You’ve heard it time and time again, “Keep your resume concise.” Whoever told you that was on to something, as it’s one of our resume basics. It is tempting to want to add every single job duty you’ve ever had because you hope to set yourself apart from the others. It is kind of like being that girl at the party who went a little too far with the glitter. After a certain point, it’s no longer attractive and you spend most of your evening trying to avoid getting it stuck on you.
Don’t be THAT person.
The bottom line is that the age of Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) is here and it ain’t going anywhere. Any extra information will actually hurt your chances of landing that interview.
To make it past the ATS firewall, you need to include relevant keywords from the job posting, a simple resume format, and relevant contact information. Once you get the interview, you will have your time to shine, share and elaborate on important details.
Remember it isn’t about you, it is about your getting their attention. Check out this list of resume basics, the “Do Nots,” to help keep your resume clean, concise and easy to read:
Resume Basics #1: DO NOT USE GENERIC JARGON
Generic keywords or any fluffy terms (ex. team player, excellent communicator, driven, motivated) are WAY overused by the general population. If you want the recruiters to roll their eyes at your resume, go for it. But we seriously doubt this is your intention.
To differentiate yourself from the masses, use specific hard skills found in the job description in your resume copy.
Resume Basics #2: DO NOT TRY TO TRICK THE ATS
Including skills you don’t actually have in an attempt to fool the ATS check algorithm will bite you later in the interview or worse if you end up getting hired. During the interviews, that is your and the hiring manager’s opportunity to substantiate your ability to do the job.
It is better to site skill sets that are transferable to the kind of work being requested than to try operating under a pretense.
Resume Basics #3: DO NOT SEND WITHOUT CHECKING YOUR WORK
Typos and grammatical mistakes communicate more about you than merely how well you did in English class. It shows your attention to detail for sure. But it also shows your reliability and credibility. Are you someone who strives for excellence or someone who settles for easy solutions? Are you someone who will establish great rapport with the customers or are you someone who they will have to clean up after often?
Resume Basics #4: DO NOT WRITE AN OBJECTIVE SECTION
A long time ago, “Objective” sections at the top of resumes were totally appropriate and expected. The landscape, however, has changed in the last 10 years. Hiring managers know what kind of work you are looking for because you are obviously applying for that job. They do not need nor want redundant content to sift through before they find out what your experience is.
Instead, write a summary section that captures who you are, why you matter and what you are passionate about that you will be contributing to that organization’s bottom line.
Resume Basics #5: DO NOT LIST MORE THAN 5 BULLET POINTS PER ROLE
People, less is more! The more you write, the more power what you write will have. Recruiters and hiring managers do not have the time nor will they take the time to read every single word of the resume you have written (or paid someone else to).
Really important details can get lost when the reader is overwhelmed by content. Additionally, you can run the risk of seeming desperate by throwing everything and the kitchen sink into your resume. Finally, the deeper you get into your work history the fewer bullets you should be including.
Resume Basics #6: DO NOT WRITE LONG PARAGRAPHS OF TEXT
Other than the summary section, you should have no other paragraphs of information in your resume. Bullet points should be no more than 2 lines long – max. Sometimes people will have a sentence stating the kind of role, company or project. This always depends on the person, the industry and the kinds of information housed in the resume as a whole (we here at The Job Sauce lean towards not doing this if it can be avoided).
Keep in mind, if your resume gets in front of a hiring manager you are already one of the hundreds they are reviewing. Do not overwhelm them with content. Make it easy for them to read and navigate the information you’ve provided them.
Resume Basics #7: DO NOT WRITE GENERIC JOB RESPONSIBILITIES
You might think this is an obvious point, but you’d be surprised by the kinds of resumes we’ve received over the years. One person I worked with literally copy/pasted the “About” section from each of his previous employers which provided absolutely no insight into what he actually did or achieved in any of his roles.
What is the point here? Focus on what you accomplished, the results you produced and the impact you made. Start your bullets, as much as you can, with that information – and then elaborate on how you did it. If the hiring company wants more detailed information, they will ask when they interview you. Ex: Increased division revenue by 13% (from $1.4m to $1.58m) through establishing influencer campaigns.
Resume Basics #8: DO NOT LIST EVERY SINGLE ROLE YOU’VE HAD
Resumes should only include the last 10-15 years of work history. There are very few exceptions to this rule which we are not going to go into here. Essentially, hiring managers are most interested in your most current experience and they generally do not read through each and every piece of your professional experience.
Sometimes you have to start with what not to do before you can hone in on and build effectiveness with what there is to do. Get more advice from our experts throughout our blog or talk to us about writing your resume for you.