Ah, the mighty resume—a crucial tool that captures the hearts of employers and acts as a gateway to showcasing your exceptional qualities. But hey, let’s be real: crafting the perfect resume can be a daunting task, especially if you’re not feeling confident or haven’t flexed those resume-writing muscles in a while.
But don’t stress: We’ve got you covered with a comprehensive collection of resume tips and tricks, all in one convenient place. Get ready to unlock the door to career success with 67 resume do’s and don’ts.
Resume do’s and don’ts: job experience and skills
1. Do include relevant experience: List your most recent and relevant jobs that relate directly to the position you’re applying for. Focus on roles that show off your skills and achievements that relate to the job you want.
2. Don’t use generic language: Be specific when describing your responsibilities and achievements. Skip the boring stuff like “responsible for” or “assisted with.” Instead, use action verbs (designed, presented, researched) and concrete language to show what you can do.
4. Don’t lie: Always be truthful about your work experience. Don’t exaggerate your achievements or responsibilities. Employers often fact-check, and lying will only hurt your chances.
5. Do start with action verbs: Begin each bullet point with strong action verbs to describe what you accomplished and what you were responsible for. It adds punch and shows that you’re a go-getter. Action verbs are words like: achieved, coordinated, improved, or won.
6. Don’t copy the job description word for word: It’s good to incorporate keywords from the job description, but don’t just copy and paste it. It could come across as low effort. Find a different way to say the same thing.
8. Don’t include confidential information: If you worked on a huge, top secret project at your last job, of course you want to talk about it! But make sure not to mention any identifying names or phrases that could get you in trouble. Talk about your contributions, but don’t share private details.
9. Do customise your experience: Tailor your work experience section for each job you apply to by focusing on the skills and experiences that match the job requirements. Look at the job description to figure out what to emphasise.
10. Don’t try to hide gaps: It can be tempting to stretch your time in a job by 6 months to cover a gap of unemployment. But honesty really is the best policy.
11. Do include volunteer experience: Volunteering is just as valuable as paid work, because you’re still learning skills and developing your own unique working style. If you’re a recent graduate or first-time jobseeker it will be extra helpful, but even seasoned professionals benefit from including it.
12. Don’t forget to tailor your volunteer experience to the role: You still need to be purposeful with your experience, making sure it’s relevant for the position you’re applying for, and highlighting experiences and keywords that can help you stand out.
14. Don’t overlook transferable skills gained: Even if the volunteer work was in a different field or industry, don’t underestimate the transferable skills you acquired. Highlight how those skills can be applied to the job you’re pursuing, in a creative way.
15. Do clearly list your hard skills: Create a dedicated skills section on your resume where you can explicitly list your hard skills. This section can be titled “Technical Skills”, “Hard Skills”, or something similar.
17. Do highlight your top skills: Focus on the hard skills that matter most for the job you’re applying to. Prioritise and emphasise the skills that are directly relevant to the role.
18. Don’t overstate your skills: Be honest about your level of proficiency in each hard skill you mention. It’s important to accurately represent your abilities since employers may assess or test your skills during the hiring process.
19. Do use skills throughout your resume: While a dedicated skills section is essential, don’t limit yourself to just that area. Incorporate your hard skills naturally throughout your resume, especially in the work experience section, where you can show how you’ve applied those skills in practice.
20. Don’t neglect this skills section: Regularly review and update your hard skills section to include any new skills you’ve acquired. Continuously seek opportunities to learn and expand your skill set to stay competitive in the job market.
21. Do understand the difference between soft skills and hard skills: Including both hard skills (technical abilities) and soft skills (personal qualities) on your resume will give hiring managers a holistic view of your potential for the role.
22. Don’t list generic skills: Steer clear of using generic terms like “good communicator” or “team player” without providing any specific details. Instead, use more descriptive language that demonstrates your soft skills in action.
23. Do incorporate soft skills throughout: Don’t limit your soft skills to just one section. Spread them out, particularly in the work experience section where you can provide examples of how you’ve utilised your soft skills.
24. Don’t forget to improve: Soft skills can be developed and improved over time. Continuously work on enhancing your soft skills through experiences, training, or personal development activities.
