertainment industry). Your skills should be directly related to your previous roles and the skills required for the job you’re applying to.

Assume a One-Size-Fits-All Mentality

Don’t assume you can send the same resume to every job on your list. You should have small introductory elements tailored to each position, company, industry, level of seniority, etc… For example, it might be useful to update your objective, related skills, volunteer work, or certifications for higher-skilled positions or specialized industries.

Lie About Or Exaggerate Your Skills and Qualifications

This one should go without saying, however, it is unfortunately one of the top reasons that we see candidates turned down for roles that they were a perfect fit for. If a company is serious about sending you an offer, they will do their homework. This includes reaching out to your references, doing their due diligence, and fact-checking your claims against public records.

If your recruiter or hiring manager finds out your resume contains dishonest information, it will break the bond of trust before you even have a change to establish it. Working with one of our recruiters includes resume guidance, interview prep, and training that teaches you how to navigate hard-to-answer questions, including when asked about your weaknesses or qualifications that you may lack.

Overall, remember that reading a resume takes as much effort as writing a resume. Be sure to keep your main points clear and concise with key information highlighted in focus areas to capture and retain your recruiter or hiring manager’s attention.

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