So before my international adventures in Roatan and internet stardom as a Creative Lifestyle Blogger, I worked in Management positions for interior design firms. I loved my job. It was awesome getting to use my organizational and administrative skills to help my designers see their dreams come to life in a client’s home. During my years as a manager I interviewed quite a few people, hired a few, and unfortunately had to terminate a couple too. I have read literally hundreds of resumes… maybe thousands. I had a strict policy to read every. single. resume that came across my desk and email – you never know when a gem is gonna be there in the sea of mediocrity. Because of the extensive time I have spent reading resumes (and interviewing) I thought I would share a few tips with you. I have them broken them up 5+5, but essentially these are 10 Resume Tips from an HR Rep. (FYI this post contains affiliate links, which means if you click thru and make a purchase illistyle gets a small percentage. Thank you for supporting illistyle.)
5 Things HR Reps Look for in Resumes (*usually in the following order)
1. Overall appearance – Clean layout, matching fonts, matching indentation, and proper use of bullet points. This might sound picky, but I am hiring you to be a professional and this is your first opportunity to show me that you actually have the “attention to detial” that you claim in your “Skills” section.
2. Longevity – I would first scan the dates of the resume. Any gaps in employment? Job hopping (many short lengths of employment)? These are red flags and, if they coincide with other questionable items, could mean your resume doesn’t make it past my “reviewed – not suitable” file.
3. Matching experience – I am looking for a person to perform a specific set of tasks – have you done any of these before? Or do you have comparable experience that could translate into the position I am looking to fill?
4. English 101 – Grammar, spelling, and syntax errors are strictly forbidden. Do you use the oxford comma? If not, start. It’s not a game-ender, but it is a mark against you. I have literally disqualified otherwise good candidates due to poor grammar or spelling errors – use spell check or have a grammar-nazi friend proof your resume, it could be the difference in your employment status. And then go pick up one of these grammar books so next time you know what an oxford comma is.
5. Contact information – If you have successfully impressed me in the first 4 items then I want to contact you. Leave an email and phone number, please. If you are a serious contender you may get called for an interview ASAP. Also, leaving your phone number shows me you are actually committed because I can get a hold of a real, live, breathing person and not a cold, dead email box to nowhere.
This beautiful template by LittleMrsMBA on Etsy is unique enough to be memorable and refined enough not to appear desperate (and totally passes #1 – Overall Appearance):
5 Do’s and Don’ts of Resume Writing
1. Be honest – Most HR Reps have a knack for being able to tell from a resume if someone is being truthful in their representation. If you are only 20 I do not expect you to have had 5 years experience in your desired field. If you have unique experience, tell me, I might be looking for someone who has the know-how / risk-taking attitude / flexibility to travel that your experience shows.
2. Don’t include everything – I only want what is important and/or relevant. Unless you are a recent high school grad (3 years max), leave your honors awards off your resume. You are applying for a job in the real world, high school doesn’t matter anymore. If you worked a random job for 3 months in between two long-term jobs, leave it out unless the experience or responsibilities very specifically correlate to the job for which you are applying. Also, I do not need to know every single detail of your job responsibilities at your previous job, just enough to get an accurate sense of your position. *Keep your resume to 1 page.* Seriously. This is important. If I see a staple I think, “5 points will be taken from Gryffindor.” One page is sufficient for me to know if you deserve an interview.
3. Stand out – If at all possible, do not use a word template for your resume. Don’t get me wrong. It is a great starting point to ensure you have all the vital information. Please do not stop there. Do not email that to me. It will look exactly like the 25 other resume I have received that day, which makes it instantly forgettable. There are resume services that offer amazing-looking resumes for great prices and even Etsy has templates that are beautiful and memorable. (I have some examples and resources for you here.) But remember, don’t be all “pick me! pick me!” desperate by going over the top flashy. Error on the side of interesting but refined. (see #4).
4. Make it readable – We’re talking font choice, font size, colors, formatting, and tenses. Stick to 2-3 fonts, 2-3 colors, and 2-3 sizes – max. Garish fonts, light and hard-to-read font colors, and a heavy mixture of font styles and sizes causes visual confusion and is just plain annoying. You do not want to aggravate the person reading your resume. You want the HR Rep to like you and say “This guy. He’s legit.” Not “This guy – pick a font already, bro!”
5. If emailing – Name your doc FirstNameLastNameResumeMonthYear.pdf you just saved me time in having to rename that file (thank you) and showed me that you think ahead by providing a PFD because now I can easily, view, save, and print without having to open whatever random notepad application you may have used – and now I am more likely to remember your name and have positive feelings toward you! Win win.
If you are needing more information check out my pinterest board here for resume templates, inspiration, and interview info for when your stellar resume gets your foot in the door. These books and articles may help as well:
- Knock ‘Em Dead Resumes
- The Winning Resume
- The Resume Writing Guide
- Trade Secrets of a Professional Resume Writer
- How to Write a Resume That Gets You A Job
Got any resume tips or tricks to share with us? Leave a comment below. Share the Love.