25. Do identify transferable skills: Recognise the skills you’ve gained from previous experiences that are applicable to the job you’re targeting. These can include communication, problem-solving, leadership, adaptability, and teamwork, among others.
27. Do connect skills to job responsibilities: Demonstrate how your transferable skills can be beneficial in performing the responsibilities of the target role. Explain how they can contribute to the success of the team or organisation.
28. Don’t be afraid to ask: If you’re not sure how your current experience could relate to a job you want to go for, ask your networks – teachers, family members, mentors, peers. They may have a unique perspective you hadn’t considered before.
29. Do include relevant education: List any degrees or certifications that are relevant to the job you’re applying for.
30. Don’t include high school details (in most cases): Unless you’re a recent high school graduate or you have exceptional achievements to highlight, it’s generally best to leave out high school information.
32. Don’t overemphasise grades or GPA: Unless specifically requested or if you have outstanding results, it’s generally not necessary to include your GPA on the resume. Focus on showcasing relevant skills and experiences instead.
33. Do mention ongoing education or professional development: It’s not just about completed education – you’re allowed to mention current study too. This shows your continued commitment to education and growth in your field.
34. Don’t exaggerate or misrepresent your achievements: Falsifying things like grades or academic achievements may seem like a good idea, but these things can be easily verified and would damage your credibility.
Resume do’s and don’ts: cover letter
Address the hiring manager
36. Don’t make assumptions about gender or marital status: Avoid gender-specific greetings like “Dear Sir” or “Dear Madam” unless you’re familiar with the recipient. Making assumptions can lead to unintentional offence.
37. Do use a professional greeting: If you don’t have the hiring manager’s name, use a professional greeting like “Dear Hiring Manager” or “Dear [Company Name] Hiring Team”. These are safe and respectful ways to address them when you don’t have specific information.
38. Don’t be too informal: Conversational language is appropriate for a cover letter in most cases. However, avoid using super informal greetings like “Yo” or “’Sup”.
39. Do have a strong opening: Begin your cover letter with a captivating sentence that grabs the reader’s attention. This could be a compelling statement, an interesting fact about the company, or a brief mention of your relevant experience.
40. Don’t repeat your resume: The introductory summary isn’t meant to reiterate everything already mentioned in your resume. This is a chance for you to summarise your experiences and personality in a more conversational way.
41. Do connect it back to your resume: Expand on the experiences listed in your resume, with a focus on accomplishments, skills, and responsibilities that make you a strong fit for the position.
42. Don’t provide a lengthy job history: Avoid listing every job you’ve ever had. Instead, focus on the experiences most relevant to the position and those that demonstrate your qualifications and expertise.
43. Do incorporate keywords: If you’re not sure which of your experiences are relevant, have a look through the job description and find keywords or phrases you can link to your experiences.
45. Do demonstrate the value you added: Let them know how your accomplishments positively impacted your team, project, or company. Highlight the problems you solved, improvements you made, and goals you achieved.
46. Don’t focus solely on individual accomplishments: You can also highlight your collaborative group achievements, demonstrating how your contributions positively impacted the team’s success.
47. Do quantify your achievements: Whenever possible, provide numbers, percentages, or other measurable metrics to show the scope and scale of your accomplishments.
48. Don’t downplay your accomplishments: Use confident and assertive language when describing your accomplishments. Show enthusiasm and pride in your achievements to convey your capabilities and drive.
49. Do connect accomplishments to job requirements: Tie your accomplishments directly to the requirements and responsibilities outlined in the job description.
51. Do keep it short and sweet: Your qualifications are already listed on your resume, and you only have so much space in a cover letter. Use your qualifications to support your points on why you’d be a good fit, but leave room to talk about more pressing things, like work experience, personality and passion for the role.
52. Don’t use technical jargon excessively: You may feel it’s important to seem well educated and professional. And depending on your role, this may be true. But don’t over-do it. Use a few key terms here and there to show your knowledge, but keep your language accessible for the most part.
Resume do’s and don’ts: presentation
53. Do proofread carefully: Take the time to thoroughly review your resume and cover letter for spelling errors. Read them multiple times and consider using spelling and grammar check tools to catch any mistakes.
