I have seen a lot of articles online about what not to do when writing your resume. While I agree with some of this advice, there are 4 mistakes I repeatedly see. Here are some tips that I follow, and share with my clients when writing a resume.
Start by choosing a legible, professional-looking font. Though there are several different font families, most job-seekers choose serif — a stylized font with tails and other decorative markings, such as Times New Roman. Sans-serif fonts appear simpler, such as Arial. Two of my favourite serif fonts are, Georgia and Garamond. I often use Verdana and Tahoma when I am looking for a “clean” font choice for a document. As far as fonts I stay away from, I do not use Brush Script because it’s hard to read, Impact looks very heavy and Comic Sans is not a wise choice for a professional document.
It has been proven that recruiters and employers only take 11 seconds (or less) to review your resume. If your resume is perceived as being too long, that’s a reason for them to stop reading. With very few exceptions, students and graduates should keep their resumes to one page in length. Other job-seekers with more experience should stay within two pages.
In the past four months, I have had two clients come to me struggling to condense their resumes to adequately summarize 20 years of experience. Both of their resumes were over eight pages long, and they were not getting any calls from perspective employers. I created a resume for each client as well as a detailed professional portfolio to highlight the skills and experiences in greater detail. When one of the clients presented their portfolio during a recent job interview, they received a job offer. The hiring manager told my client that their portfolio was a key reason why they offered them the job. For more about portfolios, please see my blog post from last week.
Non-Standard Document Software
A few months ago, I had a client come to me after working with another resume writer with a challenging issue; the resume was in .jpeg format, so it could not be updated or modified to apply to additional opportunities. My client now has a document that they can update and modify. The majority of employers and hiring managers prefer to receive documents in one of two formats – Microsoft Word or PDF.
Spelling and Grammar Errors
While avoiding spelling and grammar mistakes seems obvious, I cannot overstate how much of a “deal-breaker” this is to an employer. I triple-check my drafts to ensure that they are free of spelling and grammar errors; one error can result in a missed opportunity.
Carmelo, my business partner, is a senior manager who has hired over 10 new employees in the past five years. Last year, he was hiring a new employee to fill a vacancy. An internal candidate came with glowing recommendations as well as the required experience for the role. However, when Carmelo read the candidate’s resume, there were several spelling and grammatical errors. He decided not to interview the candidate because the resume pointed to two larger issues – a lack of professionalism and poor attention to detail.
There are many other tips and tricks I have learned over the past decade as a professional writer. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have a question about your resume or if you’re looking for documents that can help you stand out from other applicants.