I get asked so many questions about resumes. What is right? Wrong? Can you give me suggestions? Ask 10 recruiters about resumes you will get 10 different responses. While, I am not a resume writer, there are some guidelines that I believe go across various career levels and industry verticals.
#1 Your resume represents you, so you decide how to best represent your background. It is definitely a good idea to get input on your resume but remember it is a marketing piece about you and no one knows you better than you.
#2 Be honest on your resume. You don’t have to include everything that you have ever done on your resume but what is on it needs to be accurate. Since you decide what to put on your resume, it is fair game in any interview so be prepared to have interviewers dig deep regarding anything that is on there.
#3 There are lots of different formats and hiring managers and recruiters have different preferences so use one where you are best able to highlight your past successes and experiences.
#4 Be careful about going too far back on your resume. Usually, what you did 25 years ago isn’t relevant now. The way ” it” is done today, or the technologies have changed so much that the experience is no longer applicable. Going back to 2000 is all you need but make sure you end at a logical end point.
#5 Focus on successes and results not activities
#6 Make sure you review your resume each time you update it. We have all been victim to a bad cut and paste scenario. Make sure your fonts match, spacing is consistent. Watch your verb tenses. Present tense should only be used with what you are doing in your current job. Pick a writing style and stick with it. Avoid first person. We know the resume is about you.
#7 Avoid repeating yourself in your resume.
#8 Don’t use an objective. They probably hurt more people than they help.
#9 Don’t put references or “references available upon request” on your resume . It is a given that you will provide them if you are asked.
#10 Don’t put personal interests or hobbies on your resume. No one cares unless it relates to the job you are applying for.
#11 Don’t put your street address on your resume. (City and state are fine.)
#12 I recommend starting with a professional summary section and then moving to a chronological section. I don’t like to see resumes that don’t tell me when people did things. Resume style is a matter of personal preference. There are certain industries that expect certain formats. A selected highlights or career highlights section is nice. Those can be with each job or over the career. If you use that style in one position you should probably use it in all positions. Try and keep the readers perspective in mind. Other sections that can work or enhance your resume are skills, volunteer experiences, training, education, certifications, publications, and I’m sure there are others. Just remember as you include different sections, make sure they are not redundant and that you are including them because they are relevant to your career search.
#13 Key words: I recommend that you use with care and in a limited fashion. Don’t just randomly throw in a bunch of key words because you want to pull up in search results. They must make sense with your background and the way your resume is written.