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Great Resume Writing Starts Here: The Do's And Don'ts

Student and resume

Resume trends change regularly. Knowing what’s new and what’s considered passé can make the difference between scoring an interview, or having your resume fall into the dreaded "no" pile. 

Follow the tips below to create a great up-to-date resume!

Don’t Forget the Top Third Rule

The top third of your resume is the most important and where you’ll want to highlight your best skills and experiences. Employers typically spend 6 seconds scanning each resume, so capturing their attention in the top third makes it more likely they’ll like what they see and continue learning more about you.

Do Use a Professional Email Address

A professional email address will showcase how serious you are about your career. A whimsical, personal, or outdated email address can cloud your qualifications and skills. You may want to consider moving away from a Hotmail or AOL email addresses during the hiring process, as these can seem outdated. Try Gmail instead!

Do Consider Relevance

Your entire resume should be highly relevant to the position for which you’re applying. Each item and section on your resume should have a purpose and relate to the job you want to land. If you scan your resume and find unrelated experience or skills, feel free to remove it.

Do Add a Relevant Coursework Section

If you’re missing anything from the job ad, you may find that experience in your academic history. Did you learn a tech skill or important industry content in a course last semester? Did you complete a project in class that meets their criteria? Add these courses to your resume, but be sure your list isn’t too long and make sure it’s applicable to the position. You can also consider expanding on any details about specific coursework in your resume bullets.

Do Include Volunteer, Internship, or other Work Experiences

It’s essential to showcase that you have the skills and experiences the hiring manager is looking for and in some cases your paid experience may not include everything they want. Feel free to include volunteer or other experiences that demonstrate competencies the employer is seeking.

Don’t Forget Skills

A skills section can be crucial in highlighting technical and soft skills. This easy to scan and often-bulleted section of your resume is a great place to show off your proficiency with industry software or technology, soft skills, or other valuable qualities. Remember relevance is key: use the words they use in the job description when summarizing your skills.

Don’t Use An Objective

Objectives are outdated in today’s resume world. Instead use a Professional Summary to explain, in the 3rd person, who you are in two to three concise sentences.

Example:
Accomplished writer and editor with over 10 years of experience in advertising copy. Excellent ability to use voice and content to build thought leadership and convert leads into sales.

 
Do Focus on Accomplishments with Action Words

Your resume bullet points should focus on your accomplishments and should not contain the phrase “responsible for.” An accomplishment statement isn’t just a job duty or responsibility, instead it takes it to the next level by explaining how well you accomplished that duty or responsibility. In other words, it explains your abilities rather than job tasks.

Example:
Duty/Responsibility: Make sales calls.
Accomplishment: Increased sales call volume by 15%.

Each bullet point on your resume should use an action word at the beginning of the bullet to describe your experience. With this tip, your bullets will be concise and informative and you’ll ensure easy scanning.

Example:
Managed and lead sales team of 8 employees.
Coordinated fundraising event with guest list of 150. 

Do Choose the Proper Resume Type

There are several different resume types. Chronological is the most common, but it's not always the right choice. If you're looking to change career fields, a combination resume may help you land the job. It focuses on skills and competencies, with less emphasis on titles or positions. This can change a hiring manager's first impression of your resume and better highlight your skills and talents.

Do Tailor to the Position

Each resume you create should be tailored to the position for which you’re applying. Identify the industry terms and buzzwords that the employer uses in their position description. Then, customize your resume with these phrases to grab their attention and convince them to keep reading.

Do Focus on the Future

Everything you add to your resume should focus on the job tasks that you want to bring into the future with you. If you don’t enjoy it and don’t want to do it again, don’t list it on your resume.

Don’t List your Education Incorrectly

Limit your education section to highlight the degrees you've already earned and those that you'll finish in the near future. Remember, you don’t need to (and probably shouldn’t) list your date of graduation, unless it's on the horizon. This will help make your resume as age neutral as possible.

Examples:
Bachelor of Science, Accounting and Finance
B.S. Accounting and Finance
Associate in Arts, General Studies, Est. Grad. 2019

Do Watch Length

Today’s resume standards indicate that resumes should be either one or two full pages. Awkward lengths can look like poor planning on your part and anything over two pages likely won’t be viewed. Remember, each hiring manager is receiving a lot of resumes. They’ll spend about 6 seconds scanning yours before filing it in their "yes" or "no" pile. Be relevant and concise to keep your resume at the top of the stack.

Don’t Add References

At this stage in the hiring process, it’s not necessary to include professional references with your resume. References should be a separate document that can be handed to the hiring committee at your interview.

Don’t Submit Without Review

Don’t forget to carefully read and edit your resume prior to submission. Ask someone else read it for you or read it backward to be sure that each word is correct. Watch for formatting errors and organization as well. Resumes need to be perfect as they can showcase your attention to detail or lack thereof.

Don’t Omit a Cover Letter

When submitting your resume, submit an accompanying cover letter that is tailored to the position you’re applying for with a design that matches your resume. Include a hiring manager name if you can find one online or on LinkedIn. Feel free to address any missing information in your cover letter and include key words and experiences listed in the job ad.

To Summarize...

Do Use a Professional Email Address
Do Consider Relevance
Do Add a Relevant Coursework Section
Do Include Volunteer, Internship, or other Work Experiences
Do Focus on Accomplishments with Action Words
Do Choose the Proper Resume Type
Do Tailor to the Position
Do Focus on the Future
Do Watch Length

Don’t Forget the Top Third Rule
Don’t Forget Skills
Don’t Use An Objective
Don’t List your Education Incorrectly
Don’t Add References
Don’t Submit Without Review
Don’t Omit a Cover Letter

Follow these best practices and your resume will be well on its way to the top!

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