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Thursday, March 1, 2012

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How to Write a Resume, Part One: Practices to Avoid

Long before I came to have an actual profession and actual career, I was employed as a career counselor. Despite the fact that at that time I’d written no more than two resumes, one of which was to get a position at the career center itself, I spent a year teaching other people how to write resumes and cover letters and how to apply for jobs. I took pride in how concrete and helpful my job was.

In the time since I've left school, the job hunt has gotten a lot worse. A good resume and cover letter matters today, as much as it ever has. I'm not dumb enough to think simply writing a good set will get you a job, but doing poorly could cost you the interview. Too few people really know how to write a cover letter or resume, so in this two-part series we’ll tackle the dos and don’ts of resume writing.

For the record, writing a resume is always a huge pain in the ass. It totally blows, and there are no hard and fast rules. Different people will tell you different things you MUST include, or formatting you MUST follow, although generally those people are completely full of it. There are all kinds of jobs and employers, and what they look for in a resume varies widely. My advice is intended for the broadest sector of the American job market: corporate, non-profit, and government sectors.

(As a disclaimer: non-Americans, academics, artists, freelance authors, and graphic designers can follow parts of this advice, but you should be aware that your professional specialties have additional rules, and you should look into them.)

Part One: DON’TS

Part one is all about bad habits. I’ve got a top 10 list of hated and common resume features that I strongly encourage you to stop using in your resume. Part two will look at what to do instead.

1. The Objective.

Everyone knows that your objective is to get the job. Somehow this ridiculous thing persists, forcing you to try to articulate some vague greater career goal that doesn’t sound like complete gobbledygook. Forget the objective — I think it was created by the military-industrial-corporate complex just to try your patience. You really don’t need it, so stay firm when you show your resume off to someone and they suggest you put it back in because, "you really need an objective!"

2. Bullet Points.

I love bullet points. They're so great in Power Point, and I love to put little bullets next to every single item on my shopping list. But don't use them in resumes. That’s because using bullets to space out a list is:

  • the
  • most
  • space
  • wasting
  • way
  • you
  • can
  • write
  • something.
  • Repeat: The most space wasting way you can write something.

The appropriate use for a bullet point in a resume is when you use it as a symbol to visually space out a list. Use it as a symbol and place it between items in a list reading across the page instead of up and down:

thing 1 • thing 2 • thing 3 • thing 4 • thing 5

Alternatively for lists I also like the up and down slash (shift + \ ):

thing 1 | thing 2 | thing 3 | thing 4 | thing 5

3. The Huge Left Margin.

Somehow many resumes end up with big left-hand margins where you put just the titles of your companies or dates worked (I suspect MS Word is responsible for this). I did a bunch of math to figure this one out. Here’s the straight dope: if you have a 1" header at the top of your resume with your name in it, and standard 1" margins around the page, the space left over for your actual resume text is only 55% of the whole page. If you add a left column; which I’ll conservatively estimate at 1.5" inches (insert pause here for math), all you have left to write in is 41% of a page!

*Bonus: Grand conspiracy theory time: I hope you realize now that MS Word is systematically trying to keep you from employment. MS Word won't be happy until your resume is merely your name and a tiny little box in the center containing an objective with four bullet points. Also 55% of the page is all you usually use. So yeah, we’re all killing the planet. Let all use 0.5" margins from now on.

4. Abbreviated Dates.

You worked at a call center from 7/27/99 – 1/11/11. Remember you're going to get a quick scan through and then a very slightly longer second read. Anything you put on the resume that causes a pause where someone goes, “umm ... 7 is ... July, 99 is 1999 ... to ... 1 is January, 11 is 2011,” is taking up your reviewer's brain space, that they should be using to be impressed by you instead. Second, you know where you see the slashy date format? On credit cards, on time-stamped receipts, tax forms, any impersonal transactional documents, not correspondence or proper business documents. Be classy and use just the full name of the month and the full year: July 1999- January 2011

5. Future Perfect Continuous (“I have been”).

I see this all over: "have been assisting," "have designed." It's extremely common and extremely passive. Own your actions: assisted, designed. You answered, managed, ran, collaborated, and led. Be bold.

6. Full Sentences.

Your resume isn't the place for long, beautiful, elaborate sentences. Everywhere else in the world, little bitty sentence fragments are unwelcome; your resume is where they find a home. Think brisk and businesslike. We'll go into what exactly you should put in your resume in another installment, but if you find yourself writing a biographical sentence like "I found myself in charge of our department's annual meeting and have been enjoying rising to the challenge of designing an engaging program that stimulates our productivity," you're probably on the wrong track.

7. The Word “I.”

Not using the word I in your resume is going to make it sound more officious and objective. Think of your resume as speaking in the third person about you, but it doesn’t know your name or your gender, so it simply states. This one is also going to receive detailed follow-up in Part two, but as a sneak peek: "Led a team of 30 over the course of a 10-week, award-winning sales program."

8. NO Times New Roman or Arial or Comic Sans Fonts.

Type matters. Everyone out there is going to be using Times, Arial, and Calibri, because they’re defaults. Without falling off a cliff and landing in the ocean of Papyrus, Comic Sans, and French Script, I urge you to give something a little more daring a try. How about: Garmond, Bookman, Gil Sans, Univers, or Helvetica?

There are two main types of font; Serif and Sans Serif. You probably already know about that, but if you don't, do some Googling. Sans Serif is good for tech jobs, and anything cutting edge. Serif is good for hoity-toity occupations, old fussy firms and librarians, anything where you think of wood paneling. Some employers could go either way and then maybe it's more about what you are like.

9. Inconsistent Formatting.

Humans are primed for pattern recognition, and we're really good at seeing the places where a pattern breaks down. A chip in your nail polish will jump out at you until you can't see anything else, just as a subtly limping zebra is screamingly obvious to a pack of hyenas. So too with your resume. If you plan to bold the titles of all your jobs, you better check that you did it. If you orient your dates to the right, they better all align. Check it once or twice, let it sit for a few hours or a day, and then look again. Fixing spelling errors goes without saying, but formatting errors often get missed.

10. Colors.

No, no, no! You need to be smart about how your resume will print out in black and white. If you let an automatic hyperlink to your email go in, then that one word is going to print out a little lighter than everything, and if it gets photocopied it will end up a total wreck. If you put your name in purple, that's what will wash out. Also included under the umbrella of color: fake logos, monograms, decorative borders, and images of any kind. You are allowed words, straight lines, bolding, maybe a few bullet points if you use them wisely, and nothing else.

Phew. That was exhausting. I think I really get how the mean army sergeant/gym coach/reclusive genius/inspiring inner school teacher in the training montage feels when he or she is yelling at everyone, because they need to be broken down before they can be built up. I'm looking forward to part two, where I finally afford you all the grudging respect you've earned, and actually give you some positive advice and we can have ... well, not fun ... because resumes suck, but at least a decent time with it.

EGH is a professional by day, Hairpin commenter by night, and weekend career counselor. She would like you to drop and give her the names of the last five jobs you had in reverse chronological order.

Illustrations by Leah Lin.

337 Comments / Post A Comment

AndSomethingElse

I'm way too lazy to go edit my resume now, when I actually have a job, but I'm totally bookmarking this for future reference.

martinipie

Thank yooooooooouuu!

Ask a Manager / Alison Green

Right on. I give out cranky job advice for a living, and you've hit a bunch of stuff that drives me crazy. One more thing I'd add will make the difference between a meh resume and a compelling resume that will make a hiring manager's heart beat faster: Don't just list what you were responsible for at each job. List what you got done -- what you achieved, outcomes you were responsible for, etc.

Ellie

@Ask a Manager / Alison Green So funny to see other bloggers in blog comments, I thought of you immediately on seeing the subject of this post. I comment on yours as "Ellie H."

Ask a Manager / Alison Green

@Ask a Manager / Alison Green Ha, I am everywhere that resumes are being discussed! A bugle call goes off into the night and I respond.

werewolfbarmitzvah

@Ask a Manager / Alison Green "I achieved the ordering of many bagel breakfasts. The outcome was a large tray of bagels at every committee meeting. And the meeting attendees did rejoice."

Ask a Manager / Alison Green

@werewolfbarmitzvah "Ensured logistics for committee meetings ran smoothly and efficiently."

nonvolleyball

@Ask a Manager / Alison Green haha, I am also excited to see you on here! I don't have a regular AAM handle (I don't comment that often) but maybe I'll start using nonvolleyball over there. I've pointed people your way in a lot of other career-focused threads on the Hairpin.

sox
sox

@werewolfbarmitzva "Read and respond to all articles on The Hairpin while maintaining the appearance of completing assigned work tasks."

miss olsen

@Ask a Manager / Alison Green I'm also excited to see you on the hairpin! Y'all, AAM has the job hunt realtalk you need. Relatedly, I don't remember what my resume looks like, and what a sweet relief after obsessing over it every day for months and months and wondering what specific line was making people not want to interview me.

apatosaurus

Using a professional email address is helpful, as well. I'm amazed at the otherwise professional-looking resumes I've seen with email addresses like "PrInCeSSSpArKL369LOL@supercoolemail" or whatnot attached.

thebestjasmine

@apatosaurus OH MY GOD yes. Your email address for your resume should be firstname.lastname@ email (preferably either gmail or a school email or alumni address. You can also use firstinitial or middle initial etc. But nothing else.

Non-anonymous

@thebestjasmine If you can. Every reasonable variation on my real name has been already taken on every email service I've ever joined.

TheDragon

@Non-anonymous That is the one befit to having a last name, that while common, is spelled unusually. No one ever has my name. :)

WaityKatie

@thebestjasmine Finally, those of us who are boring enough to have "firstname.lastname" as our regular email addresses win!

EpWs

@apatosaurus @everyone Can I get an official ruling on putting your for-reals street address on resumes? I don't see why we need this these days and mine is taking up one hell of a lot of space.

thebestjasmine

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher I would think it was weird if I saw a resume without an address. I mean, people still live in places these days, right? I think it's as non negotiable as your phone number and email address.

EpWs

@thebestjasmine Part of the issue that I'm having is that I'll only be in my current address for the next three months; after that, I'm not sure where I'll be (still in town, not sure where exactly). I also have an address where I can be permanently reached by snail-mail. My old resume version has both on there ("present" and "permanent") but it really looks crowded and terrible.

thebestjasmine

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher I would just use your permanent address, BUT if it's in one area and you're applying for jobs in another, and your current address is where you're applying, then get a stupid PO Box and use that. People really do pay attention to that, if your address is LA and you're applying in Chicago, they may worry that you're not serious about the job.

lunacydress

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher The resume expert at the staffing agency I went to 6 years ago said your address just takes up valuable space on your resume- no one mails anything anymore, at least nothing you'd need before you get the job. Email and phone number(s) are all you need.

I've left it off ever since and it's never been a problem.

