The Importance of a Good Resume

by Jeremy Anderberg on February 27, 2013 · 83 comments

in Money & Career

vintageresume

“Hey Jim! Get a load of this resume…guy says he’s proficient in Word!”

The unemployment rate, as of this writing, is 7.9%. If you’re looking for a job right now, that number can make it seem like the odds are stacked against you. Sure, much of the dismal state of the economy can be blamed on corrupt corporations, our government, etc. Have you considered, however, that the way you’re conducting your job search may be what’s keeping you from getting your foot in the door? A coworker once remarked to me in the midst of trying to find a new employee that “it’s not the economy keeping people from jobs, it’s themselves and their resumes.”

Most job position openings receive hundreds of resumes and applications. This will be the first thing people see to get a glimpse of who you are. You can either stand out by being so awful that you’ll be remembered as an example of what not to do, or you can stand out by having an exemplary resume that is crafted for the position, and accurately describes who you are as an employee in one page of text.

In today’s post, I’ll walk you through the anatomy of a perfect resume, as well as some formatting tips that will ensure sure it won’t be your resume that gets between you and that next great job offer.

Note: I’m using examples from my own resume. This resume served me well and landed me multiple interviews, and ultimately a job offer, within three weeks of being laid off.

Header: Stick With the Basics

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The header should be simple and clean, with as little information as is necessary. I prefer to keep to the basics of a personal email address, a home address, and a phone number. A few notes to keep in mind:

  • Your email address should be either just your name, or some professional variation of it. If you don’t have an email address like that, create one. Right now. The hiring manager will trash your resume as soon as he sees the hotguy17@hotmail.com email address that you created in high school.
  • It’s preferable, if possible, to have a local address. Hiring managers see an out-of-state address, and immediately ask questions. Are they moving here soon? Do you they plan on getting relocation assistance from us? We need someone ASAP, will this process take too long? When I applied for jobs out of state, I tried to use a friend or family member’s address. This doesn’t have to be misleading. If they ask, say, “I can move here right away on my own dime if the right opportunity affords itself.”
  • You don’t have to detail whether your phone number is a cell phone or not, but I chose to for the simple fact of letting a hiring manager know that I was available at any time at that number.

Career Objective: Broad, but Clear

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This is an important piece that many folks either leave out, or have never even heard of putting on a resume. This statement will succinctly declare what you’re looking for in a job, as well as show your potential employer that you have clear goals and aspirations.

Your career objective should be broad enough to show that you’re open to a variety of opportunities, but also clear enough to show that this particular position is something that fits within your long-term goals. It is a tough balance to find, but you should be able to fit it into a single sentence. Notice how my own objective could fill multiple positions, but it’s not too broad as to say, “I’ll take anything.”

This is also something that can be tailored slightly to the position. I also applied to some non-profit organizations, and in that case I said something along the lines of, “I am seeking a career with a non-profit organization using my skills as a writer/editor/marketer to help the world, and community around me, become a better place.”

Education: Skip the Details

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Now, I don’t want my heading of “Skip the Details” to be misleading. You want to list your school(s) and degree(s). I chose to list my specific degree earned, with my major in parentheses. What you want to skip is your GPA and the year you graduated. Depending on the field, your GPA could be helpful. For more technical professions, it’s something that an employer may like to see, especially if it’s high. My advice, however, is to always leave it off, unless it’s 3.8 or higher and you graduated with honors.

Legally, employers aren’t allowed to discriminate based on age, but in the resume-collecting stage, it happens all the time. Older folks will be looked over, younger folks will be dismissed, and those in between might not be “just right” for the position. They’ll find out roughly how old you are when you get an interview — you don’t need to give them the info ahead of time.

This section can also be tailored, depending on the position. For instance, I also have a degree in Religious Studies, but that wouldn’t be useful for a marketing or public relations position, so I left it off in the majority of resumes I sent out.

Work Experience: Specific and Relevant

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As the bulk of your resume, this chunk deserves the most time and attention. You first want to make sure that you’re highlighting only the two or three most relevant experiences. Many folks these days, especially of the millennial generation, are switching jobs every 1-3 years, so there is probably more than is worth sharing. Switch these around if particular experiences are more relevant to a certain position you’re applying for. No two resumes you send should be exactly the same! If you’re in high school or college, highlight internships, your leadership in clubs/organizations, and community service projects you did.

Start with your company or organization’s name, then your title, and years worked. This could be specific dates, or it could also just be length of time at each position. There was no real reasoning behind how I did it — simply what I felt like at the time.

Often the hardest part of creating a resume, you want to make sure that your bullet points under each work experience accurately reflect your time and accomplishments there. This can be challenging with limited space, so shoot for 4-5 bullet points per listing. The main point here is that you want specific achievements and responsibilities. It’s not enough that you set up a Facebook page — how many “likes” did it get? Did it lead to sales or generate any revenue? Perhaps you were in retail. How many customers did you serve per day/month? How much revenue did your location produce? This was a point that I could have improved in my resume. I had a few specifics sprinkled throughout, but I would have been better off with even more. Employers, more than ever, want to see that you not only performed an action, but saw results from that action.

You also want to start each phrase with an action verb. This can be quite challenging if you aren’t naturally a writer, so here’s a great list to get you started. You never want to start phrases with “I” and you want to stay away from using the same verb more than once, if you can. If it’s your resume, it’s obvious that you are the one who accomplished these tasks, and it looks and sounds bad to write, “I made…I made…I made…”

Skills/Certifications: Skip the Generals, Be Honest

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In this section, it’s tempting to say you are an expert with Microsoft Word or that you know how to use an iPhone. Employers don’t care about that, and assume that most people applying know how to do the basics of the job they are applying for. If you’re going for a social media marketing position, they’d hope you know how to use Facebook. If you’re applying to be a bank teller, they’ll probably assume you can count money.

