Writing a resume is an incredibly important skill for anyone to have. Unfortunately, it’s another one of those life skills that are rarely taught in a classroom. There are hundreds of opinions on things like what should be included in a resume or the order in which things should be listed, and you can find plenty of examples on the internet. For this blog, however, I talked to a few hiring managers to find out what they look for in resumes. They gave me a good list of “do’s” and
“don’ts” that will work for any resume.
DO – Try to keep it to one page. When a position is open, hiring managers care about two main things: getting it filled quickly, and filling it with the right person. If they have a lot of resumes to look through, the more they can maximize their time, the better. Your resume is like a snapshot – very brief, but enough that a manager would say, ‘I want to know more about this person.’ Your resume doesn’t get you a job, but it does get you an interview.
DO – Make your section headers clear and obvious. The reason for this is the same as above – hiring managers want to look over resumes quickly so they can move forward in the hiring process. If you make your education, employment, experience, etc. obvious, they can quickly scan your resume to determine if you would be a good fit. One hiring manager told me he scans through resumes quickly the first time he gets them, and if he can’t immediately find points he needs, he won’t come back to it.
DON’T – Have an unprofessional email. One hiring manager I talked to said he couldn’t believe how many people list unprofessional email addresses on their resumes. For example, Sa$$yGurl14@hotmail.com or TheDude@yahoo.com are hurting your chances of getting an interview. (For tips on creating and using a professional email, read this blog and this blog.)
DON’T – Have too much work history in a very short time frame. This isn’t really something you can hide if it’s the truth, so this is more a tip for sticking with a job. It takes time, energy, and money to train a new employee. Managers want to know you’ll be in it for the long haul and won’t leave after six months. If you have had five different positions within two years, it’s going to send up a red flag. Stick with a position for at least one to two years, even if you don’t like it. Long-term employment history looks much better on a resume.
DO – List a reference if it’s relevant. It’s typical to list “references available upon request” on your resume, and leave it at that, and then usually give a manager a page with your references after you’ve had an interview. However, one hiring manager told me she doesn’t mind seeing a reference if it’s someone she already knows and trusts. In fact, it will probably put you higher on her list of candidates. If you’ve been recommended for a position, or work with someone who used to work at the place you’re applying, it can be beneficial to list their name on your resume.
DO – Edit your resume for each specific position. For example, you might not list community service on every resume, but if something you’ve done volunteering is very relevant to the position, definitely list it in that case. This means your resume may constantly be a work in progress, or you’ll even have two or three resumes that can apply to different positions.
Keeping your resume up-to-date is very important. You never know when you’re going to need it, and it can take a while to revise it if you haven’t looked at it for a while, so make sure to review it at least once per year. If you don’t end up getting an interview, call and ask for constructive criticism on what you could do differently next time. Every position is different, but these tips should serve you well no matter what.