Let’s face it. There’s a lot of advice out there on how to create the perfect resume. Some of it ’s good. Some of it’s bad. Writing a resume can feel like quite the daunting task to some. Job seekers need to keep in mind professionalism, optimized formatting, keyword utilization, not to mention make it compelling enough to catch a recruiter’s eye.
We want to help you land somewhere in the middle. Don’t get us wrong. We definitely want to help you get noticed. Just- for the right reasons.
Before founding Scouted, Jax and I (Robin), spent years at the largest hedge fund in the world, Bridgewater Associates. Together, we ran one of BW’s core talent pipelines and where we reviewed over 75,000 resumes from interns to executives.
Chances are, the recruiter who’ll be reviewing your resume has seen a lot of resumes too. Maybe not tens of thousands, but a lot. Here are a few of the basic principles you should follow when submitting your resume to any job opening. Trust us, we know what we’re talking about.
Leave creativity to the creatives
Unless you’re looking for creative-based work (ie. design, writing, etc.) leave the super creative resume templates behind. If you’re applying for a role that’s likely to see a plethora of applicants, your thought may be that you want to stand out. In reality, in order to make the best impression, your experience and abilities will have an even louder voice than a chartreuse font. And, if a recruiter is sorting through hundreds of resumes and you want their attention to stick on yours, you’re going to need to make your point within seconds of them seeing your resume for the first time.
Besides that, many recruiters may be using an ATS (applicant tracking system) to initially filter through a large number of candidates. If the ATS can’t read your creative resume, then you can be sure the recruiter won’t even have the chance to view your masterpiece.
This is our preferred resume template:
Is it fancy? Not really. Will it show recruiters exactly what they want to see? Yep!
Save your resume like this
Sometimes, the directions in the job application will specifically ask you to save your resume a certain way, possibly with the title of the position in the filename. Unless otherwise stated, we think you should save your resume like this: “FirstName LastName Resume.” Nothing complicated or fancy. Tell them who you are and what the document is and leave it at that.
Speaking of saving resumes…
Always save your resume as a PDF.
You’ll notice that our resume template is a Microsoft Word file. Whatever template you use, don’t leave it in an editable format. You never know how your resume formatting may show up on another’s computer so it’s best to play it safe and always save your resume as a PDF.
Keep it to one page
Unless you’re an extremely seasoned employee and have 20 years of experience under your belt, keep your resume to one page. We get it. You’ve done a lot and want to show off your unique side and exemplary work ethic. But seeing as recruiters are likely to make an initial judgment within the first several seconds of reading your resume, it’s best to stick to the point.
For goodness sake, use a professional email
Ok, your email doesn’t have to use a company or educational institution domain, but if you do use Gmail, just make sure you don’t use something you’ll regret like email@example.com. You won’t get the job, no matter how groovy your resume is.
Instead, try to make sure your email is simple, identifying, and professional. Here are a few helpful guidelines we took from Job-hunt.org:
- Your email address should not be suggestive, flirtatious, generic, silly, or funny.
- It should be professional and easy to remember and create awareness.
- It should include your name, preferably first name and last name.
- It should be a personal email address, not one shared with a spouse or family.
- Try not to use numbers or underscores.
- In particular, avoid including the year of your birth. It’s very easy to guess the probable age of Mary.Jane.Smith79@whatever.com.
- If you cannot obtain your email at a “leading” email service such as Gmail, try your name at another email service so you can use your first name and last name.
- Make it easy for prospective employers to find “‘you” in their inboxes.
Don’t hide your personality
While you should keep your resume simple and to one page, it’s also a great idea to add an interest or two near the bottom. In a sea of resumes, that could be the very thing that connects you with a recruiter and helps them remember you later on. Just don’t go overboard here.
Although you may really be into watching sports or building model trains, try to include activities or hobbies that could potentially translate into a skill that would be useful on the job. If you coached soccer, it could (quite literally) demonstrate team-building and leadership. If you’ve spent a lot of time traveling abroad, that could mean that you’re comfortable working with those who are different than you and are adaptable to different situations.
Here at Scouted, during our Round 1 video interviews, we give you a chance to express your interests by asking you what a perfect weekend would look like (as well as other insightful questions). If you’re really interested in helping the hiring manager get to know the real you, why not sign up and create your Scouted profile?
Don’t include an objective or summary
In reality, this information could and should be shared in a cover letter, email, or even at the interview. A hiring manager will almost always skip those and go straight to your work experience. Use this space for something much more valuable to your job hunt like relative experience, volunteer work, or related skills.
That said, if you would really like to include an objective on your resume, a one-line objective isn’t going to hurt anyone.
Don’t include references
What might surprise you about our template is that we don’t include a section for references. During most hiring processes, checking references is the last box a hiring manager needs to check before they can officially hire you. At this point, they already know that they want you to work for them, they’ve already given you an offer, and you’ve accepted it. That being the case, including your references on the document that gives the very first impression of you is unnecessary.
Most importantly, tell your story
The most effective resumes out there are the ones that tell a story- the story of you! If we can figure out who you are, what you’ve done, and what you want to do in 30 seconds or less, you’re golden. The best resumes will show a clear career progression as well as your skills that will make the hiring manager think, “Yeah. You deserve a chance here.”
Part of telling your story means that you’ll do more than simply copy and paste your past job descriptions. Tell the hiring manager what you accomplished at your last position. What difference did you make at your last company and in what ways were you an effective employee?
That being said…
Just because you’re telling a story, doesn’t mean you have the liberty to ramble. While the best resumes tell a story, they’ll still get looked over if they’re just hard to read. Formatting is pretty important when it comes to resumes which is why we recommend using our tried and true template.
Do the 10-second test
It’ll take about 10 seconds for a hiring manager to make an initial decision on your resume. After you’ve finished writing yours, walk away from it for an hour or two. When you return, try to skim it in about 10 seconds. See what you take from your resume and ask yourself if your relevant experience and expertise is clear. Once you do this, try having a friend do the same thing and see what they take from your resume as well. Edit as needed and then send it on its way!
We’d love to hear your thoughts and questions in the comments below and we’ll do our best to respond to each!