What you want to do with this section is show which skills you have that set you apart. In the world of marketers, not everyone has video editing experience, or coding knowledge, so I wanted to make sure that was highlighted. Also, I know that measuring the return on marketing is a hot topic, so I made sure to include that I had experience with Google Analytics software. If you are in retail and have worked a POS system/machine before or done inventory, use that. Those are skills that not everyone coming into retail has had. If you are applying for an administrative position and you are an Excel or QuickBooks expert, mention it. Again, think about those skills and technologies that would be needed for the position, and how you set yourself above the pack by being an expert.

This is also the place to highlight any technical or professional certifications you may have. I didn’t have any, so I obviously didn’t list any.

With the language in this section, you want to try to describe your level of knowledge. And for your own sake, be honest. If you say you’re an expert at fixing computers, you darn well better be, as it will be quite embarrassing when you get the job and can’t perform some basic functions that you listed on your resume. If you are truly an expert, don’t be afraid to say it. “Working knowledge” basically means intermediate experience, and just say “Basic understanding of…” if you are a beginner.

You’ll also notice that I listed some character traits along with technical expertise. This was a bit of a bold choice on my part, but I thought it worked quite well. In today’s job market, specific skills change so quickly, and are so often learned on the job, that I wanted to make sure any potential employer knew about my lasting traits that would make me a great employee. Being an adept problem solver or a quick learner (something I listed on other resumes) is perhaps going to mean more than knowing how to create equations in Excel. Some experts may say to stick these in the cover letter, but I say to take the small risk and put it here as well. Show them that you see these character traits as skills that are equally as important as technical qualifications.

Community/Professional Organizations: Get a Little Bit Personal

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This is where you can get a little bit personal and mention any volunteer work you’ve done, any professional organizations you’re a part of, or even hobbies you might have if you’re younger and don’t quite have those experiences. (Please, however, never list “video games” as a hobby. Trust me. And yes, I’ve seen that on resumes.) Employers often want to know you’re a well-rounded person with other activities outside of work. Some may not, and will want weekend warriors, but you don’t want to work for that company anyway.

You’ll notice that I listed some college achievements. As I’m a few years beyond that now, I’ll probably strike those from the next resume I send out, when that time comes. Again, if you haven’t really been involved in organizations, list some personal achievements. Maybe you built a canoe out of a tree. That’s definitely worth mentioning. Perhaps you read 100 books in a year — that’s something unique and interesting that an employer would remember.

Feel free to use this section as kind of a wild card. If you don’t have the community involvement as much, call it “Personal.” If you’re applying for a writing job (as I did a couple times), use that section as “Published,” and list publications you’ve been featured in. If you’re an architect, perhaps you say “Proudest Achievements” and list your favorite designs. Be creative with it and make it something that stands out.

Formatting: Stay Consistent

One of the biggest things I see in poor resumes is simply inconsistent formatting. Fonts are different, periods are used inconsistently, bolding/italics are not used in the same fashion, etc. There are no hard and fast rules regarding formatting, other than the fact that you need to stay consistent within your resume. You’ll notice that in all my lists, no periods were used. If you choose to use periods, that’s fine, just make sure you do for every single item. Even things like en dashes versus em dashes need to be consistent. Spacing needs to be consistent. I cannot say this enough — everything needs to be consistent. The easiest way to do this is to simply print your resume and give it a visual scan. If things look off, change it. Also give it to someone else to read — they’ll notice mistakes much easier than you will. You also need to double-check your spelling of company names, and any software/brand names you use in your resume. For instance, in my resume, it’s YouTube, not Youtube or youtube.

A Few Closing Notes

  • This is simply a set of guidelines for you to follow. You do have freedom to be creative, but try to stick with this general format for the majority of the positions you apply for. In the design world, it’s obviously a different story, and you’ll have to look within your industry to determine what’s appropriate.
  • Should you stay within one page? My answer is always yes. Even if you’ve been in the workforce for a long time and are applying for higher level positions, stick with one page, and mention that you have a full and lengthier resume available upon request.
  • Update your resume on a quarterly basis. Make an appointment with yourself to spend 30 minutes every quarter looking over and updating your resume. Maybe contact information has changed, maybe you have additional work to add in, etc. You never know when you’ll need a fresh resume.
  • Every hiring manager is different. There are no guarantees with resumes as to what will work and what won’t. It’s often based on the personality of the person looking at the resumes. In other words, don’t blame me — just continue to refine what you have.

What have you done in your resume that worked to get you a job?

_______________________________

Editor’s note: Jeremy knows wherewith he speaks. We recently hired him as our first AoM employee. He’ll be working as an editor and community manager for us, and will also be penning articles on occasion. Welcome aboard Jeremy! We’re so glad to have you on the team.

 

{ 83 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Rob February 27, 2013 at 6:04 pm

I really appreciate how this post is organized. The tips are great, and it will allow people to literally build (or update) their resume piece by piece. Thanks for the valuable information Jeremy! Looking forward to reading more of your posts in the future.

2 Doug February 27, 2013 at 6:20 pm

I have to say my resume is incredibly similar to Jeremy’s. It’s done me well, so it’s likely a good recipe for success!

3 Eric February 27, 2013 at 6:42 pm

As a recent college graduate with no work experience, certain parts of this format don’t work very well for my resume. What I decided to do was expand my Education section so it looks similar to Jeremy’s Work Experience section. I also decided to have a much larger Skills section to list all the languages and technologies I know, since I think that demonstrates my willingness to learn new technologies better than just saying I can in a single bullet point (I’m looking to become a software developer so that’s very important for me). Also, when I tried to fit everything into one page, I found it required either an unreadably small font or cutting out all the interesting details, so I much prefer two pages. So far I’ve managed to get a few interviews.

4 Mark February 27, 2013 at 6:55 pm

Under work experience you should have used complemented (improvement) rather than complimented (praise)

5 Rob February 27, 2013 at 7:06 pm

2 tips:

Watch James Bond or Indiana Jones or Barney Stinson. Watch something that makes you feel like a million bucks. Put a suit on and feel good. Then write your resume. If you write it and feel terrible, it will sound terrible.

Craigslist’s Terms of Use state that all users assume that all listings are essentially false. Therefore it is Legal to post a false job add in the market and position you are looking for in order to gauge the competition and look for good ideas. Legal, I said Legal.

