This post was written by Emily Brown, a regular contributor to The Works and a graduate student in the College Student Development and Counseling program at Northeastern University. She is also a Career Development Intern.
- DO make your name the biggest thing on the page. Hiring managers shouldn't have to search for it among your contact info.
- DON’T label your phone number and email. The reader will understand that the 10 digit number under your name is probably your phone number and that firstname.lastname@example.org is your email address (just kidding. DO make sure your email address is professional!)
- DO include your GPA if it’s 3.0 or higher. Round it to TWO decimal places.
- DON’T write “References available upon request” on your resume. Employers will assume that you will provide references when they ask. You can use that extra space to include something awesome about yourself like the fact that you speak three languages.
- DO include academic projects. As college students, it’s not always possible to have as much professional experience as you might like in your target industry. Academic projects are a good way to show a potential employer that you have applied skills learned in the classroom in a practical way. Bonus points if those particular skills are in the job description.
- DON’T use a template. Microsoft Word has resume templates available and, though tempting, you should avoid them. Hiring managers read hundreds of resumes and will very quickly recognize one of these templates. They might assume that very little effort went into the resume even if that is not the case. Take the time to customize your format a bit and make sure it’s easy to read. Aim for a balance of text and white space.
- DO include results when possible. Quantifying what you accomplished helps create a fuller picture for the reader. For example, if you “researched and proposed more efficient operating procedures,” include that those proposals were accepted by your company and that the procedures are still in use.
- DON’T begin your bullet points with adverbs. I’m sure that you “Successfully collaborated with team members,” but it will serve you better to begin with strong verbs and show your success. For example, “Collaborated with team of 5 to plan and execute fundraising event resulting in proceeds of $2,500” (see how I snuck results in there?). Similarly, vary the verbs you use to keep the reader engaged and to showcase your various skills.
- DO limit yourself to one page. Recruiters read resumes very quickly and you can’t guarantee that they’ll make it to the second page. It’s ok if you don’t include every job you’ve ever had. Focus on the ones most relevant to the job you’re applying for.
- DON’T rely only on spell check. Spell check will sometimes miss errors because they are in fact words, but not the word you’re intending to use (form, from; through, thorough; the list goes on). Take the time to ask another real live human to proofread for you.
Emily Brown is a Career Development intern and a graduate student in Northeastern’s College Student Development and Counseling Program. She is a lifelong Bostonian interested in the integration of social media into the professional realm. Contact her at email@example.com.