Must-Dos And Don'ts For Modern Resume You Should Know


Just like every field influenced by technology, resume writing rules constantly evolve. Some of the things that considered acceptable and necessary to include into your resume 10 years ago now look inappropriate.

Moreover, various online journals and career coaches sometimes share quite the opposite advice (you’ve probably heard the discussions about whether your resume should fit into one page). So, for an average job-seeker it can be a tough task to put the resume together. Which tips to follow and which are already outdated? Are there any universal tricks that can turn your resume into an attractive marketing document that can win an interview for you? Luckily, there are. Read below to learn the freshest, up-to-dated resume tips you can start using right now.

Dos and don

Modern resume do’s

  • Do use an attractive, easy-to-read layout
    Although the content matters most in a resume, it’s the layout that determines whether your resume will be read carefully or not. Make sure your formatting is consistent throughout the entire document – the same font and size, the same type of content boldfaced, etc. Make sure your resume has enough blank space: 300-350 words per page are enough. Take care of the ideal resume length: it should not exceed 1-2 pages.
  • Do organize the resume content
    Divide the resume into the clear sections with capitalized subheadings. List your education and professional experience in reverse chronological order.
  • Do highlight your most relevant achievements
    Including achievements is a must if you wish to be seen as a top-performing individual. Outline the most impressive ones in 3-5 bullet points. Great if you can show them with numbers (see the next point) but if you don’t, just follow the scheme: explain the challenge you’ve faced, the actions you’ve taken to handle it and the result you’ve achieved for the company. states it’s important to include how your employer benefited from these achievements.
  • Do impress the reader with figures
    If you can strengthen your achievements by including figures and percentages, use this opportunity. Achievements given with figures look more trustworthy; moreover, figures are a proven way to catch the attention of a reader as we pay more attention to figures rather than words when reading.
  • Do use strong action verbs/adverbs
    Many applicants still start their bullet points with weak verbs such as ‘Led, ‘Responsible for’ and ‘Participated in’. Although there’s anything wrong in using such words, they significantly minimize your impact on the project or work in the eyes of the hiring manager. On the contrary, strong verbs such as ‘Orchestrated’, ‘Influenced’ and ‘Achieved’ make you sound more confident and highlight your personal contribution.
  • Do optimize your resume for the applicant tracking system
    It’s not a secret that in big companies your resume has to pass the software selection before it actually gets seen by a hiring manager. Your success in passing the ATS selection depends on the quantity of relevant keywords and the correct spelling. So, even if you’re done writing a resume, it’s a good idea to edit it and add keywords.
  • Do highlight your soft skills says that giving the proof for your soft skills is as essential as quantifying your accomplishments and hard skills. In other words, it makes no sense to say you’re ‘an excellent communicator’ or ‘proactive coach and mentor’. For example, if you want to emphasis your supervisory skills, show how many people you supervised and which results they achieved under your supervision.
  • Do show professional growth
    Career advancement is one of the things a hiring manager will look for in your resume. If you’ve been promoted or awarded at one of your past jobs, make sure your resume indicates this.  Good career progression is one of the best factors that will advocate in your favor.
  • Do tell the truth
    If your education or career history aren’t impressive, it’s tempting to exaggerate some facts or, in other words, add some ‘white lies’. However, as the practice shows, this isn’t worth doing at all, as the majority of hiring managers will dismiss a resume with falsified information. All the facts from your resume are easy to check online or by the phone. Most hiring managers don’t tolerate resume lies, so you should avoid it as well.
  • Do include professional email address
    Your resume starts with your name and contact details, so make sure they look professional, too. Don’t include the number of your house/apartment as in the internet age employer doesn’t’ need this information. And, of course, use a professional email that contains your first and second name with minimal modifications.

Modern resume don’ts

  • Don’t include a resume objective
    Unless you’ve just graduated from the university, you don’t need an objective. Your experience, skills and achievements will speak for themselves.
  • Don’t list the private information
    Your date of birth (and any other information that could indicate your age), political and religious affiliation as well as marital status don’t belong to resume. The discrimination of applicants exists, and you can be discriminated against the facts of this kind. The same with your picture – leave it for your LinkedIn profile.
  • Don’t make grammar or spelling errors
    Everyone makes mistakes. However, the mistakes on a resume make the hiring manger doubt the professionalism of the applicant. Don’t let your well-written resume be destroyed by two or three minor errors – spend a decent amount of time proofreading the document. Or, which is even better, find a skilled resume editor.
  • Don’t exceed two pages in length
    A resume which is 3 pages or longer is only acceptable if you’re applying for a job in academic settings (or, you’re a CEO with 20+ years of experience). In all other cases, 1-2 pages are normal resume length which allows you to cover all key milestones of your career without overloading the reader with excessive details.
  • Don’t use tables or MS Word templates
    Although tables, charts and the formatting of templates you’ve downloaded from the Internet can improve the visual appearance of your resume, they share one big disadvantage. The fancy formatting isn’t recognized by the ATS, so the content of your resume can be messed up after going through such software. So, opt for simpler designs and limit the formatting by using bulleted lists.
  • Don’t copy and paste job descriptions from the web
    Some applicants who struggle to describe their job responsibilities and skills in their own words simply copy and paste the descriptions of similar positions from the web or even from a job listing. Needless to say that such a resume makes no sense and will likely be thrashed.
  • Don’t include personal references on the resume
    Putting references as a separate section of your resume is extremely outdated. Neither professional nor personal references should be included in a modern resume. However, there’s one exception from this rule: when an employer specifies in a job listing that the application should include a list of references.  In this case, references are a must.
  • Don’t exceed 5-6 bullet points in each section
    When it comes to describing your job duties and achievements, more isn’t better. The key to resume success is being relevant, not being overly detailed. Thus, keep each section of your resume to 5-6 points, 1-2 lines each. Remove the information which is irrelevant to the job you’re applying for.
  • Don’t use abbreviations or jargon
    Many companies use specific software or give the names to the widely known software and processes. However, for the hiring manager outside of your company such jargon and abbreviations won’t be familiar. So, to avoid messing up the potential employer, don’t use any jargon on the resume.
  • Don’t include irrelevant hobbies
    If the skills you’ve learned from your hobby aren’t transferrable to the workplace, it’s recommended to delete the ‘Hobbies’ section at all. Such hobbies as cooking, singing and reading make little sense to a hiring manager, so it’s better not to waste the space of your resume.

There’s one key point to making your resume look modern. If you incorporate the old rules of your resume writing, the hiring manager may think that you’re older than you are and discriminate you based on this fact. So, whether you write a resume by yourself or hire a resume professional, make sure your resume looks neat and attractive and can catch the hiring manager’s attention! 

Not sure if your resume is relevant to the position you’re applying for? Want to know if you’ve made one of the common resume mistakes? Order a free resume critique from our site and get a comprehensive feedback on the quality of your resume from a professional writer.

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