6 Jimmy February 27, 2013 at 7:32 pm

Nice article. I disagree with you regarding the Career Objective. I would tend to say most people should leave it off. Especially if it is filled with many buzzwords.

I was in a similar situation as you were, I was out of work briefly, and within three weeks I had 2 job offers and two other companies wanting to interview me.

In the resume is important, but I would say a well-written, succinct and passionate cover letter is the most important thing. Then continue that passion through the interview process.

7 Alex February 27, 2013 at 8:11 pm

Something I would add about the experience and skills section – tailor your resume to the job you’re applying for, especially these two parts.

So, if the job posting says skills are required, make sure you have them in your skills section.

If the posting details what is expected of you, list those responsibilities explicitly in your experience.

Don’t lie and make it up, but do tailor the resume to help you. A hiring manager will have a specific list of skills and experience they’re looking for, make sure you can demonstrate those so they can check the box, so to speak.

8 Big Z February 27, 2013 at 9:37 pm

I have a friend, that throws out any resume that has a hotmail email account before even reading it. he works for a tech company, and thinks if you are still holding on to your hotmail account, your already not fit for the company.

9 geoff February 27, 2013 at 9:43 pm

Well done Jeremy! All the above points are valid, but the diction – the ability to eloquently and effectively tie a sentence, paragraph, and even section together are vital. Content is certainly king, but the format and presentation are surely its advisers. Professional resume writers (if you can afford it) are worth their weight in gold. waterstoneprofiles.com wrote mine and it’s leaps and bounds above what I could produce and was instrumental in landing my new job. The salary difference is nearly 50 times what I paid for the resume – worthwhile investment. AND I get to use it (just with an update) for the rest of my career!
Geoff G

10 james February 27, 2013 at 9:51 pm

I honestly believe only people with very little information on their resume should use an objective section.Since the recruiter knows you are looking for a job. Once you make it to the phone conversation, then you can divulge that kind of informational specifics.

11 Jordan February 27, 2013 at 9:55 pm

Great post. One of the more interesting things I have seen in newer resumes are QR codes in the heading linking to a LinkedIn profile or a lengthier resume. It can be done while looking quite professional. Do a quick Google Image search of “QR Code Resume” for some ideas.

12 Pete February 27, 2013 at 10:03 pm

Great article and very timely for me. One thing, you didn’t mention anything about referees. Can you please advise on this?

13 Jason February 27, 2013 at 10:05 pm

I found it interesting that when I went in to speak with a career advisor at my university he told me that the career objective or “objective” was unnecessary. I guess when companies have 200 resumes on their desk they have an idea that employment is your objective, right? Overall another great post by AoM.

14 lol February 27, 2013 at 10:09 pm

I wonder what the ratio of “resume advice telling you not to use ‘chillbrobaggins788@hotmail.com’ as your email address” to “people who have ever done anything like that” is?

15 Jav February 27, 2013 at 10:12 pm

I’m not lined up for any career’s just yet, still working jobs but I have had to put together a resume as some companies asked for one. I just pulled a template from my word processor & entered my info. I’m going to re-do it from scratch. Is your resume split up into tables/columns or without?

16 Jeremy Anderberg February 27, 2013 at 10:17 pm

@Mark — Noted! Nobody has ever pointed that out/noticed before.

@Pete — Regarding references, it’s pretty simple. Have a list of 3-5 professional references available if the hiring manager requests it. Provide email, phone number, and title of the reference, and make sure you ask them before you use their name/info.

@Jav — There aren’t tables or columns in my resume. It’s just bullet points. Feel free to use tables if you have a lot of info to get in, as long the formatting stays consistent and looks good.

17 Ian February 27, 2013 at 10:47 pm

When I am creating bullet points for a resume, I ask myself, “what skill is the employer looking for?” and I structure my bullets accordingly. Instead of listing “team player” in a “skills” section, describe a time from a job or school where you played a key role for a successful team project.

Keep in mind that you’re not making a resume to make yourself feel good about yourself. You’re selling yourself to an employer over other candidates. Every candidate can write that they are a “hard worker.” Describe a time you beat a deadline when no one else could.

And Jimmy, buzzwords kill me!

18 AP February 27, 2013 at 10:48 pm

Objective – seriously??? All hiring consultants and recruiters are telling you NOT to use it for the past 10 years and you come up with that? #fail

19 Jeremy Anderberg February 27, 2013 at 10:53 pm

@AP — I base my advice on the multiple executives I’ve spoken with who insist on seeing a career objective. When I first created this resume I didn’t have one in there, but again, received enough advice going the other way that I then wrote and included one. Goes to show that everyone is different, and there are many opinions on how to best do a resume.

20 Nick February 27, 2013 at 11:29 pm

I’ve done a similar resume, 6 months ago I moved halfway across the country, bought a house in a town I barely knew and didn’t have a job. While young, I’ve had a ton of experience in my career field (I started at 18 as an EMT and have worked my way up the EMS/Fire ladder), both civilian and military. I think the biggest thing I’ve had working to my advantage is never saying no to hard work. That’s something that’s gone by the wayside in my generation (anyone under 30), if all that was available was sweeping floors in the station, I’d take it. Just because you have a degree doesn’t mean you’re automatically worth anything extra, our work ethic is what defines us as men.

21 Werner van Rooyen February 28, 2013 at 5:31 am

One of the things that has helped me most is adding a yourname@yourdomain.com email address and linking to a personal website (make sure it looks good/relevant to your field, not the standard “just another wordpress site”).

It’s a superb way to make you stand out.

22 KierO February 28, 2013 at 5:53 am

Good article, I for one have had bosses openly admit they they look at a CV/Resume for about 5 seconds, and them most of them go into a “can’t be bothered” pile. Why? TOO LONG.

I have see CV’s listing every detail from every job. All qualifications (including all secondary school grades etc) and it ends up being 5 pages.

A few of my general rules:

1) Never put your DOB on the CV. – They don’t need to know your age for the position, and as such leaving it off increases your chances of actually getting to interview.

