Writing a good resume

Jun 25, 2021 admin

Recruiters often evaluate hundreds of resumes a day, and having a clear, concise resume is essential to getting traction in a job hunt. I see a surprising number of really bad resumes in the course of a workday, and many of them make the same mistakes. Managers often tell me that if a candidate can’t be clear and concise on a resume, how could they possibly be a good engineer?
1.      Your resume is too long. A good resume should convey all essential information on the first page, enabling whoever is reading it to capture the essence of a resume in a glance. Is this hard to do – yes! As Mark Twain put it back when he was hunting for work in 1885, “I didn’t have time to write a short resume, so I wrote a long one instead.”   I, nor any recruiter or hiring manager I have ever worked with, wants to read an 11 page resume that tells us what you did in 1999 or 2003.  Nobody cares! A resume is ONLY supposed to get you an interview, not tell your life story!

2.      Your resume is poorly organized. There are things every candidate should convey with a resume at the top of the resume: 1) Complete name 2) Geographic location – this doesn’t have to be to the street level, but it is helpful to know if someone is living in San Francisco or San Jose.  3) Contact information – phone number, e-mail, etc. Believe it or not,  I often get resumes that lack a name and contact information!

3.      List your education at the first part of the resume, not the last. Everyone wants to know what education level you have and where you went to school. If you didn’t go to school, fine. But if you have a University of Arizona MSCS, put it at the top of the resume, not at  the bottom. This is one of the boxes we check in evaluating a resume, and it is important to make it easy for hiring managers and recruiters to find your education level on a resume.

4.   Your resume has easily spotted grammatical  errors and misspelled words.  Presentation counts, and managers will reject candidates for making mistakes that are easily corrected using spell check. Have a friend read it for you if you have any doubts! Some managers forgive errors, other managers will reject a candidate for really minor mistakes. Don’t  give a hiring manager any reason to dismiss you – spell and grammar check your resume before sending it out!

5.      Your resume does not have a detailed chronology.  I should be able to tell where you worked and for how long at a glance of your resume. The narrative of a resume should tell a story, and it is valid to have a short term stint if it is for a good reason – eg, company lost funding, crashed and burned.

6.      Your resume has horrible layout/graphics/font.  Keep the colors and graphics off the resume.  Keep the font current! Right now, Calibri looks good, Times New Roman looks dated. Make your resume as simple as possible in layout and skip the headers, boxes, etc. It should be able to be cut & pasted as simply as possible, as we will write a quick introductory note to the manager, cut and paste your attached resume, and send it to them.  It should also convert to a text file easily and without fuss, as many applicant tracking systems will not “digest” your fancy document easily.  Keep in mind resumes are almost never printed out, and are viewed on a variety of mobile devices, monitors, etc.

7.      You do not have a current resume.  Even in the age of LinkedIn and other social media sites, having a resume is essential. Can you get by without one in select circumstances? Sure, but a LinkedIn profile is never to the detail level that a professional resume should be at. Moreover, companies do not want to have to dig around for details that a resume should convey at a glance.

Mark Dinan
Dinan & Associates