Your resume is the most important document you’ll create throughout your entire career. The difference between a good resume and a bad resume can be the difference between earning thousands of dollars more each year. Furthermore, your resume can mean the difference between being unemployed or chronically unhappy in your current position.
Even though your resume is critical to your career, most people don’t know how to write an effective resume. At Resume Writing Group, we help thousands of people every year who make the same mistakes on their resumes. These mistakes can seem small at first, but they can have a very big impact on your likeliness to be hired. This is because resume writing is a comprehensive craft that requires every aspect of the resume to work cohesively. If you have a great format but poor content, you’re not going to get hired. Similarly, if you have great content but an unreadable format, you’re still not going to get hired.
Here is a list of the do’s and don’ts of resume writing:
- Don’t write in direct first person
- Do write in implied third person
Writing in first person is considered to be unprofessional on all modern resumes. For example, sentences like: I performed all responsibilities according to requirements.
OR – While performing my responsibilities, I ensured exceptional service quality and precision.
These two examples are written in direct first person. Instead, you should write your resume in implied third person like this:
Performed all responsibilities according to requirements.
While performing assigned responsibilities, ensured exceptional service quality and precision.
Many employers can be sticklers for errors like these. Although it may seem silly to worry about whether someone is writing in first or third person, remember that employers are looking for reasons to NOT hire you. If you’re in HR and your job is to review hundreds of resumes each day, you’re going to need to have some sort of system to filter out candidates so that you can balance your time effectively. This means eliminating people who don’t follow basic formatting guidelines on their resumes.
Here are a few more do’s and don’ts:
- Don’t let your resume become longer than two pages
- Do keep your bullet points concise and to the point
It’s important not to let your resume get too long because many employers set filters in their Applicant Tracking Software (ATS) to reject resumes longer than two pages. Even for senior-level executives, there is no reason to have a resume longer than two pages – let me explain why. Everyone has a limited memory and attention span. When you read a one-paragraph summary, you’re much more likely to remember all of the content than you are to remember everything in a novel. The goal of your resume should be to capture the attention of an employer as quickly as possible, then cement your qualifications firmly in their memory so that they can recall your qualifications after reviewing hundreds of other resumes. If your resume reads like a novel, the employer is going to be far more likely to remember you for wasting their time than for your qualifications.
To help keep your resume short and to the point, start by eliminating extraneous content from your bullet points. A good rule of thumb is that a bullet point should never take up more than one line of space. If your bullet point is more than two lines long – it’s a paragraph instead of a bullet point.
Here is an example…
- Matching all corresponding receipts and invoices for supplies purchased from various suppliers and submitting them to the Accounting department for bookkeeping.
- Submitted matching supply invoices/receipts to the Accounting Department within deadlines.
Eliminating the extraneous content from this bullet point made the description both easier to read and easier to remember. Again, your goal should be to give employers exactly what they need to know and nothing more.
More do’s and don’ts…
- Don’t use an objective at the top of your resume
- Do include a professional summary
Objectives are not necessary for modern resumes. Adding an “objective” to your resume can waste valuable space that would be better used for a professional summary. Just remember that you need to include valuable content in your professional summary. This means that your summary should give employers a reason why they should hire you instead of someone else.
The last and most important don’t:
- Don’t forget to proofread your resume. This may seem like common sense, but our team at Resume Writing Group fixes dozens of resumes every week filled with typos that could have been easily caught by a simple proofread. Nothing says “DON’T HIRE ME” like spelling “attention to detail” as “attention to detale” for example.
If you’re not sure whether your resume meets modern standards for formatting, styling, and content – send it to us for a free review. Our team of expert writers will critique the resume for free so that you know what’s holding you back.