Whether you’re applying for a summer internship, your first job post graduation, or for a position with a new company, your resume is your first impression; it could be your foot in the door or it could be the end of the road. We review dozens of resumes each and every year, so we want to share our top resume dos and don’ts. We promise these resume tips will help get your paper into the right hands. So, print your resume, grab a red-ink pen and let’s get to work.
7 Resume Dos and Don’ts
DO – use examples of the skills you list as specifically as possible. Give your interviewer a thorough understanding of your responsibilities and value provided at your last position. The more data the better – if you can use numbers, percentages and stats. And if your previous position doesn’t relate to that, find a way to show how you improved the company you worked for.
DON’T – list completely irrelevant work experience, even if it means you leave off a job or two you’ve had in the past. Use that space instead to beef up the your relevant work example (see DO #1) or include volunteer work, hobbies, awards or other skills that show why you’d be a great addition to the team.
DO – show personality! Yes, the primary function of a resumes are to show skill set, but the employer is ultimately hiring a person, not a robot and it’s helpful for them to get a sense of who you are. Tailor this to fit the field and position you’re applying for, but consider adding a photo of yourself, interesting facts, cute header fonts or even a funny line. One successful professional we know always includes “I can juggle and play the piano. No simultaneously.” under their general skills, and that line has been commented by in every single interview they’ve had!
DON’T – waste space on your resume listing skills that most people have. Nearly everyone knows how to type, are proficient in Microsoft Word and the internet. If your potential employer is concerned about this, they will ask you about it in the interview. Use the space for more important information.
DO – consult a thesaurus when writing up your skills. Be careful not to use the same verbs over and over (which is easy to do!) or general word that don’t showcase what you do. Instead of “managed a team of 12” try “administered tasks and delegated important company milestones to a team of 12”.
DON’T – use the same resume for every internship or job you are applying for. Most people have a “one and done” approach to their resumes, meaning they create it once and then they’re done. It takes a bit longer, but invest the time into tailoring your resume to fit the company. Applying to a travel company? Highlight your unique travel experiences. Applying to a media outlet? Find a way to showcase why the kinds of content they feature interests you. Trust us, employers know a canned resume when they see one.
DO – get creative with the organization of the resume. Chronological order tends to be the go to, but if your most relevant work experience for this new position wasn’t your last job, consider mixing things up. You don’t want the information that makes you a stand out applicant to be buried understand experience and skills that don’t relate to the job. There’s no “resume rules” or one size fits all. Don’t be afraid to mix things up in order to make you the strongest applicant possible. This is your one shot!
Are you a business owner or recruiter? What are your best resume tips?