WaityKatie

@lunacydress Well, unless you work in a field so hopelessly behind the times that some are still debating whether it's ok for women to wear pants (LEGAL FIELD), and someone reading your resume will probably think, "No address?? This person does not exist!"

thebestjasmine

@WaityKatie Yeah, honestly, if I got a resume with no address on it, I would think that there was something really weird about it.

sevanetta

@thebestjasmine I started leaving mine off when I was applying for jobs interstate because I didn't want to get ruled out for interview - I wanted a job interstate :so: I could move interstate. Now I always leave it off because it takes up space and I have kept moving. If people need to post me stuff they ring me; when I was getting interstate interviews, I just used to tell them when they rang up. And apart from anything else, I don't give out my address to anyone else.

EpWs

@sevanetta It's not an issue of location (I live in the city I want to work in), it's just that it takes up a pile of space at the top of my resume. However, I moved things around and condensed a lot (addresses can be written in one line! Who knew?) and now I have an address that doesn't take up three inches at the top of my page. Thanks for everyone's input!

Gracefully and Grandly

So helpful! I also hope there's a cover letter post in the works. Resumes = bad. Cover letters = the WORST. Seriously any tips are welcome. I always end up sounding like a stilted jargon robot.

E
E

@Gracefully and Grandly I promise! Cover letters are forthcoming!

oh, disaster

@Gracefully and Grandly Cover letters are definitely the worst, forever and ever. I can't write about them without sounding super serious and boring and awful and ahhhh, cover letters.

MEGA VENUTIAN SPACE SCORPION

@E Just what I was going to ask for! In the middle of a terrifying job hunt and my cover letters are what's freaking me out (Please tell me why you don't want to interview me people! Or just interview me, I'm really good!). Only one small use of bullet points on my resume, otherwise I've avoided these issues.

Brunhilde

@Gracefully and Grandly Writing cover letters makes me suicidal. I got a math degree so I'd never have to write anything, people! (That really didn't work out like I had hoped it would)

MEGA VENUTIAN SPACE SCORPION

@Brunhilde Just looked at my resume again, turns out it totally covered in bullet points.

DillyBean

@Gracefully and Grandly I worked in HR for a year reviewing cover letters and resumes. You will sort of always come off as super serious and boring and a little bit braggy.

However, that inclination to convey that you are fun and lighthearted and going to have a cover letter that demonstrates your real personality? It basically never ever ever works out in your favor. It veers SO EASILY into "I do not understand how to be professional and I am going to be kind of insane to work with."

discocammata

@DillyBean Ahh! Examples of fun and lighthearted phrases? I've just come off a long spell of writing cover letters and now I'm paranoid!

DillyBean

@discocammata I'm sure you were fine. The ones that stand out in my memory were very like, "Aren't you sick of regular cover letters? I'm going to think outside the box and be wacky and make awkward jokes and have bad grammar!"

Low key lightheartedness of phrase can be fine. Try reading it out loud to yourself and imagine you're reading it to someone serious in a professional context.

But it's also okay to just be straightforward and send a well written letter describing why you'd be well-suited to the job and why you're eager to work at the company.

Faintly Macabre

@DillyBean I keep being tempted to put something a bit silly in my cover letters because I am really not that earnest and serious in real life. But even the most subtle jokes make it read like I've suddenly gone off the deep end, like you said. Ugh, I hate cover letters.

WaityKatie

@Gracefully and Grandly I'm taking Stilted Jargon Robot for my new band name.

Lady Humungus

The Objective, blehhhh. I'm so with you on dropping that - every resume workshop or guide I ever read insisted on that stupid nonsense.

Leon Tchotchke

I was all set to have Strong Opinions about this, but these are all great! (Especially ditching Goal or Objective, because don't those always make you sound like a weird robot trying to pass as human? I SEEK CHALLENGES AND THE OPPORTUNITY TO APPLY MY SKILLS IN A TEAM ENVIRONMENT, FELLOW ORGANISM, BEEP BOOP.)

Also, thoughts on present-tense resumes? I've heard some people swear up and down that you should always write out like "Provide regular status updates to development team" or whatever as opposed to "Provided", even for jobs you no longer hold, but doing that looks just awful to me. Do people actually do this?

leonstj

@Leon Tchotchke - I like to use the future-past-perfect. "It will be said that I acquitted myself in a professional manner."

melis

"When my name is spoken in the halls of great men, it will be with hushed reverence: her spreadsheets were easy to understand and always submitted in a timely fashion."

dale

@Leon Tchotchke Honest to god, I laughed out loud at the BEEP BOOP in your comment.

Leon Tchotchke

@leon.saintjean Second person bleak resumes are the new thing. "You collate the papers, wishing each one is the last in the pile. Secretly, you dream of flying. The hours pass like the awkward condolences of wellwishers at the funeral of a friend. You are goal oriented and a multi-tasker."

Mingus_Thurber

@Leon Tchotchke "There was a stack of papers. It was a good stack of papers. I collated it. In the rain."

jilliac crest

@Leon Tchotchke I use the present tense for my current job, and then past tense for former jobs.

OxfordComma

@melis : AHAHAHHAAHAHHAAHAHHAHH!!!

wee_ramekin

@Leon Tchotchke

Immeasurable exhale.

BlodwynPig

@leon.saintjean
I might be missing out on some American humour here, but please don't use tense names if you are going to get them wrong. It hurts my brain! I have no problem with typos and grammatical mistakes, we all make them! Especially me! But tense names are sacred, so deep breath and here goes:
'It will be said' is not future-past-perfect, but future simple, passive voice. 'Future past perfect' does not exist, your choices are either the future perfect = I will have done, or the past perfect = I had done. (Future perfect passive = it will have been done, past perfect passive = it had been done)
EGH makes the same mistake in the article: 'have been' is not the future perfect continuous, but rather the present perfect simple (I have lived) or part of the present perfect continuous (I have been living.)
The future perfect continuous is like this: this time next month, I will have been reading the hairpin for one year, and I will have read many more excellent articles and comments (future perfect.)
If you really want to complicate things, and apparently I do, then a future past perfect continuous, passive tense is entirely possible – this time next month Pippa Middleton’s behind will have been being discussed for one year. Four auxiliaries. Count them. Now try and use one in conversation, I dare you.

melis

@BlodwynPig No, I think it's pluperfect. Or is it imperfect subjective? No, it's definitely past-present-mixed-woopsidaisy imperative.

BlodwynPig

@melis Oh, if only we had an imperfect subjunctive in English, then I could be an even bigger grammar juicebox! But hélas, that is only a dream; a country into which we would have never been born. And while past perfect = pluperfect, I can't help but tip my hat to someone whose grammatical knowledge extends to the dreaded woopsidaisy tenses, be they imperative or otherwise.
On a side note, I got asked the other day to explain the difference between the present simple and the present complicated (she meant present continuous) and I reckon that all tenses should henceforth be known as 'complicated', 'bloody complicated' and 'here be dragons' ; It would make life easier all round.

E
E

@BlodwynPig Then you'd really hate it when I was calling it the "passive voice have tense". I'm sorry. I'll see if I can get a fix on that.

bangs
bangs

@BlodwynPig This is why I went into science.

BlodwynPig

@bangs But everyone knows science is where the clever people go. No doubt you'll be off saving (wo)mankind while I'm just sat at home wondering what use my humanities degree will ever be to the world. I wish I'd understood/ tried harder to understand maths and science!

bangs
bangs

@BlodwynPig No, I resorted to Evil Industry. Making money, destroying the planet, all in a day's work.

kateek

@BlodwynPig As an English teacher who frequently has to explain the difference between present perfect and present perfect continuous, I'm totally going to use 'here be dragons' from now on.

Veronica Mars is smarter than me

@kateek English teacher! What the hell are OUR resumes supposed to look like???? (especially if I haven't held a salaried teaching position yet)

OxfordComma

@Veronica Mars is smarter than me : Have you read "The English Teacher's Companion" by Jim Burke? He has a *beautiful* resume guide that I've used both in and out of the education system. Oh, and his website is great: http://www.englishcompanion.com/index.htm

It basically starts with your name as the header, then briefly, your education and certificates, then your work experience in most recent chronological order with bullet points.

It's simple, super easy to scan and read, and it's easy to adapt from job to job.

OxfordComma

@Veronica Mars is smarter than me : Oh, and use your student teaching experience in that jobs held section--it TOTALLY COUNTS. :)

packedsuitcase

@BlodwynPig You. You are my hero. "Here be dragons" has me snorting with laughter at my desk.

Scandyhoovian

Best post timing ever, personally speaking. This job hunt stuff is daunting.

molly anne

@Scandyhoovian SAME HERE. as in, I was doing a bunch of these no-nos to my resume last night.

EpWs

@Scandyhoovian I swear The Hairpin has mind readers working there. "The Everpresent Wordsnatcher JUST SENT HER RESUME TO A GUY. Quickly, let us post this so that she may see the error of her ways and regret her sinful bullet-pointing, too late!" (Thankfully it was just so he could write an introduction for me--not an actual job-hunting resume send. Hooray!)

Scandyhoovian

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher Same! So many bullet points! My entire resume is bullet points! It is all I have ever known! *weeps quietly into a pile of resumes that must be overhauled*

isitisabel

@Scandyhoovian I can't decide if this is the best timing ever or the worst timing ever, since my plan for tonight and tomorrow is to write and send out a shit-ton of resumes and cover letters. This was incredibly helpful, but now I'm stuck wondering "But what SHOULD I do?"

Veronica Lemmons

Thank you! This is so great. Happy to report the only thing I'm guilty of on your Don't list is bullets. I love me some bullets. And I heartily endorse Garamond.

cuminafterall

@Veronica Lemmons I am convinced that 11-point Garamond has gotten me every interview I've ever had.

meetapossum

@Veronica Lemmons Garamond has the most beautiful question marks in the world of typography.

emilylou

@Veronica Lemmons I have remained faithful to Georgia through many years of resumes. Hasn't failed me yet! (By "hasn't failed" I mean "has gotten me a string of semi-alright office jobs and freelance gigs, at least I've never been seriously unemployed")

Jon Custer

@meetapossum The italic ampersands kinda freak me out though.

hopelessshade

@Veronica Lemmons I will see you on the bullets and raise you a Palatino.

(I also have a thin hairline border, but I'm also not trying to be a banker)

Veronica Lemmons

@hopelessshade Oooh I had a dalliance with Palatino for a while, but Garamond REALLY IS beautiful! Georgia, eh? Well I'm needing to spruce up my shit for the first round of real jobhunting I've had to do in years. Perhaps I could use a new attitude!

frigwiggin

@emilylouise Georgia! I have become a Georgia devotee. I'm not a real font snob, but Papyrus grates on my soul.

wee_ramekin

@emilylouise It has also gotten you Freedom.

Veronica Lemmons

@Veronica Lemmons Actually I just realized that the appeal of Garamond is akin to my high school obsession with Anne of Green Gables/Lady of Shalott/pre-Raphaelites. (Yup, that's how long I've preferred Garamond for resumes.) Now, I want a font that's more along the lines of...RuPaul. Confident, kind, complex, put-together, beautiful as both a man and woman. What font -- what *resume* font, rather -- says "RuPaul"?

emilylou

@figwiggin Ugh, I hate Papyrus. So do all graphic designers & other artsy professionals I know. It's trying too hard to be ~mystical~ and it's totally overused. See also: Lucida Handwriting. So gross.

