Your resume may only be a single page, but it’s a potential minefield when it comes to your career. On one hand, you want enough information so the employer sees what a stellar candidate you are. On the other, you don’t want to step into any pitfalls that will give the hiring manager reason to exclude you.
Here are the dos and don’ts for writing each section of your resume:
DO tell an employer about your skills and experience that are relevant to the position. Customize your resume for each position you’d like to pursue. A cookie-cutter approach to looking for work is less likely to be successful.
DON’T list every short-term job you’ve held. If you’ve worked at a number of temporary positions, it may look as though you have trouble holding a job. The exception is writing about a temporary job or internship that’s relevant to the position you’re applying for.
DO include your home phone number and main email address. Depending on how much privacy you have to take calls and pick up messages from a prospective employer at work, you may also want to include your cell number.
DON’T list your business phone number or email account on your resume. Your current employer may be monitoring your phone calls and email correspondence. Unless you want to be put in an awkward position or fired, you should keep all the details of your job search private.
If your cell phone was issued by your employer, you should consider it company property and make job search-related calls from your home or a personal device.
DO include a link to your LinkedIn profile if it will present you in professional manner. Go over it carefully before you share this information with a prospective employer. You’ll want to make sure that anything you’re writing will complement your resume.
DON’T share your personal Facebook or other social network links if they may contain anything you wouldn’t feel comfortable seeing on a billboard in the middle of your city. Something you or a friend posted as a private joke may not seem very amusing to a hiring manager and could cost you a job offer. Err on the side of keeping your private life private.
DO deal with any lengthy gaps in your employment history directly. If you took a year off from work to travel, for example, include that so that the employer can fill in this blank easily.
DON’T leave a blank space on the resume without an explanation. The employer may wonder if you have something to hide.
DO tell a potential employer if you have international experience, especially if you’re applying to a company with offices in other countries. If you’ve completed a study abroad semester as part of your university program, make sure this information is clearly highlighted.
DON’T tell an employer something the company doesn’t need to know. This includes information about your country of origin, culture, race or nationality. You also don’t need to reveal your citizenship status.
DO include volunteer experience on your resume. A recruiter may not necessarily consider a candidate with paid experience more desirable than a person who gave his or her time for free. As long as your volunteer experience fits with the job you’re trying to land, include it in your resume.
DON’T list volunteer time if it would be a stretch to see how it would fit with the position. If you aren’t sure you should add it to your resume, ask a trusted friend, an instructor or a career counselor for guidance. If they can’t immediately see the connection, an employer won’t be able to grasp it, either.
Follow these dos and don’ts to write a well-polished resume that shines. You’ll find it easier to get invited for an interview, which is your chance to demonstrate how you can benefit the company. That will be your opportunity to sell yourself to the employer.
Leslie Anglesey is an educator at University of Southern California and an editor for writing services. If you have any questions, connect with her at Google+ or drop a line at les.anglesey (at) gmail (dot) com.