5 common resume writing tips to avoid
There are plenty of resume writing tips out there. Everyone has an opinion – the amateur career advice blogger, the professional resume writer, the go-to productivity guru…the list goes on.
Some of the advice is commonsensical. Some nonsensical.
Here’s a list of common bad resume tips you should avoid.
One caveat: some of these resume writing tips may be fine under certain circumstances. Don’t worry – we’ll explain everything.
Bad tip #1: Stick to one-page resumes
Sure – if you’re a recent graduate or early career professional, this tip is valid.
If you don’t have enough experience and skills to fill up more than one page, it makes sense to actively distill what you want to say to meet that one-page cut-off.
However, if getting your resume down to one page would require you to erase a huge chunk of your employment history, think twice.
When tailoring your resume to the employer’s needs and requirements listed in the job posting, always include all relevant work experience. If the list is long, limit the amount of information you provide. Focus on three to five bullet points per position that showcase the skills and experience critical to the job you’re applying for.
But never gloss over relevant selling points to keep the length or page count down. And don’t go to extremes tweaking the font size and line spacing to fit everything in on one page. If the relevant information goes beyond a page or two, so be it.
Bad tip #2: You don’t need a cover letter
If you want an example of outright bad advice, this is it. You really do need a cover letter.
For one, it’s often required – plain and simple.
What’s more, writing a cover letter – even when not explicitly required – speaks volumes about your enthusiasm and motivation to get that job. Attaching a unique, tailored letter suggests you’re not spamming several recruiters about similar posts.
Cover letters can also clarify important information, like longer breaks from work or reasons for changing careers. But perhaps most importantly, they can help the recruiter see the human behind the application. The modern-day recruitment process is rather impersonal, which makes rejecting candidate THX 1138 all the easier. A well-written cover letter will help you stand out from a crowd of drones.
Bad tip #3: Don’t write resume objectives
Some experts argue that writing a resume objective will sabotage your job-seeking efforts. What they’re really saying is that a bad resume objective will hurt your prospects.
A good resume objective, on the other hand, will serve as a nifty reminder of who you are and what you can do. It will let the recruiter know that you’re in the right pile, it will clarify your intentions, and – if done right – can win the hiring manger over.
A resume objective is particularly important if you’re switching careers, or if you’re a graduate looking for a job. If you’re an experienced professional looking to change jobs (rather than pivot your career), you can alternatively go with a resume summary.
While a resume objective tells the reader what you want to do and why you want to do it, a summary offers a quick recap of your career.
Either one can be invaluable, particularly with modern-day recruitment processes relying heavily on applicant tracking systems (ATS). These additional sections will provide you with some extra room to pitch relevant skill and experience keywords and get those robots on your side.
Bad tip #4: Never include a hobbies section
Ah, the hobby section. For some, a relic of the nineties – a time when you were supposed to come off as an actual human (unlike the noughties when you were supposed to be a one-man army with numbers to show for).
For others, it’s simply a waste of space.
Here’s the bottom line: it makes sense to add this section when applying for certain jobs in specific companies. Some employers have specific expectations of cultural fit, and if you’ve got interests and passions that match the vibe they’re putting out, perfect.
That said, don’t lie. And don’t be overly general. If you decide to write about your love of, say, books, be specific. When recruiters just see “books” in the hobbies section, they think, “Yeah, right. The last time you read a book was when you were cramming for your finals in 2010.”
Pretty much everyone likes movies and travel, too. Go for some less generic details that will help your potential employer get a glimpse of what you’re really all about (here are four tried-and-tested ones to consider).
Bad tip #5: Skip the soft skills
Sure, excellent written and verbal communication, the ability to multitask, and professionalism can apply to just about anyone who has ever held a job.
With the advent of ATS, however, it makes sense to list skills you might consider obvious anyway. If you don’t write them up, after all, sorting software might remain oblivious to your competence.
What’s more, research shows that recruiters value soft skills and actively seek out people that possess them.
So, there you have it. Now you know which bad resume tips to avoid – and a few tweaks that might land you the interview.
Bart Turczynski is a writer at Uptowork – Your Resume Builder. He shares insider tips and tricks on how to find and land a job.