A few days ago, I asked a good friend what he thought makes a résumé effective. “Basically, all you do on a résumé is lie and mold yourself to the expectations of a potential employer,” he answered. “Résumés are stupid.” While he didn’t exactly answer my question, his words replayed over and over in my head while I was researching résumés.
Many of the articles that I read about writing impressive résumés included information like, “Tailor your experience to the job’s descriptions and context” or “It’s a good idea to leave out any controversial positions you may have held”. These aspects of résumé-writing do make it seem as if a résumé is a platform on which you modify yourself and your experiences just enough in order to catch an employer’s eye. My question to you, as you read the following résumé do’s and don’ts, is: do you believe that it is entirely possible to compose an effective résumé without compromising who you really are/what you have experienced?
Do’s and Don’ts:
1. Do try to make your résumé pop as much as possible. Most hiring managers spend as little as 20 seconds, and at most, 10 minutes, reading through a résumé. You want to ensure that your résumé is one that grabs their attention, rather than one that they toss aside.
2. Don’t clutter your résumé. Make it as pleasant and easy to read as possible and use simple fonts, formatting, concise but pertinent paragraphs, etc. Again, hiring managers will literally zip through your résumé, so make it easy for them to get to the core of what you have to offer.
3. Do provide the skills you possess that are suitable for a specific skill set; also list specific accomplishments and experience appropriate to the desired job.
4. Don’t include topics, for example, hobbies, that are unrelated to the position desired. Let’s say, for example, that you’re a champion League of Legends player. Regardless of the prestigious position you may hold in the gaming world, if the job description is looking for a marketing analyst, don’t include League on your resume. I doubt that- “In my ten years of experience playing League, I single-handedly defeated Aatrox and Akali and rose to the highest rank in the war” (or whatever it is that you do in League)- is relevant information for an employer looking for a market analyst 🙂 .
5. Do list volunteer work and small projects if applicable to the position you seek.
6. Don’t copy words or phrases directly from the job description in an attempt to sound like a good fit. Many hiring managers use ATS- a system that scours your résumé for key wording and significant phrasing and it’s usually obvious when an applicant copies words.
7. Do provide a short summary encompassing key elements of your background.
8. Don’t skip over periods of unemployment- address this period and explain what you did during that time. For example, “I was unemployed from 2010 to 2011 due to a budget cut. During that time, I became a significant figure in the black market selling white Vans” (hehe).
9. Do include contact information- email, number, name, etc. It’s an obvious yet often forgotten aspect of résumés.
10. Don’t use colloquial terms (unless applicable), but at the same time, don’t go overboard with formality. Strike a comfortable balance between the two.
A few final tips:
*Only provide a clear, intentional statement describing the nature of the job you seek when making a big job change (i.e. switching from distributing weaves to becoming a fashion editor).
*As with most writing, it is better to show, not tell
I’m not an expert in any of this, but hopefully, you were able to get some useful advice from this list.