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Resume Dos and Don’ts

Resume writers like to say there are no rules in resume writing. That may be true, but it certainly doesn’t help the average job seeker just looking for some good advice!

Rather than worry about a specific formula for writing a great resume, use the following general guidelines to prepare a resume that reflects your unique background and qualifications.

DO get to the point. You can’t tell your entire career history in one or two pages, so concentrate on the things that employers really want to know: who you are, where you have been, and what you have done. Stripping away unnecessary information is the best way to call attention to what is important.

DO focus on your accomplishments. Most individuals reading your resume are familiar with the typical tasks for people with your job titles, so you don’t need to detail everything you do every day. Instead, tell them what you did that made a difference to your company, colleagues, or customers. This will make your resume more interesting, memorable, and unique.

DO include keywords. Resumes today are routinely scanned by electronic systems that are looking for the right “keywords”—the words and phrases that match the job description and the employer’s requirements. Make sure they’ll be found in your resume! Use job postings as your source for the right keywords for your profession and industry.

DON’T make it hard to read. Even if your resume is initially scanned by a computer, at some point it will be reviewed by humans. You can make their job easier by the way you format and present your information. Don’t write in dense, wordy paragraphs. Don’t use long lists of bullet points with nothing to distinguish one from another. Don’t use a tiny font size. Do include white space to let your resume “breathe.”

DON’T forget to proofread. Recruiters and employers routinely cite “errors in the resume” as the reason for not considering a candidate. Errors send the message that you are sloppy and careless when doing important work. Either that, or you don’t know better. So don’t send that message. Proofread your resume several times and ask a friend or colleague proofread it as well.

DON’T expect your resume to get you a job. The resume is just one piece of the job-search puzzle. Don’t neglect other important pieces: networking, directly approaching companies, researching companies and industries, preparing for interviews, and so much more. The resume, when well written and used properly, can help open doors for you—but it can’t do it all.

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