As a professional resume writer, I aim to be a resource for clients and readers, so I answer a lot of questions relating to job search and resume writing. There are a lot of questions that get asked repeatedly, but these four questions are among the most common questions I get.
How long should my resume be?
This is a hard question to answer because there is no one size fits all for a resume, but there are some guidelines you should follow when you’re figuring out the perfect length for your resume.
Keep in mind that you don’t want your document to be too long because no one will read it, but you want it to be long enough to include your achievements and qualifications. My general rule of thumb is that if you can fit everything on one page in a clear and reader-friendly manner, try to do that, but if you would have to leave out pertinent information or reformat the document so it is barely legible, (i.e. size 9 font with .5 inch margins) it’s best to expand your resume over a page.
One important thing to note is that if your document is only 1/3 of a page or less onto the second page, you’ll either want to condense it to fit within one page or spread things out to span a full (or close to) two pages. Having a document with just a few lines on another page appears unfinished and as if you didn’t want to spend the time to either condense it or add more.
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Is there a specific font I should use?
Believe it or not, font does matter. A lot. The font of a resume determines the aesthetic of the document, gives off the correct feel, and greatly determines how people view your document. Think of font like clothing. Even if you are showered and have your hair done, your clothing largely affects your overall appearance. You might have great information and formatting on your resume, but if you pick a font that’s hard to read, you’re not going to have a great document.
Stick with a simple and easy to read font. Garamond is my go-to serif font (serif fonts have the extra little lines on the outer edges of the letter, and are often considered to be more traditional). Arial is a solid sans serif font choice that almost everyone has on their computer. For more of my favorite fonts, check out this article.
What information should I include?
Think about your resume as a snapshot of your career. You know how they always show the best parts of the movie in its trailer? Your resume is just like that! You want to make sure that your resume shows the most valuable and noteworthy aspects of you and your career so that potential employers can see the value you bring to the table.
You’ll want to include contact information, skills, job titles and dates of employment, along with metrics and achievements that make you stand out. Think about how you’ve gone above and beyond the scope of your responsibility; that’s the kind of information you want to include. If your resume just shows job responsibilities that someone could pull off of Google, your document won’t be super effective. Additionally, make sure to include your education along with any certifications or specialized training you have. Want more details? This articlegoes more in depth about what kind of information you need on your resume!
What is an applicant tracking system (ATS) and how will that change/affect my resume?
People often ask me if I am familiar with “ATS” as if “ATS” is a program like Microsoft Office. An applicant tracking system is a type of program, and there are hundreds of different applicant tracking programs out there. There is no way to know exactly how each applicant tracking system will work and what it will and will not catch in your resume.
An applicant tracking system is a system used by many hiring managers and recruiters to sift through resumes and find qualified candidates. It basically lets the user type in keywords to find candidates who have those words or qualifications listed in their resume. This is an easy way to separate seemingly qualified candidates from unqualified candidates. The most important way it affects your resume is that if your resume doesn’t include the right keywords, it may not get you past the weed out phase of a job application. Just be sure that you scan the job description you’re applying for and note any recurring verbiage that is used. If a word appears in the job description multiple times, it will likely be keyword searched in your resume.
At the end of the day, you want to make sure that your resume includes the right keywords, but it also has to be appealing to an actual person when they read it. If you cater your resume completely to a computer, it won’t be effective when an actual person reads it and vise-versa. It’s all about balance.
This article originally appeared on Write Style.
Michele Lando is a certified professional resume writer, personal branding expert, and founder of Write Styles. She has a passion for helping others present the best version of themselves both on paper and in person and works to polish individuals’ application package and personal style. Aiming to help create a perfect personal branding package, Write Styles provides resources to enhance your resume, professional appearance, and boost your confidence.