After years of working in the executive staffing Extra Update and recruiting industry, collaborating with countless hiring managers and human resource administrators across various sectors, I thoroughly understood what these individuals were looking for in potential job candidates. I began to see patterns, consistencies, universal tendencies, and I began to see just how important a good resume is.

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As a point of fact, hiring managers only spend around 15 seconds perusing over a new resume, and they are only looking for a couple of things when they do. They’re on autopilot, for the most part. They want to know:

1) Who have you worked for?
2) Have you had steady employment?
3) What notable achievements and recognitions have you had throughout your career?
4) What do you have to offer which will meet their specific needs?

An effective resume will answer those questions with a minimal amount of effort, and, as with any effective marketing tool, it will also leave the reader wanting to know more. You want to give them just enough info to prompt them into action. That’s when they pick up the phone and call you for an interview!

So your resume is your professional introduction. It’s your only chance to make a memorable first impression, and I can tell you right now that if you do not take your resume seriously, then your resume will never be TAKEN seriously. It is that simple.

Now, if you feel you are capable and qualified to write a compelling and dynamic resume, then, by all means, give it a shot. However, if you’re not highly confident in your skills as a writer and marketer, I would sincerely recommend you hook up with a professional resume writer to help you craft the perfect resume for you. A seasoned veteran in these matters can be an invaluable resource. After all, I trust my mechanic to work on my car because he works on cars every day. Well, there are people out there who work on resumes all day, every day…so trust us!

For those who are convinced they have what it takes, this article should help you with some of the finer points. Although job markets and technologies are constantly changing, some things are pretty universal and constitute the basic principles of a winning resume. To guide you along, I have compiled a comprehensive list of resume writing Do’s and Don’ts, complete with secret tricks of the trade as well as a collection of common mistakes people make. So pay close attention, consider my advice, and you’ll be on your way to landing that dream job in no time!

DON’T

Misrepresent the Truth – Lying on your resume is never a good idea, and you don’t want to start a professional relationship based on the misrepresentation of facts. Just as you would hope the employer is not lying to you about the job requirements, salary, etc., they expect you are not lying to them about your background and skill sets. It’s a decent and respectable way to conduct yourself, and there is no room for dishonesty in the workplace because, sooner or later, these things always tend to come to the surface. Remember: The truth shall set you free!

Use Slang or Jargon – You need to be as professional as possible in the context of your resume if you expect to be taken seriously as a professional. For this reason, you should avoid using familiar terminology, slang, or jargon in your resume. The exception to this rule is when using very industry-specific terminology to describe your particular skills. This can help lend you credit as a knowledgeable individual and an expert in your field, but you use such terms wisely and tactfully.

Include a Picture – Unless you’re a model or a professional dependent on physical attributes, I always advise against putting your picture on your resume. In my experience, it can do more harm than good. So keep the formatting of the resume simple and let the hiring manager use their imagination until they call you in for an interview. Plus, your looks should have nothing to do with your professionalism or the credentials qualifying you for the position. In the business world (even legally), your appearance should have no value as a selling point for you as a competitive job candidate.

Include Irrelevant Info (AKA “Fluff”) – If it’s not essential, don’t add it to your resume. If you were a cook ten years ago, but now you’re looking for a job in retail management, don’t clutter up your resume with irrelevancy. Try to put yourself in the hiring manager’s shoes and ask yourself what they would see as important. How does your background correspond with their needs as an employer?

Anything else is fluff. Don’t add your hobbies to your resume. Don’t add your references (they’ll ask at the appropriate time). And don’t include your high school education either. Finally, don’t be redundant and repeat yourself throughout the context of your resume. It’s OK to reinforce themes, but don’t push it. If your title has been Branch Manager at each of your past three companies, find a way to differentiate each of these positions and highlight your most notable accomplishments. Don’t just copy and paste the line “Managed a team of branch employees” three times. That will get you nowhere.

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Student. Typical social media nerd. Analyst. Zombie guru. Gamer. Award-winning thinker. Set new standards for analyzing wooden horses with no outside help. What gets me going now is promoting xylophones in the government sector. Uniquely-equipped for working on ice cream in the aftermarket. Spent 2001-2008 creating marketing channels for trumpets with no outside help. Had some great experience testing the market for puppets in Deltona, FL. Spent 2001-2007 importing psoriasis in the aftermarket.