Resume Dos and Don'ts

Have you ever heard the phrase, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression”? Though its’ actual origin is uncertain, it became popular when it was used in an advertisement in the 1980’s for Head & Shoulders shampoo. Since then, the slogan has been a reminder that the way we present ourselves can have a big impact on how people perceive us –– which is a great way to view the purpose of your resume.  

Your resume is typically the first impression a recruiter or hiring manager has of you. Most of us have experienced putting one together, but did you know there are certain things you can do to make your resume stand out amongst other applicants? In order to land the job you want, follow these do’s and don’ts to craft an eye-catching resume that will be sure to grab the attention of anyone who sees it.  

9 Do’s and Don’ts When Putting Together a Resume  
Do: Include relevant experiences 

The purpose of a resume is to highlight your background, skills, and accomplishments –– so of course you want to include work (and possibly personal) experiences that show you’re the right fit. Make sure you only include what’s relevant to the job you’re applying for that way your resume won’t be weighed down by information they don’t need to know.  

Don’t: Go back more than 10-15 years 

If you’ve been working a decade or more, it’s likely you won’t list every single job you’ve ever had, especially if it doesn’t relate to the advertisement. A good rule of thumb is to not go back more than 10-15 years unless the experience is too relevant to not mention.  

Do: List concrete examples/numbers that detail past success 

Using concrete numbers and examples to illustrate your accomplishments will help your resume stand out from other candidates because it paints a clear picture of how you helped your previous job. For example, rather than saying “Managed social media profiles,” you could say “Increased social media followers by 10% over 6 months.” This provides a tangible result from your efforts.  

Don’t: Mention every single responsibility you had at each job 

It’s tempting to list out all the responsibilities you’ve had in your past experience so managers understand your capabilities. But in doing so, it may draw attention away from the most important and relevant aspects of your work history. Be clear and concise and only mention key responsibilities that will affect the job you’re applying for.  

Do: Use templates 

Resumes typically follow certain formats, especially in terms of alignment. Having a resume that appears to be all over the place can make you seem careless or frantic which might not be the impression you want to give off. Thankfully, there are various resume templates you can use so you don’t have to create one from scratch. If you have Microsoft Word or Google Docs, you can check out their templates, or try websites like Canva to create a visually pleasing resume that lets your personality shine through.  

Bonus Tip:  

  • When sending your resume, always download it as a PDF first so the format doesn’t change when it’s opened by the recruiter.  
Don’t: Copy from someone else 

If you’re using a template from a friend or the internet that’s pre-written, it may be tempting to leave in the parts that sound good or match your experience. Resist the urge because if you’re questioned about it later, it may be difficult to explain.  

Do: Mention any relevant certificates or courses you’ve completed 

If you’ve spent the time completing courses or receiving certificates that are relevant to the job, definitely include them on your resume. Not only will it make you a more attractive candidate, but it will also show you’re invested in the industry you want to work in.  

Don’t: List skills like Microsoft or Google Workspace 

It used to be standard procedure to mention proficiencies in platforms like Microsoft or Google Workspace, but in the technology-driven landscape we live in, those skills have become mandatory. Most employers will expect you to have some experience in one or the other (or ideally both), but fortunately they’re designed to be user-friendly and easy to learn. (Check out training for Microsoft and Google.)  

Do: Keep it concise and down to 1-2 pages 

Your resume should be a fairly brief synopsis of your work history that makes the recruiter want to invite you in for an interview so they can learn more. Most managers suggest that a resume fit neatly on one page, but that going onto a second isn’t a deal breaker as long as it’s full of information they need to know. If you think it’s necessary to go into more detail before the interview stage, include it in your cover letter.  

Bonus Tip:  

  • Double (and triple…maybe even quadruple) check that your resume is free of spelling, grammatical, or formatting errors. Swap with a friend or family member if need be. 

While a great resume isn’t the only thing recruiters look for in a candidate, it’s important to make a good first impression by creating a document that helps demonstrate who you are as an employee. Use these do’s and don’ts to craft a resume that will wow managers and make you their next hire.