54. Don’t solely rely on spell-check: While spell-check can be helpful, it’s not foolproof. It may not catch all errors, and it can sometimes suggest incorrect replacements. Always perform a manual proofread to catch any missed errors.
56. Don’t overlook homophones: Pay attention to homophones, which are words that sound the same but have different spellings and meanings. Examples include “their” vs. “there” or “your” vs. “you’re.” Make sure you’re using the correct spelling in each context.
57. Do keep it clean and organised: Ensure your cover letter and resume have a clean and well-organised layout. Use clear headings and subheadings to guide the reader and make it easy to navigate.
58. Don’t use excessive colours or graphics: While a touch of colour or subtle design elements can enhance the visual appeal, don’t overdo it.
59. Do use consistent formatting: Maintain consistency in font styles, sizes, and formatting throughout your cover letter and resume. This creates a professional and cohesive visual presentation.
60. Don’t overcrowd the page: Avoid cramming too much information onto a single page. Give your content room to breathe by utilising appropriate margins and spacing.
62. Don’t use overly elaborate or unconventional formats: Stick to a format that’s easily understood by recruiters. Avoid using unconventional layouts or designs that may confuse or hinder readability.
63. Do include relevant contact information: Include your full name, phone number, and professional email address at the top of your resume and cover letter. This allows employers to easily reach out to you for further communication.
64. Don’t include sensitive personal information: You don’t need to provide any sensitive personal details like your date of birth, marital status, gender, or ethnicity. These details are generally not relevant and can lead to potential biases in the hiring process.
65. Do add a professional online presence: Include links to your professional social media profiles or personal website, if they’re relevant to the job or showcase your work or portfolio.
66. Don’t waste space on irrelevant memberships or affiliations: Listing unrelated or generic memberships can clutter your resume and distract from more important qualifications.
|67. Do harness the power of AI with a Swag candidate profile
In today’s fast-paced and competitive job market, saving time and getting a head start can make all the difference. That’s where Swag candidate profiles come in, revolutionising the way we create resumes with our AI-powered technology. With our innovative tool, you can create a professional and impactful resume in just minutes, giving you a significant advantage in your job search.
Gone are the days of spending hours crafting and formatting your resume. Cover off a bunch of these resume do’s and don’ts by simply inputting your skills, experiences, and career objectives, our advanced algorithms analyse and transform your information into a standout resume.
Create a candidate profile to get started today.
There you have it – 67 resume do’s and don’ts. Your resume is a powerful tool that can open doors to incredible career opportunities. By following these resume do’s and don’ts we’ve shared, you’ll be well-equipped to craft a winning resume that leaves a lasting impression on hiring managers.
Resume writing FAQs
What are the most common mistakes on most resumes?
We’ve got more than just resume do’s and don’ts for you. Avoiding the top 5 common mistakes on most resumes will help improve your chances of landing the gig.
- Poor formatting and lack of readability: We talked about this a bit in the resume do’s and don’ts, but resumes that are visually cluttered, poorly organised, or use inconsistent fonts and formatting can make it challenging for employers to navigate and extract the key information. It’s important to use clear headings, bullet points, and appropriate spacing to ensure readability and make your resume visually appealing.
- Irrelevant or outdated information: Including information that is not directly related to the job you’re applying for, such as irrelevant work experience or outdated skills, can distract employers and dilute the impact of your resume. Tailoring your resume to each specific job by highlighting the most relevant experiences and skills is crucial to catch the employer’s attention.
- Grammar and spelling errors: Resumes with grammar mistakes, typos, or misspelled words can create a negative impression and signal a lack of attention to detail. It’s essential to thoroughly proofread your resume, use spell-check tools, and consider having a second pair of eyes review it to ensure it’s error-free.
- More than two pages: Resumes that exceed the recommended length (generally one to two pages) can overwhelm employers and make it difficult for them to quickly grasp your qualifications. Focusing on the most relevant and impactful information, trimming unnecessary details, and keeping your resume concise will help keep it within an optimal length.
- Not including examples: Resumes that lack specific accomplishments and quantifiable results can be less compelling to employers. Instead of simply listing job duties, highlighting specific achievements, such as revenue generated, projects completed, or goals surpassed, provides tangible evidence of your capabilities and showcases your potential value to prospective employers.
