We’ve all made resume mistakes at one point or another — sometimes taking too many liberties with limited resume real estate. Sometimes following bad advice. After all, there’s conflicting info out there about what’s acceptable for resume construction.
Thankfully, Aerotek recruiters Taylor Guido and Emily Lansinger can clear the air for us. They share all the resume tricks, shortcuts and faux pas that turn off recruiters and hiring managers — who may review hundreds of resumes every day.
There’s a rumor floating around that insists you confine your resume to one page. But sacrificing quality for brevity is a big no-no. Focus more on including what matters than keeping it snappy.“Provide enough detail to describe your work experience. I often work with candidates who have had five jobs with long tenure and have been in the industry for 25 to 30 years. That’s more than two pages of information right there. The one-page rule is a myth,” says Taylor.
If you’re new to the workforce or have limited relevant experience, one page is probably about right for displaying your work history. To gauge your skills and help you find the right job, recruiters need to know what you did before. Fill in the information that’s relevant to the job you’re applying for, and don’t stress if it spills over onto a second page.
On the flip side, you can go overboard with information. Don’t write a dissertation on all your day-to-day tasks. Stick to a maximum of five concise bullet points describing each position.Also include any certifications, promotions and other achievements on your resume, and don’t forget any helpful metrics or quotas. Numbers catch the eye of a recruiter who reviews about 50 resumes per day.
“Once Aerotek hands off a resume to a hiring manager, they spend an average of 60 seconds with it. So maximize your 60 seconds. You want them to look over your resume and immediately know whether you’re a qualified candidate,” says Emily.
We know that marketing yourself on a resume can be mind-numbing and even maddening, but don’t try to jazz it up just for kicks, or on the mistaken assumption that your format should help you stand out. Unless you’re looking for a job in the arts, keep it simple.Don’t include photos of yourself, use unusual fonts or splash in bright colors. Doing this won’t make your resume stand out in a good way.
“Stay away from silly visuals. It's not professional and distracts from your qualifications,” says Taylor.
Your resume may be all about you, but don’t write in first person. That means no “I” statements on project lists, responsibilities — anything. So, simplify with “Managed a team of volunteers” or “Performed daily office tasks.” Recruiters and employers will know it was you who did those things.
When you’re listing your jobs, be specific about time frames – don’t include just the years you worked somewhere. It will confuse recruiters and hiring managers. After all, working at a restaurant from 2011 to 2012 could really mean December 2011 through February 2012.
On the other hand, not disclosing the months could sell yourself short. “For all we know, 2011 to 2012 means January 2011 to December 2012, and that's almost two full years. Once I really dig in and ask candidates how long they were on a job, they either answer, ‘I was there for two years’ or ‘two months,’ and that makes a huge difference,” says Emily.
Keep your email contact info professional. You’d think this one would go without saying, but recruiters have seen some comical things. If your personal email address includes questionable content or you came up with it back when the internet was something new — create a more professional one for the job search.
Take it from Emily: “I've had to verify the craziest email addresses by reading them back to candidates. It's embarrassing saying them out loud, and they’re not even mine.”
Don’t add hobbies, unless they’re directly related to the job you want. If you’re applying for senior graphic designer, include something that relates to your professional life, like photography.
Emily offers an alternative to a designated “Hobbies” section: “You can find creative ways to fold in your personality. For your education, add in any clubs you joined. Or add professional interests into the corresponding bullet point of your job description. Remember that employers want to see relevant skills more than anything else.”
Always tailor your resume to each job you apply for. If you’re a good fit for a job and a recruiter reaches out, ask for some feedback on your resume.
Taylor says, “We're seasoned resume experts and often receive direct feedback from hiring managers about what works and what doesn’t. We're confident in our advice and resume formatting skills. We’re here to help.”