Jenny Rogers offered useful tips on resume writing when she met with senior Communications majors at Webster University recently, including how to ‘translate’ part time job experience into soft skills that employers are looking for. We’ll offer the tips here in a series of posts, starting with the general looks of the resume.
Presentation of the Resume
Keep it to one page. That’s it.
You can have two pages after about 15-20 years in the workforce. That second page should have summary information toward the end, not details about every role you’ve ever had.
Use simple classic, sans serif fonts – resumes are often read by scanners and uploaded into applicant tracking systems, so skip the fancy fonts, colors and multiple lines. Consider Arial, Courier and Verdana — unless you are applying for a graphic design or similar role.
Use bold and italics sparingly and use numbers rather than spelling them out. 33% rather than thirty-three percent.
Save the document as a PDF – not a word doc. This keeps the alignment intact.
Use key words that appear in the job posting. Applicant tracking systems and corporate recruiters often perform searches for key words in a pool of applicant resumes.
Leave some white space, have balance.
Rogers added some simple Do’s and Don’ts. While created for recent graduates, the list is relevant to anyone seeking employment, no matter the level of experience.
Dos and Don’ts
- DO NOT have typos, bad grammar, or misspellings. Don’t rely on spell check.
- DO be consistent. If you put periods at the end of your bullets, do it throughout.
- DO NOT include your street address; include city and state (i.e. St. Louis, MO), or leave it off completely.
- DO NOT use a giant font for your name – nothing bigger than 16 point, please.
- DO have your email address as a hyperlink, and make sure it’s professional – first name, last name, etc. If you have LinkedIn, include it as well and make sure it matches your resume – dates, companies and titles at a minimum.
- DO NOT have an Objective statement.
- DO have a summary statement. A summary statement can be a powerful branding tool to set the tone that you’re the right one for the job. Creating this summary statement allows you to better understand what you bring to an organization and provides a clear sense of who you are to hiring managers. Make it short, no more than 4-6 sentences, and don’t repeat things that are clearly stated in your resume.
- DO put Education at the top if you’re more school than experience, then put skills right under that.
- DO include a skills section. This should include skills relevant to the job description requirements.
- DO NOT lie or overstate your level of acumen – i.e. if you are not an advanced Excel user, choose Basic or Intermediate to define your skill level. Relevant coursework can be included on your resume.
- In the third and final installment of our three part series from Jenny Rogers on what makes or breaks a resume, here are some resume writing Do’s and Don’ts. While created for recent graduates, this information is relevant to anyone seeking employment, no matter their level of experience. Follow Jenny’s tips and your resume will stand out from the crowd.
- DO list volunteer work if it’s something you do regularly, in either the Interests or Community section, near the bottom of your resume. However, you should consider the risk when listing volunteer work or affiliations that immediately identify your gender, race, sexual orientation or religion. Yes, it is illegal to discriminate based on those, but unfortunately it sometimes happens.
- DO include your work history, including internships and part time roles.
- DO NOT expand on roles that are easy for anyone to understand. For example, most hiring professionals know what a waiter/waitress does.
- DO consider extras from those roles. If you were the ‘go to’ trainer for new associates, if you helped interview folks, if you managed people or set the schedule – include that information.
- DO NOT put “references furnished upon request” or include a list of references. It’s implied that you’ll share references when needed. DO include your GPA If you’re a fantastic student. Is it 3.5 or below? Skip it.
- DO create a cover letter. Use this to connect the dots between the company’s needs and the skills you’ve built. Be specific here and remember to check and recheck your grammar and spelling.