When creating a resume, many people search for best practices that hiring managers like to see. So I have put them together in one post in order to clear up confusion. Having an effective resume is as simple as using these resume best practices.
Use them as key guidelines to ensure you avoid common mistakes or errors. There are several best practices to keep in mind when drafting your resume. Ultimately, you want to make sure your resume stands out and highlights your best qualifications in a presentable format.
1. Always Proofread…And Have Three Other People Proofread as Well
To create a professional career resume, the first thing to keep in mind is that you must proofread it several times to check for typos or to edit details and information. It is a general best practice to allow someone else to proofread and edit your resume to ensure you do not miss any areas in need of correcting or improving.
Some of the most common mistakes are long run on sentences that confuse the main points, and overly using adjectives in order to make positions sound fancy and technical, though it can come across as trying too hard and clouding what you actually did.
Giving it to three people to read over will also help you gain feedback to perfect your resume before you finalize it. In fact I sat down with a friend this weekend to go over his resume and in a matter of one hour we worked out all of the kinks and had a resume that read great. A different perspective always helps!
2. Update Often
An outdated resume could mean the difference between an acceptable job and the right job that leads to a fulfilling career. Keep your resume current with your most recent skills and experience by avoiding the inclusion of anything older than 7 to 10 years. This can date your resume and gives it the appearance of being outdated with fluff or just useless words to fill up space.
However, if your older experience is directly related to your industry and is within a few years, it can be included based on its relevancy.
Relevancy of experience is one of the biggest issues I see, especially from recent graduates. Just because you had a position within the last 7-10 years, does not mean you have to put it on there if it is irrelevant or does not showcase a specific skill set that you want to convey.
3. Customize for Each Industry and Position Type
Be sure to tailor your resume to the specific industry or job type that you are seeking. In organizing your resume, you need to show structure and purpose to communicate not only specific industry skills, but also your ability to progress and take on additional responsibilities.
Always customize your resume to best market your industry skills for the position and industry first, and the least relevant skills should be secondary. For example, I had both a Finance and Technology resume that I distributed at the same time.
4. Avoid Gaps
Be sure to explain and provide truthful accounts of any employment gaps. It is ok to include volunteer work or temporary job assignments to fill in time periods without consistent employment.
5. Highlight Qualifications
To best highlight your relevant skills and experience, they should always match your key qualifications. If you plan to include a summary of your qualifications for example, make sure that your job titles, duties, and responsibilities clearly justify the skills that you list on the resume. This section works best when included at the top of the resume before the professional experience section.
6. Eliminate Fluff
Ahhh, fluff fills up way to much space on resumes and hiring managers do notice it. They see so many per day, so one that is loaded with hobbies and associations and is light on experience and accomplishments is very disappointing.
Do not waste space by including irrelevant information. Fluff should have no place in your professional resume. If you have valid skills and qualifications, your resume should focus on your experience using the right keywords and selling your strong points without the use of fluff or exaggerating statements such as, “Exceptionally organized on effective tasks.”
7. Use the Best Job Titles
The use of performance appropriate job titles along with clearly descriptive duties and responsibilities is another best practice that many fail to use when drafting a resume. However, job titles should not only be highlighted to draw attention to a specific skill set but can also be used to show industry knowledge.
8. Professional Headings and Structure
Stay away from trendy headings in your resume. Remember to keep it simple and professional with the use of headings that require no explanation. Similar to a well-written book with chapter titles, your headings should deliver as promised.
9. Get Your Font Right
Arial 12, 11 if you have to. That is all.
10. Use Bullet Points and Indentation
If I made this blog post a few big paragraphs, would you read it? Probably not.
- A best practice for organizing your resume not only includes formatting, font use, and margins, but the overall structure and flow are important as well.
- Bullet points and indentation make your resume easy to read and follow as opposed to lengthy paragraphs of text.
- You need to make it easy for a hiring manager to skim through in 10 seconds and get the main points of your resume based on how you visually structure it.
Try to summarize and describe your experiences, education, or qualifications with the use of bullet points and short sentences, with description paragraphs indented in.
11. A Few More Tips
A resume is your complete employment history with details to support your key skills, qualifications, and actual on the job experience. You want to give a truthful account of what you can offer as an employee. A well-written resume will also show purpose and direction as opposed to random jobs that do not market your industry skills in the best presentable manner.
Keep in mind that implementing resume best practices are necessary to ensure you get your foot in the door. By using the proper resume formatting, style, specific details, and highlighting your career purpose, you will stand out and receive more calls for interviews (here are the common interview questions).
Finally, a best practice that often is overlooked is to make sure you use quality resume paper and have multiple (3-5) updated resumes handy and available at all times (remember the hidden job market). You would be surprised how many times I’ve asked for a resume and the person didn’t have one.