For many people, rules represents something negative. But the truth is, rules help protect us from making really stupid mistakes. In that regard, rules are actually good for us.
When it comes to resume writing, we can make many mistakes that may seem trivial but in reality are very serious enough to cost us those dream jobs that we are applying for.
This article, will take a look at thirty (30) resume writing rules that will help us write that excellent resume that will help us nab those dream jobs in the market.
Here are those rules:
Consider Your Resume As A Story
Many people make the mistake of thinking that resumes are meant to highlight your credentials. But the truth is, your credentials are meant to highlight the story of you.
In other words, it’s best to look at your resume as your storybook that your prospective employers can read to get a glimpse about you. This means your resume should be able to assist your prospective employers’ hiring managers in getting or understanding how you are the best person for the open position in their organization.
What Makes You You
If your resume is a storytelling document that highlights who you are as a person in relation to the open position, then it goes without saying that it should also be able to communicate to the hiring managers of your prospective employers that you’re different from all the other applicants and that difference or differences are why you are the best person for the open position.
Keep The Position You’re Applying For In Mind
If you always keep in mind the particular position you’re applying for, you can write resumes that are tailor-fit for that position. One way this manifests in your resume writing is by using terms and languages that are specific to the job you’re applying for or to the industry in general. When you’re able to do this, you’ll be able to give a good impression that you know your stuff more than the average applicant. Which is all good obviously.
On the other hand, not being fully aware of the position you’re applying for can at best, make you uninteresting to the hiring manager or worse, make you appear incompetent and unqualified for the position you’re applying for. So next time you mindlessly think of sending your standard resume template when job hunting, do yourself a favor by reading the open position’s key requirements first.
Consider Your Resume’s Audience
It’s easy to assume that if you find your resume really cool and think that it’s able to clearly tell your story and why you’re the candidate for the job, that’s how the person who will read and evaluate it will see and think about it too. Chances are, he or she won’t.
That’s why even before you choose the format of your perfect resume and type the words to fill it up, think about the other person first. Put yourself in his or her shoes to have an idea how your resume would really look like to them. If you find that hard to do yourself, simply ask a trusted friend or co-worker to read through your resume and give you feedback.
Keep It Brief And Concise
When I say brief, I’m talking about keeping it to no more than 1 or 2 pages long. Why? With all the resumes the hiring manager will have to evaluate, you only have a short window to make a really good impression.
One of the best ways to do that is by keeping your resume brief and concise – don’t fill it with fluff.
Stop Using Personal Pronouns Like I Or Me
Instead of saying “I exceeded the sales quota by 200%”, write “Exceeded sales quota by 200%”. Don’t ask me why but it simply reads more like a professional and using personal pronouns reads more like an amateur.
Not All You’ve Done
You don’t need to write down each and every little job you’ve held in your career when writing your resume. If you did, you won’t be able to keep your resume brief and concise, the consequences of which you already know by now.
Just put in the details that are relevant and necessary to the job position you’re applying for. Sometimes, too many details can ruin your chances of landing your dream job. After all, the less you write, the lower the chances of making a mistake.
Quantifying your accomplishments at work will help the hiring managers who are evaluating your resume get a more objective and accurate picture if your career story. For example, instead of merely saying “helped increase sales substantially”, say “helped increase sales by 500%”. Now isn’t that clearer than merely saying you helped increase sales?
Easy On The Eyes
When I said keep your resume to at most 1 or 2 pages, I did not mean to reduce your font size just so everything will fit in that one or two pages. Decreasing the size of your font runs the risk of making your resume unappealing for hiring managers to read. Continue using comfortable sized fonts and instead, adhere to rule about focusing only on the relevant job details in your resume.
Present Your Resume In An Organized Manner
Keep in mind that most hiring managers who will be evaluating your resume only have a limited amount of time to check yours out. As such, you’ll need to make that limited time count.
Presenting your resume or the details presented therein should be well organized so that the hiring managers who would read it can easily follow the flow of your story. When they’re able to do that, you have a very high chance of being singled out for all the best reasons.
Consistency Across The Board
What I mean by consistency across the board is that you must use the same format from start to finish. These include the font style and the font sizes. If your resume uses different font styles for major section headings as well as font sizes for the sub headings and content, the hiring manager who will take a look at your resume may get the impression that you are scatterbrained or worse, incompetent, because if you cannot get the small things right all the time, how much more the bigger things.
More than just listing down the relevant work experiences you’ve had, include important details such as the country or city, inclusive dates, and if you shuttled back and forth to different locations and among others. Such context is more important than you may realize.
Use The Right Format
Every industry has its own unique way of doing things, including resume preparations. That is why more than just presenting your resume’s details in an organized manner, you must also be able to choose the best format for it.
If you’re applying for an open position in an advertising agency that requires a lot of creativity, maybe a non-traditional format such as a video profile or resume is the right format to use. If you’re applying for relatively traditional position in a very traditional company that belongs to a very traditional industry, you know that the way to go is a traditional resume format.
Drop It Like It’s Hot
If there’s any chance to say that name and title dropping are justifiable, then this is it. You must mention in your resume the times when you were promoted, awarded, recognized as well as the relatively important or known people you worked under or alongside with. This will give the hiring manager who views your resume the impression that you’re the type of person who can work well with top brass and is highly competent.
