Q: You have probably commented on this before, but I have not written a resume in a long time. Where do I start? My last resume is probably 10 or more years old. HELP!
A: Great that you are updating your resume. Here are some tips:
- Start with your dated resume. If you have 10 plus years of experience, you have the dates (probably) listed on your old resume. Drop the months and use just the years.
- Update your name, telephone number and email at the top. Use a professional email address. Avoid email@example.com type of addresses. If you are not on LinkedIn, get on LinkedIn. If you google “customize my LinkedIn URL” you will find a few steps that will help you customize your LinkedIn URL. Add this new LinkedIn URL to the top of your resume.
- While you are at it, update your LinkedIn profile. Include a photo and a high-level summary of your professional experience. Make sure there is alignment between your LinkedIn profile and your resume. It does not have to be identical but it should not “read” like a different person. Your photo on LI should be professional. You could have a friend take five photos against a simple background with a phone. Pick the best one.
- Use a simple font that can be easily scanned. No “wedding invitation” font or logos.
- Most resumes should not be more than two pages. My resume is two pages.
- Use a reasonable font size. No micro fonts! A font size around 10-11 works.
- I like bullets. They are easier to follow. Include metrics when appropriate. A hiring manager should be determining your value. Metrics make that easier for a hiring manager to assess.
- Proofread and then ask a trusted friend or relative to proofread. I recently reviewed a resume where the candidate told me their resume was perfect. I found manger instead of manager.
- Your most recent roles should be at the top. Drop off early career roles if they don’t add value to your candidacy.
- Be honest about your education and don’t include the years. For most job seekers, the education should fall to the bottom. In some cases, where education is critical (e.g., higher education), you may want to add it to the top.
- A resume is not the place for every last detail of your professional life. I often explain that a resume should be treated like an advertisement. It should be polished and professional. It should stir interest in your professional capabilities.
- The top third or top half of your resume will determine if the reader continues to scan the rest of your resume. Make sure it is crisp and clean.
- Objectives – I don’t like them. I think they are limiting. I prefer a Summary section – who you are.
- I might get dinged for this comment, but the word “executive” is a turn-off to many of our clients. To some, it sends the message that this candidate won’t get their hands dirty and roll up their sleeves. If you are targeting small to mid-sized companies, I would avoid that word.
Finally, review your resume annually. I pull up a copy of my resume every January. I critique it and revise if needed.
Pattie Hunt Sinacole is a human resources expert and works for First Beacon Group in Hopkinton, an HR consulting firm. She contributes weekly to Boston.com Jobs and the Boston Sunday Globe Money & Careers section.