Knowing how to write a resume is an extremely important skill for any professional. It's estimated that 80% of all resumes are thrown away after 11 seconds, and it's not always because of a lack of skills or experience. It's often because of errors that people make. If you don't know how to write a resume and are using pre-made templates or assumptions, you're likely to make mistakes. Let's take a look at some of the dos and don'ts of writing a resume so you'll have a clearer idea of what a good one should look like.
Do – Be Honest
There’s no point in lying about your experience or skills in a resume. If anyone finds out, you’ll have wasted their time and yours. If you’re worried about how thin your resume is, use a better format and try to play up the ‘skills and accomplishments’ section.
Don’t – Use a One-Size-Fits-All Approach
When most people think of a resume, they usually think about the chronological type. However, this is not always the best option for all positions or your situation. If you don’t have much real work experience, a chronological resume will look a bit empty, so you may want to look at the other types as well. You could choose to write a functional resume or a hybrid one instead.
Functional resumes put more emphasis on your skills than your work experience. They usually start with your skills and expertise followed by your education and work history. This could be a better option for people who have limited work experience or who have worked as freelancers.
Hybrid resumes are a combination of both chronological and functional resumes, and they start with your skills and qualifications. You can then add your work history in reverse chronological order, followed by your education. This is said to be the best format for students coming out of college applying for entry-level positions as it allows them to show why they’re qualified for the job first.
Do – Add Relevant Experience
The main goal of a resume is to showcase your experience and you have to list your previous experience, skills, and accomplishments as clearly as possible. You have to make sure, however, that you only list relevant experience. The fact that you know how to use Excel will be irrelevant if you’re looking for a job as a line cook, so only include what is necessary so that your resume can be as concise as possible and bring attention to what actually matters.
Don’t – Volunteer References
You don't have to mention that references will be provided upon demand. This can be off-putting to certain hiring managers. Let them ask you first and provide them if needed.
Do – Include Soft Skills
When it comes to skill, don’t just mention your technical skills and expertise. You should also mention any soft skills you may have. Management capabilities and people skills matter as well and, in some cases, more than others. If you need to work as a part of a team, being a great team player is something employers will want to see and be able to verify during the interview. So, don't assume that they will gloss over soft skills and add as many as you truly have. Be ready to demonstrate how you applied those skills in previous jobs as well.
Don’t – Forget Volunteer Work
Another thing that matters is volunteer work you’ve done in the past. This is especially important for people who have limited work experience, but everyone can benefit from adding this information to their resume. Mention volunteer work that gave you skills that are relevant for the job you’re applying for. Volunteer work will allow you to showcase your personality and values, which are two of the most important factors people look for when they interview candidates.
Do – Be Precise as Possible About Your Achievements
When trying to showcase your accomplishments or how you were able to help a company, be as precise as possible. People want to see numbers and not vague statements like you “helped increase sales” or something similar. Instead, something like, “I was able to increase sales by 20% in one quarter” will have much more of an impact.
Don’t – Obsess Over Style Elements
HR managers and recruiters don't care about the font you use for your resume or how wide your page margins are. As long as the resume is well presented and legible, it's all that matters. It's all about substance over style, so focus on presenting your skills, qualifications, and experience in the clearest way possible.
If you truly want to know what makes for a perfect resume, we suggest you check this article on writing the perfect resume by Placement. They give you details on how to choose a format, how to create an eye-catching header, and how to make your resume look professional. They also give you tips on how you can polish your resume and write a solid cover letter.
These are all things you'll need to pay special attention to when writing a resume. If you manage to avoid the major errors, you'll have a better chance at getting callbacks even if you don't have much work experience to show for.