Resume Do’s and Don’ts

When applying for a job, you send in a resume. And so does everyone else. When you consider the high volume of resumes that companies have to sift through to find their ideal candidate, it is important to avoid common mistakes that can put you in the ‘no’ pile. Hiring managers will take just a few seconds to decide if they like your resume or not. Here are some tips to make sure your resume makes it to the right pile.

– Customize your resume for the particular position you are applying for. Tweak the language to highlight areas and skills that you know are relevant to this job.
– Describe your achievements and skills, using quantifiable data when possible.
– Use spell check and correct grammar.
– Make sure your formatting is simple and easy to read.
– Keep your resume length to 1-2 pages.
– Use clear and unambiguous language.


– Simply fill in an online template with your information. This can be used a guide if you’re writing your first resume, but make sure to tailor your resume to focus on your unique skill set.
– List your responsibilities and think that’s sufficient.
– Use filler words and phrases like “a people person”, “a team player”, “responsible for”, “hard worker”, and “detail oriented.”
– Use your AOL email address from seventh grade. “Surfergrllxoxo89” (and so forth) is less professional than something like “JenSmith”
– Use one resume for every position to which you apply.
– Make silly typos or use sloppy grammar/punctuation.
– Include irrelevant or out-of-date job history.
– Include your hobbies, personal history, or anything that is not business-related.
– Fabricate or exaggerate work experience or skills. This won’t end well.

These tips can help ensure your resume doesn’t immediately end up in the trash. The goal of a well-written resume is to get you to the next step in the hiring process, which is usually the interview. Your resume is frequently the first impression you can give a potential employer, so make it count.

John Bradley Jackson
Director, Center for Entrepreneurship

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