Average 5.0 (1 rate)
If it’s been a long time since you’ve had to look for a job, you might be feeling a little lost when you sit down to write your resume. If this is your first ever job, you might be feeling even more in the woods. What should you include? What should you omit? How should you format and organize things to make sure your resume is both legible and eye-catching? How can you include just enough information to get the recruiter’s attention, but not so many details they fall to sleep just trying to get through it?
Remember, the average recruiter spends just 6(!) seconds glancing at a resume before they decide whether it will end up in the trash can or not. It turns out first impressions don’t just matter during face to face meetings!
Don’t worry, though, because I’m not saying all this to stress you out 😄 And I promise that by the time we’re done working on your resume, you’ll have forgotten you were ever worried about your resume at all. Because getting your resume right is actually easier than it seems — all you have to do is follow the tips I’ll be listing below.
Sounds pretty easy, right?
So, are you ready to pimp your resume?
Let’s get to work!
Keep in mind, however, that these are just tips to pimp your resume — if you don’t yet have a resume to pimp, check out my guide here to find out how to write one step by step…and then come right back to find out how to polish it till it shines!
Without further ado, let’s get to that list! 😄
💡 Resume Tip 1
Keep things short and sweet
A good resume should be an absolute maximum of 2 pages long, and that’s if you have a lot of important things to say! For most of us, even 1 page is enough.
Resumes are about grabbing the recruiter’s attention with the most important tidbits of your work history…so they have to invite you in for an interview to hear the rest of the story!
If you drone on about every little detail of every job you have ever had for 10 pages, chances are the recruiter will lose interest. And besides, remember the 6 seconds I talked about earlier?
That’s right, there is no way a recruiter is going to read 10 pages in 6 seconds. So the more to the point you are, the better! You can get into much more detail during your interview if and when they ask.
💡 Resume Tip 2
Choose the right resume format
Depending on your line of work, you can choose on of the following resume formats:
💡 Resume Tip 3
…the right resume format for you is probably the reverse-chronological format
Granted, I could be wrong. But the vast majority of people’s career history is best presented using the reverse-chronological format.
The biggest pro of this format is that it is easy to read and find information on — your jobs are listed starting with the most recent, and your degrees with the highest.
💡 Resume Tip 4
Align to the left and use 1” margins
Few things are more likely to make a recruiter go cross-eyed faster than a resume whose alignment is all over the place. Align to the left for the entirety of your resume to keep things looking tidy and organized.
💡 Resume Tip 5
Choose a neat, legible font
There are plenty of fonts that are just wrong for a resume besides the obvious culprit, Comic Sans. Courier, Vivaldi, Lucida Handwriting — these are all examples of fonts that will effectively obscure everything you try to convey on your resume.
Among recruiter favorites, on the other hand, are tidy, elegant fonts, such as Georgia, Tahoma and Verdana.
If you need more help choosing the right font to suit your personality, check out my resume font guide here.
💡 Resume Tip 6
Be consistent about font sizes
Yup, I am going on about neatness and legibility again, but I regret nothing! 😄 Having a resume that’s easy to glean important information from is what gets candidates jobs. So, as I said: be consistent.
A 12 pt font is generally a good choice, with either 14 pt or 16 pt for headings and such. Make sure the sections stand out!
💡 Resume Tip 7
Use bold and italics purposefully
The point of bolding is to make things stand out. The same goes for italics — it’s all about making things MORE visible. Imagine how utterly ordinary that Goth kid in your high school would have felt if everyone had been walking around in black capes and makeup — he’d probably have started wearing jeans, just to stand out!
The same goes here.
If you bold too much, the purpose of bolding in the first place is defeated and the important information on your resume is almost impossible to find.
So decide what you want to bold — say, subheadings, such as Experience, Education and Skills — and stick to it.
💡 Resume Tip 8
Put the best stuff „above the fold”
Above the fold originally referred to newspapers and how the biggest headlines were visible from a distance because they were at the top of the first page.
Six seconds isn’t a lot of time, so try to make sure the most interesting and unique things you have to list are very visible, in the top third of the first page, if possible.
💡 Resume Tip 9
Include URLs to LinkedIn and personal websites
I can’t stress this enough: I don’t mean your Facebook profile — the recruiter does not need to see you partying it up in Cancun. Any professional profile or websites you might have, on the other hand, would be a great addition to your resume.
This includes of course LinkedIn, but also any personal website or blog you might have, provided of course that the content is appropriate and somehow relevant to the job you are applying for.
💡 Resume Tip 10
Keep things recent and relevant
The last 10-15 years of your professional history will be perfectly, sufficient, no need to mention that babysitting gig you had in high school. If, on the other hand, you have no work experience at all, feel free to list any academic experience that may be relevant to the job at hand.