2) Keep it short – The CV should never, EVER be more than 2 A4 sides.

3) As above, keep formatting consistent, and JUSTIFY your text. – I almost lost out on a job once because they thought my CV looked “untidy” because I didn’t justify the text.

4) Spell check, then spell check again, then proof read it – Nothing ruins your chances like silly mistakes.

23 BillyPenn February 28, 2013 at 6:14 am

Here is one aspect which has not been mentioned;

More important then having a good resume, is for you to actually be the person which is described in the resume.

Embellish nothing, be truthful. A good resume will only get you through the first door. Most experienced interviewers will quickly see through the facade portrayed on paper. If your resume gets you to an interview. Be sure to bring with you, copies of all certificates, awards, diploma(s) and of course references.

Makes no sense to generate a not so factual resume, get the interview and then bomb out, because you are unable to back up your printed words. Because that is all a resume is, printed words. Companies do not hire words, they hire people.

Repeat; Be the person, your words say you are.;

24 Tom Glidden February 28, 2013 at 6:19 am

Thanks and great timing! Sequestration is about to end my 30+ year career as a design engineer. This will be useful.

25 Barend February 28, 2013 at 6:31 am

is a one page resume front and back, or only front?

26 Dan A February 28, 2013 at 6:46 am

@eric- It’s great you are able to land some interviews, that’s better than most. Don’t sell yourself short in the experience department. Even though you might not have “paid” employment you have a lot of experience; especially in the technical arena (you have developed software for someone right?). Expand your community/professional Orgs/volunteer section. Because of the high unemployment rate for recent grads, volunteerism has become as important as actual paying employment. Education section should be shortened (like the above example) because all your competitors have the same. The HR Dept knows you have education, they see your transcript. I’m not poo-pooing the education section, but where I work, it’s just a checkmark, substance matters more. Good Luck out there.

27 John February 28, 2013 at 7:13 am

Great article…and congratulations on the new position.
I would suggest you consider a “part ll” to this piece and look at the Curriculum Vitae (CV) for those heading into professional fields that use them. (Medicine, Education, Law, etc.) There are very distinct differences between the two documents and knowing them can mean getting an interview or not.
Just a thought…

28 Gorka February 28, 2013 at 7:19 am

It is absolutely true that a resume that stands out makes you as a professional stand out in a sea of mediocre resumes.
In my case, applying for a responsive web design (web design for all devices) I wrote a responsive CV that you can see from any computer, phone or tablet. It’s sitting in cvgorkamolero.tk
I made it specifically for the occasion, it didn’t take me more than 5 hours and I happily landed the job.
If you take extra time for your resume it is never time lost, you’re investing it in yourself.
If you want to look at some amazing resumes, look into cvparade.com

29 Greg February 28, 2013 at 7:21 am

I’m out of work right now and having a very tough time landing an interview. What worked in the past for me though, when I was hired at my last job, was the inclusion of Eagle Scout under my “accomplishments” section. Like you pointed out, every hiring manager is different and what works with one won’t work with them all, but that manager loved that I had it on there.

30 Waltman February 28, 2013 at 7:25 am

The myth of the one-page resume is just that. If you have a 5 page resume because you’ve been working in a relevant field for 25 years, then it is what it is. The “one page resume” that you may decide to send to folks is called a “cover letter”.

If the employer is looking to put a kid who can, say, code 15 hours a day for 30k USD per year, then they are definitely not looking for an experienced hire and will ignore your resume anyway. But if an employer is looking for an experienced hire, then they’ll need that 5 page resume. In this case, you may as well send it. It’s just bits, anyway. Who sends dead tree resumes any more?

31 Sean February 28, 2013 at 7:44 am

Another vote against objective. I’ve been sorting through resumes recently, I can not imagine what someone could write in that section that would move them into the “to be interviewed” pile if they weren’t going there anyway.

Also, given that it’s all digital these days, there’s nothing wrong with 2 pages. As you noted people move around a lot (especially in the tech sector), so it’s important to give the person looking at your resume an idea of if you’re progressing or merely chasing money.

The entire purpose of the resume is to get you an interview. You have to get yourself the job during that interiew. That may help frame what goes on, and what is left off, the resume.

32 Matt February 28, 2013 at 7:54 am

Thank you. I’ve been struggling working on my resume over the last week. You article has been the most helpful so far. Do you have any advice for a military to civilian resume? I have been told these are often fall into their own category due to the nature of military life.

33 Eric Granata February 28, 2013 at 8:02 am

I’m in the no career objective camp. I hear more often than not that they are out of fashion and typically skipped over.

@Alex re: customizing the resume for each job. I do the same thing with both my resume and references list (on a separate page and only provided when asked for).

34 Jeremy Anderberg February 28, 2013 at 8:27 am

@Matt — I don’t have experience with converting military experience to civilian resumes, but a quick Google search brought up a bunch of seemingly useful results. Just search “military to civilian resume” and you should find plenty of info.

You obviously have a fantastic skill set, and showing that you’re disciplined, deadline and goal-oriented, great team member, etc. would work quite well. You have character traits that most employers are looking for, so don’t be shy about selling yourself that way!

35 Bree February 28, 2013 at 8:33 am

I would add that you should always convert your resume to a PDF when submitting electronically. Maybe I’m picky, but I hate receiving someone’s resume in Word format. You should want to control the image of your resume and you give up that control when you submit a Word doc. You risk having the formatting distorted when the doc is opened or having the person printing the resumes accidentally change your resume.

Also, if you tell me you have “close attention to detail,” your resume better be impeccable–no misspellings, grammar errors, or formatting inconsistencies.

I don’t use an “objective” on my resume but I do have a 1-2 sentence summary at the start of my resume. When I’ve reviewed resume for hiring, I have not really had a preference as long as the objective is relevant to the job (general is better than totally inapplicable to the position for which you’re applying).

Listing “Reference available upon request” is superfluous unless you just need to fill space. All hiring managers assume that you will be able to provide references further into the hiring process. Have 3-5 references typed up and ready for your interview. Keep your “References” sheet consistent with your resume (i.e. same font, formatting, etc.).

