I have viewed thousands of resumes over the years as both a hiring manager and a Mentor. I have also revised mine about a million times trying to get it ‘perfect’. Everyone’s resumes are going to be different – as they should be – and there is really no right or wrong way of writing a resume. Your resume should be unique to you, your education and experiences.
After reviewing so many resumes, here are a few general tips I usually suggest when reviewing resumes:
1: Clearly State your Name, Phone Number, and Email Address
If a recruiter can’t figure out whose resume it is, or how to contact you, your resume will go into the discard pile automatically. There are far too many resumes to review to try to find the information. Your physical address and LinkedIn profile URL aren’t nearly as important as your phone number and email address.
2: Use a Professional Email Address
Everyone uses email these days, and the email you use says a lot about you (think: first impression). Using an email address like Hot4You@domainname.com or GirlNextDoor@domainname.com are just plain unprofessional, and likely will get your resume thrown into the discard pile. These types of email addresses are fine for personal use with your friends (I suppose), but not when you’re looking to obtain a job. Also, using an email address with lots of random letters or tons of numbers also looks unprofessional (and is difficult to remember). Using an email that is professional and easy to remember/identify is your best bet. Try using your name, and if that is taken, your name and a year. For example, mine is firstname.lastname@example.org.
3: Don’t Bold or Italicize Everything
I see this quite a bit as well. An individual will bold the company name, their title with the company, the dates they were employed with the company, where the company is located, the first sentence of each bullet point of their responsibilities, etc. Personally, I like to see the company name, the job title, and the date in bold as this makes it easier to pick out these titles. Everything should be un-bolded. Italicizing is also useful, but keep it to a minimum. For my resume, I italicize my job title to break it apart from the company name, and I italicize the title Results in each section to break it apart from the rest of the paragraph. If you bold or italicize too much, then it defeats the purpose of using these to call out certain items in your resume.
4: Add a Qualifications or Profile Section at the Beginning
This section should highlight your achievements and abilities. It is meant to be a very brief summary of your resume. This way, at a glance, a recruiter can see what you can do and what you have accomplished. This should be written in a way that it entices the reader to continue reading. Keep it very short and to the point.
5: Include Education at the Beginning of your Resume
I have seen many resumes that don’t include education or have the education listed after experience. Many positions these days require a certain degree (i.e. a minimum of a Bachelor in Business). A recruiter wants to see what education you have, but if they can’t find it quickly, they will likely discard your resume quickly, especially if the position requires a degree. Putting it at the beginning of your resume (I recommend after your Qualifications/Profile section) will allow it to be viewed quickly and easily.
6: Edit, Edit, Edit
I really can’t say this one enough. Editing is extremely important as having misspellings or incorrect grammar and punctuation can get a resume tossed out quickly. Ask someone (or a couple someone’s) you know is good at editing to review your resume for any errors. I once came across a resume where the company ‘Cingular’ was spelled at least five different ways throughout the document. If you don’t have anyone you trust, I recommend saving it, closing it, and coming back to it after a few hours or even a day or two to re-read it and edit it.
7: Have Multiple Resumes
During your job search you will likely come across a couple different types of positions that you may be qualified for and interested in. Creating a resume geared specifically to each of these types of positions will help your chances of obtaining an interview. This can be a change in the way you describe your responsibilities to contain key words for that specific position, or even a change to your key responsibilities that are geared specifically for the position you are applying for. Save each of these resumes with the type of title it is meant for (i.e. human resources, customer service, operations, etc.).
8: Try to keep it to a Minimum Number of Pages
I have heard that a resume should be one page, and no more than two pages. I don’t necessarily agree with this. Most companies like to see work history back 10 years, if your history goes back that far. If you have worked for 10 years at the same company, I recommend using the last two or three positions you’ve held. If you’re like me, you’ve worked for many more than 10 years, so you wouldn’t want to include every position you’ve ever held. For example, over the past 20 years I’ve held 12+ positions (including positions when I just started working); however, I only include my past five positions going back 12 years. This is completely up to you. My resume is four pages, but the information is spaced appropriately for ease of reading, includes my qualifications, education, additional information (i.e. systems I have used and are familiar with, and interests and hobbies). Don’t limit yourself on space – if you need it, then use I, but be cognizant that someone will be looking at it, so keep it as short and straight forward for the reader as possible.
The way you create your resume is completely up to you. Some people like to use resume outlines or resume generators, and some like to create their resume from scratch, and others like to use a format someone else has used. Personally, I like to create my own format. Whatever way you choose to create your resume, ensure the information you want presented is there and it represents who you are.