@wee_ramekin !!! :D Especially when I use Georgia to sign my cover letters "Eternally Yours, Emily"

frigwiggin

@emilylouise Seriously! It makes me so (people tell me "irrationally," but whatever) grumpy to see it on storefronts and menus and book covers, because it says to me, "I can't be bothered to use anything other than an easily-recognizable free font, I don't care about this [storefront/menu/book cover] that much." At least if you're going to use a free font, use one that's not so obvious! (Like Georgia!)

Any One Ninja Plot

@Veronica Lemmons I happened to use Garamond when applying for the job I currently have, without realizing it was the "standard company font." I don't know if there's any way to find out the standard font is at an organization for which you are applying (what they use on the website? if you've been there in person before, what do they use on their office doors?), but if there is you should use it.

emilylou

@figwiggin Every nondescript Greek/"Mediterranean" restaurant anywhere is using Papyrus for its storefront & menu. WHY DO THEY NOT UNDERSTAND how horrible this is?

If you're irrational, I'm irrational with you!

EpWs

@Veronica Lemmons GIL SANS LIGHT 4EVA.

foureyedgirl

@All y'all Should I not be using Mufferaw for my resume? No, really, Garamond is my serif jam and Gill Sans is my sans. I love you people.

RK Fire

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher: YESSSS. Also, I really like Eurostile, but I'm not in design school anymore nor am I a designer so.. I can never use it for resumes. :(

the angry little raincloud

@Veronica Lemmons I'm a Didot girl myself for job materials.

And, um, who the hell is submitting their resumes and cover letters in comic sans? A predecessor at a former job used comic sans for the database we all used, and for that I cursed her every single day, so I suppose there really are people out there who use it. I mean, it's the typeface banging the prom queen and all, but....

Anyway. Um. Great advice.

DandelionTacy

@Veronica Lemmons Yes! I've been using Garamond for a good dozen years now since I realized that that's what the American Harry Potter books are printed in. It's a tidy little font!

Craftastrophies

@figwiggin I think I hate papyrus even more than comic sans. The reason being, they are both terrible and hackneyed, but comic sans at least gets the message across that I AM A FUN PERSON HOORAY! It also gets the message across that you are a bit nutso, but whatever. Whereas Papyrus is being used to show us all how mystical that person is, when it's actually doing the opposite. Although I guess that also carries its own useful information with it.

I'm a trubechet girl, myself. Oh, lord, I am such a nuuurrrrd! But my last job was in publications, and a lot of what i'm applying for involved formatting things, so I need to prove with my resume that I actually know how to make things look good, and not generic, and be consistent with the bold headings, etc.

I'm pretty pleased to see that my resume has actually benefited from all the freaking job applications that have required me to hone it down to the bare bones. It now naturally conforms to all of these things, except that I do have a two column format - the left is the date, the right is job title as heading, duties and achievements underneath. The left hand column is juuust wide enough to fit the longest month in there. You guys! You can adjust column width!

tea tray in the sky.

@the angry little raincloud Didot club represent WUT.

PricklyPear

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher Yes but Gil Sans the g is wack when it's in lower-case. <3 you neutraface!

timesnewroman

@everyone This Cracked entry on fonts still is wise and still makes me giggle. "The vast majority of fonts should not be used, ever." www.cracked.com/funny-5647-fonts/

nevernude cutoffs

@Veronica Lemmons God, I love everyone in this thread forever. Real Font Talk, right here. If anyone wants to mix it up, here's a really helpful list of lovely type combinations. It's kind of my jam.

Dachelle

I'm a law school career counselor, and though I think most of this is good advice, I disagree on the bullet points. Most legal resume guides advise using bullets, and I think they help guide the eye through the resume. Employers tell us they like seeing three or four bullet points under a job, and they strongly prefer a one page resume. Also, unless you're actually in high school, please do not list high school jobs and activities, especially on your law school resume.

Alixana

@Dachelle I have always gotten the one-page advice, and am finding it increasingly difficult to both list 3 or 4 things per job AND keep it to a page. At this point, I have totally eliminated all details from college and grad school and kept only my two biggest law school achievements. If I cut out the 4 years b/w college and law school that I spent teaching to save those few lines, is that OK, or will people wonder about that gap?

dale

@Dachelle True - I think it probably depends if the person is using bullets for everything, or just for a few items. I use bullets only in one section, which is about specific items I am familiar with. But it is going to vary depending on the 'target' industry whether they find it an acceptable look or not.

Absolutely yes on the one-page resume (when possible), though.

E
E

@Dachelle I have no power to forbid the use of bullet points, but I do think that for a lot of people who need the space, the bullet point is going to be a number one space limiter. Most people struggle with brevity, and the bullet point is not their friend.

stonefruit

@Dachelle Although I do think that after being in practice for a while, it's okay to go onto the second page. You're supposed to be building your resume by giving CLE talks, or sitting on panels, or serving on non-profit boards, and eventually you're going to need more room.

Dachelle

@Alixana I wouldn't leave a time gap. I think in your case it is probably O.K. to go to two pages - I would just make sure that the most important information is on the first page so if the employer ends up only skimming the first page they still get the info you want them to see.

@stonefruit Definitely. I advise a lot of straight from undergrad law students, though, and there is no need for two pages with them!

thebestjasmine

@stonefruit Agree with this for being in practice for a while, but I have seen two to four page resumes for law school students. Sorry, unless you had an extensive professional career before you went to grad school, that makes you just look arrogant, and no one is going to read most of it.

Nina B.@twitter

@thebestjasmine How would you suggest including leadership positions from college where you developed skills? With just internships, one page is feasible, but including any of my other development in college, one page becomes difficult. Tips?

thebestjasmine

@Nina B.@twitter Put it under the entry about your college, along with any awards, your thesis, etc.

dakdakdak

@Dachelle Huh. My law school career office had a MANDATORY, STRICTLY ENFORCED resume format everyone had to use, and they absolutely prohibited the use of bullet points.

Also, doesn't everyone's resume have to be 1-1.5 page? Isn't that the difference between the simple resume (ie "summary') and the grander CV?

Craftastrophies

@Nina B.@twitter Can some of it go in a cover letter? My resume is two pages - first page is personal info, and my current and most recent role. Next page is the two roles before that (relevant to the positions I'm applying for) and everything else is just a statement of the job, no details. My cover letter picks up some of the more relevant information, but I work really really hard to keep that one page only.

There's usually application criteria that you have to address if you're applying for a particular job, so I can get more detailed again, there, and that's where I have more of a personality as well. It's trickier if you're not applying for a specific role, though.

leonstj

Also, I feel like, there's a huge difference in resumes for new-career-ers vs. job-changers.

I like my job a lot and I'm not looking, but I'll take the occasional interview when head-hunted because, well, why not? I want to make sure I'm decent at interviewing.

Well, I've found out that stripping my resume down to bare-bones works really well - I'm a little established in my career, and it's a job title people recognize, so that's a big part of it. I don't really say anything about what I do, because I am "Project Manager", so people know what I do. Instead, I just put down some awards and sizes of projects I've worked on.

I felt so like "OMG what am i doing?" when i first did this, but it's ended up great - when I go in for an interview, people actually ask questions about specific projects I've done, and I use that to work in the individual 'i'm really good at x y z" stuff.

As someone who's been a reader of resumes for entry-level jobs, job starters especially - please follow all of the advice in this article a lot. Frankly, what you have done in the past (basically, nothing business-y) is not going to be impressive - but your ability to pull together a nice, professional resume reassures me that you can, when the time comes, present yourself as a professional - which is surprisingly hard to find. If you can fake it, there's a good chance you can make it.

themegnapkin

@leon.saintjean Totally agree on the idea of stripping your resume down and being as specific as possible. (I love my job and I'm not looking.) In my fairly specialized field of law, everyone is aware of the important cases and projects. Being able to say that you worked on one of them, and then discuss it in an interview, is powerful.

vunder

@leon.saintjean Agree agree agree. If you have standard job titles, and good brand names, a few buzzy words (awards, budget sizes, staff sizes) tell people most things they need to know. People try to cram way too much stuff on their resumes.

Craftastrophies

@leon.saintjean I think this is true even of my own, admin-heavy resume. Everyone knows what I did as receptionist, or Publications Officer, or Project Manager, broadly speaking. Then I tend to look at the job I'm applying for and note anything particularly relevant under the job title. If I had more impressive things like awards or big public projects, they would replace that and the specific duties stuff would just go live on my cover letter.

Also, seconding the last advice about your resume being professional BEING part of the resume.

bessmarvin

Wait -- I don't get it. How do you not use bullet points in a resume? Am I dumb? I thought you have the position, the org, the dates, and then you use bullet points to say what you did. No?

Leon Tchotchke

@bessmarvin I usually just put what I did in a (very short) paragraph in italics below the job title. This also forces me to keep it short, which helps keep me from going on and on about job responsibilities that weren't essential to my role and aren't relevant to the job I'm applying for.

"Coordinated national distribution at a thingum manufacturer. Worked with design team to fine-tune thingum and widget development. Prepared executive briefings on gewgaws for potential investors." ... or whatever.

yamtoes

@bessmarvin After using bullet points for the past decade, I just recently switched to a format where I include a few sentences explaining the job, what I did, etc. However, this required me to use complete sentences, thus violating another "don't" on the list, so I'm not sure what the answer is. It would be very helpful to see an example of a resume that meets all of her requirements.

werewolfbarmitzvah

@bessmarvin I mainly avoid bullet points because they take up SO MUCH ROOM on a resume that's generally not supposed to be longer than one page, and I want to be able to cram in as many words about my brilliant paper-shuffling and spreadsheeting abilities as humanly possible. I do the short paragraph thing as well.

Craftastrophies

@yamtoes Mine are basically bullet points, debulleted. My resume goes like this:

June 20xx - August 20xx (in tiny left hand column)
Title of job, Organisation

Brief explanation of the role, e.g. 'first point of contact' or 'managed several projects'. Then I say 'Responsible for blah, blah and blah, as well as blah and blah. Required to blah. Achieved blah. '

Basically bullet points, with an extra word in front of them, and no actual bullets. I would probably have a 5 page resume, elsewise.

yamtoes

@Craftastrophies Yeah, I realized mine aren't actually complete sentences either. Just fragments pretending to be sentences.

hotdog

I'm going to call a big 'meh' on the font advice for a lot of professions (obviously not visual professions). I've worked in various HR departments and I can't say that has ever come up...

Everything else, however, spot on.

Katie Aaberg@facebook

@hotdog Agreed. Obviously, no one should use Comic Sans for anything (least of all, a resume), but Times and Arial are well-designed basic fonts. Nothing wrong with using them.

hotdog

I forgot about the comic sans reference. Yeah, that font might actually get you preemptively fired from the job you don't have yet.

E
E

@hotdog I don't think you WON'T get a job is you use Arial. But I do think you can subtly stand out by not using it.

MollyculeTheory

@E What's the verdict on using a (slightly) different font for your name & contact information to distinguish it?

