On any given day of a job search, you will come across plenty of advice for writing your resume. If you would like to cut through all the specialized advice, we offer the basic rules for getting ahead with your resume. These rules will help you each and every time you submit your resume for an application.
1. Keep it one page
Regardless of your level of experience, one page resumes always work better than longer resumes. If you have a one-page resume filled with quantifiable achievements you are showing employers what they need to know. Better yet, you are appealing to the short attention spans of people who have to look at dozens of resumes for one job listing. If you have so much information that it carries over to a second page, hire a professional to help organize this in an effective way.
2. Avoid spelling errors and typos
Nothing says, “I don’t proofread or pay attention to detail” like spelling errors and typos. Protect yourself and get Grammar.ly. Most recruiters will discount your resume when they see a spelling error or typo.
3. Watch your tenses
When you are writing your resume, make sure your experience is in the proper past or present tense. If you are currently employed and it appears on your resume, present tense is required. Past jobs require past tense.
4. No first person usage of pronouns
Do not use words like “me”, “my”, and “I”. It is a general practice for writing resumes. In not doing so, you look more team-oriented and less egotistical.
5. Send resumes as PDF
Using PDF makes sure that you and all others who will see the resume, see it in the same format. PDF files show an image of your profile. If you send it in a text attachment like MS Word, the styling, formatting, and fonts may change depending on the application a person opens it with.
6. Label your resume file correctly
Use a logical file name such as FirstName_LastName_JobTitle.pdf. Anything else may lead to confusion when submitting an application.
7. Format your resume in a logical structure
Lay out your resume in a manner that reflects your next career move and where you are in your career path. While chronological resumes are usually best, it may not always be the best way to get an interview or make the case for why you should be hired.
8. Make sure it is easy to read
Do not shrink text to try and fit one page. Anything below 10-size font is too small. Share your resume with others and ask them, “Can you easily read this and easily figure out my experience”?
The question is designed to see if even the regular person can understand and read exactly what you did without headaches or squinting eyes.
9. Stay organized and visually appealing
Do not go crazy with designs. Remember #8. But you also must remember hiring managers usually spend just six seconds looking at your resume. When all else fails, Google search "resume templates most commonly used in 2017".
10. Keep formats consistent
Formats of resumes are generally teaching people, “This is what to expect”. But when the formats jump around and look confusing, hiring managers begin to wonder, “What is happening?” Inconsistent formats look sloppy and disorganized and your experience will be communicated as such.
11. Include context
Include context in your experience. For example, add city, state (or country) the job took place in. Add if you traveled or worked in multiple cities. Add the dates of experience. Context is the meat of your experience. Do not be vague.
12. Show the quantifiable results
State what you did and then back it up with numbers! Numbers, percentages, and supporting facts is the evidence that proves, “You have a track record of success”. Do not just say, “Led a successful product launch.” State the facts and numbers, “Led a product launch team of 300 generating $255 million dollars in company revenue”.
13. Name drop
Start dropping names of people and companies you had worked with that are high profile. Do not be afraid to brag. But do not lie. You want to show you can work with the big-timers. Most importantly, you want to show the big-timers trust you.
14. No references
When hiring managers want references, they will ask. Do not use resume space stating you have them. This statement “references available upon request” is not necessary.
15. Gauge how creative you should be based on your industry
Certain industries are more creative than others. Bankers and financial executives will not have the same creative swagger as a resume from a person in digital media or design. Be aware of just how creative your industry expects you to be on your resume.
16. Do not list everything
Resumes should be tailored for the industry you want now. LinkedIn profiles are the place to list everything. An executive need not mention where they interned. That was a lifetime ago!
17. Think about the person reading the resume
Be considerate of the person behind the other screen. Real people read resumes to find who should be called in for an interview. So, try to think of ways to make their lives easier at deciding to call you in. In most cases, “less content + highly impactful = REALLY EASY!”
Creating a resume
It does not have to be so hard. If you ever get stuck, Google resume templates to see what kind of ideas are currently in practice. If you are creating your resume for the first time, it is generally more helpful to pay a resume writer. You will learn more than enough about the rules for getting ahead and how to use them for future resumes!