Resume Writing Tips and Tricks

Your resume should evolve as frequently as your career does, so you should constantly be improving and editing it while on the job hunt. To help, here are some of our top resume writing tips to keep in mind when you next update your resume.

Resume writing tips and tricks

Contact Information

Our top resume writing tip may seem like a no-brainer, but ALWAYS include your contact information on your resume. An email address and phone number at minimum are a must on your resume. Feel free to include the address to your LinkedIn profile if you use LinkedIn regularly. You don’t need to include your full address on your resume, but it can be helpful to list your city so that hiring managers know you are in the area. By omitting contact information when building your resume, you are inadvertently making yourself inaccessible to employers and recruiters that you want to hear back from.

In the same vein, your phone number should be on your resume, so be sure that your voicemail is set up and that you can receive messages. While you may not leave voicemails yourself, hiring managers will. When employers receive the “mailbox not set up” or “mailbox is full” this signals to them that you don’t really care if you find work or not. Also, be sure to check any message that’s left before returning the call, they may have given you information or instructions in the voicemail, by not listening to it you’re making them repeat themselves, and indicating that perhaps you don’t follow instructions.

Formatting Tips

Another tip is to send a Word document or PDF version of your resume if possible. Employers will most likely not be able to open a resume if it’s sent as a Google Doc, and Google Docs makes it super easy to download your resume in multiple different file formats. Also, don’t send a jpeg or photo of your resume, you should have an electronic copy that you can email.

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Additional tips are to keep your font consistent. Don’t use more than two fonts maximum, and keep their usage consistent throughout, ie. one font for headings and another for the body. More fonts than that can be distracting and perhaps unprofessional. Additionally, it is best to write out your resume, and not to send out an Indeed or LinkedIn style prefilled resume. These inevitably have formatting issues when they are transmitting or emailed outside of those platforms. Also, this tells your potential employer that you did not spend much time on your resume.

Our last resume formatting tip is not to worry if your resume is longer than one page. The “one-page resume” rule is antiquated, if you’ve held a number of jobs, a two page resume is perfectly fine. If your resume exceeds three pages, you likely have information on there that is not relevant to the role that you are applying for, and can actually end up hiding the skills and experiences you are trying to highlight.

Employment History and Education

When building your resume, organize the responsibilities within your job descriptions in order of importance and significance. If managing your company’s social media pages was your biggest responsibility, list that first. If you only spent about 5% of your time answering phones, list that last. You want to make sure that the employer can quickly understand the functions of your previous roles and the work you did there.

Along with each job title, be sure to list your months of employment along with the years. Employers want to be able to easily comprehend your work history and spot any employment gaps on your resume. If you don’t list the months, they might think you are trying to hide something, or assume a gap in your resume where there wasn’t one.

Another tip is to remember to include the company name, and location of that company, along with your job title on your resume. You might have worked for a chain, such as CVS or Starbucks, or alternatively, you could have worked for a small company in your hometown. The location provides important contextual information about your job.

With that said, it’s also critical to list the location of where you received your degree(s). Whenever you list a degree on your resume, be sure to include the name and location of the institution where you received that degree.

Send out your resume!

Of course, the whole point of sharing these resume tips and tricks is to ensure you are building a quality resume that will help you secure a job. At Whitman Associates, we see hundreds of resumes a week, and want to share our tips with you. We work with many job seekers, some looking for temp opportunities to get their foot in the door, and others that are looking for their next permanent role. To get started on the search for your next role, send your resume to resumes@whitmanjobs.com.

5 Common Resume Mistakes

Having a great resume is key to being successful in your job search. Your resume is typically the first impression an employer has of you, so it’s important that it properly represents you. To help, we’ve listed 5 common resume mistakes that job hunters make.

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1. Spelling and grammar mistakes

  • The most common resume mistakes are errors in spelling and grammar. Errors like this are easiest way to get your resume rejected because employers are likely to assume you are careless or sloppy in your work.
  • Make sure to edit your resume several times before submitting it. It also helps to have someone else read it over, a new set of eyes are more likely to pick up on any small resume mistakes.

2. Length

  • While it’s important that your resume is not excessively long, you should not exclude relevant work experience just to fit everything on one page. You don’t want a potential employer to discount you because you left off relevant experience.
  • At the same time, you don’t need to include every position you’ve had since the beginning of your career. Some of your past jobs might not be relevant to the current position you are applying for. Feel free to leave off the coffee bar you worked at through grad school if you have more relevant experience to include.
  • You also want to avoid having too short of a resume. If you are a recent college grad or just out of high school and have only worked at one or two positions, try to expand upon your responsibilities to lengthen your work history. Also, you can include extracurricular activities you participated in if the experience you gained seems relevant to your career.

