As recruiters, we review a lot of resumes. (And, I mean, A LOT of resumes.)
Over the years, we’ve learned what hiring managers and HR professionals like to see and how they process information. We advise, point out edits, and sometimes after talking with candidates, offer our advice on adding or highlighting certain aspects of their professional experience that come out in our conversation. Still, lots of questions come up – “What format should I use? How far should I go back in my experience?” These are all important questions! Read on for the top inquiries and our answers.
What are the most common mistakes you see in a resume?
- Starting with the same word too many times (i.e., “responsible for”). Find synonyms!
- Incorrect tense. Remember to use past tense verbs in past jobs.
- Font and formatting are not consistent throughout.
- Not using numbers! Hiring managers want to know how much, how big, how many – this helps them compare your experience to the role for which they are hiring. (i.e., “Processed payroll for 1600 employees in 25 states.”)
What should I write as my Career Objective?
Career Objective headings can be limiting. They tell people how to hire you. If you say, “Seeking a Senior Accounting position,” they may stop right away if that is not the position for which they’re hiring. Instead, use “Career Summary” with a comprehensive 3-5 sentence overview of your experience.
How many pages should my resume be?
Despite many beliefs, it’s okay to have a two-page resume! The one-page trend is outdated and now hiring managers are scrolling through your resume, not printing out the pages, so they’re not fully aware of the length. Allowing your resume to run longer than the standard one-page length may actually help you get further in the job-hunting process, research suggests. If you have the experience, write it!
How far back should I go in employer history?
If you’re a senior executive, go back 10-12 years. There is always space to give an overview of your whole career in your Career Summary. Sometimes we see an added short bullet-pointed list of early employers, which is fine.
If you’re early in your career, sometimes people add retail or restaurant experience to fill in the gaps and show that they were working. If it’s not pertinent to the job you are applying for, consider leaving it out. If you need to list it to show work experience, list aspects of the job that prove your work style, showcasing advancement and responsibility.
What format do companies want to see?
A chronological, standard format is the way to go. This way, people don’t have to figure out dates of employment, where you worked, and your job function. This information should all be in order and together for understanding.
Another tip: Under the employer name, add a brief profile of the company in italics, ie., “$50M government contractor.” Hiring managers may not be familiar with the company and in a remote working world, your former employer may not be known in the market in which you are applying.
What about resume designs?
Fancy layouts, colors, pictures, and anything that takes up storage space, is not suggested for a business resume. Unless you’re a designer, you’re just making it difficult for yourself in the future to add to your working history! (And more difficult for the recruiter trying to submit you.)
How many bullet points are too many?
The style today is to use a combination of an introductory paragraph of the role and bullet points of specific responsibilities. Keep the most relevant, important, substantial duties at the top of the bullet-pointed list and keep administrative responsibilities toward the bottom. Don’t forget that companies like to see accomplishments listed, as well.
What are the typical sections for a modern resume?
Name at the top, with email and phone. Career Summary. Work Experience. Education. Technology.
Keep information to professional experience. This way, you are reviewed for your skills and work experience only, not what you like to do outside the office. Honesty and integrity are everywhere in your resume. Never misrepresent yourself.
Now, give it to someone who doesn’t love you to review it. A JustinBradley recruiter should be happy to help.