Compared to the Summary or Work Experience sections of a resume, things like your contact information or education can seem quick and easy to finish. Surely they won’t take as much time or effort. Which is true but it doesn’t make them any less important or in need of careful attention. They might not take the same level of thought, since these sections are mostly factual, straightforward information, but there is plenty of room for error. Here are some great tips on how to avoid some common mistakes and get things right in every section of your resume:
- You should include your name, address, e-mail address, and phone number. If it is applicable, include the address of your website or online portfolio.
- Avoid using an unprofessional e-mail address such as email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. Your first and last name is the most professional email address to have. Consider setting up an email account specifically for your job search.
- Remember to check your outgoing voicemail message and make sure it is simple, professional, and easy to understand, without loud noise or feedback in the background. Never use slang or improper language.
- Proof carefully. Proof several times. Most importantly – have someone else proof. You simply can’t make a mistake on this stuff.
- List your educational accomplishments starting with your most recent or highest degree.
- Include the name and location of the institution you graduated from – location means city and state, not a full mailing address.
- Include your degree, and field of study/major. Do not list graduation year.
- Don’t lie or stretch the truth! Only list what you’ve truly earned. If you graduated with honors, say so; if you didn’t, don’t. It is simply not worth the risk of getting caught and you almost always will.
Technical Skills and Certifications
- Not every resume is going to include these but for IT professionals it’s a must. Here is where you should list languages, tools and operating systems that you are proficient in, or any certifications you’ve achieved.
- Depending on the position you are applying for, consider tailoring these to highlight ones that are most important to that job.
- Again, depending on the opportunity, this section might follow Education or come in between your Summary and Work Experience.
- It bears repeating – don’t lie or exaggerate. If you’re not really proficient, don’t claim you are.
- Don’t list references or waste space saying they are “available on request.” Employers know this and will ask for them when they are ready, later in the process, almost always after at least one interview.
- Do have your references ready to go with current and accurate contact information. When they are needed, you want to be able to deliver them quickly.
- Do make sure that you alert your references when they will be receiving a call. Give them information about the position for which you are being considered and the person who will be calling them.
- Don’t get creative with fonts, colors, formatting and the overall look of your resume. Be as clear and simple as possible in both content and layout. Unless you are applying for a highly visual creative position, this will usually backfire. Too much fussy formatting detracts from the readability, obscures your real accomplishments, and makes it look much less professional overall. Do not include your picture on your resume.
- Sometimes there may be other relevant information that relates to the job to which you are applying or which you want to include such as membership in an industry group or other organization, volunteer work, or military experience. Do this under the heading Other Information if you have several things you want to include or under the relevant specific heading (e.g., Volunteer Activities or Military Service) if you are only including one type of information. Avoid mentioning religious, political, or controversial affiliations unless they absolutely directly relate to the job you want.
- Can’t resist the opportunity to remind you one last time to proof your resume carefully and have someone else proof it for you too!