Over the years, we’ve seen thousands of resumes for hundreds of job types. We’ve boiled down our observations into the following takeaways.
We hope these are helpful, and if you would like us to review your resume, please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Typos, misspellings, and grammatical and punctuation errors are avoidable with a small degree of care and attention. You’d be surprised how frequently these appear in resumes. We highly recommend creating your resume using a Google Doc and then running a plugin called Grammarly. It corrects writing errors in real-time. If you are using Microsoft Word, run Spell Check. These tools are readily available and easy to use, no excuses!
Two-page resumes are fine if you have enough relevant experience. For most people, one-page resumes suffice. Most hiring managers won’t read beyond two pages anyway. Focus on clarity and brevity.
Do not describe your roles, responsibilities, and job duties in broad terms. Rather, be direct and specific in terms of your actual accomplishments and contributions in each position. (e.g. “I increased sales by 75%” or “I demonstrated 37% savings by implementing cost-cutting measures”)
Do not use passive voice. Use action verbs. This article has a comprehensive list of success verbs that you can use to describe your accomplishments.
Do not arrange your resume by function. Use a chronological resume with your most recent work experience listed first. Any other format – even chrono-functional – causes confusion.
Do not use a minuscule font to jam your resume into 1-2 pages. Use an easy-to-read font, and make sure there’s enough space between sections. Pro tip: Browse Canva’s resume templates.
Previous Employer Descriptions
If your previous employer isn’t a household name, it is worth adding a quick description of the company size and industry to give some context to your work (e.g. ABC Partners…A building services company for industrial warehouses with +$60M revenue). More on this topic in this blog.
Use one font type and keep the same format in each section of your job history. A lot of resumes look like jigsaw puzzles. In most cases, elaborate resumes are confusing.
Match your resume to the role. Write down all of your skills, and mention in your resume the ones that are relevant and applicable to the job you’re applying for.
Hyperbole is a no-no in resumes. Exaggerating and using big words doesn’t make you seem more qualified. It signals that you want to appear more qualified and compensate for something.
In general, utilizing the situation-task-action-result approach when describing your work accomplishments in your resume is a winning formula. Avoid being wordy, though. Here is a more detailed example: STAR for Resumes
Unless you’re a recent graduate and your studies were specific to the role, do not lead off with your education. Place this at the bottom of your resume. What you’ve contributed to your professional career takes precedence, this can include work done while in school if your post-graduate work isn’t extensive enough yet
Use a professional tone in your resume. Refrain from colloquial language or slang. Also, do not use acronyms excessively unless you are confident that they are well-understood. Industry-specific lingo can be used to your advantage, but be sure they are widely used and were not specific to your previous companies.
Skills vs. Objective
Many people include sections for “Career Objective” and “Skills.” A good cover letter can stand in place of a “Career Objective.” The “Skills” section is important, especially for technical roles.
For additional resume template references, click here.