Resume dos and don'ts

Saturday January 8, 2022

I've thought about my resume, I've read a book about resumes, and I've reviewed hundreds of candidate resumes. Your resume is the first work product you share with an employer. Make sure it's good. Here's a collection of resume advice, together with some appalling errors you wouldn't think people would make—until you see them happen.

Do this

Don't do this

Resume horror

Your expertise should be clear from what you've done, not from some rating scale that you use on yourself. Please no star ratings or “An asterisk denotes *Expert level” etc.

Don't say “40 Hours/Week” for every job you've worked. Full time employment is assumed. I'm thinking about resumes for salaried positions, but even if it were hourly, I don't think I'd want to see “40 Hours/Week” repeated over and over.

Links and email addresses should not have old-school underlined blue styling. Control the formatting to make it simple and beautiful.

If you have links in your resume, make sure you know where they go. I've seen resumes where, presumably because they used somebody else's resume as a starting point, the link text was updated but the link still took me to somebody else's LinkedIn and Twitter.

Pay special attention with things you're claiming expertise in: It's hard to believe you if you say you know “CentOs”—because it's CentOS.

Please get the names of your prior employers correct. There is no “Red American Cross”—it's “American Red Cross.”

If you are “quick to learn new tools and technics” why have you not learned how to spell “techniques?”

It's easier to not use color at all than to use it well. Particularly bad: “Wor” in blue, regular weight, with “k Experience” in bold black. Why do that?

Almost nobody should include GPA(s) in their resume. Possible exception: It's perfect, and you've never had a job. Particularly bad: Including a mediocre GPA for one degree, with GPA then conspicuously absent for one or more other degrees.

Notice how this actual section from a real resume is self-contradictory:

Communication – Persuasive communicator, comfortable challenging the status quo when appropriate, whether to long-standing processes or to conventional thinking to drive greater efficiencies and outcomes. Able to adjust communications to a diverse audience to ensure understanding and clarity. Recognizes the importance of providing concise, complete visualizations of complex data.

Show, don't tell. Words without evidence are only demonstrating that you can waste time.

Don't use two spaces between sentences. We're using computers.