By Marc Poirier, General Manager of Abbey Placements LLC
A friend of mine stopped by the office recently to talk about creating a resume. He had no specific position in mind; it had just been a while since he had made a resume. Like many people, he was beginning a new job search and looking for somewhere to start.
Starting a resume can feel daunting and many questions quickly arise. Should I use a template? What should I include and exclude when describing my jobs? How should I list my dates? Or my references?
To help my friend and anyone else getting started, I put together a list of tips for building a resume. This list combines prevailing wisdom about resume building with personal suggestions based on my experience as a hiring manager. For those with an existing resume, the list may help you assess its strengths and weaknesses.
- Consider using a resume template to get started.
- A resume template will not deter the reader in most cases.
- Stick to one font.
- Use a simple font like Arial, Times New Roman, or Cambria.
- Stay clear of using a thematic font like Comic Sans or Papyrus.
- Position your name prominently at the top.
- Include your address, phone number and email address next to your name.
- Do not include pictures or word art.
- Make sure each section is distinguishable, but avoid WRITING IN ALL CAPS.
- Use bullet points on all lists.
- Write an “Objective” to give a narrative or skip the “Objective” to save space.
- If using an “Objective,” say something specific about what you want.
- Order each section of your resume from most important to least.
- For recent graduates, put “Education” at the top.
- For almost everyone else, put “Work History” at the top.
- If applying for an IT or technical job, put “Skills” at the top.
- If not applying for an IT or technical job, put “Skills” towards the bottom.
- In addition to a separate “Skills” section, explain how you have used your skills in the “Work History.”
- Never list a skill that you cannot back up with education or experience.
- List each school you’ve attended from high school onward.
- Don’t include high school if you’ve attended college.
- If you’ve graduated, state that you’ve graduated.
- Include your graduation date if it was within the past five years.
- Add your GPA if it’s above a 3.0.
- Include any certifications, licenses, awards or honors in your “Education.”
- In your “Work History,” list your most recent job first and oldest job last.
- Include all jobs in your career relevant to the prospective job.
- Include at least ten years of jobs if possible.
- Use start dates and end dates and include the month and year.
- Be concise if explaining gaps in your “Work History.”
- Quantify achievements, like “reduced expenses by 20% within first year.”
- Use action verbs like “managed,” but avoid adverbs like “quickly.”
- Mention any awards received.
- Add volunteer experience and affiliations to organizations towards the end.
- Either include references or don’t.
- Don’t say “References available upon request.”
- Don’t list family members as references.
- Mention your connection to any person the reader will know and respect.
- Skip the cover letter unless requested by the reader.
- If you include a cover letter, it should tell the story about why you’re interested and why you’re a good fit—beyond what’s obvious on the resume.
- If making print copies, use high quality paper.
- Customize a new resume for each new application.
- Include a URL to a LinkedIn page; hyperlink it for electronic resumes.
- Keep your resume to less than two pages, one if possible.
- Have someone else proofread your resume.