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Top Resume Do's and Don'ts | Undergrad Success
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Top Resume Do’s and Don’ts

Top Resume Do’s and Don’ts
Scott Keenan

Career experts from every corner of the world add their two cents when it comes to your resume. If you ever meet someone who tells you they know exactly what your CV needs to look like to get hired, you need to run the other way. There are some heuristics you can use, but there’s no real “right” way to write a resume. The “right” way is the way that gets you hired, and there’s no science to impressing a hiring manager. To assist you, I have a compiled a list of Do’s and Don’ts that is in no way exhaustive, but could be a good start.

Do

Add links to former employer’s websites – If you were the marketing manager of a company I’ve never heard of, I will want to see that company’s website. If I can’t find it…how good were you?

Insert a brief description about what your former employers do – It’s possible that your business development experience at company ABC is a perfect match for one of my vacant positions. If you don’t tell me that company ABC produces widgets for a specific niche market, you’re assuming I will know or that I will go looking for that information. If you didn’t intrigue me somewhere else on the resume, I probably won’t do that.

Insert links to your social profiles – If I’m on the fence about someone or I like them and just want to learn more, I will try to creep them on LinkedIn. If you’ve applied for a position that requires social media experience, I’m going to creep you. If I can find you easily and see that you’re active, you get bonus points. (Warning: bonus points are non-transferable and have no cash value.)

Be specific about what you did – If you worked in business development, throw some numbers in there. If you don’t have numbers, tell me about some specific impressive accounts you landed.

Example: Generated $1.2M in revenue from new accounts in fiscal year 2011-2012. OR Secured accounts with Unilever and Proctor & Gamble.

Don’t

Only include generic tasks you would read in a job description – A lot of people appear to copy and paste job descriptions to their resumes. (i.e. conducted research, lead generation, created marketing collateral.) This gets scanned over really quickly and doesn’t catch the eye of the recruiter (i.e. Me). If you do get to an interview I have to make sure I know:

What kind of research it was and what the results were.

What kind of leads you were looking for, how you looked for them, and which ones you were able to secure.

What kind of marketing collateral you created, who the target audience was, and how effective it was.

Include an Objective Statement – No matter how good you are at writing, these are always terrible. I don’t know who invented these, but I wish someone would have stopped them from doing so. Include a point form list of your strengths. These should be correlated to the job description.

Forget to market your abilities in other ways – If you have a graphic design background, don’t give me a horribly formatted word document. Show me you know what you’re doing. Don’t tell me you have strong attention to detail and then leave typos in your resume.

Ignore the job description – I have read objective statements for applications to marketing positions that state “looking for exciting new opportunities in human resources” …FAIL! Sometimes I hire independent contractors, and though the ad specifically states “contract position,” candidates tell me they are not interested in contract work. I already have frown lines from calling these people.

Apply for jobs you’ll never get – Sometimes, you can get to an interview without all the required specifications. For example, I might still consider someone for a position where I’ve asked for 5 years’ experience if they only have four years, but an impressive resume. I will not consider you for a marketing manager position if you’ve only ever been a cashier. Think before you apply.

Cram everything into two pages – Someone made a rule that resumes had to be two pages long. It’s a stupid rule. If you have 15 years of experience, your resume will be longer. If you have an impressive resume that is clear and concise, it can be as long as it needs to be. Don’t leave out important details or reduce your font to 8 points thinking that you’re helping yourself get an interview…you’re not.

These are just a couple of tips to take into consideration as you’re applying for positions. Remember that the best way to write a resume is the way that impresses the hiring manager. Hiring managers come in all different shapes, sizes and preferences. What works for one person will not necessarily work for another.


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Scott Keenan

Scott Keenan is a recruiter for @PriorityCareers, with several years’ experience recruiting in both the public and private sectors in addition to marketing and social media roles. As a self-described professional cynic, he provides unique insight into modern recruiting from both the recruiter and candidate’s perspective. You can follow Scott on Twitter, connect with him on LinkedIn or check out his posts on The Priority Blog.

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