A resume is defined as a “brief account of a person’s education, qualifications and previous experience, typically sent with a job application.” While this definition may seem broad, the reality of what it means to have a good resume is quite specific.

Resumes make or break jobseekers every day. There is a huge difference between a good and a bad resume. Below we offer our advice on how job seekers can stand out and craft the best and most effective resume for their respective industries and careers. 

What to Include

Your resume should be professional-looking and easy to read. Most people spend less than 30 seconds reviewing a resume before they move on. It should get to the point quickly and clearly. For the best results follow these dos and don’ts:

Do make it visually appealing and easy to read – Use a simple font, generally a sans serif one, such as Helvetica, Arial, or Century Gothic. 10 to 12 point, with an appropriate amount of white space, is standard. Don’t use fancy fonts, colors or other special effects. They make it harder to read for both humans and any applicant tracking software a company is using. And almost everyone is using something.

Do make it short – Your resume should be no longer than one page if possible, two at most and include your most relevant and recent experience. Any more than that and there is a good chance the hiring manager or recruiter will not bother with it. People enjoy reading Harry Potter. They do not enjoy reading a novel-length resume.

Do make sure your contact information is complete and easily found – You don’t want to make anyone have to hunt for your contact information, or again, make it hard for software to parse it. A good resume includes a phone number and email so those who are hiring for the role can reach you quickly.

Do tailor your resume using keywords from the job description – Make sure that you make it easy for people or an ATS to see that you have the skills they are looking for. Use the same terminology they do. Don’t make it harder by using or not using an acronym for something!

Do write as simply and clearly as you can – It will be far more effective than showcasing a big vocabulary or using clutter-filled jargon that some people may not understand the meaning of. Remember, it is likely that a hiring manager is looking at many resumes and will only skim over your information, so you should include all of your most important and effective information and numbers/metrics up front. A strong digital presence, such as a complete and organized LinkedIn profile or portfolio website, will benefit your efforts as well.

What to Avoid

Don’t have errors – Everything, your resume, LinkedIn profile, portfolio page, emails, and anything else a prospective employer might review, MUST be free of spelling and grammatical errors. Submitting a resume to a hiring manager that is riddled with problems is an instant red flag.

Don’t lie – ever. Not on your resume or in an interview. it is never a good idea to misrepresent yourself. The best resumes and candidates will be honest about their experiences, while those who lie on their resume or about their work will often easily be caught by those evaluating them.

Don’t use meaningless jargon or unprofessional words – On your resume you should be stating facts about your experience. It is not a good idea to include words like hard-working, or phrases like “dabbled in” or referring to yourself in the first/third person (I, he, she, me, etc.). Use more professional words in your statements and factual words like initiated, incorporated or supervised. Back up your statements with results and data.

Don’t have an unprofessional email – If you have an email address that says something like, you really need to scrap that email and set up a more professional one. It will definitely be a benefit to you to have a nice, sophisticated email address that signifies professionalism. (or other provider) is your best bet.

Don’t bother including the phrase “References available upon request.” If the hiring manager is interested in you, they will ask for your references later on when a job offer is made.

The Verdict

Yes, it’s true. The job search process and continuous need to keep your resume updated can be tedious, but as a job seeker, you will greatly improve your chances if you implement the suggested tips in this article. Your resume should really be viewed more as a way to market your skills and experience to potential employers rather than as a comprehensive list of every job title you have ever held. Make it concise, make it easy to read and comprehend, and make sure it gives off an aura of professionalism when you read through it. Adhering to these guidelines might just be what gets you your next interview, and potentially your next job!

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