While it is standard practice for most people who prepare resumes to include character references or “available upon request”, it isn’t really a good one. Remember one of our earlier rules about keeping your resume brief and concise? You will be violating that rule by including a list of your character references.
Frankly, hiring managers are more interested in talking about you with you and not with other people. As such, it’s best to save precious space for more important information or details. If they really want to verify your credentials or character, they will contact you to ask for people who they can talk to regarding this.
Avoid Spelling Errors
Nothing else can spell incompetency than a wrong spelling of words in your resume. Can you imagine applying for a writing position using a resume that has so many spelling errors? Believe me, I won’t consider hiring you at all if I were a hiring manager.
Making sure your resume is free from any spelling errors is very easy these days: Simply use your word processor’s spelling check function.
Avoid Errors In Tenses
This is another sign of potential incompetency so make sure to use your word processor’s grammar check function. Unless you are not concern about what the hiring manager will said. I knows it!
Spell It Out
Avoid, for the sake of convenience, using abbreviations in your resumes. First, the hiring manager who’ll evaluate your resume may not be able to get it, unless you spell out the abbreviations afterwards. That brings me to the second point, which is wasted resume real estate. Why not just spell out the out from the get go?
Avoid giving your resume that “crammed” look, which will give your resume the first impression that it’ll be a difficult and long read. Instead, give your resume’s section headings room to breathe. Here’s where being brief and concise with the sentences you use to describe your work experiences will come handy.
White Or Very Light
Do the hiring managers of your prospective employers the favor of being able to read a resume that is both clear and does not strain the eyes. Resumes that use a white or very light colored backdrop are much easier to read than those with dark colored ones. When you do that for the hiring manager, you’re able to get on his or her good side immediately.
Don’t Use Your Hands
I know it sounds weird or strange but never ever handwrite your resume, such as when using a standard CV form where you manually fill in the blanks (yes, those still exist unlike dinosaurs that are already extinct). Obviously, there will be legibility issues as each person’s handwriting may be readable to one and illegible to another. Hence, the need for computer-prepared resumes for both printed or electronic copies.
Use The Right Pictures
Should there be a need to attach your picture to your resume, please make sure you attach an appropriate one.
Check your respective employer’s instructions thoroughly for any instructions on required formats for the picture, be at the size, the attire, and the color of the background and among others. And please (for the love of God), don’t attach a full-body ID-sized picture ok?
If Printed, Be Original
One of the worst ways to submit a printed copy of your resume is to submit a photo or duplicate copy of it to your prospective employer. It will give him or her the impression that you’re lazy, cheap or both. And those are definitely not good impressions at all.
If Printed, Use The Right Paper
Another thing to consider when submitting a printed resume is the type of paper used. In most cases, the acceptable paper size is either A4 or letter size. Use bond paper or typewriting paper instead of cardboard papers or other specialty papers. Unless of course your resume’s format needs to be creative according to the nuances of the industry or the position you’re applying for. But generally speaking, keep it to regular ones.
If Electronic, PDF It
When you save your resume as a PDF file, you make sure that your resume looks exactly the same to the hiring manager in his or her electronic device as you see it in yours.
This is because freezing your resume as an image allows it to look exactly the same in whatever computer or device it is viewed from. When you save it as a word-processing file that can be edited, there’s a good chance that it won’t look as good in the hiring manager’s computer as in yours. And many devices, like smart phones and tablets, aren’t able to open word-processing files.
If Electronic, Check The Label
Many people take for granted the defined file name they used to label their resumes soft copies. Don’t make the same mistake. Properly labeling or naming your resume’s soft copy or your resume’s PDF file makes it easier for recruiters to easily see it from among the multitudes that they receive daily. It will also give them a good impression of how you are as a person. Doesn’t the file name GeorgeLucasResume.pdf look better and is easier to remember you by as applicant than resume123.pdf? My point exactly.
Diplomas And Other Certificates
The rule of thumb here is that unless specifically asked for by the prospective employer, don’t include them anymore. Again, it’s all about being brief, concise and relevant.
Tell things as they are
Never, ever lie about your accomplishments, fabricate or exaggerate them for the sake of impressing hiring managers and landing your dream job. First of all, it’s wrong.
Secondly, you’ll be putting your reputation and career at risk when your prospective employers hire you and discover once you’re on the job that your stated work experiences aren’t really all that. And lastly, it’s just plain wrong.
One of the best ways to increase your chances of making a good impression with your prospective employers’ hiring managers is to include a cover letter along with your resume. At best, you make a good impression and at worst, it gets ignored.
Keep It Updated
Lastly, you must regularly update your resume details as soon as you accomplish something new at the work, get promoted, or change employers. If you don’t make this a habit, there’s a pretty good chance that you’ll be sending resumes that are not updated to your prospective employers moving forward. Remember, you only get one chance to get their attention and consider you for open job positions.
Follow the Rules
As we end this article, I would like to encourage you that following rules in general, and in this particular context, can only be very beneficial for you and your career. Always keep your pride in check because as the saying goes, pride comes before the fall.
Breaking rules intentionally is all about pride. So if you’d like to build up your career even more, be humble and begin by following the most basic rules of the most basic step in getting the best jobs out there – preparing your resume.