Way of the Resume

12.29.2021 | Blog

Hello, again, everyone!

“Resume” is a very simple word, a document that shows your professional history along with your skills and qualifications developed over that history. However, what is not always so easy is knowing what to actually put on that document, which ideally should be 2 pages or less and different for each type of position you apply for.  Earlier this year, we posted this article about how to write a resume. This time, I will advise you what you do and don’t need to put on your resume.

First, I would like to give a disclaimer. There is a plethora of resources about how to resume, and many of these sources disagree. In fact, some of the references I’m using contradict both each other and this article. The advice I give here will be in my experience of being a recruiter and looking at resumes on a daily basis.  However, I do acknowledge that there are many ways to present your work history and qualifications. So, take this as simply one way to resume.

I think the best place to start off is with what is absolutely needed on a resume. This first of which of course is your name. As a recruiter one of my main functions is to search for and contact qualified candidates. I often use names on the resume to search for candidates on professional sites, like LinkedIn, to both see what you have not put on the paper resume and as an alternate way to make contact. I have run into resumes that just have a person’s latest or desired position or “CONFIDENTIAL” in place of their name. Not only does this make searching possible, but I simply cannot contact someone by phone or email if I don’t know who they are.

Speaking of phone and email, up to date contact information is an absolute necessity for a resume.  This not only includes your phone number and email but also location. Understandably, putting your address out into the world is a worry for some applicants. So, your city and state are advisable to display. Another piece of contact information is a professional website--whether self-made or a more public site like LinkedIn or Github.

**Reference JobScan's What to Put on a Resume (and What Not to Put on a Resume) to learn more.

A work history section is the meat and bones of any resume. The work history tells me, the recruiter, a lot about what you have done professionally. For each job, it is advisable to have the name of the company, location, the beginning and ending date (month/year), and the titles of the positions you held. Under that information should be a list of relevant tasks and achievements. The minutia of the work isn’t needed, and you do not need to list every job you have ever had (unless you have a short work history). So, you should focus on what is relevant for the particular type of job you are applying for. If you want to show a solid work history, consider a section for other experiences, which only lists the company, job title, and dates, to fill in the gaps.

Another necessity on a resume is your education, meaning degrees and certifications. How exactly you would structure this would be different for each professional stage of your career. Fresh grads may want to list relevant courses, GPA, and honors; whereas, a person at a senior level would leave these things out. However, just like the case of workplaces, having at least the institution’s name, location, title of the degree/certification, and year is a must. Recruiters need this to better understand how recent your training in a specific field or skill is.

The final thing needed on a resume is a list of skills. Again, you’ll want to pick skills suitable for the position that you are applying for and are reflected in the rest of your resume. One excellent way to do this is to look over the job description and make note of the keywords that relate to your skills. (https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/resumes-cover-letters/what-to-include-on-a-resume) A recruiter’s purpose for looking at skills is not only to see if the job seeker we find have what is being currently desired by our clients. In the case of engineering, sales, and accounting positions, we look for experience/knowledge related to certain programs, websites, and methodologies. Having or lacking key skills can make or break interest in a candidate.

**Reference Indeed's Here's Everything You Should Include on a Resume to learn more.

As far as what you don’t need on a resume, two things come to mind. The first of these is images. For a recruiter finding potential candidates for submitting to our clients, pictures of the candidate, designs (thick boarders, elaborate section separators), and displays data (charts, graphs) are not needed. These often take up valuable space that could be used for the above-mentioned needed information. As a recruiter, I need to know about what you can bring to my clients; however, images and graphical elements do little for advancing that purpose.

Contrary to longstanding, popular belief, references are not needed on a resume. In my experience, very few client companies ask for a candidate’s references. If they do, then it’s usually on after interviewing and before officially starting work at the company. Honestly in my six months as a recruiter, I have checked 2 or 3 candidates’ references for my agency, compared to the scores of positions that we have on file at any given time. It is good to have references if you are asked, but the space you would use for them on the resume is better utilized for other information.

Now that we have covered what you need and don’t need on a resume, let’s talk about what you may or may not want on a resume. The first of which is the long traditional cover letter that many people post with their resumes. Generally, a cover letter is not needed in every job application, and almost never if you are submitting through a recruiter. However, you should be sure to check the job description, because some companies require them. In those cases, if you don’t have a cover letter when you apply, you will usually be rejected for the position.

Unless you are applying for a specific industry, position or career path, an objective statement really isn’t necessary. We recruiters know that your purpose of posting/sending your resume is to get a new job, so the vague statement of “Find a position (X) in which I can (Y)” is a space waster. To show a clear focus for your career path, a resume summary of your skills will be much more useful to you and the recruiter.

**Reference JobScan's What to Put on a Resume (and What Not to Put on a Resume) to learn more.

If you have some extra space, and want to list some personal yet relevant information about yourself, you may consider adding a section for your interests, hobbies, or volunteer work. Again, this is another thing different from person to person and position to position. Especially if you are younger or have less relevant work experience and education, such personal touches can tell both the recruiter and the employer about the position’s fit your you.

As I said earlier, knowing what to put on a resume is not always so simple. However, it all boils down to this: You have 2 pages, a literal open book view, to make your best impression on the recruiter and/or hiring manager. What should those two pages tell them? I hope this article helps you with the answer to that question.

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