- Use exact keywords from the job description in your resume. Applicant tracking systems (ATS) scan for keywords before recruiters see your application.
- Title your work experience section “Relevant Professional Experience” so you don’t feel pressured to include all work experience . This also allows you to include non-paid professional experience.
- Don’t be like this guy and include non-professional experience on your resume…
- Things to include on your resume header: name, email, phone number, and LinkedIn URL. Only include your address if the job requires residency (such as state or government jobs).
- TRY NOT TO USE ALL CAPS BECAUSE IT LOOKS LIKE YOU’RE YELLING!
- Do not use personal pronouns (I, me, we, etc.) on your resume.
- Unless you are an actor, model, or realtor, don’t include pictures on your resume.
- Don’t use any colored font, including URLs/hyperlinks. Change these back to black font instead of blue hyperlinks.
- Make sure your resume has margins. Narrow margins are good as they give you a little extra space on the page.
- Use quantitative measures and metrics whenever possible. Potential employers are interested in results!
- Do not include personal information (SSN, # of kids, marital status, etc) on your resume.
- Don’t include skills or experience that aren’t going to demonstrate transferable skills to the new environment .
- Are you applying for a Federal Job? Upload 2 resumes with your application: 1 very detailed doc for the HR folks & 1 pretty/specialized doc for the selecting officials.
- Save your resume with a professional title to your computer. “Jane Doe CV” instead of ”freaking awesome resume.”
- Do not have paragraphs of information on your resume. A recruiter will rarely read chunks of text. Use bullet points instead to make it as easy as possible for the recruiter to see how qualified you are.
- Don’t list hobbies or interests on your resume. Your resume should be strictly professional.
- Similar to our second tip: Title your work section on your resume “Relevant Professional Experience.” This gives you the flexibility to only list your relevant experience so you can keep your resume to 1 page and not overwhelm the recruiter/hiring manager.
- Resume font size minimum is 10 point, but try to stick to 11-12 point.
- Use your job description to create your experience on your resume. Don’t just list daily tasks and include items like important accomplishments, successes, and goals.
- Make sure the content on your resume is well spaced and not squished together.
- Keep it brief. Resume is French for “summary.”
- Remember to include any certifications or training that may be relevant to the position you are applying for.
- Order your work experience chronologically, with most recent/current at the top and the oldest at the bottom.
- Email is one of the primary (and preferred) methods of contact for both recruiters and applicants. Make sure your email address is listed on your resume and is professional! “YourName@” is a good place to start.
- Including an executive or professional summary (in the past this may have been called an “Objective Statement” – that’s outdated now and should only be used for entry level positions) is optional.
- If you are going to include an executive or professional summary: don’t use pronouns (“I” or “me”), tailor it to the position, include a summary of your experience, and include your greatest accomplishments.
- Don’t include your GPA on your resume unless the position you are applying to specifically requires it.
- Don’t include the statement, “References available upon request.”
- If you have acronyms on your resume, try to spell them out before using them so the recruiter does not become confused.
- Do. Not. Lie. On. Your. Resume. Not only can this lead to termination from a job you just got, but it can degrade your personal brand and lead to long-term unemployment.
- Proofread and spell check your resume! Make sure there are no typos, misspelled words (manager/manger, associate/ass., principal/principle, etc.), or grammar issues. Consider giving your resume to 2 people who know you well and ask them to point out things you didn’t catch.
- Make sure your punctuation is consistent throughout your resume. For example if you end every sentence with a period, don’t leave one sentence without one.
- Do not include salary expectations or salary history on your resume. The only exception for this might be federal resumes (federal HR departments may prefer this information is included).
- Do not use a template! Make sure your resume is formatted as little as possible so ATS can read it.
- Do not feel obligated to explain gaps in your employment on your resume.
- Do not say anything negative about previous employers on your resume.
- The ideal bullet point length is 1 line.
- Create a customized LinkedIn URL so you can include it on your resume!
- When quantifying your experience or achievements, use digits instead of spelling the number out.
- It’s okay to include relevant volunteer experience on your resume.
- Remember to check the tenses of your resume. All previous jobs should be past tense and your current job(s) should be present tense.
- Be sure to emphasize your results and achievements! These are what recruiters and hiring managers care about most!
- Ensure your formatting is consistent throughout your document. For example: keep all headings centered and then all experience/ other content aligned on the left side of the page.
- Only list valid/current certifications, licenses, memberships, etc.
- When you upload your resume to an application, stick to a Word document or PDF.
- Stay away from stylistic fonts. Times New Roman, Calibri, and Cambria fonts work best with ATS.
- Unless you’re sure a computer won’t screen your resume first, don’t use tables or graphics. ATS cannot read these!
- Try to keep your underlining to a minimum. If you underline text, ATS may mix up your letters. For example: an underlined q, p, g, or y, could all be confused for other letters like o or v, because ATS may remove the “tails” of the letters when they cross over the underline.
- Be sure to choose your words carefully and be cautious of words that can easily be misspelled like: affect (to bring about change), effect (result), personal (private), personnel (staff members), accept (to receive), and except (to exclude).
- Update your resume regularly, even if you are happy in your current position! This helps you remember your accomplishments and duties, which will be important for your future applications.
As a part of my clinical internship at a major university in Denver, Colorado I led a job search meet-up group for students and recent graduates. Our topic of discussion for the first two weeks was on master resumes. I’m not sure many of the students I work with know what a master resume is, let alone have one – which makes me think this may apply to others in my LinkedIn community. Below I have detailed what a master resume is and how to create one.
