Stumped on how to write a resume?
Don’t worry, you’re not the only one.
Most people don’t enjoy writing, let alone the daunting task of writing a resume.
But if you have a better understanding on what to do—and what to avoid—it may make the process a little less painful.
The dos and don’ts of resume writing
Do make sure it’s free of errors.
Grammar, spelling and punctuation mistakes are a big no-no. Any small mistake can be misinterpreted as a lack of care or effort towards landing a position. Your resume is a representation of you on paper so you want it to show that you take pride in your work. Have at least one person proofread it. They may be able to see something you’ve overlooked.
Do use a professional email.
Believe it or not, the email address you use on your resume does make an impression. It’s important that it leaves a positive one. A combination of your first and last name is a good rule, and an easy way to put your best foot forward.
Do include start and end dates.
Employers want to see a timeline of your work history for a better understanding of your skills, experience and longevity in each role. Some jobs require a specific length of time spent in a previous position. They may be looking at your resume to confirm that you have the experience needed for the job. Having a timeline provides that information.
Do note measurable accomplishments.
Show, don’t tell. Whenever possible, include any quantifiable achievement in the form of percentages, dollars or other numeric values. It’s easy to say you’ve been the “top performer” or the “highest earner,” but having these numbers on your resume prove that.
Do list important and relevant details first.
Create a skills section at the top of your resume which bullet-points the characteristics or traits you want to stand out. You never know how much time the employer has to read a resume. So if they only have time to skim it, you want them to get an immediate understanding of what you bring to the table as a candidate.
Don’t include a photo.
While having a photo on your resume is required in some countries, it’s not the custom in the United States. Let employers make hiring decisions based exclusively on your skills and work experience, not what you look like. Leaving this out can also help prevent unconscious bias from seeping into any hiring decisions.
Don’t list your home address.
It’s not common anymore to list your address on your resume. And in general, it’s not necessary. Besides, you wouldn’t want an employer to screen you out based on where you live or how far of a commute you might have. That’s your decision.
Don’t forget the importance of formatting.
Having a professional appearance doesn’t only apply to what you wear to your interview. It applies to how the resume looks as well. Select a simple template. Avoid one that’s too busy and distracting. Arial, Calibri and Cambria are ideal fonts to choose from, and 10-12 is a comfortable size to read. You also want to try to keep it under two pages. That should be long enough to lay out all of your important employment highlights and experience.
Don’t provide too much personal information.
Let’s not get personal in a resume. Avoid adding information about hobbies or travel experiences. Yes, we know that you have activities you enjoy outside of the workplace. But when trying to sell yourself to an employer, what you do for fun has no bearing on the skills you’ll bring to the company. (During an interview is when you can have that freedom to divulge and share more of yourself.)
Don’t use the same resume for every job.
Resumes are not one-size-fits-all. While it is acceptable to have one standard resume, a vague or generic one might not work for all positions. It is a good idea to tailor your resume to the job and job duties of the position you are applying for. Make sure you add industry-related keywords. This will showcase how your skills tie into the role and show the employer you have what they are looking for.
Interested in additional resume writing resources? Check out these posts!
- How to Handle a Career Shift on Your Resume
- How to Get Your Manufacturing Resume Noticed
- The Ultimate Guide to Writing a Stand-Out Resume
- How to Write an Effective Cover Letter
How TERRA Can Be a Resource
If you’re looking for a job and want some support, don’t hesitate to contact us. We work with many leading companies across a variety of industries and can provide valuable insight, and help you find a great job.
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(Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in December 2018 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy and comprehensiveness.)