Recently we broadcast a Facebook Live Q&A to answer your burning questions about resume writing and updating. This is a summary of the key questions we addressed; at the end of this post, we’ve included a link to the full video. You can also find free downloadable resume and cover letter templates, along with other job search tips, here on our website.
The first rule of resume writing is that there are no hard and fast rules. Every hiring manager is different; so the key is to tailor your resume to the roles you are seeking. You may even want to have a couple versions of your resume on hand for different kinds of jobs, especially if you have a diverse skill set.
Sitting down to write or revamp a resume can be overwhelming, especially if you are in a tough spot with your employment situation, as many are due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It’s daunting to try and recall all the information that paints a full picture of you as a professional, and to figure out a way to communicate that effectively to hiring managers. We understand that, so we’ve tried to help you find an easy place to start with these basic guidelines.
What is the difference between a resume and a CV?
The length. A resume is a condensed version of your skills and history, usually 1-2 pages long. A CV has no length limit and is a comprehensive overview of your career.
Should I use a cover letter?
While a resume is a dry list of your abilities and experience, a cover letter is a good place to showcase you as a person while summarizing the key things you want a hiring manager to know about you. While not required, it’s still a good idea. We recommend creating custom cover letters for different jobs you apply to, showcasing the skills that match the requirements for each position.
What do I do with gaps in my resume?
A functional resume can help here, vs. a chronological resume. While you still want to be honest about gaps, a functional resume will highlight the best skills and experience you have for the kind of job you want, by putting those skills and experiences first, rather than in chronological order.
What is the best way to organize the information?
Best foot forward: you want your best, most relevant information to the job you’re applying for nearest the top. A clean, concise skill summary is not required, but can be a good idea if you’re applying to a highly technical or specialized role. A well-organized resume can look something like this: Name/contact info → Skills Summary → Education → Professional Experience (your chronological list of jobs held). We recommend listing the company name on the left and your position title underneath it, with month/year dates listed on the right hand side so hiring managers and recruiters can quickly assess your career progression. Then proceed with a bulleted list of job duties/achievements.
How do I communicate a diverse skill set?
A functional resume is best for this, especially if you have gaps in your employment. Again, first list the information most relevant to the job you are pursuing. You can add a brief chronological list of jobs/dates/positions held at the end of the resume.
How long should a resume be?
Unless it’s for a very high level or very technically advanced role, you want to keep it at 2 pages if at all possible.
Should I include my picture on my resume?
Unless an image of you is directly related to the job requirements, this practice is discouraged, as it can lead to unconscious bias in hiring.
Should I include social media on my resume?
Definitely include a link to an updated Linkedin Profile. If you have a web portfolio or a github repository showcasing your work, that is appropriate too. Personal social media accounts are not recommended; but if for example you have a personal brand page or account showcasing your skills, that is appropriate.
Is it ok to lie or change dates?
Nope. Don’t do it. In addition to the ethical concerns, employers run background checks and employment verifications that are highly likely to find you out. While you can prioritize and showcase your skills and career in the best light, when it comes to exaggeration, honesty is always the best policy.
How far back should my experience on my resume go?
Whether you’re using a chronological or functional format, your best, most relevant experience should be the most prominent. That retail job you held in college isn’t necessary; and neither are internships unless they directly relate to the position to which you are applying.
How should I present my education?
Generally, you want it near the top if it’s a bachelors’ degree or higher in the field related to your job search. If it’s unrelated, or an unfinished degree, list it further down. A list of courses is not necessary to include, neither is extraneous information such as “Dean’s list.” Remember that brevity is key here: employers want the best, most relevant information fast.
Should I include any cool design to make it stand out, or leave it plain?
You want to keep it as clean as possible, unless you’re applying for a graphic designer or similar role. That said, there’s nothing wrong with adding a pop of professional color (“Facebook blue” is always appropriate) to your name and section headings.
Should I include keywords?
Yes, but we recommend sprinkling them naturally throughout the resume. Algorithms and Boolean searches will still pick them up, but hiring managers don’t want to look at a big block of text.
What do hiring managers really want?
Again, every hiring manager is different. But in general, they want a clear picture of you as a professional and your potential value to their company – and they want it fast. They don’t want to have to dig through a long, wordy resume or be distracted by unnecessary flourishes in order to get to the point. They want concise, well-organized information at a glance.
We hope this helps! For more info, watch our full Resume Q&A video here.