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Top 5 Resume DON'Ts

Updated: Apr 13, 2019

Don't let your resume land in the "nope" pile on a Hiring Manager's desk! We all know we should avoid spelling and grammatical errors, but what about formatting, fonts, and career gaps? Here are our Top 5 Don'ts when it comes to resume-writing.

1.) Don’t Lose it if You Don’t Have Any Experience

Fresh out of college? No work experience? No problem - we’ve all been there at one point or another. In your experience section, list transferable skills, volunteer work, side projects, gigs, and even challenging coursework in which you've excelled. Show your potential employer that you are eager to work. Everyone has to start somewhere, so share relevant non-work experiences like academic awards and volunteer work to establish credibility.

2.) Don’t Steal Job Description Wording (Word for Word)

When you write your resume for your potential job, that job will likely have a description of responsibilities, duties, etc. Do not copy and paste the description word for word into your resume or cover letter: it'll be pretty obvious that's what you've done, since the recruiter probably wrote the description! However, you do want some of the keywords to appear somewhere in your materials, such as specific skills, programs, or attributes. Glean important information from the job advertisement, but make sure you use your own writing style.

3.) Don’t try to hide unemployment gaps.

Honesty is ALWAYS the best policy. If you were not employed for a period of time within the last few years, simply be prepared to explain what happened. No one will begrudge you getting additional schooling, taking care of a child or relative, or even just taking personal time, as long as you're open and honest about it. Your resume should read chronologically, like a book, and you want that story to be true to who you are. Honestly? Gaps in employment that are less than a year rarely discussed in-depth.

4.) Don’t try to squish it all in.

Ideally, your best content should fit onto one page; however, if that is at the cost of using size 6 font and with no white space, what is the point? Your goal should be a visually appealing, logical, one-page document that reads well and only contains only the most pertinent information. For example, unless you're in the very early stages of your career, your high school graduation and college extra-curricular activities can probably be left out.

5.) Don’t go overboard with effects such as bold, underline, or italics.

Too many visual effects can be distracting to the eye - the focus should be on the content, not the effects. Only change size when you want to highlight information such as contact information or a new section. Font should remain consistent throughout, and should typically be something simple and straight-forward like Helvetica, Times New Roman, or Arial (sorry, Comic Sans, you gotta go!). When sending the document out, always convert it to a PDF format to ensure that the formatting and information stays anchored to the page and can be read, as well as to make sure the information cannot be manipulated.

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