Dust-Off Your Resume: 13 Essential Resume Tips!

So you’re looking for a new job, but it’s been years since your last job search. What do you do first? It’s time to dust-off your resume!  What are the latest rules & trends for resumes? How can you make sure you put your best foot forward?

Don’t worry. Deidra is here to help! Just take a deep breath and we’ll get your resume into top notch shape fast!

dust off your resume tips

13 Essential Resume Tips

Are you ready? Let’s get started …

1. Spelling

Perfect spelling on a resume is essential. No excuses!

Take advantage of online dictionaries and Microsoft Word to check your spelling. But don’t lean too heavily on software as most spelling programs will not check the use of your word in the sentence. For example, if you write ‘their’ but you meant ‘there’, your spell check program may not recognize the mistake.

Consider asking a trusted friend or colleague to look over your work and help you proofread it. A second set of eyes just might catch an error and help you land the job!

2. Past and Present Tenses

You remember going over past and present tenses in school but now what you remember has faded. As you read to yourself what you have written, it does not sound quite right but you aren’t sure why.

Many people improperly mix past and present tenses throughout their resumes.  Be sure to use the “past” tense for all of your previous job descriptions and use the present tense only for work that you are still currently doing. If you’ve edited your resume many times you may not catch a tense shift error, so this is another reason to call upon a friend or colleague for a fresh set of eyes.

3. Sentence Structure

Don’t try to cram everything into long ongoing paragraphs. Short and to the point is always more effective. If you do not remember how to use a colon or semi-colon just use short sentences or even better, bullet points. Make sure your resume is to the point and easy to read.  Potential employers are not likely to read long paragraphs.

Also, keep in mind that today’s recruiters rely heavily upon technology to sift through the applicant pool. Be sure to think about the position you are applying for and then incorporate relevant key words into your resume and cover letter. Those key words will help you make it past that initial technology screen!

4. Dates on a Resume

Don’t Share Your Graduation Dates: Once you reach a “certain” age, there’s no need to advertise your “maturity.” So I advise that you obscure your age by omitting your year of graduation from your resume.

Do include the dates you worked at your particular jobs.  If you do not list them the employer will think something is deliberately missing that you do not want to tell them [think prison, unemployment, etc]. Do not let the prospective employer fill in the gap! It’s better to write “Stay at home Mom” or “Intern” or “Back to School” for those empty dates than to leave them blank.

5. Resume Body

Yes, employers want to know what you did at your job but they have a limited amount of time and cannot be bothered to read everything.  Therefore, you need to include the “highlights” or key accomplishments that will make you a standout for the position you are applying for.  Hiring managers love to see percentages such as: “Identified and streamlined a supply ordering system for XYZ Corp by 25% which saved 20 man hours resulting in an annual savings of $14K.”  These accomplishments are very important because they are specific and verifiable. You look far more credible when others use generic information that you have quantifiable detail in your resume. Again, make yourself stand out!

6. Education

Prospective employers do want to know about your education, but quite often it’s not as important or relevant as your work experience. So keep your education toward the bottom of the document.

Typically, there is no need to include your high school educational background, unless you are a recent high school graduate.

7. Format

Your resume does not need to have a fancy layout unless you are applying for a marketing or advertising job where it might be a “plus” in showing that you have creative talent. Otherwise, a potential employer may consider it a distraction and narcissistic, apart from making the content more difficult to read.

8. Header

The top of the page should have your name, address, email, and how you can be contacted via cell/mobile or residential phone. Nothing more. Make sure you have an appropriate email address and not your personal one that you use for your friends such as:  “hotmama247.com.” Clearly, most employees would be put off by this because it looks unprofessional.

9: Objectives

Career “Objectives” were once featured prominently at the top of every resume, just underneath the header. These days, they are not used as commonly and could actually limit your marketability if the employer thinks it cannot satisfy your objectives or considers you either overqualified or too ambitious. These days, the trend is to stick with a “Summary” that packs some punch along with some great key words.

10: Online Presence

Make sure that you are connected to LinkedIn and you are reaching out to the proper connections in your field and that your resume and profile on LinkedIn are cohesive.  If you do have a LinkedIn account, you can include that as another email address in your header if you wish.  More than likely, the hiring individual will go there to look you up. Don’t share anything unprofessional or improper on any social media presence such as Facebook that can be accessed publicly. Prospective employers WILL look at your Facebook page and if there is something they do not like, you will never know because your resume will be rejected without explanation.

11: Personal Information

Some countries outside of the United States require additional personal information but if you are applying for a position in the United States, there is no need to place such information.

12: Photos

There is NO reason to use a photo unless you are a model.  In fact, if you are asked for one, you should be suspicious because a photograph can cause you to be rejected because of your age, race, or national origin.

13:  Reference Available Upon Request

This is another obsolete phrase that does not need to be on your resume. Potential employers know they can ask for references at the appropriate time in the interview process.

While you don’t need to include this particular phrase on your resume, I do recommend that you have your references up-to-date and that you have spoken with them to make sure they know that you have used them as your reference That way you can provide them “upon request” promptly.

Way to go! You are now ready to send your resume to your printer and email it far & wide!

I hope this has been of some help to you. Of course, it is only a basic guide. There is so much more to discuss about the writing of resumes! What you do if you have a criminal background? How do you manage a disability? How do you navigate the sticky topic of a previous termination? These are issues to be addressed on a one-to-one basis as there is no “one-size-fits-all” solution.

In my next blog we will discuss cover letters and the essential parts for writing a good one!

Best of luck in your job search process!

Deidra Jenkins

office supplies at officezilla.com


Posted in Advice & Tips permalink

About Deidra Jenkins

Deidra Jenkins is sharing with OfficeZilla her 30+ years of experience and insight into the administrative world with a series of "Dos and Don'ts" articles. Deidra is an Administrator for Del Monte Foods, leads an active group of 100,000 Administrative Office Professionals on LinkedIn and is an Employment Consultant for Kolman Ely Employee Services based in Philadelphia.


Dust-Off Your Resume: 13 Essential Resume Tips! — 8 Comments

  1. Once again, Deidra Jenkins hits the nail on the head! My resume was written in present tense, so I stopped reading this article and went back and changed my resume at that moment! Someone had told me months ago to change it since it was in my employment past (I am job hunting still and not working) but I was obviously being hard-headed. Thank you, thank you! Sincerely, Barbara in Sherman Oaks, CA

    • Barbara, you are so welcome. If you should need anything further, please do not hesitate to contact me. Best of luck in your job hunting.

  2. Good tips. I’ll be updating my resume a bit from last year. Regarding references, would it be appropriate to add a phrase like “see LinkedIn for recommendations” ? I have many great recommendations from former colleagues and want to showcase that with potential employers.

    • Diane, as I stated above, I would provide your LinkedIn account in your header below your own personal email address. I have done this on several resumes and this gives the person the opportunity to review their profile as well as reading their recommendations. You will still be showcased by any potential employer if you have your LinkedIn address provided. If you should need anything further, please feel free to contact me.

  3. Pingback: How to Write A Resume Cover Letter - The OfficeZilla® Blog

  4. Thank you Deidra. I recently attended a workshop on “What Now” i.e. leaving your job and thinking of the next steps. The workshop was mainly about updating your CV and your tips were replicated – spot on! Extremely useful and helpful to have two similar recommendations.

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