You love to hate them, but you know they are so important to your professional identity. Check through this list to make sure your resume is in top notch to send to your dream job.
Start every bullet with a verb.
Structure your entries like a first person statement but without the “I”. Take note of the tense.
For example: Coordinated 25 volunteers during 3 day youth outreach program
Add variety to the verbs.
Check out this list of verbs to use so you’re not caught using the same three “Created” “Developed” etc.
Take out the “objective.”
You don’t need an introduction at the top of the resume, it's outdated and takes up space.
Any message you need to convey can be done in the cover letter.
Submit a different resume that is tailored to each job.
Take a look at the job responsibilities and see which experiences you have fit the best.
General resumes will have irrelevant information that could get yours thrown out.
Don’t start a sentence with “helped.”
You are not a helper. Even if you were an intern, you were still performing tasks, fulfilling specific goals.
“Helped” is such a boring word and takes the power from you when describing actions you did. If your phrase is “helped + insert verb here” then you especially don’t need it - Helped implement training program for student teachers can lose the “help” and still convey the meaning.
If you were directly help someone then you can mention it, but try to use a word like “assist” - Assisted senior citizens in dance hall during intergenerational prom.
Make sure it's not too cluttered.
We get it, you are very involved and experienced, but you don't want your resume to be too crowded that people don't want (or can’t!) read it.
Pick the most important experiences that are relevant for the specific job to include.
Always use bullets and lists and NOT paragraphs.
Lists are more succinct, easier to read and scan, and cleaner to look at.
If you have anything to say about an experience, save it for the cover letter.
Don’t overlook those summer jobs.
If you’re struggling to find more industry related experiences to include, think back to other forms of experience you have.
All those hours of customer service at the local restaurant, bar, movie theater have really amplified your communication, organization, team building, problem solving skills.
Stop listing “Strong communicator” in the “Skills” section - highlight HARD skills
The skills section is where you list what you know how to do, and can prove that you can have tangible results: Photoshop, Spanish, etc. It’s best to include software, programs, equipment (when applicable).
It’s important to demonstrate that you are indeed a “great team player” or “collaborative,” so weave that into your bullets - show don’t tell. Seriously, who doesn’t think they are a “strong communicator?”
Look at the job description and weave those requirements into your list.
Remove scales in your skills section, it is misleading and inaccurate.
So you’re 5/5 at making Powerpoints and 4/5 at developing C++ code? Are those really comparable? Also, how does that line up with someone who has been in the industry for 20+ years? The intricacies and learning curves vary so much between different skills and programs that it is misleading and inaccurate to put them on the same rating scale.
Note, you can include terms like “proficient” or “beginner” which can give a reader a broader range of where you’re at.
Make the bullets more descriptive and quantifiable.
Employers want to know what you’ve done, learned, and where you’ve taken responsibility. You can paint a better picture by adding a few more details about your entries.
Keep it brief, don’t write paragraphs, but make it less generic.
Example: "Made designs for company advertisements" vs. "Designed 6 key advertising print visuals for anti-bullying campaign including brochures, posters, and postcards.”.
Keep it to one page.
It’s very tempting to share all your experiences and showcase how “well rounded” you are, but that means nothing if there is too much to read.
One page is industry standard for the most part.
It demonstrates that you can be concise, prioritize things, and have a sense of organization.
Some employers may not read the second page.
Use a simple font and no smaller than 10pt size.
Writing a resume is not like when a professor gives out an index card for a cheat sheet and people write out size 2pt.
You’re not impressing people with how much you can fit on a page, you’re making it difficult to read when you pick a small font.
Pick a simple font - My personal preference is a sans serif font, (which means no squigglys on the letters like in Times New Roman.) Whatever you choose, make sure it can be read quickly and easily.
If you share your resume online- take off your phone number and address for privacy reasons.
This is more of a safety and privacy precaution. If you’re posting on linkedin, or a website, or just sending it out to a connection - anyone has access to it, and they don’t need to know where you live.
For real applications that you are submitting directly to an employer, keep it on.
If someone really wants to get a hold of you, they will most likely email or Linkedin message you, rather than call or text you.
Listen to this wild podcast about what information people can easily access if they get your phone number.
Get a google phone number to give out especially online.
This is a free number that links to your real number, so you can keep your real number private.
You still get all the texts and calls forwarded to your account, but it is more secure than handing out your personal phone number willy nilly. It serves as another barrier of security.
I actually use this as my default phone number that I give out.
You can also send messages and make calls from your laptop, and access your contacts no matter where you are, even if you have Apple or Android.
Use the job description to help you write your resume bullets.
Use keywords and phrasing directly from the job postings.
Work with the content they give you and mold it around your own experience. If the posting says, “Responsibilities include managing social media account editorial calendar and creating content.” And you’ve had similar roles, now tailor it to your experience.
For example, I interned with CBS a few years ago, so I could write: “Managed editorial calendar for Star Trek and TV City social media posts each week.” BAM! I have directly expressed that I have experience doing exactly what they’re looking for, and I applied it to an experience I had.
Kill the hidden words.
You might have heard that you should hide keywords from the job on your page in white to be detected by scanners. That advice is outdated and can actually get your resume thrown out if caught. Some programs use a software that turn all words black. I’ve heard from recruiters that when they find out someone did that, they are no longer considered.
Take off “references upon request.”
This phrase is also outdated and takes up room. It is industry norm that if an employer wants to consider you, they will ask for your references. Have them ready to go if you need them, but no need to put that on your resume.
Write out the month and use abbreviations for the date ranges to increase readability.
Make your timeline easy to read in 2 seconds, which can be difficult if you use numbers. 04/2019 - 06/2020 verses April 2019 - June 2020
Abbreviating months is perfectly acceptable and can save you space if you have a company or position that has a long name.
One long experience entry might dictate which format you use.
There’s not one set rule for format, but be sure to be consistent once you pick it.
Triple check that your punctuation is consistent: are you putting periods after the month (Jan. vs Jan)? Is your spacing the same?
Consider having a professional proofread it.
Caryanne at LifeWork Source has been such an incredible resource for all of my career development.
Don’t repeat the year if it’s the same.
June 2018 - December 2018 is redundant, just do June - December 2018