(Image by mikeymckay)
(Image by mikeymckay)

I’ve spent some time over the last week looking at resumes. I’ve had about 100 or so cross my email inbox from a variety of job posting sites, and I was reminded of a few quirks that people tend to fall into that are not at all helpful for getting yourself a job. I’ve been on both sides of the hiring manager divide, and I thought I would relate some resume writing tips. There are a few examples given below that are IT-centric, so feel free to fill in your own examples as you’re reading.

  1. Do not include an objective section: Objective lines are always generic; they say nothing that differentiates you from others who are applying. I would much rather that a person has an overview section that includes your career highlights or technical capabilities. Telling me that you’re “interested in using your skills in an innovative and challenging environment” says nothing and wastes precious space. Rather, tell me that you “have 5 years experience in data warehousing technologies, including the deployment of 3 large scale data cubes.” The former is a statement that tells me nothing specific. The latter gives me a much better idea of who you are professionally and what you’re capable of accomplishing.
  2. Proofread: Your resume is the first piece of work you’ve created that I see. Do you really expect me to trust your level of conscientiousness if you’re not capable of adequately proofreading your public facing professional document? The answer should be no. This includes not only spelling and grammar, but consistent formatting.
  3. Do not use a generic resume template: Again, when a hiring manager is looking at stacks of resumes, differentiation makes a difference. If your resume blends in with 50 others, it’s a safe bet that I’m not going to remember yours. It’s worth your while to spend some time planning out the formatting of your resume for uniqueness.
  4. Tell me what you’ve done; tell me what it accomplished: Most people do the former, but few do the latter. I oftentimes read resume blurbs like “program effectively in C#.” A sentence like this relates to me your skill set, but it doesn’t tell me what you’ve done with this skill. A blurb like “programmed a replacement CRM system in C#, increasing application performance and saving the company $50K over the previously licensed CRM system” not only relays your skills, but it tells me what your skills have accomplished.
  5. Use white space: White space is capable of focusing the attention of the reader on particular pieces of the resume. More often than not, I receive what I refer to as “machine gun” resumes. These are resumes that use 8 point font, have 0.15in margins, and have full lines of text on every line. The thinking here seems to be that if you’re able to throw every possible thing you’ve ever done or read about (or whatever) at the manager, they’ll be impressed. Actually, it’s quite the opposite. If it’s difficult for me to focus on your resume, and there’s no indication of what pieces of the document you’d like for me to focus on, sensory overload takes over and it’s nearly impossible for me to remember anything about your resume.
  6. Do not refer to yourself in the third person: It sounds ridiculous, but I’ve seen this in a lot of resumes. You cannot vouch for yourself. By referring to yourself in the third person you sound silly. Do not do this.
  7. No images: Please don’t include any images. I’m sure some people will disagree with this one, but I don’t think that it’s appropriate. For tech resumes, I understand that people are sometimes interested in including graphics that represent certain received certifications. While these certifications should certainly be listed in the resume, please exclude the graphics. There have been several times where people have included graphics for certifications that have NOTHING to do with the position they’re applying to. And this tells me that they’re simply blanketing job sites with resumes rather than to tailor their search to specific positions.

There are a lot of other recommendations I could give, but others have already done a great job of this. Please check out these other resume tip sites:

44 Resume Writing Tips from Daily Writing Tips
12 Important Resume Tips (YouTube)