36 Al February 28, 2013 at 8:42 am

I have to disagree with the Career Objective section. This advice was given out pretty regularly in the early 2000′s, but it’s just not appropriate anymore. The past two Universities I worked for (40,000+ students each) both counseled students to NOT include the career objective section. If your objective does not match IDENTICALLY word for word with the job description or the hiring managers unknown key buzzwords then you’re immediately passed over. Job hunting is different now than it was 10 years ago.

PLEASE make an edit to the post noting the Career Objective is outdated. I’d hate for someone to ADD that to their good modern resume thinking they need it.

37 Michelle February 28, 2013 at 8:43 am

The new trend it Resumes is to ditch the “objective” and substitute a clear, clean “summary” where you quickly state your overall skills and experience.

38 Rich Boberg February 28, 2013 at 8:57 am

Some good advice here and I have another suggestion to a podcast called Manager Tools where they have recommendations based on decades of hiring manager and recruiter experience.

http://www.manager-tools.com/2011/08/resume-update-2011-part-1

My resume is formatted the Manager Tools way and it has never failed me.

39 Shawn Weston February 28, 2013 at 9:10 am

In my experience, recruiter Tony Beshara has the best, most research-backed opinion available on this subject.

Check out “Unbeatable Resumes: America’s Top Recruiter Reveals What REALLY Gets You Hired” – The advice in it has scored me my last three positions, all better than the last.

I’m in no way affiliated with this book, and I wholeheartedly recommend it.

In short:

1. The hiring manager doesn’t care what your objective is, so leave it out.

2. Along with that, leave out anything that could be a reason for them to toss your resume out. It’s the resume’s job to score you an interview, not win you the job.

3. Chronological resumes, according to track record, get thrown out the least.

4. Focus on quantifiable results, using specific numbers. The hiring manager is asking you questions in his head, the greatest of these being, “What can you do for me when you walk in the door?” They don’t want your opinion, and they don’t want what you’re selling them. They want to know what you’ve done.

These were the greatest takeaways I had from the book, but I do recommend you pick it up to see the examples.

Cheers!

40 Sam February 28, 2013 at 9:19 am

Well, one thing, in some areas an out of state address wouldn’t be an issue, the Omaha Metro area, not an issue. And I must reccomend you learn LaTeX to properly do a resume.

41 Darrell February 28, 2013 at 9:20 am

Re: Objective – I’m in both camps depending on the situation.
1) I would leave it off if applying to a specific job – obviously that’s the job you want. Leave it out.
2) When sending out resumes cold it’s important to identify what type of role you see yourself in within the company. Include it.
3) I’ve included it when applying to new/expanding companies (recognizable by the multiple job postings) because I thought I could fit in with the company, but not specifically into the roles that they had defined in their postings.

I also suggest making a list of companies you would like to work and start sending out resumes to them. Since you don’t have a job ad to use to help tailor each resume try to find out as much about the company values and mission statement as possible and use that. Good companies want to hire people that have similar values and will fit in with the office/company culture. The last time I was searching and did this I got an interview and ultimately a job with one of my top 5 companies.

42 Nick February 28, 2013 at 9:55 am

I, unfortunately, find myself in this situation (as of yesterday). This post couldn’t have come at a better time. Now I just need to figure out what to do with my life!

43 Stan February 28, 2013 at 10:10 am

Jeremy and others – what are your thoughts on including the address to your LinkedIn profile in the header?
( linkedin.com/in/mynamehere ). To me it’s a way to keep your resume concise and impactful, yet allows someone to find out more about you if they’re interested. My line of thinking is that the more they know about me the better – let’s not waste each other’s time if I’m not the right man for the job.

44 Jeremy Anderberg February 28, 2013 at 10:27 am

@Stan — That’s not a bad idea, but only if your profile is 100% filled out, and is something you are proud to show off. Do you have some recommendations? A professional photo? Some portfolio pieces maybe? Make sure all that is taken care of.

In many cases, you end up emailing your resume to a hiring manager. In those cases, I included my social media links in my signature, so they were there if desired, but not forced.

45 ben February 28, 2013 at 11:37 am

Most of the positions that I apply for use a sonic(electronic) weeding process. How do most people try to determine the keywords to have in a resume, and how do you use them so that your resume will actually be seen by a human?

46 Martin February 28, 2013 at 11:41 am

Excellent article, much appreciated. I have a question though. As is quite common in my family, I have multiple first names but I use only one. Should I include all of them on the resume?

47 Mike February 28, 2013 at 12:06 pm

I put an example of a technical project I did in school on my resume. No the whole thing, I put a hot link to the google doc of it, I feel like if my resume makes me look like I’m smart then they would appreciate an example of prior work.
https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B09XZTO9Q8L-TlNYQ19mZlJ5SkU/edit?usp=sharing

48 Jeremy Anderberg February 28, 2013 at 1:33 pm

@ben — All you can really do is be as specific as possible with software you’ve worked with, technical certifications, job experience, etc. You really have no way of knowing which keywords the hiring company will be looking for, other than perhaps using the job listing itself as a kind of guide. If it mentions using Adobe Photoshop, for instance, mention that you have Adobe Photoshop experience. Make sense?

@Martin — Stick with the one you go by. It’s only if you get a job offer than you may need to give your full and given name.

49 Emily February 28, 2013 at 1:37 pm

Can you write a complementary article on cover letters? I think that often it’s the cover letter that makes you or breaks you with a potential employer.

50 Leif February 28, 2013 at 1:41 pm

Keywords are extremely important.

When applying for a job, your resume/online application are going to be first looked at by a recruiter that may or may not know anything about the job you’re applying for. To sort resume’s they are simply comparing your resume to keywords and phrases they’ve been told by the hiring manager. If the resume doesn’t have those, it gets tossed. They are looking through hundreds if not thousands of resumes, many of which are perfectly qualified so their not going to take time giving people chances.

Look at the job description and the job posting. Pick out the key phrases, job responsibilities, ideal candidate, required experiences, listed and put those in your resume.

