Even when the market is hot, companies and recruiters still have high standards when reviewing resumes. We understand how frustrating it can be to try to understand the reviewing process, so we surveyed our talented career coaches who have worked as recruiters at small start-ups to big tech companies. When it comes to creating a good resume, it all comes down to two concepts: content and formatting.
Contact Information and Personal Details
These are the necessary information to include:
- Name - First and last.
- Phone number - Personal cell number is preferred over a home phone number/landline.
- Email address - Use a professional-looking email that has your name, and use your internal email if you are looking for internal mobility.
- LinkedIn link - It allows recruiters to look you and your employment history up, so it acts like your full resume.
These are the information to NOT include:
- Date of birth and photo: Don’t include these because it could cause some implicit bias. People do their best to stay neutral, but just for the sake of ease, don’t include these and don’t risk it.
- Additional emails or phone numbers: Multiple contact methods are confusing and not necessary.
How Much Work Experience to Include
- Senior-level applicants - List up to 15 years of relevant work experience, with a focus on key achievements and powerful action verbs and metrics
- Mid-level applicants - List relevant positions with detailed descriptions and only briefly mention other positions
- Entry-level applicants - List all paid work and describe achievements/responsibilities/personal projects that are more relevant. If you don’t have work experience along the lines of what you want to apply for, having any projects that are along the lines will help.
What Skills to Put
Your skills should be work related, so ensure that you are catering this section to the job you’re applying for! If the job you want requires specific hard skills like coding languages or MS Office skills, you should ensure those are in your resume. If the job is more on the technical side, you may be able to leave out Social Media skills, unless it’s relevant.
- Communication skills
- Technical skills
- Leadership/Management skills
- Critical thinking skills
- Organizational skills
- Transferrable skills
Additional Important Sections
- Volunteer work - shows commitment and values
- Certifications and awards - list any relevant certifications and awards to showcase your expertise
- Languages - the ability to speak multiple languages extends your potential as a candidate, especially if the company has an international presence
- Publications and projects - these further showcases your expertise in your field
Recruiters see hundreds of resumes a day, so ensuring your resume is formatted to catch their attention while containing all necessary info is going to be key. On average, Recruiters spend about 5-7 seconds looking at a resume before deciding to read the whole thing or passing.
As you accumulate more experience and projects, it might be inevitable for you to lose consistency, especially around dates and titles. Be careful to keep the same format for every position’s dates, title, and company.
Here are two standard resume formats that might be helpful for you to implement:
- Combination format - List relevant and transferrable skills at the top of your resume. Next, list your reverse-chronological list of experiences.
- Reverse-chronological format - List your relevant experiences, starting with your current/most recent role and then moving backward in time to capture your previous roles.
How to List Skills
The most common way is to have a skills section where you will list your key abilities. Another way is to list them under your job titles, which gives context and detail for how you excel at each skill.
How to Format the Work Experience Section
- Job title - This should be at the top of every entry.
- Company, city, state - This should be right under the corresponding job title.
- Dates employed - List the month and years for each role.
- Key achievements and responsibilities - Keep this section to a max of five or six bullets and focus on achievements first while avoiding “I” and “my”.
Never try to fit more accomplishments or responsibilities in by lowering the font size! The recruiter has to review thousands and thousands of resumes and the last thing they want to do is strain their eyes from trying to read a small font. Keeping within 10pt-12pt font should be fine, but we suggest not going lower or higher, unless it’s a formatting decision, like for your name, job title, contact info, etc.
How to Format the Education Section
Start off with your most advanced degree. Then you could list your other degrees in reverse-chronological order. If you have a university degree, it is not necessary to include your high school information. It is also helpful to add any relevant coursework, honors, or awards if you’re applying for an entry-level position or you’re trying to break into a new industry. Your GPA is not needed on your resume unless you’re applying to an internship or an entry level position that requires you to do so.
Once you think you’ve written your last bullet point, you might think it’s time to submit your resume. However, it’s important to proofread and double check your resume for consistent formatting and correct grammar. If you’re writing about a previous position, remember to use past tense, and if you’re describing a current position, use the present tense.
After you’ve proofread your resume, our coaches recommend saving it as a PDF. The PDF extension ensures that the formatting is locked your resume will look the same no matter where or how it is viewed.
Writing a good resume is a skill that takes time to hone. A resume is meant to highlight your experience and eligibility, so don’t hide your key achievements and information. If you are struggling to perfect your resume, our seasoned coaches can help you get more job opportunities from top companies.
About The Author
Eva is a software engineer in the fintech space. She transitioned from retail banking into tech by going through a coding bootcamp and loves helping others transition into tech.