💡 Resume Tip 11
Explain job hopping
A recruiter may well be wary of hiring a candidate who seems to change jobs every few months, and understandably so — their success is measured by whether they are able to find the right person for a given position.
That’s why, if you’ve done some job-hopping, attempt to give a reasonable explanation for why — something succinct like, “relocated to a new city” or “layoff due to downsizing” will do just fine.
💡 Resume Tip 12
When you get invited in for an interview, chances are you’ll be speaking with several people who are experts in your industry, and that’s when you can get really specific about what it is you do.
Recruiters, on the other hand, may not know all that many specifics about a given area, so bombarding them with fancy and complicated jargon might end up scaring them off instead of impressing them.
💡 Resume Tip 13
Scan the job offer for keywords and then be sure to use them in both your resume and your cover letter. This shows the recruiter that you actually read the offer and are genuinely interested in the job, and are not just failing around for any job you can get.
💡 Resume Tip 14
Use catchy verbs
Words like “responsible for” and “managed” have been done to death and are just plain boring. Change things up a bit to grab the recruiter’s attention — “initiated”, “pursued” and “streamlined” are infinitely more interesting vocabulary choices.
If you are experiencing a little bout of writer’s block, check out my list of resume action words here.
💡 Resume Tip 15
Avoid empty buzzwords
Ask any recruiter and they’ll tell you how much they hate tired cliches like “team player” and “hard worker” because not only have they been done to death, but they never really meant anything in the first place.
So what should you do? Don’t claim to be a hard worker, showcase your achievements to make that fact readily visible!
💡 Resume Tip 16
Showcase your career progression
If you can, list your jobs so that the person reading your resume can clearly see how you’ve advanced.
A reverse-chronological format resume is also very helpful here — that way, the recruiter can see that now you are a manager, but before that you were a specialist, and before that, a humble assistant. This shows the aforementioned hard work, ambition and drive, and that’s a great combo!
💡 Resume Tip 17
Feel free to add a “Hobbies” or “Interests” section, but…
Only add a Hobbies section if you have room for it — don’t bump interesting and relevant skills or experience to mention you like mini-golf or collecting stamps.
Also, if possible, try to list hobbies that could help demonstrate you are the right person for the position.
Need some more advice on this? Check out my guide on writing a great Hobbies section here.
💡 Resume Tip 18
Beware of TMI
Resumes are about showing why you are fit for the job, not about your personal life. That’s why you should avoid any mention of personal details such as your marital status, race, sexual orientation, or political or religious affiliation.
The same goes for adding a photo of yourself — unless the position you’re applying for is that of model, your appearance should not matter to the recruiter. It’s 2020, let’s do our part to leave discrimination and harassment in the past already!
💡 Resume Tip 19
Make your resume and cover letter match
The human brain is programmed to like symmetry, so take advantage of that by using the same font and formatting on your cover letter as you did on your resume. There, admit it, that just looks better!
💡 Resume Tip 20
Save your resume in PDF format
No matter how nice your resume looks now, it could end up getting completely scrambled depending on which program or device is used to open it.
That’s why saving your resume in PDF format is the safest bet — that way, you can be sure it will look just as you intended no matter what.
💡 Resume Tip 21
Name your resume file properly
You’re not the only person applying for this position, so naming your resume file “Resume” isn’t making the recruiter’s job any easier or your own chances of getting the job any better.
Something like Lila_Anderson_Resume is much better, as it will be much easier for the recruiter to find on their computer when they decide to get in touch.
💡 Resume Tip 22
Send your resume from a professional-sounding email address
This might seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised. The email address “firstname.lastname@example.org” might have been cute when you were in middle school, but it’s far from suitable now — even if the job you are applying for is in fact pet groomer.
If you want to be taken seriously, you have to take yourself seriously — something like “email@example.com” makes a much better impression.
💡 Resume Tip 23
Lose the “References Available on Request” line
It’s tired, and worse yet, it is pointless, which in turn makes it a little irritating. Why bother mentioning you could give references when you aren’t?
If you want, you can include a page of carefully selected references along with your resume and cover letter if you like, but you are under no obligation to. Chances are you will be asked to provide references after your interview, so feel free to cross that bridge when you come to it.
💡 Resume Tip 24
There is no easier way to make a bad impression than to pepper typos all over the place — the good news is, proofreading is as easy as turning on the spellcheck in your word processing software.
You could also ask someone you trust to go through your resume and cover letter to be sure it reads as well as you think it does.
💡 Resume Tip 25
Write a thank-you email
Once your resume has gotten you that coveted interview and you’ve patted yourself on the back, remember that it’s not over until you’ve sent your interviewer (or interviewers) a thoughtful thank-you email — 2 or 3 days post-interview, tops — that will cement the good impression you made during your meeting.
You must be feeling pretty confident now that we’ve polished your resume till it shines! So what are you waiting for? Send it off!
And when you get invited in for an interview, come right back so we can prep for it together 😄