Any One Ninja Plot

@E Agreed. It's never going to "come up." It's not that anyone goes, "Oh, Times New Roman, reject." But it's a subconscious thing -- typeface is so important and no one ever realizes it.

E
E

@MollyculeTheory I've been pondering on this one. Mostly (and this comes from my graphic design teacher's perspective) I'm anti mixing fonts because I think it can go so badly wrong...but overall, I'm not actually feeling strongly against it. So long as it's not an excuse to put your name in the dread Papyrus, or mix a serif and sans serif. So it comes down to, do you trust yourself to handle this power wisely?

octagonfudge

@hotdog I tell my students if they are going to mix fonts, make them different enough from each other (i.e. not fonts that look too much alike, because there's no point!), and make them have a purpose. Like, establish one for headlines and one for body copy. But seriously, you don't need more than two fonts in a resume. I have to caution against using sans serif if you have a lot of copy, though. It can be fatiguing and cause the "wall of text" effect, which is a little exhausting to the reader to look at. You don't want your resume to be exhausting! Serifs have those little dealies for a reason, they help guide your eye naturally from one letter to another, which is why periodicals and books use them.

Yay fonts!

Daria Morgendorffer

@octagonfudge I have a branded font that I have on my website, business card, and resume name header, and then I use the Helvetica font for the resume text body. They're both sans-serif fonts and don't seem to clash with each other.
P.S. I never thought about why/if serifs are useful - neat!

@serenityfound

I think that colors can work in resumes - if used wisely and sparingly. They can make your resume stand out a little if being submitted and reviewed completely electronically (looking at a PDF on-screen) or completely manually (you hand them a resume and it never goes through a computer. I have my name and a decorative line that separates my contact info from the rest of my resume in a pretty dark blue - it's not distracting if printed in black and white, but it's just different enough to stand out if you're looking at it in color.

Tina W

One comment and it might be covered in part two....but another two things about formatting:

-PDF your resumes unless they tell you not to!! When I open a Word resume on my computer, it usually doesn't look how you intended it to. There are odd page breaks, fonts don't always translate, etc. It makes you seem disorganized.

-Name the file with your last name, not "resume.pdf". We have two positions opening up at my work and I am responsible for hiring them; I just received about 20 resumes in one batch and they're all called resume.doc, resume-1.doc, resume_NEWEST.pdf, etc. It doesn't make it easy if I want to refer back to a person later.

elizabeast

@Tina W People really do those things? I always send a PDF because a word document can be edited by basically anyone and...that makes me uncomfortable?

stonefruit

@Tina W and for the love of G-d, if you insist on sending the resume in MSWord, ACCEPT ALL CHANGES.

Tina W

@elizabeast I would say more people do it than not!

Tina W

@stonefruit yes. YES.

thebestjasmine

@Tina W GOD YES to both of these things.

Megoon

@Tina W I was about to chime in about .doc vs. PDF. It kind of floors me when people send Word docs.

Also, send it to someone and have them print it out. They can tell you if the margins are weird, or if it printed with a mystery second blank page.

Two other random notes: put the "education" section at the bottom. A lot of entry-level applicants put it first and it screams newbie to me. And center your name. I got this advice a while ago, thought it was dumb, and now see its now - if someone's going through a big paperclipped pile, don't make them pull it apart to see whose resume they're looking at.

Faintly Macabre

@Tina W Aaahh mine's in Word! Probably because my mother taught me the basics of resumes, and she can barely use a computer. Luckily, I have Acrobat Pro so I will change it now! But now I'm paranoid that every unanswered job application was because they printed out a gibberish copy of my resume, laughed, and set it on fire. (At least the file name is "Faintly Macabre--resume?")

BattyRabbit

@Faintly Macabre Ugh ME TOO I just sent out a whole bunch of resumes in .doc format and now I'm panicking :( Oh well, I'll have to send out a bajillion more, and now I know.

snuffleupagus

@Tina W Oh god, THIS!!!! I don't mind resumes in .doc format, I just hate it when I'm saving to my hard drive and have to rename every single one of the documents because they're all named "resume."

nocomment

@Megoon Staffing firms ask for a doc version. They take out your identifying info/contact information and put theirs to ensure the company doesn't go around them to hire without having to pay for the staffing firm's help.

pinecone

Hey, watch what you say about librarians! Wood paneling? I don't know what libraries you've been visiting, but apparently mine isn't among them.

noodle

@pinecone Agreed. A librarian IS a tech job!

Non-anonymous

@noodle Exactly what I was going to say!

E
E

@pinecone I grew up in a quaint New England town. When I think library, I think Ms. Bonnie, brick buildings and a grand oak card catalogue in one corner. I know you guys are all computer wizards these days, but it's hard for me to break my mental blocks.

pinecone

@noodle Yes! That's what I was thinking until I got to the retrograde but obligatory "old lady in a quiet room" reference to librarians. Maybe it's better if people avoided giving advice about professions they don't really understand!

pinecone

@E You and my library director both. He's not a librarian, and I think he's a little surprised that we aren't still using a card catalog.

spanglepants

@pinecone My local library is a festival of wood panelling. It's pretty awesome.

EpWs

@pinecone @noodle Things I Have Learned From Grad School/Supernatural/Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Do not piss off the librarians.

pinecone

@spanglepants Truth be told, so is mine. It also has a massive mural of Lee surrendering at Appomattox over the new acquisitions section. But the building was built in the 19th century, so it's ok.

SarahP

I agree with everything except no Times New Roman or Arial. With online resume submission so popular these days, using non-standard fonts can mess up your formatting if someone opens your resume on a computer that doesn't have special fonts.

ImASadGiraffe

@SarahP I think you can avoid this by using PDF format.

MEGA VENUTIAN SPACE SCORPION

@SarahP PDFs! Also prevents any distracting, red squiggly lines caused by Word not knowing the name of your company or how grammar actually works.

Alice

@SarahP Helpful tip for Word users who want to use non-standard fonts! (Although I do agree with using PDF's when possible, but if you insist on Word, this is useful.)

When you save your file, in "Save As", if you click "Options" there's a "save font with file" option, which means that when someone opens your document, they see it with your intended font, even if they don't have it installed on their computer.

angelinha

@ImASadGiraffe I only JUST learned the saving-your-resume-as-a-PDF trick. Amazing. Future me is going to get SO MANY JOBS!

skiwi12

As a HR recruiter for a company I screen hundreds of resumes, and I agree with most (especially the Objective part)! But I have to disagree with the use of bullet points. I personally much prefer reading resumes that use bullet points because it spaces things out - making it much easier for me to read. I hate getting resumes that have huge blocks of text, and you can bet that I've skipped over some of them! So lists of bullet points can be a really good thing if it's not overused.

Also, lines that divide the different sections of your resume are your best friend.

Jon Custer

@skiwi12 This is exactly the problem. Every article on "what to do with your resume" is like: "HR recruiter 1 says 'Always do X. I never hire anyone that doesn't do X.'" then three paragraphs later, "HR recrutier 2 says, 'Never, ever do X. I throw all of those resumes in the trash.'"

So I think at the end of the day, a lot of it is just luck.

skiwi12

@Jon Custer You bring up a good point, these sorts of aesthetic things are really based on personal preferences when you think about it. But when it comes down to it, the candidate whose qualified will always trump the other candidate with the prettier resume.

Veronica Lemmons

@skiwi12 So what you're saying is...I don't have to give up bullet points? Good, because I wasn't going to anyway. I like them in modestly sized squares. Like petit fours on a page.

Jon Custer

Good to know I was doing everything right all along, and it was just the economy that sucked (I have a job now).

However, I wasn't aware that "non-American" was a professional specialty!

Hot Doom

@Jon Custer Oh, but it is.

SuperMargie

I like all of this. It would be even greater if we could see all these tips worked into a sample resume to look at.

E
E

@SuperMargie I promise that will be forthcoming!

EpWs

@E THANK YOU. I have apparently committed umpteen gojillion sins on my resume (bullet points! Left margin of doom! Objective that I hate but have always been told needs to be there!) and have been looking at it so much that I can't see it any other way now. Will the next column of this be soon? I am hunting for jobs RIGHT NOW.

Scandyhoovian

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher I second your urgency! I am also hunting for jobs RIGHT NOW. And now I am thinking that tomorrow morning will be devoted to entirely rewriting my resume. Poor little resume.

dk
dk

If you're going for a federal government job (I know that every industry has "but here we do it THIS way" exceptions, but since the author mentioned the gov't up there I figured this mattered), rules are a little different - at least here in the Dept. of Labor they're looking for full paragraphs, complete sentences. Ridiculous details included. My resume was 3 pages long when I applied for a promotion last year. It feels stupid, but it's what they expect.

This is primarily because if you're going through the usajobs.gov site, your resume & application aren't actually read by the people who will be interviewing/hiring you. All applications first go to the HR dept where they scan for specific words and experience. If they consider you qualified, (and remember, these are people who don't do the job you're applying for and therefore don't have a full understanding of what's required so your applicable experience might not register to them) then you get put on a list and THAT's when the people who actually understand what the job takes get to see your resume. So you have to spell everything out so that the HR team understands why you're qualified to be considered by the hiring team.

It's pretty ridiculous and leads to super qualified people getting totally overlooked, unless you know how to play their game. And then when you do, you get an awesome federal job that makes everyone say totally helpful and friendly comments like "I PAY YOUR SALARY YOU SELFISH FAT-ASS GOVERNMENT PIG" to you. Join us!

Jon Custer

@dk It's even more fun if you're applying as a contractor!

dk
dk

@Jon Custer I can only imagine. Now that I am in, I CAN NEVER LEAVE.

muskegharpy

@dk This is excellent advice. I tell everyone that if a word is used in the gov'ment job description, use that exact word in your application/resume. Synonyms will not get you a job. For example: Job requires handling monkeys. You must say I handled monkeys. If you use any other word, like Macaca (a Monkey Genera) you will not get through the HR portal.

Plus appropriate box-checking. I missed out on a promotion because I missed an important box related to experience. Check Your Boxes, Federal Applicants!

dk
dk

@muskegharpy Yes! Study the job description like a hawk, and then just rewrite the damn thing directly into your resume.

ImASadGiraffe

@dk As a federal employee I can whole-heartedly agree with all of this. That darn USAJobs resume of mine is like 3 pages and I'm only 27.

TheDragon

@dk THANK you. I am just starting out with the US Federal Government, and I am actually crazy qualified for my age, but I didn't know this and I need every edge I can get. Wildlife jobs are about as scarce as hen's teeth these days

wee_ramekin

@dk Woaaaaaaah. Do you think this is true of state jobs as well? The whole "writing in actual sentences and paragraphs thing", I mean.

dk
dk

DThe Kendragon: you can do it! Just do your best to make your application as repetitive and boring as possible.

@wee_ramekin: sorry - no idea. I have only worked for the feds. Check with anyone you know who works for the state. Good luck!

