Beyond the Basics: The Do's and Don'ts of Resume Writing

Posted on Sep 9, 2020 12:27 PM


In this job market, candidates need every advantage they can get to stand out, and a well-crafted resume is crucial. Producing the best possible resume requires knowing its function--to get you into the pile of candidates who will be considered further.

When writing your resume, it’s important to recognize that the hiring manager may be fielding hundreds of resumes for a position in addition to their regular job duties. Each resume, therefore, will receive only a cursory glance to determine the candidate’s qualifications. Your resume should be designed to make it easy for a hiring manager to learn your professional accomplishments at a glance. To that end, follow a few rules to ensure your application isn’t overlooked.

First, format your resume to be a functional, rather than a beautiful, object. 

  1. Never write a resume in paragraph form! Instead, use formatting elements, such as italics, bullet points, and horizontal lines to organize the page so the specific information the hiring manager is looking for is easy to locate. There is no one right way to do this, but the most common convention is to list the positions you have had in reverse chronological order, starting with the most recent position.
  2. Be sure the formatting of the resume signals a hierarchy: the “education” section, for example, in bold flush left and a larger font size, while your degrees and certificates are in a smaller unformatted font underneath. 
  3. Do not use terms that may be unfamiliar to the hiring manager, including obscure software programs and acronyms. 
  4. Do not include elements that are purely visual (unless you are applying for a design job). Many job candidates wrongly focus on how the resume looks rather than what it needs to get done. 
Second, use the resume to highlight your accomplishments. 

One of the biggest mistakes job candidates make is to include on their resumes the basic functions of the job the manager is hiring for because they held the same position at another company. It does not help your case to become company Y’s new editor to list under your previous position as an editor all the usual job duties. Instead, use the space under your job title to detail what you have done that is better than what most editors do. Whenever possible, use metrics, such as number of manuscripts edited per week or error rate post-production or the monetary value you have brought to the company. Put this information right beneath the job title in bullet points. Remember to be as specific as possible about these accomplishments.

Crafting a resume designed to communicate your achievements by itself will make you stand out from the crowd of candidates who blindly follow a format they’re given. Looking over your resume with the hiring manager’s needs in mind will help you produce a document more likely to shift you into the “further consideration” pile.

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Topics: Online Learning, Career Tips, Resume Tips

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