51 Piper February 28, 2013 at 2:09 pm

Nice article and for me, timely. I teach Business and Entrepreneurship in high school and we are just starting our career readiness unit. I will show this and Manager Tools web site to my students, it helps when things come from sources other than me. I agree that the Objective Section is unnecessary and to a certain extent redundant, you want the/a job, and the HR people know that. If this is a cold call, you should have a short and sweet cover letter that would accomplish the same thing as an objective, but be more powerful and directed to the company you are contacting. On emails and tech links, I have started using About.me as the email address and QR code destination for my resumes and business card. You can link pages to it and it is a one page marketing tool.

52 Chris C February 28, 2013 at 3:43 pm

Good article – a few items to add based on a lot of experience reading resumes: Most importantly, you must follow directions, EXACTLY! Example: If the job requisition says to include a cover letter – do it; if it says “do not” – do not! Remember, most companies are getting thousands of resumes for each position they have advertised; if you can’t follow simple directions, your resume will be tossed faster than a hot potato. Speaking of cover letters: unless the job req. specifically says not to, you should ALWAYS include a cover letter! It amazes me that this simple one page note is often excluded by job seekers. A cover letter, not only allows you to speak in the first person (I), but it also allows you to be more personal and include things about yourself in a way that would not be conveyed on your resume – using phrases like “I particularly enjoy…”, “I can tell, based on your companies reputation, that…”, get the picture? Moving on, you should never insert a line to separate your name, or any other “sections”. Reason: most companies now require electronic copies of resumes and many times their software cannot read the line and will automatically dump the resume. Try to use as many numerical figures and/or percentages as possible; e.g., “Increased revenue by $1,000,000 dollars”, “Earned a 98.7% efficiency rating”. Tangible figures like that hold a lot of water. If you have a position similar to mine (Construction Project Manager), it may be impossible to keep your resume down to one page, however, I have a method for not only doing just that, but for being able to highlight all of your important projects as well. It’s call a “Project Addendum” or “List”; you can list all or some of your most important projects and include a brief description of each along with your specific contributions and achievements; e.g., my resume is one page, but my Project Addendum, which accompanies my resume, is three full pages. Incidentally, many companies seeking Project Managers specifically ask for a Project List or Addendum, so, if you are in that profession, it would be a good idea to create one anyway. Plus, it will refresh your memory of past projects in case you are asked about them in an interview. You should always include 3 references, even if you’re not asked to. DO NOT write, “References available upon request”; this indicates that you are either too lazy to get references, don’t have anyone who can say anything good about you or both. By the way, this may sound obvious to most, but make sure you actually get permission to use someone as a reference, so they’re not caught off guard when they receive a call about you. Also: the higher up in the food chain, the better, regarding references; i.e., a Vice President’s comments will hold more water than a ditch digger’s – it may not be fair, but it’s true. Last item regarding references, make sure that they actually have good things to say about you! Remember, your resume will likely be in a stack with 1,000 others, so you need it to stand out; make it simple, easy to read (don’t cram four pages into 1 by using 6 point font and 0.0001” margins – it will be tossed by some intern who’s been trained to filter out “War and Peace-esque” resumes – or posts like this one!) and to the point by highlighting critical/relevant items in bullet point format like in Jeremy’s. Finally, if you should be fortunate enough to land an interview, BE ON TIME and SEND A HAND WRITTEN THANK YOU NOTE TO EVERYONE YOU INTERACT WITH, EITHER THE SAME DAY OR THE VERY NEXT DAY! –Yes, EVERYONE – even the receptionist who gets you a bottle of water. This is another way to set you apart from the crowd; how bad do you really want the job! As far as the interview itself, AOM posted a fantastic article last year “How to Ace a Job Interview”. Also: remember to follow up with a phone call in about a week to see how things stand. If “they” say you’re still in the running, keep following up, but not to the point of being annoying! If “they” say that you are no longer being considered, try your best, in a professional manner, to find out why so that you can improve in whatever area/s they mention. -And, if you do get the “unfortunately, you are no longer being considered…”, you should send another Thank You note to the individual who would have been your boss. This will, yet again, make you stand out should another position become available in the future. Good luck!

53 Jacob February 28, 2013 at 6:27 pm

What would a college student who’s looking for a part-time job do with his resume?
The last job I interviewed for told me I was overqualified despite the fact that I’m only 21 and it was in an industry I’ve never worked in before.

54 Michael February 28, 2013 at 10:04 pm

I kind of cringed at that video editing bullet with YouTube and iMovie listed. Those two programs are hardly Premier or Final Cut if you know what I mean. It just goes to show how people key in on different things and of course the applicability of the skill to the job plays a role in how important that could be.

Leaving the military required I use a more functional/targeted resume than chronological. I learned that a functional resume needs to be heavy on quantifiable date versus qualitative statements to make up for it’s fluffy reputation. Nothing makes people take a closer look than “$”‘s in the body of resume.

Now that I’m a working civilian I need to work on transitioning it to more of a style with a stronger chronological layout.

At the end of the day nothing is more important than good old fashioned networking. Period. Point. Blank.

However a poor resume can be the reason your networking ultimately falls flat. I’ve had great interactions with candidates for a job but untimely halted the process after glancing at there poorly formatted, mistake ridden, and over-exaggerated resume.

It’s also important to share your resume with people that will give you real feedback and help you improve it. This advice may hurt but good resumes need editing to be great.

55 Michael February 28, 2013 at 10:15 pm

Also to the author did you send this resume out cold? Pardon me for being a bit persnickety but I’ve always been told (and I tend to agree) that a resume is a tool and is often not the key into an interview.

56 Michael February 28, 2013 at 10:30 pm

@Matt my advice for a veteran from a veteran

1. If your staying in the same realm of work in the civilian world use a solid chronological and treat all your assignments like different jobs

2.For vets that are changing focus areas (like I was) make a data packed functional.

3. Somehow list your Vet status upfront and center. Don’t downplay what you accomplished.

5. Use the bullets from performance reviews (in the AF they’re called EPR’s) to make bullet statements for your resume. EPR’s are typically filled with hyperbole and data. Drop the fluff but use the data.