MilesofMountains

@dk Is there any way to make that seem less awkward? I feel like when my resume is pretty much the job description pasted into a resume format with "you must have" replaced with "I have" it looks like I barely even tried. But if I reword things I'm afraid HR will figure "taught monkeys to play pipe organ" doesn't satisfy the "handling monkeys" requirement! I hate applying for government jobs so much.

dk
dk

@MilesofMountains The job posting for the job I currently hold includes, under Duties: “Plans, conducts, and coordinates civil and criminal investigations or reviews of small single or multi-employer plans or service providers.” So in my resume, I wrote “Planned and conducted reviews of small plans, including ______” and then gave some examples of plans that I had reviewed at my then-current job. I think the key is to throw in specific examples to break up the portions you copy/pasted out of the job posting. This is where it’s totally different from the private sector – they really want examples right there in the resume.

tortietabbie

@dk This is awesome advice. Thank you!

Daria Morgendorffer

@dk Damn, I really wish I had read this before applying to a job for the city here in Colorado. I am definitely not getting a call-back.

KFC Soundsystem@twitter

Something I've done, and only heard good things about is my practice of inserting my photo in the upper right-hand corner of the resume. I've got a good head shot (engagement photos FTW) so I figure why not tell the potential employer something about myself without actually saying it, amirite? (Note: this could also work because I'm a half-Filipino dude whose look doesn't necessarily read as any particular ethnic stereotype.)

Ask a Manager / Alison Green

@KFC Soundsystem@twitter Noooooo, noooo, do not do this! There's actually a conversation going on on my blog about this right now, and there's agreement that it's cheesy and weird! Do not shoot yourself in the foot this way.

KFC Soundsystem@twitter

I've read that post and am starting to skim the comments. I still don't understand what's particularly "unprofessional" about a smiling person wearing a tie. Obviously, if one is applying for a job as an undercover international spy, that might be a bad idea, but for jobs where I'm selling myself as a public good (Newspaper Columnist! Radio Personality! Company Spokesperson!), it seems almost necessary. What, exactly, is naive and unprofessional about a small head shot in the upper right hand corner of one's resume, opposite my name in big bold letters on the left side?

Jon Custer

@Ask a Manager / Alison Green I thought this was actually, if not illegal, than something American HR people find worrying? Because of possible discrimination or something like that?

It's normal and often expected outside the US, though.

EDIT: Rereading that, it's probably ASKING for pictures that is against the rules. Unless it's like an acting job or something.

E
E

@KFC Soundsystem@twitter The thing is a photo could work for or against you. Basically lets say you are hot. They might hire you because you are hot and they want all hot people. Or they might decide that because you are so hot you will distract everyone else and not hire you. In either case, they're not going to decide until an interview where they can see what you look like, so it's always going to be unnecessary.

Ask a Manager / Alison Green

@KFC Soundsystem@twitter It's partly because of convention, honestly -- it's just not done in the U.S. (as opposed to many countries where it's common) so it comes across as weird, as if you think your appearance is relevant to doing the job. And then on top of that, as Jon Custer mentions below, it makes a lot of employers really uncomfortable because it opens them up to charges of discrimination based on race, etc.

Ask a Manager / Alison Green

@Jon Custer Exactly. (See my comment right above this one.)

melis

The CEO of a headhunting firm in Greenwich once told me, over the course of an hour-long informational interview, to include not only my photo but my height, weight, current state of health and father's occupation on my resume.

thebestjasmine

@KFC Soundsystem@twitter It's unprofessional because unless you're a model or an actress, your looks shouldn't be part of your job application. If you think that they are, it makes you look like you don't know what you're doing.

melis

He [gender spoiler alert] also recommended that I find a husband with lots of money, like his daughter, "who write books about Western living that nobody reads, so it's a pretty ideal setup. Here's her card."

hopelessshade

@melis the FUUUUUUUCK

melis

It was without question the most fascinating hour of my life.

Judith Slutler

@melis Headshot, parents' occupation and marital status are all standard on German resumes. I sometimes still refuse to stick a headshot on there, don't feel like I've missed out on any jobs because of it, but when I switched cities I reluctantly added the headshot because I didn't want to shoot myself in the foot with my snooty American face-withholding ways.

melis

The second page of my resume now just reads "DO YOU EVEN KNOW WHO MY FATHER IS," so that's helpful, I'll translate it into German.

melis

WEIßT DU ÜBERHAUPT WER MEIN VATER IST???

Judith Slutler

@melis Now draw a little speech bubble by your headshot, write that in there, and give your headshot angry eyebrows. You are ready to take all the German HR departments by storm.

Faintly Macabre

@melis Maybe he's the brother of a PR head I interviewed with who spent most of our thrilling hour either telling me how he got his daughter a job in pharmaceuticals, asking how much every menial job I've ever had paid and writing it on my resume, or asking me why I didn't go to Georgetown. I don't even know anyone who went to Georgetown!

EpWs

@Faintly Macabre Whaaaaaaaaaaaaat?

Hobbes

@Ask a Manager / Alison Green Interestingly (to me), in a ministry setting they usually WANT a photo. And not just a headshot. It's standard to include a photo of you with your family. I know that sounds super creepy in a normal context, but family is pretty important to churches. I edit a lot of resumes for friends transitioning from clergy positions to secular employment and usually the first thing I do is delete the family photo in the corner. I totally understand and support why it's standard in the secular American job market to leave out the photo, but it's kind of fun to go through resumes and look at pictures of folks with their kids and be like, Awwwww.

psychedelicate

You posted this article just as a began a new skills-based resume for my freelance translation career. Hairpin, you are all up my mind grapes and it's kinda creepy/cool.

Canard

@psychedelicate I hope lots of people with freelance translation careers are reading this! I'm in the middle of updating the linguist files for the translation agency I contract for, and, yeesh, the default resume format seems to be "Hideously formatted, cryptic, and borderline illiterate," even for people I've worked with before and know to be awesome translators (and who have been living in/working with the USA long enough not to have cultural differences as an excuse).

Also, you would not BELIEVE how many people list references who, when contacted, claim to be forbidden by company policy to give references. Translators! What is your deal?

oh well never mind

@psychedelicate Yay translation, good luck you!

Canard

@psychedelicate Um, also, the Canard of today is less grouchy and rude than the Canard of last night, and wishes you all the luck in your search for work, with your job materials that are probably lovely!

elizabeast

I'm so happy this is happening because I have been trying to get out of my job for three years (THREE!) and I've revised my resume + cover letter so many times that I just don't even know what you people want anymore!

("you people" being the jerks who won't even call me in for interviews.)

princessS

@elizabeast I hear you girl! I just put in my notice (!!!) at my miserable job that I've been trying to leave for 2 years. I know how discouraging it is, keep at it, you'll find something amazing!

ohmy

my roommate is currently hiring someone at her firm and she showed me of the more awful resumes she got. Having grown up with a mom in HR, here are my suggestions (in bullet form, oops):
-PDF! as said above, opening a word doc in an older/newer version of word will make everything wonky. always save as PDF and, if possible, open it on mulitple computers (pcs vs. macs)
-ONE PAGE. if you just graduated college you only need one page! even a few years out, one page! no one wants to read all of that crap.
-make your resume skim-worthy, which means aligning dates/titles to one side, good use of bold (but not too much)
-if you just graduated, put your education toward the top. it's the most important thing you've accomplished to date! make it stand out

and finally: have at least 2 people read your resume before you send it!

also, I'm a designer, so if anyone has any questions about creative-specific resumes I might have a few answers.

all the kittens in the club gettin nipsy

@ohmy hey, I'm a designer currently looking for a job! one design-specific question I have is whether the resume & portfolio (website, in my case) should correspond to each other. So if I have an awesome project prominently displayed in my portfolio, do I NEED to put that 1-month freelance contract on my resume?? Thoughts on listing freelance on design resumes generally?

MrsLlama

@100kb Mr Llama and I are both creatives ("creatives" ugh) and he does a LOT of freelancing. He usually just lists companies, like a paragraph being like "Freelance Editor (where you would put the job title in a normal format)- developed projects for Blah, Blah and Blerg" and then let the portfolio/reel speak for itself. So all his freelance projects are listed as one "job" in terms of the resume format, regardless of how long or big the projects were.

ohmy

@MrsLlama I agree, being a freelancer is just like being a one-person design firm. so listing your clients shows your range, but you don't have to treat each one like a separate job. Although if you freelanced at a place for an extended period of time (more than 4 months?) it might be nice to list that as a job, because it shows they wanted to retain you for that long (even if they were cheap and didn't hire you, which happens way too much).

all the kittens in the club gettin nipsy

@MrsLlama thanks for the feedback! This is very helpful. I'm going to re-do my freelance section I think... I like the idea of listing "freelance designer" + firms underneath rather than "firm: role" over and over.

mishaps

@ohmy @100kb if you are a long-term freelancer, it's also totally OK to list where you worked as "OhMy Designs/Principal (2008-2012)" as the employer and treat it like you were a one-person design firm.

Totally agree as a former design hiring manager that you don't need to list all your freelance work as separate jobs - unless you're just starting out, in which case you may well want to elaborate on the different things you did at different gigs.

cherrispryte

Ooooh, can't wait for the cover letter one!

Also, may I suggest Book Antiqua as the queen of normal-looking-but-different fonts?

Alixana

@cherrispryte Ohh, I have had mine in Bookman Old, but I just tried it in Book Antiqua and it looks quite nice!

nonvolleyball

@cherrispryte that was my default paper font back in high school/college. as a bonus, it's ever so slightly larger than Times (but not as obvious as Courier, which is the 1.7" margins of fonts).

insouciantlover

@cherrispryte Book Antigua is totally my favorite font. And now I just admitted that I have a favorite font.

Alixana

In what order do the sections of a resume go? I will shortly be applying for my third post-law-school job, so at this point, does my work experience come first, or my education?

E
E

@Alixana Part 2 will cover this more thoroughly, but once you have had at least one job after college, work experience goes first.

dk
dk

@Alixana At that point I'd put work experience first. I listed my education first when applying for my first post-law school job, and then switched it when moving to the next. Once you've had a job as a member of the bar, that's more impressive to recruiters than going to law school.

Alixana

@dk @E thanks! I just tried it both ways and agree that the work experience at the top feels better.

themegnapkin

@Alixana If you're a lawyer (assuming, law grad is probably lawyer?), there is a slight preference (specific to law) for education first, even if you're several years out. However, if you think your work experience is more impressive than your law school/law school grades, then I would do work experience before education.

Dachelle

@Alixana At this point in your career you should go with experience first. Having said that, I was looking at Yale's resume guides earlier and they put education first for even experienced attorneys - I guess if you went to Yale you would want to highlight that, though!

thebestjasmine

@Dachelle Yes, I think this is a thing that often depends on where you went to school, honestly. If you went to a top tier school, put it first, because it will matter.

Alixana

@everyone Thanks for all the input. I am a lawyer and I did not go to Yale :). I did go to a Very Respectable school, though. But I feel like my work experience and law school credentials are about equally as solid right now.

Specifics might help: I am about to apply for a job at a small firm where one of the name partners is both an alum of my law school and formerly affiliated with the entity for which I presently work. Which do you guys think he'd want to see first?

