Resume Do’s and Don’ts for the New Year

Creating an effective resume can be difficult for the inexperienced writer. But if you want to give it a try on your own anyway, here are a few resume writing tips and traps to consider.

Don’t: Use a Fully Functional-Style Resume

More and more candidates today have some type of gap in employment. When preparing your resume, you must decide the best way to handle this gap. Unfortunately, many candidates elect to try to hide the gap by putting all of their information in a functional format. This is where the writer simply discusses functional skills gained over their career in an abstract sense. They may even have the functional skills as a header and list some relevant achievements that speak to each skill.

This strategy is successful in covering the gap in time on the resume, but it causes other, possibly more severe, issues in the mind of the reader. Most hiring managers and HR professionals know that candidates use a functional style to hide things like an employment gap or an absence from a particular position type or industry for a lengthy period of time. Often times, the gap the candidate is attempting to hide isn’t as bad as what the employer perceives they may be trying to hide.

Do: Provide a Chronological Listing of Employment
Bottom line is to use a chronological listing of the work history (if you want to create a profile section that details out some functional skills, that’s fine too) so that employers and recruiters can logically follow the sequence of your employment. Use years of employment only. If a gap exists (for example, if you finished position A in 2006 and started position B in 2008–2007 is the gap), create an entry to cover that time period using the same format as your other job entries. If the company name is in bold with all caps, then list “Family Sabbatical” or something like that in bold with all caps as well. Enter the location and dates just as you did for your other positions.

Do: Check Your Online Presence
Companies can check you out online and get a feel for the type of person you before they even pay one cent as part of a formal background check. Common searches include Google and Facebook checks of your name. A more in-depth review might include a search on Twitter and LinkedIn. Be sure to check your own account and see what type of information is posted. For example, what are your friends putting up on your Facebook wall? Also, consider your name and who else may share it. Will an employer doing a Google search find information about them and think that it is really you? Use your formal name or middle initial to help differentiate yourself if need be.

Don’t: Write a Resume Longer Than Two or Three Pages
As a general rule of thumb, two pages are usually plenty to convey whatever is necessary for a professional position. Some candidates may require a third page if they are in a highly technical field. Only candidates seeking positions internationally or in academia should have a resume (actually called a CV) longer than three pages.

For less-experienced candidates, a one-page resume is just fine as well. Don’t try to stretch the resume to two pages just for the sake of having two pages. Employers do not want to waste their time reading fluff. Some one-page resumes are the hardest hitting, most impactful documents I have ever written or read. The key is in providing enough detail that it generates interest in the reader to know more about you, but doing so succinctly.

Stephen Van Vreede (2 Posts)

Founder of IT Tech Exec, Stephen holds an MBA from Villanova University, a Six Sigma Black Belt Certification, along with the Academy Certified Resume Writer (ACRW) and Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) credentials.


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