What exactly is a master resume?
A master resume encompasses your entire educational and professional history, all your qualifications, your accomplishments, and any training you may have completed. Depending on your history and experience this could be a lengthy document, comprising many pages. A master resume is also the type of document you might use to create or update your LinkedIn profile.
Are there times you may submit or upload your master resume? Yes: if you post your resume on job boards you may want to upload to your master resume. This is because your master resume will display the depth and breadth of your experience. However, you would not send your master resume to an employer regarding a specific job; rather you use your master version to create a targeted or tailored resume.
Once you’ve created your master, make sure you spellcheck and proofread it several times. It may also be helpful to have your friends, family, or mentors review it – these people know you and can give you valuable feedback. If you have access to a career center (like your school’s career center!) get your master resume reviewed by a career counselor.
Be mindful about updating your master resume on a regular basis, this will make any future applications for a job, school, scholarships, internships, etc. much easier. All your information will be stored in a single place, in a usable format, which will make any application process easier and faster.
Below are three reasons you should create and maintain a master resume:
You don’t have to spend hours remembering past jobs and responsibilities.
You only have to do this once, when you are creating your master. Once you have your massive document detailing every job with each responsibility and duty listed, you can easily pull and modify this data for tailored resumes. List any titles you may have held, and go through your job description to list individual duties/responsibilities. If you were responsible for tasks or duties not listed on your original job description, you may also include these items on your master resume.
You can easily create individual, specific, tailored resumes.
Are you applying to a new job, grad school, or for a scholarship? Re-inventing the wheel is much harder than modifying one that already exists. Your master is the wheel; modify it to make individualized versions for specific applications. You only record your experience once, then you can cut and paste from your master to easily and quickly create new, tailored versions.
This tailored resume will look different to recruiters. It’s pretty easy to tell if someone used a generic resume, one that is too general or vague. If you can customize your master resume into a one- or two-page specific resume, you can stand out as an ideal candidate due to your use of skill and experience keywords. Plugging keywords directly from the job posting into your resume will help separate you from other applicants.
When you review your master, you may notice themes, patterns, and your favorite tasks.
Students often feel like their previous professional history has nothing to do with what they want to do post-graduation. Many individuals in the professional field may also feel this way. Creating a master resume might help you spot connections and hidden themes throughout your experience. Seeing a pattern will help you connect your “random jobs” and transform them into a unique and diverse background to qualify you for your next job.
It’s easy to forget about small tasks that may have been left off your original job description. When you take the time to document every task, responsibility, and project, you can start to reflect on more than the responsibilities required of you; you can list the things you did well and the things you truly enjoyed. Becoming aware of these connections and favorite tasks may influence the types of jobs for which you apply, and the type of work you want to pursue.
What could be included in a master resume?
All education, including:
- specialized training programs
- classes/course work
- major class projects/assignments
All your professional experience, including:
- summer, part-time, and full-time jobs
- volunteer experience
Professional organizations/affiliations, including offices held
Summary or short biography
How to get started on your master resume?
1. Make a list and include dates
- List every job you’ve held and the titles you held in that job.
- Every internship in which you’ve participated
- All volunteer experiences
- Any training you’ve completed
- All education
- All work-related skills, responsibilities, and activities
- Classes you’ve taken
- Projects on which you’ve worked
- All publications/presentations to which you’ve contributed
- Any awards you received
- Conferences you’ve attended
- Memberships or affiliations with professional organizations
- Hard skills (math, programming, editing, foreign language proficiency, etc.) and soft skills (communication, time management, prioritization skills, work ethic, etc.)
2. Create headers and chronologically organize the items in your list under those headers.
- For example, your education section would include the most recent education first, and oldest education last. This is the same organization style used by LinkedIn.
- Prioritize your headers. List what you think is most important at the top and least important at the bottom. For example, I find education for recent graduates is important, so I suggest listing education first. Membership in a professional organization might not be as important as education and professional experience, so that section may come later in the master.
3. When you begin to organize your list in an electronic document, use a plain, unformatted word document. This makes future editing, updating, copying, and pasting much easier.
4. Use bullet points to easily list individual ideas and concepts. Paragraph format makes it harder for a recruiter to quickly read through your resume when initially reviewing applications.
5. Use keywords. For example, if you managed a group of 4 people, your master might read:
- [Managed, guided, supervised, directed, lead] a team of four.
You can then pick one of the keywords to use in your tailored resume, based on the job posting:
- Directed a team of four.
Once you’ve created your master, how do you convert it to a tailored/individualized resume?
- Open your electronic master version and save as a new resume. The goal is to convert your old master resume into a new, 1-page (2-page max) specific resume. Remember, if you are applying for a job (especially one online), the recruiter sifting through all the applications may have hundreds to review. Keep your resume as short and to the point as possible. Bullet points are the easiest to read.
- Be ruthless. Review the job description/posting you are applying for and delete everything from your master that does not apply directly to the specific job description. Remember, you can bring up your other accomplishments and duties in your cover letter or during the interview. Just because they don’t show up in your resume doesn’t mean you can’t discuss them at a later point.
- Plug keywords from the job description/posting into your new tailored version. Recruiters will look for these keywords.
Connecting the Dots
“Wow, I really have accomplished a lot!” is a common reaction from students wrapping up the first draft of their master resume. It’s easy to forget about all the work one does over the course of a life; a master resume is a great place to track personal and professional accomplishments.
This was my first article posted on LinkedIn originally on September 27th, 2017. See the full post here.
Interested in working with me to create your master resume? Read more about my resume services here.