3. Too much personal information

  • Employers are going to hire you based on your work experience, not on your favorite hobbies. It is a common resume mistake to have a “Personal Interests” category. In a job interview, if your interviewer mentions their love of volleyball, then that would be an appropriate time to mention you share the same interest.
  • It’s not necessary to mention your marital status or children on your resume. Again, a potential employer is only interested in your professional background.
  • Don’t include your picture on your resume. The exception is if you are applying for an acting or modeling role.

Writing a resume

4. Too busy

  • Another common resume mistake is using more than two fonts. Keep it simple, so that an employer’s eye can easily follow your work history down the page. There is no need to go crazy with bold and italicized fonts in different colors.
  • Avoid using borders and underlines to separate sections on your resume. As long as you have everything labeled appropriately, an employer will be able to understand it.

5. Missing critical information

  • Make sure the header of your resume includes your full name, phone number and email address. You can also include a link to your LinkedIn profile or your address. If an employer doesn’t have your contact information, they won’t be able to reach you to set up an interview or offer you a job.
  • Always list the month and year you started and finished each position on your resume. Job seekers avoid adding dates to their work history for various reasons, but this is a huge resume mistake! Omitting dates makes employers feel that you are hiding something.
  • List the appropriate job title for each of your positions. New employers will most likely get employment verifications on your work history, so it’s important you have all the correct information. If there is a discrepancy with your job title or dates of employment, your new employer will be suspicious.
  • Lastly, one of the biggest common resume mistakes is leaving off software or programs that you’ve used. Be sure to list these, especially since an employer may be screening resumes electronically, and you don’t want to be overlooked because of what you left out.

Keep these five easily avoidable resume mistakes on hand next time you update your resume and you’ll be sure to land a great job in no time!

How to Build a 5-Star Job Resume

Because everyone follows the same resume “rules,” many resumes start to look and sound the same. Do you make sure to include keywords in your CV so that scanning software will approve it? Are you listing your task responsibilities, achievements, and results with your work experience? Do you put in phrases that specifically relate to the required job skills from the original posting? All of these tactics are now well-known and don’t guarantee you’ll stand out from the crowd. If you want to craft a memorable, five-star resume, you’ll need a little help.

At Whitman Associates, Inc., our team has spent years sifting and sorting through applications, so we know what building a job resume is all about. If you need tips for writing a good resume, turn to our experts for additional assistance.

1. Treat Yourself as a Brand

What is it about certain brands that give them value? How do you shop for the brands you want? HR, recruiters, and employment managers shop around for people to hire in a similar way. They want to find the person that’s the best fit for their needs. Instead of focusing on your career goals for the future, showcase what you can do for this company right now. When building your job resume, tailor it to the needs of the position you are applying for.

2. Keep Your Search Precise

In order to be efficient in your job search, read job postings carefully regarding skills and experience required. If you are missing some of the skills that are required, be sure to highlight the experience or skills that most closely line up with the job specifications instead of not sending your resume at all. Your career prospects lie in those job postings where you can show the areas that make you a good fit for the role. Extend this rule to building your resume; if you’re missing skills that are listed as requirements, highlight the next best related skill that you do feel proficient in.

3. Read Directions Carefully

Employers may weed out applicants by including specific directions in the application process. If you demonstrate an inability to follow these instructions properly, it could hurt your chances of being considered for the position. Is there a particular format they want for your cover letter? Are your introductory emails supposed to have a specific subject line? Be aware that the employer may be giving you specific directions on how to apply for the job in order to determine if you follow instructions and pay attention to detail. This could be used as yet another way of screening candidates for the position. The outcome of this hidden test may determine if you are moved on to the next step.

4. Follow a Standardized Format

When building a resume, adhere to an intuitive format that makes it easy for the reader to follow. There are many templates you can choose to use if you wish, but most will be variations on a few basic points:

  • Include your name and contact information in the header section
  • List your work experience in chronological order
  • Use bulleted lists to keep your information organized and easy to digest

Proper formatting is one of the most important tips for writing a good resume because it makes it easy for employers to quickly gather relevant information about you and your qualifications.

5. There’s No One-Size-Fits-All Approach

You must personalize every cover letter and resume for the company and position. There’s no point in sending out the same information to every single place and hoping one of them will get you a callback. A resume that matches the company’s job description and qualifications will help you get an interview. Even if the position and requirements are the same, you will want to tailor the resume for that specific job and company culture.

Now that you know all about building a resume, take a look at yours and explore the changes you can make to enhance it.