A comprehensive list of resume do’s and don’ts to land your next job

Like a needle in a haystack, it seems impossible to stand out in a pool of qualified job seekers. Having inside information from resident resume building experts could come in handy. I’ve done most of the legwork for you and interviewed Peter Bryla to get his informed take on what makes or breaks a resume these days. Bryla and the team at ResumeLab conducted a poll of 97 Certified Professional Resume Writers (CPRW) to find out what you should include on your resume to get that coveted interview at the company of your choice today.

Michael Tomaszewski, CPRW, released this brief recently to help you clean up your resume. This is a quick snapshot of your greatest career experience and achievements to date so you want to make sure you’re putting your best foot forward to demand attention from recruiters.
Let’s find out what are the most important things to include in your resume and what you should leave out completely.

Do: Include the basics in the right order

Every resume should include the following:

  • Your contact information
  • Profile (what is your career objective?)
  • Relevant work history catered to the position you’re currently applying to
  • Level of education or pertinent degrees and certifications
  • Special skills

It is also highly suggested you add a link to your LinkedIn profile and links to your portfolio, other publications, and a demonstrated passion in your field shown through special projects listed separately. Extra courses and continuing education in your field show your willingness to adapt and learn new skills that will be valuable on the job and to your future boss. 96% of recruiters recommend you include your LinkedIn profile in your contact information and 87% suggested adding a special interest section relevant to the position to give you that cutting edge to set yourself apart from other applicants.

Do: Include your GPA

For younger, greener applicants with less than 10 years of experience in the field, it’s recommended by 88% of resume writers to include it.

Even young professionals are urged to add their GPA with only 2 to 5 years of experience.

The only time it seems gauche to remind recruiters of your GPA at your alma mater is when you’re a veteran career person with over 10 years of demonstrated experience. At your level, you can lengthen your resume to include more career advancements and job experience.

Do: Use standard fonts like Calibri

Choosing a wacky font or video presentation of a resume is not the way to get noticed. According to this study found in full here weird fonts and try- hard graphs or formats won’t get you very far.

“84% of resume writers discourage candidates from writing creative resumes (e.g. based on infographics, non-standard layouts, or too many visual elements).”

Do: Use a PDF format

This ensures your resume won’t change its layout or format despite being looked at on multiple different devices and operating systems.

65% of recruiters suggested a PDF format for utilitarian purposes.

Unless they ask you to use a different format PDF is usually your best bet for a clean, concise, and uniform look.

Do: Tailor your resume to the appropriate position you’re after

Here’s a very important piece of information so you may want to write this down to help commit it to memory. Make sure you tailor your resume specifically to each position you’re applying for. I cannot stress this enough. Recruiters can see a one size fits all resume from a mile away so include only relevant information to the job you’re seeking. Here’s a statistic from the aforementioned study here.

“92% of resume writers said it’s a very bad idea to use an all-purpose resume for all job applications and 99% think failing to use the right keywords from the job ad is a serious mistake.”

Nancy Segal, a Federal level resume writer adds,

“Target every resume at the position you’re after and include strong metrics that prove relevant achievements from the past.”

Don’t: Be unprofessional by adding the following

Recruiters spend an average of 6 to 15 seconds scanning your resume. Make sure you avoid these resume faux pas in the future if you want that interview.

Don’t: Include references

Seems strange but hear me out. 89% of resume writers urge you to keep your references to yourself. Apparently, it’s not really customary to include them in the United States and it breaches personal data protection laws.

Don’t: Gush about hobbies and interests

Over 90% of certified professional resume writers say it’s unprofessional to include a section for hobbies and interests. This trend was all the rage in the ’90s to add a personal, humanizing flair to a bland process but with social media checks and links to your portfolio that’s enough to get an idea of what you do for fun. This is important to know if a candidate will fit in with the company culture.

It is more valuable to see your career achievements in real-time by linking to your profiles online with examples of your creative work and progress documented in a streamlined way. What special skills have you already brought to the table with a demonstrated value from your previous work experience? This is what recruiters want to see.

Don’t: Lie about career gaps

Career gaps happen, especially in pandemic times, so don’t fret too much about brutal honesty in this department. According to ResumeLab’s poll,

“73% of resume professionals say you should explain your career gaps, 14% suggest ignoring them, and 12% think it’s ok to hide them.”

It’s better to be upfront about why this gap exists than leave the recruiter to imagine worst-case scenarios about how you were a nightmare employee tumbling endlessly in their head. This study adds another reason why ruminations over pauses in your career won’t serve you well.

“Finally, don’t obsess over gaps in your resume. Research by the American Economic Association shows that recruiters usually ignore career gaps if they have been followed by relevant experience. Also, for a career gap to potentially hurt your chances of getting hired, it has to be longer than 9 months.”

Don’t: Get too wordy

Resume writing specialists suggest entry-level applicants keep their resume to 1 page. They also suggest you don’t include over 15 years of relevant experience and when making bullet points to explain your duties and achievements at each job keep it to 6, please. Research shows recruiters prefer the following.

“82% advocate for a one-pager for candidates with 1–5 years of experience.”

Entry-level candidates do not oversell yourselves; it reads a little suspect that you would have more experience than a veteran in the field. Make sure you can deliver what you advertise before you find yourself in over your head and under-qualified for a demanding position.

Seasoned C-suite executives feel free to have a 2-page resume. This proves your eligible and qualified for managerial and supervisor roles.

Do: Start putting yourself out there today

I hope this uniform research and polls from resume experts help you tweak your current resume appropriately and assists you in landing your dream job soon.

Best of luck in your career search from all of us here at Ladders.