6. Demilitarize your terminology by letting a civilian look at it. Do this with different people until no one else asks questions like,” What does NCOIC mean?”

7. For Vets I think the Education section is important since many don’t see us beyond the “Veteran” status. A lot of employers were very curious about how I got a degree while serving and this definitely helped.

I hope that helps a little bit and that it isn’t totally off from what you need. I help with the Transition Assistance Panel here in Colorado so I love helping fellow Vets make the jump.

57 SN February 28, 2013 at 11:11 pm

I found your resume article to be ridiculous. Most of the AoM articles are spot on or very close. But this one was weak. Mostly because the “example” resume that you used (I assume your own) was weak and full of not-real info because your field is particularly light in real actions. If you work in a job that has real results, you can have results (i.e. generated $14MM in new business during FY09). If you work in PR or other “relations” type fields, it’s going all sound like fluff to someone who does not know you personally.

I could give plenty of examples, but if you are “stretching” to make something sound good, my advice is to leave it off. Simple declarative sentences with bold organization triumphs over a 5 bullet point snow storm of fluffy powder.
SN

58 Scotty the Menace March 1, 2013 at 12:04 am

Thanks for the article. In a bad economy, a great redume is essential. A lot of your points are solid, but I do think you missed the boat on some of it. Your résumé is your first portfolio piece. If it’s not perfect, keep going until it is.

The problem with an objective is that it’s about YOU but the resume should be about the company you’re applying to. They couldn’t care less what your objective is. They want to know how you’re going to help their business. An short, accomplishment focused “professional summary” is OK, but an objective is about 20 years behind the times.

As for everything else, as others have said, the point of a resume is not to get you a job, but to get you through the screeners at the hiring agencies and in HR, since they are usually the first filter, not the hiring manager. Look at the job description and put everything from it on your résumé that you can truthfully claim. If that’s Word, so be it. You want the filters to be able to check off as many boxes as possible. Sometimes the filters aren’t even humans, but search engines. Don’t give them a reason to not even consider you because you left off something silly.

As to formatting, my advice is to be as simple as possible. Tables are risky because, very often, resumes get sucked out of your pretty document and into hiring system databases, which often have no idea what to do with all your fancy formatting. I’ve had even some of my simpler resume designs lose that battle. As a technical writer applying for the job of creating professional documents, I was horrified. Keep it very simple.

Finally, nearly every recruiter and hiring manager I’ve dealt with wants a chronological résumé with dates (month/year). They want to see continual employment. Putting time at the job rather than dates makes them wonder if you’re covering up long bouts of unemployment. Put the dates in. Go back no more than 10 years. Done.

59 Howard March 1, 2013 at 12:17 pm

Best advice I got from my last job search: when putting together your list of skills, make sure you have a story about a time you demonstrated that skill. This goes with the previous comment about making sure your resume is honest.

60 Ian March 1, 2013 at 3:00 pm

I found that as soon as I worked on my layout of my resume, I ended up getting call backs. This included adding a border, a little bit of color that wasn’t flashy, and putting work experience BEFORE education.

61 SirManly March 1, 2013 at 11:34 pm

I would say put Experience before Education, and career objective is optional (I don’t use one).

62 Jeff March 2, 2013 at 5:48 am

Great Article! This came just at the right time, as I am looking for work and my CV is in definite need of an overhaul. I have a technical question. How do you get that line on the header section? It’s not a simple Ctrl+U, and I’ve searched all through Word and the Internet trying to sort it out. Any help would be appreciated as I love the crispness of it.

63 Kyle M March 2, 2013 at 9:26 am

Does anyone know how I would list my military experience as a Marine? I will be out in a little over a year and looking for a job with a company such as Caterpillar as a mechanic. Do I list it as it’s own category or under another one? Also do I include things like awards, promotions and time deployed? Thanks for any suggestions.

64 Matt E. March 2, 2013 at 8:52 pm

@Kyle M. – I list my service under work experience. As for listing deployments I think most people assume if you served in the last ten years you were deployed so I would leave off specifics. For awards unless you received a commendation for performance or meritorious promotion I would leave that out as well. Semper Fi.

65 reynard March 3, 2013 at 12:05 am

since I’m graduating and will look for a job eventually, I will consider this much.

66 Aakarsha Pandey March 3, 2013 at 6:46 am

Hi,
I am currently drafting a C.V. which I am going to use to apply to universities in the U.S. for a master’s program in Biotechnology and Biochemistry.

I am aware that I should make my C.V. in a way that it shows that I am a suitable candidate to perform research work and that I can take on academics and study well. are there any tips you can give to me for my c.v. now that I am applying to a university.

67 Michael March 3, 2013 at 12:01 pm

@Kyle
It’s awesome that you have a company and a job type basically narrowed down. The best thing to do is get an actual job description and tailor your resume to that.

So if your commendations, deployments speak to the job description put it in and be specific. If not don’t spend much time highlighting them. Also as a general rule don’t think that hiring people assume anything.

68 Evan March 4, 2013 at 12:06 pm

Great article. Couple things. Many hiring managers suggest not putting your objectives in a resume.

Also, while limiting yourself to one page is good advice for young employees, it’s not always practical. As your skills and experience grow, one page is not going to give all the info you need. Mine is two pages squished into a 9pt font.

Finally, make sure to post your resume to places like Monster, etc. Even if you are not actively searching, recruiting agencies are always trolling these boards and headhunting for candidates. Who knows? You may get an interview for a position that you didn’t know was available.

69 AJR March 4, 2013 at 5:49 pm

I have a Masters degree, but finding work in my field is rough. All the positions out there considered entry-level demand at least 2-3 years experience… the rest are all high-ranking admin jobs. Only two responses from several hundred across the country makes me quite upset… and my resume looks similar in format to the one in this article.

In the meantime, I HAVE to try and get out of my current job because it is quite clear there is no room for me to grow… but I’m wondering if I should leave off my Masters degree entirely if looking for jobs outside my field?

