Common Resume Feedback.
A resume is a marketing document. Its job is to get you a phone screen or interview. During that interview, the resume can guide the conversation. Each bullet point should be able to start a story which demonstrates the specific ways in which you are awesome.
When I was unemployed a number of years ago, I learned a lot about resume writing from books, articles, and especially the career counselor that I saw. Because of this, I've offered to review friends' resumes. After a few rounds of this, I've put together the common pieces of feedback that I've shared:
Instead of listing technical skills, acronyms and tools in bullet points or a keywords section at the bottom of the resume, include that thing within context of a position. This is a much stronger way to demonstrate your abilities. Something like these, for example:
- Used Unix shell commands and bash scripts to concatenate complex reporting data
- Developed VB scripts to automate tedious Excel data transformations.
- Always send a .pdf resume. It will be most consistent visually, and a shady recruiter won't be able to swap their own contact information in place of yours like they can on a Word doc. Name the file "Your Name Resume.pdf" so that it's easy for the recruiter to find.
- School, military, and even minimum-wage work can belong on resumes when it demonstrates experience related to the position you're applying for. Be specific about what the school projects encompassed, and if it's really old you can remove the dates. Leadership, troubleshooting and mentoring are always valuable.
- Instead of listing your address, list just the city and state that you're seeking work in. Recruiters might judge your neighborhood and / or commute negatively.
- Your most recent work will tend to be the most important, yet least fleshed out. A good source of material for these can be looking through your annual reviews, or coffee with coworkers.
- Your resume can be one, or more commonly, two pages. Keep it to under two unless you're sure that they're looking for more.
- Always have someone else review your resume for typos.