EpWs

@Alixana I would vote for the school. Alums are forever, but if there's a chance that he has any sort of acrimonious relationship with your current entity, you may not want to lead off with that. (Note: this is coming from someone whose small but awesome alma mater is known for its TIGHT alumni network, so school connections are big for us. YMMV.)

dk
dk

Oh also, although this should be a given - get an email address that is just your name. I had a temp job in HR a few years ago, and it was totally ridiculous how many resumes I went through with email addresses on them like 420babeeez@yahoo or SexyCutie@hotmail.

And make sure the voicemail on the phone number listed is professional, and not the sound of hysterical laughter or the obnoxious "hello?......hello?...I can't hear you, so just leave me a message." Spoiler alert: when calling that person back, I did NOT leave a message.

FistiFluffs

I agree on every point except the one about bullet points. One shouldn't use bullet points for everything, but they are great for listing out specific, notable accomplishments (Increased sales by 50% yadda yadda yadda) and preferred by a lot of HR departments (ours included).

How about "Don't send anything out in Word or .odt"? PDF is the way to go so your formatting always looks right on anyone's computer.

whatsherface

Ahh...this is so perfectly timed. Thank you for being all about me today, Hairpin.

OxfordComma

THANK YOU for telling people to kill those fucking objectives!

They are obnoxious, unnecessary, and absurd!

Your objective is to GET MOTHERFUCKING EMPLOYED.

E
E

@OxfordComma They told me they'd be taking the swearing out of my article, so I can't love your comment enough. Because the first draft might have said "[redacted four letter verb meaning sex] the objective."

OxfordComma

@E : I live to serve. :)

MrsLlama

@OxfordComma UGH, WORD! Objectives are the ACTUAL WORST. They either make you sound like the aforementioned beep boop robot, or like a crazy flake ("My objective is to find a position where I can flourish and expand my creative horizons" etc BARF). I hate them. I hate them SO MUCH. I refuse to add them and everyone who has ever read my resume has been like "ooooh...you really need an objective." No. No, I do not. If you don't know why I am sending you my resume, I don't want to work for you. UGH!

OxfordComma

@MrsLlama : PRECISELY. They're just such a load of shit!

closetalker11

I work in non-profit, and one thing I add to my resume is a list of volunteering that I do (jus the big stuff, not the one-off stuff). I like organizations to know that non-profits and volunteerism are important to me outside of the workplace as well as inside of it. Also, since I work in fundraising, I include fundraisers I've been a part of as a volunteer. I suspect this is all very particular to this sector.

werewolfbarmitzvah

@closetalker11 YES YES YES. I also work in nonprofit, and I coordinate a lot of seminars that tell people how to get nonprofit jobs, and volunteer stuff on your resume will help lots and lots! Also, if you're unemployed and looking to get a job in any type of nonprofit, volunteer while you're waiting for that job to come up. There's a chance that the organization you're volunteering for might hire you, and if not, potential employers like to see the volunteer stuff on your resume because it means you've been getting some experience and not spending your unemployment stint sitting on the couch elbow-deep in a bag of Doritos.

Diana

@werewolfbarmitzvah

As somebody working part time and spending her days off sitting on the couch elbow deep in a bag of Doritos, thank you for this. For real. I needed a kick in the ass.

Daria Morgendorffer

@werewolfbarmitzvah I have been volunteering at a bunch of places during my 6-month unemployment, and I'm really counting on that making up for lack of paid experience on my field. Here's hoping!

Catherine C.@twitter

That's so weird...all this time I thought my job as a career counselor (for which I went to graduate school) was itself a real profession/career.

E
E

@Catherine C.@twitter I apologize heartily if I in any way implied it wasn't. I meant that for me, I worked in career counseling as a student, well before I transformed into an adult with an actual profession. Career counseling was one of the best jobs I ever had, and I had a lot of respect for the professional career counselors who supervised me. They were all wonderful and wise people.

abc59

Times/Times New Roman is the most legible font, which is why newspapers use it. I actually highly suggest it. Plus, I can't tell you how many resumes I've seen using "unique" fonts that are terrible. Use Times because it's legible and classic. If you really hate serifs, use Arial.** If you don't know what a serif is, definitely don't trust yourself to veer from those two standards.

** Yes, Helvetica is better than Arial, but it doesn't come standard on PC's. If you're dead set on Helvetica, make sure you save your document as a PDF.

Porn Peddler

I am SO glad I'm not on the job hunt grind anymore (but oh god the future) This is not a comment on the post itself, which is super useful, but guys, isn't unsolicited job search advice (at family dinners, etc) THE WORST?

Mister has probably the worst resume I've ever seen and he constantly tries to revise it...and then ends up with crap again. He formats it all wrong and aghgae.lnhsd FIX IT. I never want to see my own resume again.

Diana

@Third Wave Housewife

The good news is that my boyfriend acknowledges my awesome resume crafting skills. The bad news is now he expects me to help him revise his every time he job hunts.

causedbycomma

Also can people please stop listing "Interests"? Frankly I don't really care if you're into ballroom dancing. I mean, anyone can write "I'm interested in ballroom dancing" and 1) it doesn't mean they are and 2) just because you are interested in an interesting thing doesn't make you an interesting or fun person. Trust.

thebestjasmine

@causedbycomma I sort of agree with this, but when I did a lot of interviews, the interests line was helpful for end of interview small talk. I would say to make your interests specific ones: if you do ballroom dancing competitions, if you've spent a year traveling around the world (instead of just saying "travel"), etc.

sox
sox

@causedbycomma I thought that was what the "Additional Skills" area was for, to briefly list out hobbies and interests that require a skill set. For instance, I volunteer on an organic farm, so I list something to the effect of:
2008-present, XYZ Organic Farm, Crazytown CO. Volunteer weekly; duties include harvest, vegetable processing, packaging, and marketing collateral.

Whereas, what really happens is that I go on Fridays, we drink beer, squirt eachother with the hose, make the veggies talk to one another while we pack 'em, and make the chalkboards with pricing. Then we pack up the vans and sit down to a group dinner. But at least the employer can see that I have an interest in and working knowledge of sustainable agriculture.

bitzy

@causedbycomma Came here to ask about this. I think it is good for the small talk factor and also when it helps to demonstrate something positive. I recently advised a friend to add her marathon running onto hers. It shows that you can make a goal and do a lot of steps to achieve it. (And also raise a bunch of money for sick kids!)

She got the next job with it on there, FWIW.

EpWs

@causedbycomma I feel like the only time any of my "Interests" would net me a job is if I put "Reading lots of Hairpin" (or possibly "Qrafting") and my interviewer/HR person was a 'Pinner. I feel like my odds are not good enough to make putting the word Qrafting on my resume worth it.

EvilAuntiePeril

Could I add a couple of cautionary notes/pet peeves? (feel free to disagree or shout out counter-recommendations. For context, my industry is relatively conservative (STEM), and I am not in the USA)

Photos - These are a requirement sometimes, but if they aren't I wouldn't use one unless you've got a great one. We don't require photos, but I still get a lot of them. I think they need to be done well to be effective, otherwise they are better left out. If you do include a photo, I strongly recommend using one that reflects how you are expected to look in your professional capacity.

In the case of a conservative industry, this means tidy hair, smart shirt, etc., head shot only, well-lit, passport size. As if that wasn't enough to worry about, it's also better if the pose looks comfortable/unfrozen, but still professional, rather than something that looks like a mug shot, or clipped out of a holiday picture. My company tends to be a little uncertain about photos that look very glamorous too.

Got time for a story? I got a CV from a guy whose photo took up the entire first page. The photo in question was taken in a very ornately decorated, baroque style room (golden curlicues and long velvet drapery). The candidate presented himself in white trousers and v-neck T-shirt, draped full length along a chaise longue. This did not exactly shout "reliable and sensible engineer".

Hobbies/Personal interests - These often seem to be space fillers too. (Reading/Watching TV/Playing football). If you really want to list them, then I'd recommend including more details that show the sort of qualities that make you a desirable employee (eg. 5 years Captain of Westfield Warriors Football Club/Organised annual charity tournament in aid of local hospital - raised YYY for ZZZ in 2011).

And I'm sorry to say, but it's better to be cautious about the hobbies you list. Don't forget that recruiters don't have a lot of time, and are not going to have the context your loved ones and friends have. Many employers tend towards mild paranoia when it comes to hiring - not only are they looking for the right person for the job, but they also have a niggling memory of the person who started a fist fight at the Christmas party and caused $$$ of damage, or the woman that put through fake expense claims. Somehow, the strangest things can pop up in hobbies/personal interests, and can be seen as red flags.

Most important thing though - if you put something in your CV, make sure you can back it up. If you say you can speak fluent XXX, and in particular if it's a requirement for your job, it is likely to be checked. If you cannot do what you say you can, then the sheer force of your charm and sparkling personality is not likely to persuade a recruiting manager to re-evaluate the criteria for that particular role. They are also not likely to pass on a CV to a colleague or consider someone for another role if they have caught that person misrepresenting him or herself. There are better ways to get someone to read your CV.

But as always with this type of advice, YMMV - all of this needs to be considered within the context of your industry and also the culture of the hiring company.

EvilAuntiePeril

@EvilAuntiePeril PS. Sorry for the rant. Have been doing a lot of recruitment lately, and we do not have enough HR people to help with the process.

Megasus

@EvilAuntiePeril Well, that photo sounds hilarious at least. I hope photos do not become a thing though. I am not photogenic.

dakdakdak

@EvilAuntiePeril That's interesting about the pictures. We are in different fields, but I've NEVER been asked for a picture, or heard of anyone being asked for a picture for a job that wasn't related to acting/modeling/dancing etc. I understand that you asked for a pic cause its standard to do so in your industry, but that requirement would really sketch me out as an applicant. Why do you need to see what I look like, except to discriminate against me (or other candidates) on the basis of race/gender presentation/appearance--all that stuff you probably can't get from a simple description of relevant info like my experience and qualifications.

EvilAuntiePeril

@dakdakdak Sorry - I guess my post wasn't clear (dangers of long posting/ranting late at night). I don't ask for pictures - never do.

But we get a lot of CVs with pictures, especially from agencies.

Personally I don't see the need for a photo at all. But if people do want to attach one, or feel they have to, I think it's wise to ensure that it looks professional and appropriate. If that's not possible, probably better to leave the picture off.

Megasus

I am applying for internships right now, so thankyouthankyou!

naughtysneaky

Hey guys, do any of you want to hire me for anything? Please and thank you.

(This actually worked for me once.)

nocomment

@naughtysneaky or me? NYC, entertainment, mid-level? I keep getting recruited for experienced assistant jobs and then being told I'm overqualified because I've done so much. I'd really like to take a step up in responsibility/title rather than spend another two years as an overqualified assistant.

