Some studies have shown that a recruiter spends an average of 6 seconds looking at applicant’s resume before passing on to the next one. As a recruiter, I’d love to dispel that myth. Unfortunately in some cases, it is true. If I cannot easily find the information I’m looking for, I will immediately move on to the next resume, no matter how qualified for the job you may be. To prevent that from happening to you, here is my list of resume do’s and don’ts:
DO include all professional work experience. If you have 30 years of working experience, you may not need to go back that far, but if you have 15 years or less of professional working experience, it’s worth listing every position you’ve held. You never know, the person you’re interviewing with could have worked at the same company you worked in a low level position at 10 years ago. This can be used as an icebreaker, but also show your history and how you’ve developed professionally.
DO NOT include personal information that does not need to be on a professional document. It is common in some cultures to include such things as martial status, and date of birth on a resume. These should never be on your resume. Another item that falls under this category are pictures. There should NEVER be a picture of yourself on your resume. They are wasted space, and can be visually distracting from more important information.
DO be clear and concise, without writing a book. Primary responsibilities for each position as well as significant accomplishments should be listed. It is ok to break the one page threshold, but anything longer than two pages becomes questionable. It’s also vital that your contact information be easy to read and find, but most importantly, current. Your email address should also be professional.
DO NOT list the year you graduated high school or college. You should not list any dates on your resume that will give the person reviewing your resume a sense of your age. Intentional or not, this can influence their decision whether to move forward with you as a candidate. You should also never list your GPA from any coursework. This is almost never used as a deciding factor to proceed with a candidate; therefore it does not need to be on your resume. If you were class valedictorian or were on the Dean’s list, that is wonderful information to include in a list of accomplishments or commendations.
DO list any certifications, memberships, or commendations you feel align with the type of work you are looking for. You may unknowingly have some of these in common with someone at the company to which you are applying. This also serves to show your commitment to continuing education, community involvement, or whatever else the case may be.
DO NOT falsify any information on your resume. This one should be a no-brainer. All of your dates of employment should be listed and should be accurate. If asked, the salary you provide for each position should be right on the dollar. Any false information you list on your resume will likely be discovered during a background and/or reference check. Most employers would rather you be up front with them that you were let go from a position, have something that will show up on your background check, or something similar you may feel the need to hide. If you can provide a reasonable explanation for what happened, it’s better to disclose that information up front than be discovered later and look like you were trying to hide it.
Lastly, and perhaps most important, DO double, triple, and quadruple check your resume for spelling and formatting errors. Every word on your resume should be spelled correctly. Formatting should be consistent throughout your entire document. If you bold one job title, they should all be bolded. If you have bullets in your resume, they should all line up. This will help to ensure your resume has a consistent look and feel to it. It will also keep your information neat and easy to read.
Following these Do’s and Don’ts should ensure that your resume gets more than 6 seconds of exposure to a recruiter.
Written by Cory Cooper, PHR. Cory is a Human Resources professional with extensive experience in full-cycle recruiting, employee relations, business development, and social media networking.