By being mindful of these common mistakes and taking steps to avoid them, you can ensure your resume presents your qualifications effectively and increases your chances of securing job opportunities.
What do all great resumes have in common?
Great resumes have a few awesome things in common.
They have a clear focus, highlight relevant skills and achievements, use concise and error-free language, and are tailored to the job. They grab attention with a catchy summary, showcase quantifiable results, and follow consistent formatting. By incorporating keywords, they pass applicant tracking systems and impress hiring managers.
These elements combine to create a compelling resume that presents the candidate as a standout choice for employers.
How far back should a resume go?
Generally, a resume should go back around 10 to 15 years. This allows you to showcase your recent achievements and demonstrate your current skill set. However, when considering resume do’s and don’ts, there are a few exceptions to keep in mind.
It could be worth including highly relevant experience from more than 15 years ago, depending on the opportunity. However, be mindful of the space on your resume and prioritise the most impactful information.
It’s best to just omit outdated or irrelevant experiences. Focus on highlighting your recent and relevant experience, as well as any notable achievements or skills acquired during that time.
Should I include references on my resume?
You don’t have to, especially if they’re going to take up valuable space for relevant experiences or education.
However, be sure to have a list of reliable references ready, including their contact information, professional relationship to you, and their permission to be contacted. This way, you’re prepared for when you reach that stage of the hiring process.
How do I address gaps in my employment history?
Believe it or not, it’s normal to have gaps in your employment history. This could be for one hundred different reasons, and employers are normally understanding of this. If you’re truly the best candidate for the role, having a two month gap in employment due to travelling shouldn’t make a difference.
Just remember to be honest. Rather than trying to conceal them, acknowledge the gaps and provide a brief explanation. Honesty is valued by employers and helps build trust.
Is it necessary to include a cover letter with my resume?
The necessity of a cover letter is a hot topic at the moment. Some people love them, some people hate them. Our advice is to carefully read the job ad to see what they have asked for – if they specifically ask for a resume and cover letter, then yes, it would be necessary if you want a shot at landing an interview.
Even if not mentioned in the job ad, it still doesn’t hurt. Not all applicants may submit a cover letter, so including one may actually give you a competitive advantage. It allows you to showcase your personality, enthusiasm, and writing skills, setting you apart from other candidates who rely solely on their resumes.
What is the preferred format for submitting a resume electronically?
When submitting a resume electronically, the preferred format is usually a PDF (Portable Document Format). By submitting your resume as a PDF, you can be confident that the recipient will see it exactly as you intended, regardless of the software or device they use to open it. It helps to ensure that your carefully designed resume retains its visual appeal and professionalism.
Swag Tip: If you’re applying via Swag Jobs, you can upload your resume as a .JPG, .PNG or .PDF file.
Want to kickstart your job search?
Swag Jobs lets you create a candidate profile that uses AI to make sure you stand out to hiring managers. Say goodbye to hours spent writing cover letters or agonizing over your resume —now, it’s as easy as adding your keywords and letting technology do the rest. To create your very own Swag profile, head here: Create my profile
The information in this article is current as at July 2023, and has been prepared by Employment Hero Pty Ltd (ABN 11 160 047 709) and its related bodies corporate (Employment Hero) for its Swag brand. The views expressed in this article are general information provided in good faith to assist job seekers in the current market, and should not be relied on as professional advice. Some Information is based on data supplied by third parties and whilst such data is believed to be accurate, it has not been independently verified and no warranties are given that it is complete, accurate, up to date or fit for the purpose for which it is required. Employment Hero does not accept responsibility for any inaccuracy in such data and is not liable for any loss or damages arising directly or indirectly as a result of reliance on, use of or inability to use any information provided in this article. You should undertake your own research and seek professional advice before making any important career decisions or solely relying on the information in this article.
Like this article? Then check out these
It's time! Here's how to refresh your resume in 10 easy steps.
Here are 10 real-world tips to make your job application stand out to recruiters and hiring managers.
Ready to hit your next online interview out of the park? Read these 13 virtual interview tips from the experts.