Your professional resume is a personal marketing tool. People sometimes cut corners when creating their resume — and it shows. Think about it; if your resume isn’t in top shape, what will a hiring manager think about you as a person or potential employee?
When creating a resume, make sure you include your relevant contact information: Name, address, email, phone number.
Resumes with simply your name at the top: How is anyone supposed to contact you? Most resumes are sent via email or an online application. Don’t make the hiring manager reach out to you for the rest of your contact information.
Email addresses that are too personal: If your email is something like [email protected], you need to create a new one.
Too much contact information: Supply just one email address and phone number. No need to crowd the page with extraneous info.
See our sample resume below or check out our blog for additional resume building tips.
Name: John Smith
Address: 5555 Spring Street, Atlanta, GA 30324
Email Address: [email protected]
Mobile: (404) 555-5556
Phone Number: (404) 555-5555
The above example keeps all contact information clean and separate from each other.
Stating an objective can be helpful, if done correctly. An objective should precisely state your career goal. General objectives, such as, “A seasoned professional seeking a new role with a great company” should be avoided.
Objectives can be tweaked to better fit certain positions. However, avoid completely changing objectives: i.e.: “Seeking an enterprise sales position” to “Looking for a management opportunity”. Objectives should be clear and concise.
It is OK to not list an objective on the resume.
A summary is a quick outline of your experience and skills. A summary should be no more than 4-5 sentences. Page-long summaries are not a summary. Highlight your most relevant experience to the career path you are seeking.
An example: There is no need to mention all of your Java experience if you have spent the past 3 years developing with .NET and are looking to continue with .NET.
Summaries can also be done as shortlists, stating different qualifications. For example: Over five years of C# development (keep these short and simple). Again, please keep the list to only relevant qualifications.
The education section should be brief. List the school you attended and the degree you obtained. GPA and year of graduation are OK, but not necessary.
Avoid listing schools where you did not finish your degree. Stating that you finished 100 hours of college six years ago only demonstrates that you did not finish. Listing multiple instances of schools you attended and did not graduate shows you do not finish what you started. It is only OK to list a school that you haven’t finished if you are currently taking classes to finish. Never list the high school you attended.
List only certifications that are relevant and current. The fact that you had a CCNA or MCSE that expired five years ago does not belong on your resume. Additionally, avoid including lower value certifications when you have higher value ones to highlight. An A+ certification does not belong next to your CCNP certification. Someone seeking a CCNP candidate is not impressed by an A+ certification; your resume will be better if you just leave it off.
The skills section can be one of the most useful portions of a resume. However, it is also one of the most abused sections. The skills section should consist only of skills in which you are proficient and are still current or relevant technologies.
Avoid listing every technology that you have ever used, e.g., the fact that you used Windows 95 is irrelevant when you have experience with the more recent versions and have not used Windows 95 in over a decade.
List your skills in appropriate categories: Operating Systems, Languages, Software, Hardware, and Networking. Avoid listing all skills in one lump section. Again, list only relevant skills, if you are a .NET developer, there is no need to list the COBOL and Pascal, which you utilized ten years ago.
The goal for the skills section is to clearly and cleanly show the technologies you utilize.
The experience section should list the company where you worked, your title, location and the dates (months and years). This section should be in chronological order. Hiring managers want to see what you have been doing at your most recent positions. Start with a quick statement regarding your role and responsibilities. Then add several bullet points stating specific projects and technologies. For example: Developed a point-of-sale application utilizing C#, ASP.NET and SQL Server.
Avoid overkill in this section; if you were at a company two years, there is no need to have an entire page listing everything you accomplished. Keep the bullet points to your most significant achievements.
However, you should still be sure you give some detail. If you were at a company for five years and only have two bullet points, it would appear as though you did not achieve much.
Make sure you list the technologies you utilized with each position. Just stating your skills in the “Skills Section” does not imply that you utilized them at each position.
Keep your experience section to jobs over the past fifteen years. It is not important to list the position you had twenty years ago. This also helps keep the resume from getting too long.
This section can be left off your resume, and there is no need to put “Available upon request” at the end of your resume. Avoid listing your references with contact information. Your references would most likely prefer not to have their information floating around. Companies know references will be provided on request.
The resume should be no longer than three pages. Keeping everything clean and neat as explained above will help prevent ten-page resumes.
Also, keep in mind that the vast majority of time a hiring manager is encountering your resume well before they meet you, your resume should be considered an extension of yourself.
Proofreading your resume might be the most overlooked step in creating a resume. Relying on automatic spell and grammar checks can lead to disasters. Spelling and grammar mistakes in a resume are easily avoided. Read over your resume a couple of times and try having someone else read through it as well.
Tailor your resume for each position. Many positions will be seeking a specific skill, which you may have and is not listed in the body of your resume. Simply add a bullet point mentioning the skill used and how it was applied.
Hiring authorities spend an average of under a minute looking at resumes that come through. Make sure the skills the position requires are easily seen throughout your resume (not just in the skills section).
Use boldface in important key words and bullet points to make sure they stand out. There is no need to go overboard; only boldface relevant information.
- Artistic fonts. Utilize Times New Roman or Arial with a size of 11 or 12 instead.
- Little white lies.
- Stretching dates of employment to hide gaps. Dates of employment can easily be verified through HR.
- Enhancing previous accomplishments. People sometimes will claim certifications, degrees, and computer skills in an effort to inflate their resume. All of these will come out sooner or later.
Most of the information on your resume can be verified by a background check, which are being done by increasingly more companies.
Be honest about yourself and experience. You do not need to try to be something you are not. The truth will always come out eventually.
Keep your resume up to date even when you are not seeking a new position. Trying to remember the details of what you did three years ago can be daunting and possibly inaccurate.