The first thing to realize when preparing a resume is that YOUR resume is essentially a personal marketing tool. People often cut corners when creating their resume and it shows. Think about, if it shows on your resume, what will a hiring authority; think about you as a person and/or potential employee.
- When creating a resume, make sure you put your relevant contact information: Name, Address, Email, Phone Number (Home and Cell, if you have both). Potential Pitfalls:
- Resumes with simply your name at the top: How is anyone supposed to call you? I know most resumes are sent via email and one could email the person and ask for a number, but why should they need to go through the extra effort.
- Avoid email addresses that are too personal, i.e. email@example.com, create a new formal address if needed.
- Too much contact information: There is no need to put a home number, a mobile, number, and an office number. Pick the number where you are best able to be reached and please do not put an office number, if you can’t speak openly about a new opportunity. The same applies to email addresses, there is no need to put 3 different email addresses, choose the one that you check and would prefer to be contacted through. All of the extra contact information creates clutter at the top of the resume. Keep your resume clean. We suggest the following contact outline:
Name: John Smith
Address: 5555 Spring Street, Atlanta, GA 30324
Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mobile: (404) 555-5556
Phone Number: (404) 555-5555
The above example keeps all contact information clean and separated from each other.
- An Objective: 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 OKs to not list an objective on the resume.
- A Summary: 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.
- 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 short-lists, stating different qualifications. For example: Over 5 years of C# development (keep these short and simple). Again, please keep the list to only relevant qualifications.
- Education: The education 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 100hrs of college 6 years ago really shows you just 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.
- Certifications: List only certifications that are relevant and current. The fact that you had a CCNA or MCSE that expired 5 years ago does not belong on your resume. An A+ certification does not belong next to your CCNP certification, someone seeking a CCNP candidate is not impressed by an A+ certification, just leave it off.
- Skills Section: The skills section can be one of the most useful portions. 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. i.e. 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 10 years ago.
- The goal for the skills section is to clearly and cleanly show the technologies you utilize.
- Experience: 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 authorities 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 2 years, there is no need to have a full page listing everything you accomplished. Keep the bullet points to your most significant achievements.
- Additionally, make sure you give some detail. If you were at a company for 5 years and only have 2 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 0-15 years. It is not important to list the position you had 20 years ago. This also helps keep the resume from getting too long.
- References: This section can be left off your resume or simply put “Available upon request.”
- Avoid listing your references with contact information.
- Your references would most likely prefer not to have their information floating around.
A few things to keep in mind when creating a resume:
- The resume should be no longer than 3 pages. Keeping everything clean and neat as explained above will help prevent 10 page resumes.
- Also, keep in mind that the vast majority of time a hiring authority is meeting your resume well before they meet you, your resume should be considered an extension of yourself.
- Proofreading your resume might be the most over looked 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.
- You should 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/or bullet points to make sure they stand out. However, there is no need to go overboard, only boldface relevant information.
- Avoid artistic font, utilize Times New Roman or Arial with a size of 11 or 12.
- Avoid the 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 more and 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 3 years ago can be daunting and possibly inaccurate.