TheDragon

I am a little late but I have a question about past employment? I can't fit all of mine on one page (I'm in college and work different jobs in the summer and school years.)
Is it ok put my current job and the jobs that are related to the position, instead of just chronological order? For example, I can fit about 3-4 experiences on there, and I am applying for Wildlife Technician Seasonal positions. If I do my past 4 jobs it is: Lab Technician for the NMSU Ecology Lab (excellent), Petsmart Petcare Associate (not so excellent), Wildlife Tech on the Lolo National Forest (excellent) and Waitress at diner in middle of nowhere Colorado (ehhh). BUT if I include related career info only, my resume looks like: Lab Tech, Wildlife Tech, Grizzly Bear Tech for Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks, and Fisheries Tech for the US Fish and Wildlife Service. I feel like this is a much stronger Resume, and since I am in school, the gaps don't seem as bad as they could if I wasn't?
Please advise.

E
E

@The Kendragon I will go into this in more detail in Part 2, but the way I'd advise doing it is to break apart your "Relevant Experience" and "Additional Experience" . Put details for your relevant experience and simply list the position name, employer and dates for the additional experience. Then there's no mystery gaps, but you emphasize important work experience over filler jobs.

TheDragon

@E I never would have thought of that, but it makes SO much sense!

DillyBean

@The Kendragon DEFINITELY list the most relevant jobs and title that section something like "Relevant Experience." However, you should make sure that some of those jobs will read as job-jobs and not internship-jobs or afterschool-activities.

For instance, when I was reading resumes, for recent grads, I liked to see things like "office assistant" or "petsmart petcare associate" along with internships. That said to me that you understood workplaces, and showing up on time, and being professional even if the work itself was kind of shitty. Customer service experience is useful in many situations!

EpWs

@E I just did this! (I also smushed the Left Margin of Doom into submission, eliminated bullet points, and axed my objectives section.) My resume looks so much happier now!

CaptainSplashy

I am a super-long-time Hairpin-lovin' lurker, but I had to join for this one (that's how I roll - the one post I HAVE to join for is about resumes).

I work in marketing and just started looking for a new job; I understand that plain-looking is considered best but, frankly, the idea of sending out the same plain-looking resume that I - and everyone I know - have been sending out for years just made me too sad. SO! I went out and consulted with a designer and have come up with a resume that looks awesome, has a beautiful blue header and cool fonts.

Since then, I've been interviewed for, and offered, a few jobs that I'm woefully under-qualified for; more than one recruiter has said I got through the door PURELY because of my resume's look and how it reflects on me. People say they enjoy my resume because it's really readable (thanks, smart graphic designer), but still creative and interesting.

I think it's important to consider the field/organisation you're applying to; many of the places I'm looking at (mostly pretty creative joints) would toss a one-page, black-and-white resume just for being those things. They want bold, creative and branded.

All that said, I'm in Australia, so maybe it's more accepted here?

Megoon

@CaptainSplashy Maybe because your applying to a creative field? In any case, congratulations on the offers!

E
E

@CaptainSplashy Creative jobs and non-American jobs are both fields that this advice does not apply to. If what you have works (and it sounds like it really does), definitely use it!

wee_ramekin

I really love Leah Lin's illustrations, and I am kind of hoping she is the new Hairpin article-photo artist.

E
E

@wee_ramekin I love them too! That monster looks like an objective pooping out bullet points! And the lady in the chicken suit strongly resembles me, except in the face!

wee_ramekin

@E So...wait. You...look like a chicken?

E
E

@wee_ramekin I taste like one too.

Leah Lin@twitter

@wee_ramekin Thank you! This just made my day :)

tts
tts

you need to hurry and post the do's!!!

E
E

@tracythestar I will! I am pretty much ready to go, except I hated writing my sample resume to show everyone so much that it's not quite finished!

vunder

wow, it's daring to ask people to branch out on fonts. I get a decent number of resumes that are all farkakte because their formatting didn't come across on the program I opened it in - takes a lot more effort to scan and find the good highlights. I think it's better to go with plain. I usually tell people to do a scan test: Figure out what their selling points are (company names, skills, job titles?), and make sure the whole thing is simply enough formatted that the hiring person can see it at first glance without reading too much.

E
E

@vunder it's been covered well in the comments, but I belive in PDFs. MS Word can go wrong even in Times New Roman if you and your HR person have different versions.

Judith Slutler

I have a few things to say:

- PDFs, y'all. I cannot even believe that people are like, "but my formatting" because that is why God created the glorious .pdf file.

- re: colors, if you really need something like that, hire a designer and get them to do a nice header, subheader, w/e with 1 or 2 shades of gray.

I also have a question which is how the fuck do you get your resume down to one page??? I'm pretty sure the answer is InDesign and terseness, but I don't know if I have enough of the latter in me.

Also, font size? I like to typeset things with like size 10, sans-serif fonts.

It would be so cool if there were a column that included good examples of resumes. Maybe we could all send in our resumes and have them graded as sacrificial example resumes???

EpWs

@Emmanuelle Cunt I have finally (FINALLY, FINALLY) managed to shoehorn my resume into one page. Of course, I have the dreaded Left Margin Of Doom (and also bullet points) so if I eliminate those, it'll probably be a quarter page long and I'll have to redo everything I've been taking out.

Also YES EXAMPLES PLEASE. I will sacrifice my self-respect on the altar of Please Fix My Resume.

More covert than using my facebook account

@Emmanuelle Cunt Thirded! I will totally send my I-dropped-out-of-uni-and-am-also-ommiting-a-major-corporate-job-because-I-actually-want-a-shitty-fashion-retail-position resume for others to correct/peruse/whatever.

camanda

I love this article because my résumé doesn't do any of those things. That's very encouraging! I always worry about my résumé, especially since I'm long-distance job hunting and it/the cover letter is all I can give for my first impression.

I do have a copy saved in Calibri because I love Calibri and my résumé looks nice in it, but I tend to send the trusty Garamond one. It really looks more professional and less like I slapped it together in five minutes in Word 2010. It's been one of my favorite typefaces for a very long time.

tortietabbie

I thought I had a solid resume but now I want to rip it apart and redo everything. Please, someone, just recognize that I'm a gem! Give me a chance!

CaptainSplashy

@tortietabbie This. When applying for jobs/updating my resume, I literally wail "Why can't you just know that I'm smart and great?!?" regularly and great vigour.

Daria Morgendorffer

@CaptainSplashy Being unemployed (other than unpaid internships) for 6 months has really made me doubt my smartness and greatness.

CaptainSplashy

@Daria Morgendorffer Well, you're a 'Pinner, so you're automatically smarter and greater than most. And internships have to help, right? Like, if I were a recruiter/manager looking at a resume and saw that someone was in a period of out-of-workness, but taking on unpaid stuff, I'd be all over that business.

Job hunting sucks balls; when I was out of work for a few months, I found it hard not to spiral. My BF told me to keep perspective - out of my whole life, half a year of unemployment won't seem so bad. It was annoying advice at the time, but it's got truth to it. It helps to have other good things in life - I wish you good things!

AJ Sparkles

Reading this at work has been the beset part of my day. Commence new career shopping.

OwlOfDerision

Can I get some love for all the postgrads and academics on the 'Pin?!

As was pointed out, academia is a whole 'nother specialism when it comes to CV/resume writing. By definition, your education is one of the first things you should list (if still a postgrad/early-career scholar), because what academic employers want to know about is your research and qualifications. It's also hard to write a short academic CV - I'm in the last year of my PhD and the CV is 3 pages long - because you're supposed to include a list of any papers you've published, and possibly also a list of papers delivered at conferences and seminars.

Also, <3 Garamond so badly!

billie_crusoe

@OwlOfDerision Yes! I am applying to PhD programs and just wrote my first CV - it's a totally different beast from a resume. I kind of like it better.

the angry little raincloud

@OwlOfDerision
Unless explicitly specified, there's no real page limit to a cv. So, with publications, presentations, fellowships, etc., even an early career academic or grad student can easily have a 4 or more page cv. The Chronicle of Higher Education job boards actually have some good advice on cv writing, but it's incredibly discipline specific as well. STEM people do things differently than we humanists, and there's quite a range amongst the humanistically-oriented ones as well.

EpWs

@che WORD to the liking CVs better. No page limit! Complete sentences (if you like)! Simpler formatting! I want to CV all the time.

Two-Headed Girl

Reading this was really comforting because it demonstrated that, whatever else might be wrong, it's not some horrific problem with my resume that's failing to get me interviews for summer jobs. (I'm so qualified and the government wants you to hire me, so please do, dammit.)

Heidi

Thank god for this post.
I do a lot of hiring, and a lot of alumni interviewing/resume reviewing for my college (not to admit students, to help juniors and seniors become adults with acceptable resumes).
Most resumes I see are TERRIBLE. I get, on average, 100+ applicants for every open job. I usually throw out about 75 resumes because of obvious errors, typos, or formatting problems: if you couldn't bother to spellcheck, have a friend read over, and then save it in PDF then you don't care enough about this job application to get this job.
Then the remaining 25 are usually easily winnowed (like, within 10 minutes) to an acceptable 10 people to think about.

If you say you are detail oriented and then have a typo? Effing toast. Not only in the trash pile but also mocked on the way there.

I'm just sayin'.

Oh. ALSO. FER REALZ: IF YOU ARE A NON-ACADEMIC AND UNDER 30 AND YOUR RESUME IS MORE THAN 1 PAGE YOU ARE DOING IT WRONG.

Diana

@Heidi

You know, I fucking hate hearing this because my resume is immaculate, beautifully laid out, perfectly spelled, and exactly the right length, and it still takes me forever to get an interview. Who the fuck are they calling back?!

theguvnah

@Heidi I mostly agree EXCEPT I think the age 30 cutoff is totally arbitrary - there are some 30 year-olds who have had one post-college job, and some who have had 5 upwardly-progressing post-college jobs. In the latter case, I think a two-page resume is acceptable (if not preferred).

cosmia

Just checked over my current resume and it fulfills all these requirements, yay! One page, no objective, minimal bullet points, my font is Century Gothic and the only colours I have are shades of gray, which I feel looks quite spiffy.

More covert than using my facebook account

A giant YES to Garamond. Also, if you feel comfortable about doing so, put a nice, professional headshot of yourself up the top near your name. It tends to jerk people out of too-many-resumeitis when going through job applications and cement your name in their brains just that little bit more. Make sure it's a pic that works well in black & white & printed from a crappy printer.

billie_crusoe

I really need this cover letter info then because my resume doesn't do any of these (except bullets), and I've been looking for 6 months with no offers :/

Also, how do you deal with being fired on resumes and things? I generally don't list it (the job lasted 6-weeks, and technically I was not re-hired at the end of my probationary period. I got screwed by shitty on-the-job training, though I obvs don't share that bitterness with interviewers. When it comes up during an interview, I just say that it was a position I had never had before and the training that they offered was not sufficient for me.) but on some applications where it's like LIST EVERY JOB EVER, I don't really know how to phrase it well.

Faintly Macabre

@che Unless there's a gap you can't explain, I don't think you have to list it. I had a retail job for about 2 months that I quit because it was actually losing me money and the manager was not so nice. Since I'm not planning to work in retail, had other jobs at the same time, and left so soon, I don't even have it on my resume. I'd say unless it's a direct question of "Have you ever been fired?" it's at your discretion.

billie_crusoe

@Faintly Macabre Cool, thanks. That's been my inclination, but I wondered if I was doing it wrong.

