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Crafting the Perfect Resume: 10 Do's and Don'ts

interviewing job search newsletter Dec 09, 2023

Read time: 5 minutes

 

Scroll to the bottom of this page to view the Resume Checklist 👇

 

MAIN TOPIC

If a hiring manager asked you, “Why are you a fit for this role?

 

How would you respond?

 

Well, you wouldn’t start by telling them your entire professional history.

 

Instead, you would highlight specific achievements, relevant roles, and key skills that make the most compelling case for why you’d succeed in the role.

 

This is precisely how you want to think about your resume.

 

When it comes to resumes, you have 7 seconds or less to catch the recruiter’s or hiring manager’s eye and convince them to interview you. 

 

Your resume shouldn’t just document your work experience. It should clearly and concisely highlight your unique value and fit for the role.

 

If you’re like most job seekers we work with, you might feel overwhelmed or exhausted by the surplus of advice on resumes. 

 

So, let’s simplify it.

 

Here are 10 key do’s and don’ts to consider when creating or revising your resume:

 

10 Resume Do's and Don'ts

Do's

  1. Tailor for Your Target Role: Highlight relevant experience, skills, and achievements. Make it obvious why you're the perfect fit.
  2. Use Clear, Concise Language: Be brief yet impactful. Use strong action verbs and bullet points to make your achievements stand out. Ensure it's readable and skimmable (Aim for 1-2 pages).
  3. Quantify Achievements: Numbers speak louder than words. Use them to add credibility and paint a clear picture of your successes.
  4. Optimize for Keywords: Double-check the job description for relevant keywords missing from your resume (only spend 2-3 minutes on this!).
  5. Proofread: Spelling and grammar mistakes can be a significant turnoff. Always proofread your resume, or better yet, have someone else review it. Use Grammarly and/or ask a friend for feedback.  

 

Don'ts:

  1. Ditch the Generic Skills: Skip the generic skills like “good communication” or “team player.” Instead, demonstrate these skills through your experiences and achievements.
  2. Avoid Information Overload: Quality trumps quantity. Don't clutter your resume with irrelevant details and adjectives (e.g., "driven" or "results-oriented"). Stick to experiencesskills, and keywords that pertain to the job you're applying for.
  3. Skip the Unprofessional Fonts and Designs: Choose readability over creativity. Stick to professional fonts and designs. While creativity can be a plus in some fields, overly artistic fonts and designs can detract from the content. 
  4. Don't get Caught up in the 1-page Rule: Aim for 1 page, but don't sacrifice readability to cram everything on 1 page. Prioritize the most information at the top, and ensure your resume is easy to skim. 2-page resumes are acceptable!
  5. Don’t Lie or Exaggerate: Honesty is the best policy. Don’t fabricate or exaggerate your experiences or skills. Be truthful about what you can bring to the table.

 

Summary  

Your resume is a prerequisite for your job search, but you shouldn't be spending hours revising each week.

 

Besides minor adjustments, your goal should be to get a solid resume optimized for your target role. 

 

Most of your job search time should be devoted to other high-impact activities (targeted networking, outreach, etc.).

 

Your resume isn't just a list of your work experience; it's an opportunity to pitch your value and market yourself for your target role.

 

By adhering to these do's and don'ts, you'll craft a resume that not only stands out but tells a compelling story. Focus on what matters most!

 

See "How to write a resume that gets interviewsfor guidance on building and structuring your resume.

 


Resume Checklist:

Not sure if your resume checks all the boxes? Use our resume checklist to evaluate your resume and identify areas for improvement:

 

Purpose and Content

[ ] Does the resume clearly convey why I am a strong candidate for my target role?

[ ] Is the content focused on experience and skills relevant to my target role?

[ ] Are irrelevant details and experiences omitted?

 

Header and Summary

[ ] Does the header include professional contact information and a clear job title?

[ ] Does the summary highlight key points of your relevant experience and value?

[ ] Is there a personalized statement tailored to the company (if applicable)?

 

Experience and Achievements

[ ] Are job titles and experiences tailored to my target role?

[ ] Are bullet points concise, impactful, and quantified where possible?

[ ] Is there more emphasis on achievements and results rather than just job duties?

[ ] Are only recent and relevant work experiences included (last 10-15 years)?

[ ] Have gaps in employment or other potential red flags been identified and addressed?

 

Skills and Certifications

[ ] Are relevant hard skills prioritized and listed first?

[ ] Are language proficiencies and technical skills clearly listed?

[ ] Are generic and expected soft skills excluded?

[ ] Are certifications relevant and up-to-date?

 

Education and Professional Development

[ ] Is the education section concise and placed at the end?

[ ] Are only pertinent educational qualifications included (excluding high school)?

 

Formatting and Readability

[ ] Is the resume of an appropriate length (usually one to two pages)?

[ ] Is the formatting consistent and professional?

[ ] Is the resume visually appealing and easy to skim through?

[ ] Is there adequate white space and consistent margins?

[ ] Is the resume saved with a professional file name?

 

Grammar and Spelling

[ ] Is the resume free from grammatical and spelling errors?

[ ] Have I used Grammarly or a similar tool to double-check?

  

Keyword Optimization and Customization

[ ] Are relevant industry-specific and job-related keywords incorporated throughout the resume?

[ ] Is the resume customized to the specific role and company?

 

Professionalism and Detail

[ ] Is the email address and any included social media professional?

[ ] Are action verbs used to start each statement?

[ ] Is the tense consistent and appropriate across the resume?

 

Additional Considerations

[ ] Has the resume been reviewed by a mentor, colleague, or professional for feedback?

 


More Resume Tips 

 

 


Resume Revamp

 If your resume could use a revamp, we'll review it for you and give you tailored feedback.

> Check out the Resume Revamp < 

We can review your LinkedIn Profile too!

 


 

Whenever you're ready, there are 2 ways we can help you:

  1. Job Accelerator Program: This comprehensive program gives you the step-by-step roadmap and live coaching that has helped hundreds of people land six-figure jobs quickly
  2. Personalized 1:1 Coaching: We'll work together to give you an accelerated job landing strategy. 

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