Also, if I am applying for jobs that only require a high school diploma (ie warehouses, etc) should I even include my Bachelor’s degree? At this point, I need to try something else that offers me the chance to grow. I am DYING at my current job.

70 Edward March 5, 2013 at 11:13 am

As someone who regularly interviews candidates, a few things that really turn me off:

1) Lengthy resumes. I have had up to 9 pages before. It went directly into the garbage can. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
2) Poor or vague career objective. If you don’t know what you want to do, how should I?
3) Redundant work experience. If you list a certain skill that you acquired or used in a previous job, don’t include it in under other jobs. It’s lazy and looks like you’re trying to pad the resume.
4) Stalking me on Facebook, LinkdIn, Google+, etc. This is just creepy.

71 Jordan March 7, 2013 at 2:57 pm

Great helpful article. As a college student and prior military it gave me so good material to think about. What font did you use?

72 Gary F March 7, 2013 at 6:23 pm

@AJR

The master’s degree conundrum is a difficult one. I read a number of articles on whether or not masters degrees are useful or not for securing more meaningful employment. As far as the legal profession is concerned, they are not rated very highly, as it tends to suggest that you are either unfocused or need more academic “padding” to find a job. The various sources cited in the articles are from recruiters and hiring partners.

It’s a tough call, and you are obviously proud of your pedigree, so I guess you will need to weigh up whether or not you should mention it.

Good luck in your job search.

73 Bree March 9, 2013 at 10:18 pm

As a recruiter, I take issue with a few of the suggestions:

1. A resume absolutely can be two pages. Most people are not mailing their resume in the USPS, they’re submitting it online. I would rather see their experience on two pages than have folks try to cram relevant stuff into a page. This varies by profession but it is good general rule of thumb – a resume absolutely can be two pages.

2. Objective – no. Almost never. If you’re applying for a job, your objective is to get that job. Leave out the overarching vagueries – you’re wasting valuable resume real estate.

3. Put the dates you worked. Month and year. I would trash Jeremy’s resume in a nanosecond because of the nonstandard “length of time” nonsense.

The post also doesn’t address the rising prevalence of filters – it actually sometimes can be important to put “proficient in Microsoft Word” on a resume, because if someone is submitting it online, it is probably going into an applicant tracking system that filters for keywords. If those keywords aren’t on your resume, well, a human isn’t going to look at it.

The advice I give my candidates is this: use meaningful specifics, not vagueries; avoid stuff that doesn’t mean anything on its own, like “detail-oriented” – prove it with an example; whenever possible, talk about the things you accomplished – stuff you made, things you achieved, money or time you saved; telepathy is not a job search strategy – if it’s not on your resume, I don’t know you did it.

74 Tom Hanger March 9, 2013 at 10:26 pm

Great tips in here. I agree that a strong resume is extremely important, but I don’t fully agree that it will help you get a job. A great resume won’t help you stand out – a bad resume will just disqualify you right away.

Instead, I think that networking is plays a much bigger role in getting hired. The vast majority of jobs are never posted, and many that are posted are simply to fill a corporate requirement (ie, the job has been filled, but they have a policy to post any positions publicly).

Networking may be uncomfortable at first, but it will pay huge dividends. Once you have the connections, your excellent resume (thanks to AoM) will come in handy.

75 Todd @ Fearless Men March 13, 2013 at 2:41 am

I would like to have a professional work on my resume. Is there anyone you would refer me to?

76 L. Perkins March 20, 2013 at 3:34 pm

I teach professional communication college courses and some of this info I would definitely disagree with! Like not including the year of graduation. I would also avoid buzz phrases like “problem solver.”

77 Jesse March 20, 2013 at 5:17 pm

Thanks for the recommendation. I haven’t been getting responses (positive or negative) to my resume. This style makes it look a lot stronger, since my main weakness was a work gap. I’ll let you know if it changes things…

78 Glenn March 25, 2013 at 5:13 pm

Really useful guide and I would add something that is definitely becoming even more important, particularly within the UK and EU job markets.

CV or resume heat map information is now showing that recruiters or employers are now looking at documents on screen for around the 15 second mark. It always used to be 30 seconds so it shows that employers in particular are under severe pressure with the sheer volume of CVs that they need to look at, and simply do not have the time to read each and every one properly

The importance of highlighting achievements within previous job roles is even more important. When listing achievements, separate yourself from the crowd through detailing the employer derived as a result of what you achieved. the more tangible the benefit that you delivered, the better. Financial benefits hit hardest so if you have increased sales, profit, gross margin, customer numbers and the like then say so and show how much money your previous employer gained as a result.

If the reader can see quickly what you have delivered for employers in the past, the chances of making it past the first sift are greatly increased, especially as so many recruiters are time poor.

79 Cameron May 6, 2013 at 5:18 pm

I’m currently a college student and looking to update my resume. Do you have any recommendations for what of my education I should include, since my work experience alone is still fairly limited?

80 James July 2, 2013 at 8:21 am

I’ve been using the same format on my resume for roughly 12 years. I don’t feel my resume was the limiting factor, but mainly I was either overqualified, or under-qualified for positions. In 14 months, I dropped over 40 applications and resumes with only 5 interviews, 3 second interviews, and zero callbacks. The day I revamped my resume and submitted it to HR to have them forward it to the hiring manager, I received a phone call to set up an interview. I interviewed the following Monday, and received an offer within 2 hours. Perhaps it was the new resume that gave me an edge, or my persistence with the company having it been my 3 interview for the same position. Either way, I changed my resume and was hired. Thanks for the tips.

81 Marcus Aurelius December 18, 2013 at 11:43 pm

Where I live, 99% of stores won’t even take your resume because everything has to be done online. It’s so impersonal that my personality cannot be communicated across in a professional job application!

82 dimaks January 8, 2014 at 11:36 am

Thank you for mentioning about the very basic items that people tend to clutter their resume’s even more. Some people still put, they know how to use Excel and Ms Word.

Your post is very organized and concise.

83 piddu January 13, 2014 at 8:30 am

very useful guide &I would add something that is definitely becoming even more important, particularly within the UK and EU job markets.

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