How To NOT Screw Up Your Résumé

As someone who looks at résumés all day everyday (and have done so for over eight years) I have formed some pretty strong opinions of what makes them work. Here a few things for you to consider when putting yours together. 

1. Don’t date yourself. There are many reasons that this holds true but the big two are that age discrimination does exist (for all ages) and that the way things were done 10 years ago are so much different from the way things are done now. If a potential employer can figure out your age you will be at a disadvantage. 

To avoid dating yourself on your résumé DO NOT 

  • go back more than 10-15 years into your work experience.
  • put your number of years of experience in your summary
  • put dates with your education

2. Do NOT have (most) recruiters review your résumé. I know that seems like an odd statement to make but I am a recruiter and I would not have many of my colleagues review my résumé.  The reasoning for that is pretty simple – recruiters get paid to weed people out of the process so they are going to suggest that you put anything and everything on your résumé to make their job easy. 

3. Get out of the stone age. Put your computer skills on your résumé. If you don’t I will assume that you are still using stone tools and struggling to make fire. 

4. Spell your name right. I have seen it happen. Enough said. 

5. Put your correct contact information on it. Again, I have seen it happen. One digit in a phone number or one letter in an email address makes a huge difference. Also – if you are currently employed DO NOT (and I can not stress DO NOT enough) put your work email address of office phone as your contract information. 






6. Think of Readers Digest. Your résumé should be a Readers Digest version of your career not the full novel. If you give everything in your résumé there is no need to talk to you because you have answered all of my questions.  

7. Show your value. If you can’t show me your value in your résumé you might as well not even send it to me. 

8. Use it wisely. If you do not meet 75% of the qualifications for the job you have NO business applying for it. 

9. Résumé vs. resume. I realize you will not write the word résumé on your résumé but you probably will in a cover letter or application. Do not give your résumé a bad start by misspelling it. 

10. Make it a pretty to look at. A good-looking document will do better than an ugly document any day of the week. Keeping it simple and clean is your best route to making your résumé attractive.  

Now that I have said my piece (at least partially – this list could have gone on for days), I want to hear back from you – in your opinion, what did I leave off of the list. 

Until next time, good hunting and good luck! 



8 responses to “How To NOT Screw Up Your Résumé

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention How To NOT Screw Up Your Résumé « A Recruiters Guide to the Universe --

  2. You are right on target as usual! Middle TN is so blessed to have your expertise!

  3. Matt,

    You’ve made some terrific points here. Sharing your background as a former recruiter, it frequently amazed me that so many folks would apply for jobs they could not perform. That approach eliminated them from any future jobs they might have fit.

  4. Matt – this post came at a good time for me. We are currently working on my husband’s resume. Can you explain the following from list item #2 for me though? “The reasoning for that is pretty simple – recruiters get paid to weed people out of the process so they are going to suggest that you put anything and everything on your résumé to make their job easy.”

    Thanks as usual!

    • Beth –

      In many cases when a recruiter reviews a resume they are going to encourage the job-seeker to include all of the details that will make it easy for them (the recruiter) to weed them (the job-seeker) out without even speaking to them.

  5. Avril Terrell

    AWESOME!!!! I can’t stress this enough to our graduates.

  6. Jim DeAugustinis

    You woke me up Matt! I’ve been led to provide details by most recruiters and previous feedback from others. So the resumes I’ve sent out have been quite detailed and with limited responses so I’ve modified it and am re-posting the new “reader’s digest” version to see how/if it affects the responsiveness.
    Jim DeAugustinis

  7. My mother recently told me that she’s heard that most job seeker’s now prefer to have sentences written about your previous job experiences and job duties instead of having bullets of just brief descriptions. Is this correct? I’m trying to update mine and I’m not quite sure what route to take as far as getting it put together. Any advice?

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