I probably receive about a dozen resumes a day in my inbox. With several big projects coming up, I’ve had the privilege of reviewing well over a hundred resumes, for various roles, just in the last few weeks. I am using the word “privilege” loosely here as it actually has been pretty much a nightmare. I’ve never seen such examples of incoherent rundowns of skill sets in my life. One would think that the topic of resume formatting is something we’ve all read about a million times. Clearly not. The variations of crap that came across via email was shocking and frustrating. So much so, I had to write about it.
Let’s start with content. A resume should be a reverse chronological summary of experience which also contains a professional profile summary, contact information, education, and credentials. Some people may also list professional associations, which may be relevant. Let’s take a look at each of these.
Profile Summary – One paragraph that best captures your skill sets and professional goals. This should have relevant experience called out that directly aligns with the role you are applying for. This is not an essay folks, it’s a quick elevator pitch that will determine if the rest of your resume is reviewed.
Summary of Experience – Let’s first try to keep your resume short and to the point. Ideally a resume is 2 pages in length, which means you have to be selective about how you summarize your experience. List the job role, employer, start and end dates. Provide 2-3 sentences that reflect deliverable based work completed, milestones, and/or primary function of the role. Do not use the same summary job after job. Be sure to only list relevant experience, I don’t care if you worked at Taco Bell or started your own pet grooming company.
Contact Information – It amazes me that people think just putting an email address is all that is needed. In our industry, I need to know where you live and be able to call you. List your cell phone, email address, and the city you live in…you don’t need to give your street address.
Education – Bullet points of higher education including name of institution, area of focus, and degree obtained. I’ve heard arguments over listing the year, as ageism is a real thing, but if my HR department needs to confirm your degree, I need the year. Only list relevant education. I don’t need to see that you graduated from Barbizon in 1988.
Credentials – Again, keep it relevant to the job you are applying. These should include certifications and/or professional licenses.
Professional Associations – If you are going to list associations, be sure to stay away from acronyms unless they are widely used in the industry. An example might be HIMSS, no need to spell that one out.
I’m wide open to variations in formatting, but use MS Word. Do not send an adobe or jpg file. Avoid hyperlinks, using all capital letters, or bold font. Whatever template or decide on, keep it consistent throughout the resume. Be sure to spell and grammar check…seems obvious but again, so many resumes clearly skipped this step.
Last tip on the subject, make sure your resume matches your profile on LinkedIn. The first thing I do when I receive a resume is go to LinkedIn. If there are large discrepancies in timelines or roles…your resume goes right into the trash.
When I googled bad resumes, this one came up below. Love it!