How to write a great resume
Resume writing is such a simple task, but it can also be difficult because of the little nuances it entails.
I decided to write this piece because I have made many resume mistakes over the years. While my resume has improved a lot, I wish I had this article in 2018 to guide me. I have also recently reviewed over 50+ resumes for friends, acquaintances, and cool strangers I met on LinkedIn, and I see common mistakes that I 100% believe we should all be aware of and strive not to make.
When I review resumes, the scenario I paint for people is: imagine you were at a career fair and in line to speak to your favorite company. Unfortunately for you, this line has 50–100 people ahead of you, meaning the recruiters only get approximately 30 seconds or less to review that resume. Is your resume clear, neat, and formatted properly enough for the recruiter to find everything they are looking for within that time frame?
Does your resume have your — Name & Contact info? University? Expected graduation date? Skills? Relevant experience with crystal clear bullet points? Leadership & activities etc.?
Things to avoid when writing a resume:
- Having a resume with multiple pages. If you have less than 10 years of experience, your resume should be one page.
- Never put your age on your resume.
- Do not include your complete address. Instead, have your city and state “Washington, DC.”
- Avoid overusing the “bold” feature on your resume. Having too many things in bold will make your resume hard to read.
- You don’t need a summary or objective — that occupies precious real estate you need on a one-page resume. That summary can be implied in the bullet points under your experiences.
- Avoid having too much white space, this is very distracting, and you are only robbing yourself of precious space.
- Avoid using multiple colors; this can take away from the content you want people reviewing.
- Double-check your resume to avoid typos or grammatical errors.
Things to do when writing a resume:
- Adding your LinkedIn link is a good practice you should incorporate.
- Include your GitHub, website, or portfolio link as it applies to you.
- Right align all your dates — formatting is essential.
- Bold only what you want the hiring manager or recruiter to notice.
- Call out your skills clearly and for technical skills, list skills in order of expertise, i.e., list the skills you are most comfortable with first. For me, that will look like C++, Python, Java …
- Include the skills you have listed in your experiences — this shows how you used those skills.
- Use bullet points and not summaries. Keep your bullet points to a maximum of 5 — you can always talk more about that experience at your interview.
- Quantify your bullet points. Did you improve efficiency? Okay, by how much? Did you generate revenue or save cost? Cool, but by how much? Did you tutor people? Great, how many people? And so on :)
- Leadership & activities section is always a great touch because they show who you are outside of your coursework, and honestly, companies love this section.
Resume sample Links:
Click here for my resume in 2018
Click here for my resume in 2019
Click here for my resume in 2020
As I mentioned earlier, my resume has gone on a journey, as you can see from those links. Now in 2021, I feel confident about my resume, and after reading this article, I hope you do too!
- This article is my opinion and mine only, not that of my current or previous employers.
- Remember that if you give your resume to 10 people to review, there is a very high chance you get feedback from everyone on what you can make better. Simply meaning more than often, there is always something to tweak. However, there is a sweet 80% spot where everyone can agree you have a great resume, and the remaining 20% is up to you to accept or reject feedback after evaluating. This piece is to help you get to the 80%.
- I am not a recruiter or hiring manager. These are all from my personal experiences, numerous resume workshops, and conversations with many professionals at the highest level now because of excellent career practices that included writing a great resume.
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