I've been unemployed for 5 months since then, which is pretty shit-tastic and doesn't sound good, but it doesn't sound that much worse to just pretend I've been out of work for 7 months. If they ask, I definitely tell the truth, but I also try to impress upon them that my failure as a phlebotomist has nothing to do with whether I can do any other jobs. Drawing blood is just hard.

themegnapkin

@Faintly Macabre Also - it sounds like Che wasn't "fired.". In Che's situation, I would answer "have you ever been fired?" with no, and no qualms about it. Being fired is very specific.

Faintly Macabre

@che Oh, I hear you on that--I have to have blood drawn every month for Accutane and I was close with the medical assistants where I worked, and there is definitely a big range of talent/skill in it. (One woman I worked with said in her old practice, the other MAs got jealous of how good she was, so kept her from doing the hardest patients. How twisted is that?)

@themegnapkin That's a really good point. Yeah, I would agree with you. The circumstances for being fired are often more dramatic than for just not being kept on.

amillion

another long-time lurker who had to chime in...

objectives. i've heard that the point of objectives is to stuff your resume with keywords. what do you guys know about the non-human (BEEP BOOP) sorting that supposedly occurs before HR even looks at a resume? are keywords really *that* important? how much do i need to know about SEO to get a job?

Shayna

Oh my god thank you, I'm trying to make one of these for a variety of uses, including finding a summer internship (unlikely), getting a clerk job (slightly more likely, surprisingly), and for giving to college interviewers. This is unbelievably useful; I didn't even think about the fonts.
Question, though: Do I include skills that I have? I sew, embroider, bake, beta read, and do a variety of other things. Curious if anyone includes random skills they have, or if they just don't include it.

Faintly Macabre

@Shayna I currently only include skills that could be of use or show good things. Like I include photography and that I captained a varsity team, but not that I bake really good cookies. I also change it sometimes based on the position, like adding various language skills for a job posting that mentions them. (However, I am not a brilliantly-employed veteran of the workforce, so this isn't at all gospel!)

redheaded&crazy

oh my gosh this explains SO MUCH about why i was never able to get a job from sending out resumes.

guys i've ... i've never converted a resume.doc into a pdf AND I FEEL SO ASHAMED RIGHT NOW

redheaded&crazy

@redheaded&crazy ITS JUST SO OBVIOUS WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU

redheaded&crazy

@redheaded&crazy SMDH

EpWs

@redheaded&crazy ...honey? You okay? I only ask because the "&crazy" is coming out strong right now. (With love! Said with love!)

redheaded&crazy

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher lol I'm just glad I have a job and don't have to worry about this until next time i'm unemployed and at that time, I will know how to do 'er up good!

(also i was joookinnggggg .... kiiiiinda)

Hot Doom

@redheaded&crazy Girl, I feel you so hard right now. I basically gave myself an ulcer last night, fretting about all the .docs I've been sending out (just sent one out last week for a position I would KILL for!). The PDF thing just never occurred to me.
Also, bullet points. I've had a bunch of people, including trusted academic advisors, look over my resume/short CV, which is RIDDLED with bullet points (succinct ones! I swears it) and say it was great. But apparently it's not. But I am in the UK. So confused. Whhhhhhhhhy has this not come up already? :c

OxfordComma

@LolaLaBalc : *feh* Bullet point are useful if used judiciously. They should be employed to make your information easier to understand.

Nicola M-J@twitter

In my world (the world of computers!) we call the "up and down slash" a pipe - just thought that might be helpful to folks because it's easier and quicker to say.

Also, I want throw out the whole "men are like this"/"women are like this" topic appropriate here: I interview two candidates, because both equally qualified for the job (that is to say, not really super qualified for it) and I asked them both the same q: what's you experience like with [instert name of programming language here]? The guy had listed it on his resume and the girl had not. Guy: Oh yes, I'm experienced with it, I've played around with it a little. Girl: Oh no, I'm not experienced with it, I've only played around with it a little.

At a different company, the girl wouldn't have even got the interview with that attitude, even though they both were at the same level. Obvs, don't lie, but NEVER under estimate how much guys are puffing up their expertise. (PS they also negotiate for more money too.)

Craftastrophies

@Nicola M-J@twitter I have recently started doing this, especially with jobs where I am like 'look, I haven't done that exact thing, but I totally know how/could learn in 30 seconds'. It's amazing how many more interviews that gets you!

dakdakdak

I agree on most points! However, I firmly believe that if you use a font other than Times, Arial or Calibri, your resume might as well be printed in glitter on scented pink paper.

Maybe y'all shouldn't listen to me, though, I've been on the job market for a minute.

*returns to her cover letters*

EpWs

@dakdakdak "What's this?"
"It's my resume."
"It's...pink."
"And it's scented! I think it gives it a little something extra, don't you think?"

Alli525

Two questions:
1. What do I use instead of bullet points? Nothing? I cannot imagine just doing nothing but indenting!!
2. Should I be making PDFs of my resume, or just distributing as usual in .doc/.docx?

Argh I just started the new job hunt and I am totally freaking out. I wish The Hairpin had a jobs-posting feature once a week or something. Maybe where employed Pinners could post about available job opportunities with the hiring managers' contact info?

EpWs

@Alli525 PDF! PDF! PDF! 100% guarantees that your resume will look the way you want it to.

coconuts

Are there any pinners (preferably in Canada) that work in Advertising or PR and can comment on this? I am going to start job searching soon and I will make any necessary changes to my resume. I'm still not sure how I feel about forgoing bullet points.

tea tray in the sky.

Only-kind-of-related question, regarding "creative fields": art teacher? Creative field within a not-so-creative field? I'm going to be applying as such pretty shortly, and am wondering how much creative leeway I can take with my resume.

tea tray in the sky.

Oh man, I keep forgetting that everyone else isn't in New Zealand and it's 2 in the morning. Nobody's going to answer this.

Hot Doom

@Twinkle Little Bat I was wondering about this too! When I was a teacher, it was in public (or state-run) schools, so my resume was going to be seen by the district or city HR- no creative leeway there whatsoever. I guess it depends on who will be looking at your resume. Maybe there would be more room for 'creativity' at private schools or academies than in council-run places.
Now, I am getting my MA in museum curating, so part of me is wondering how much I can get away with in an art museum app. Something tells me not too much.

dontannoyme

But why would you want to sound "officious"? Official surely?

TheDragon

'Pinners. So last friday I was all excited about being able to quit my retail job, because I'd gotten the lab job. The retail job offered me a 25 cent raise and whatever hours I want a week, to fit with my other job. I am now taking 19 credit hours, working three jobs, and training for a marathon...
See ya this summer?

OxfordComma

@The Kendragon : You can dooo eeeet!

tea tray in the sky.

@The Kendragon You're going to be one of those amazing wonderwomen who can do anything and everything they want to, be successful, and still sane and together. Everyone's going to be so jealouuuuuussss

TheDragon

@tea tray in the sky. & @OxfordComma
Thanks guys! This is why I love the Hairpin :)

EpWs

@The Kendragon Yowza, girl, I'm jealous. Go you!

silverscreen

What about when you've done volunteer work that was substantial and relevant, but also just general helping-out kind of volunteer work. Put it all in a "Volunteer Experience" section but expand more on the former type of work? I do want to list everything as it's all relevant to some degree.

[redacted]

@keaton Include it! If it's relevant to the job you're applying for I wouldn't even separate it out into a special volunteer section. If you're worried that it doesn't count as a "real job" because you weren't paid, or you don't want to confuse the reader, your title and description should make that clear.

synchronized
synchronized

The one-page thing, I think, is mostly bullshit. I've always had a two-page resume, even in college, and it hasn't posed much of a problem (to my knowledge). Limiting a resume to one page can marginalize one's accomplishments -- see the commenter saying she may have to cut four years of teaching (!) from her resume in order to get it down to a single page.

Resumes are supposed to be concise, yes, and I don't advocate turning in a booklet about oneself. But at the same time, resumes are also supposed to give companies at least a basic idea of who you are and what you've done.

Leon Tchotchke

@synchronized I think it's BS only insofar as it's not the length that's the problem, but the cruft. Obviously if you're in an industry where you need to emphasize tons of individual projects or lots of employers to adequately convey your qualifications, or you're doing more of a CV than a resume, more than one page will be almost required.

But for most people (and especially most young people), the relevant info is probably only going to need 1 page, and if it's longer than that you're probably including tons of stuff you don't need or an unnecessarily long work history with some irrelevant jobs.

It's probably more accurate to say that if your resume is longer than a page, you'd better have something important to say in all that extra space, and not just like a single paragraph's worth of largely pointless stuff that happened to fall off the bottom of the page.

DullHypothesis

Maybe this is my industry, but the objective is very effective. In fact, the people who just hired me a month ago told me it was very effective. Why? Because it's one thing to say: I have x,y,z skills, and another to say I use x,y,z to do this. I work in a highly technical field so it's infinitely more useful to say, "Routinely uses SQL and SAS in data processing and quality control" because "knows SQL, SAS" is complete and utter bullshit and means nothing, because everyone who's looked at a single line of code is going to put that shit on their resume.

Which reminds me, add: DON'T FUCKING LIE to this list of don'ts. It makes the people who actually code SQL look like fucking assholes when everyone puts SQL on their resume. IF YOU DON'T KNOW IT, DON'T SAY IT. See also, people who say "proficient in excel" and don't know how to make a pivot table or write a simple vlookup.

EpWs

@DullHypothesis I see what you're saying with the "objective" field, but what you're describing (using x,y, and z to do this--which is an important thing to prove to potential employers!) usually ends up in my cover letter, where I can go into more detail because I have an entire page rather than three lines at the top of my resume.

Amanda Elsewhere@twitter

I created a Hairpin account JUST so I could comment on this post. Oh my gosh, hello everyone, my people. I have been applying to jobs for TWO YEARS and guess what? I only started receiving replies to my resume when I switched from "thing 1 • thing 2 • thing 3" format to straight up and down bullet points. Can we talk about this? I go back and forth on this endlessly but I have to think that now that I'm actually getting interviews this must be what I was doing wrong before? Is it possible that employers just want to thumb down on a list of experiences rather than read a paragraph?

gtrachel

a subtly limping zebra is screamingly obvious to a pack of hyenas -- best comparison I have come across in SO LONG.

alexah

So I'm dumb. Is it .5 margins only on the left and like 1" everywhere else or .5 margins everywhere?

km1312

Thank you for this! Would love to see more like this on The Hairpin.

Millie Ivers@facebook

Ok, you're going to have to follow this up with part two now because this article has been so helpful I can only imagine what I'll get out of the next one. Get writing!

LydiaBennett

@Millie Ivers@facebook Agreed! Where's Part Two??!

catheaven

part twooooo...i need you

mixed emoticons

part twoooooooooooo! part twoooooooooo, please!!!!

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kriya

First you need to gather the right information for the resume. All your skills must be projected in the resume. Many people project their skills in wrong way. They list the events that they have participated in the resumes.we might have attended so many seminars, while studying in college. But if we have not won any prizes, it need not be mentioned.
Resume Format

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