Most of the reviews in this forum center around just a few key areas: accomplishment focused content, readability and consistency (in formatting and voice). This FAQ aims to clarify some of the questions surrounding these "heavy hitters," as well as some other common questions. It is important to keep in mind that there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to writing a resume. There are just too many factors (industry, years of experience, etc.). However, there are some truths – some widely agreed upon standards – that apply to most situations. The following guidelines are a culled from the thousands of resume reviews and answers in this forum.
How can I get the most out of this subreddit / help out?
1. Post a resume, even if you think it's garbage - it gives reviewers something to work with. If you upload a pdf to google docs, make sure it's shared. Tell us what type of position you're applying for, and at what type of company, even if generally.
2. Thank your reviewers, they really appreciate it!
3. Help review resumes.
4. Don't downvote resumes that haven't been reviewed yet.
What should I write in my objective?
A tutorial on writing a Branding Statement can be found here.
What should I put in my work experience bullet points?
Try to make your bullet points about achievements rather than duties, include numbers wherever possible.
Example of a good bullet:
* Saved President by swimming .25 miles to Dr. Evil's lair and defeating over 200 henchmen using my Golden Swan Kung-Fu
Example of a bad bullet:
* Participated in missions as required
Do I have to list all of my positions on the resume?
You want to make sure that the information you are including in the resume is relevant to the position. Leave off or significantly scale back out-of-date or unrelated positions. This way, readers will focus more on recent and relevant experience instead of getting distracted by information that does not add as much value.
Furthermore, if you include jobs such as barista, cashier, server, lifeguard etc. - it can be reasonably expected that anyone reading your resume will know what kind of responsibilities these jobs typically involve. Including bullet points like "handled cash and assisted customers with checkout" or "prepared beverages" are generally unhelpful and at worst emphasize a lack of pertinent skills or accomplishments. If you only have cashier/server/retail experience, try to emphasize things that you did that are unique, such as maintaining a 100% attendance record or re-merchandising an endcap to improve sales of X product by Y%.
How long should my resume be?
You want to make sure your resume is only as long as it absolutely needs to be. Since the goal of a resume is to pique readers’ interests, establish qualifications and create some curiosity gaps – those questions that get you an interview – one / two pages should be enough.
I have this list of skills, do you think I should expand it by telling people about my excellent interpersonal skills?
Soft skills end up sounding like fluff.
Ideally, your bullet points will highlight quantifiable achievements as opposed to responsibilities. That means specific accomplishments with metrics to back them up. It is more effective to tell the reader how you have impacted the company and how you have added value.
I keep reading that keywords are important. Is this true?
Resumes today need to work for both human and computerized screeners. Since your resume will most likely need to be positively flagged by a computerized screener first, you need to focus on including strategic keywords. Of course, you don’t want to take it to an extreme, as it is easy to cross the line onto keyword spam.
Should I list interests / hobbies on my resume?
This is a gray area. Historically, including this kind of information has been frowned upon. While there are still many companies that will view this kind of information as superfluous, there are some that want to know about your personal interests. The best advice is to research your audience and determine if this information is appropriate for the specific company to which you are applying.
Remember, concrete facts and figures are always more compelling than bland description. Listing "running" as a hobby is vague and fairly meaningless. Listing even a relatively modest achievement like, "participated in ten 5K races, with two third place age-bracket finishes" shows determination, dedication, a commitment to self-improvement - all of which are extremely relevant attributes in any context.
Do I need to write a cover letter?
Yes, write a concise and powerful cover letter. A cover letter is different from a letter of transmittal, which just says "stuff enclosed". The cover letter is your opportunity to set yourself apart from other candidates, and will also serve as evidence of your skill in communicating. A good guide can be found here.
Make every effort to find the name of the hiring manager for the company.
How many resumes should I send out, how much time should I spend on each one?
In today's economy, it is not uncommon to send out 20 resumes before receiving a call back. Each resume should be targeted toward the position to which you are applying. That will mean that you have several versions of your resume. Also, every cover letter should be targeted toward the specific position AND the company.
As for how much time you should spend, it will vary. It is much better to spend your hours finely crafting a small number of very excellent, tailored resumes/cover letters rather than spamming out a large number of materials that aren't as good or as position-specific.
Remember, it is *not* a numbers game. Spend eight hours crafting and adapting a resume to a specific position is far more effective than spending eight hours submitting 30 generic resumes to 30 different companies.
Where should I put my references?
Don't include references or “references available upon request” on your resume. Do bring a reference sheet to any interviews so that you can provide them should they be requested.
I don't have any idea how to start?
If you are using MS Word, you may find this article on formatting helpful.
Don't get too attached to any template, just use it as a guideline.