Resume Do’s and Don’ts
Reviewer & Writer
Reviewer & Writer
www.bestcolleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.
Turn Your Dreams Into Reality
Take our quiz and we'll do the homework for you! Compare your school matches and apply to your top choice today.
- Resumes offer a chance to make a good impression or miss a job opportunity.
- Test your knowledge with 10 resume prompts, such as using data or specific keywords.
- Try to decide which prompts are good advice and which are blunders.
- Industry professionals explain the importance of following good advice on a resume.
If a friend looks over your resume and tells you it needs more than two pages, are they right or wrong? If you answered "wrong," you're off to a good start. But that was an easy one.
Resumes offer a chance to make a good impression or miss a job opportunity. Knowing best practices and avoiding mistakes can be crucial for making it to the next stage of hiring.
We devised a list of 10 prompts to test your knowledge. See if you can decide which prompts are good advice and which are blunders. Then, find out the answer from industry professionals.
Popular Online Programs
Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.
1. Buzz Words
Prompt: "I should include common phrases like "go-getter" and "team player" in my resume because they will help get my message across."
Why: "Avoid cliches, weak adjectives, and obvious skills like 'dedicated,' 'team player', and 'self-starter.' These weak words won't set you apart because anyone could claim them."
— Daniel Lorenzo | marketing director, Let's Eat, Grandma
2. Using Data
Prompt: "Using data to help explain my accomplishments will make my resume more understandable."
Why: "Quantifying your resume not only demonstrates your achievements, but also presents your value in a concrete, measurable way. That's why it's important to take the time to quantify those resume achievements to stand out to hiring managers during the hiring process."
— Jeffrey Ladrae Williams | career counselor
3. Specific Keywords
Prompt: "My resume should have keywords that match specific job requirements instead of general skills that may not be relevant to the job."
Why: "Recruiters normally conduct the vetting process of selecting the most relevant and valuable resumes by looking for certain keywords linked to the job's necessary abilities, credentials, experience, and so on. As a result, you must regularly update your resume insights and highlight the talents on your resume that are relevant to the specific job description."
— Daniel Foley | marketing consultant
4. Employment History
Prompt: "It's better to leave some jobs off my resume rather than include every job I've ever had."
Why: "Keep in mind, a resume is not a collection of data. It is a story about why you would interest them and why you could help the employer who is reading the resume."
— Mark Grimm | communication professional speaker and speaking coach
5. Job Descriptions
Prompt: "The descriptions for my job experiences should be highly detailed, even if they run long."
Why: "Less is more. Writing too much text can bore employers. Focus on the content quality, not quantity."
— Tyler Garns | founder and CEO, Box Out Marketing
6. Work Experience
Prompt: "I should list my past work experience in chronological order, from newest to oldest."
Why: "Employers tend to prefer the chronological resume over other popular formats. This is because all the information is in the form of a list, which is easy to read and understand. Employers don't like overly complicated resumes templates that make it (difficult to) pinpoint your experiences and skills. So, keep it concise and straightforward for the best results."
— Pauline Delaney | career coach, CV Genius
7. Standard Resumes
Prompt: "My resume should be the same every time I submit a job application."
Why: "You should not send the same [resume] to different job openings. Aside from being unprofessional, it's uncommon for any job to have the exact same qualifications, no matter how close the role is. With this in mind, it's a good idea to pick out keywords from the job posting and include them in your resume when personalizing it. This quickly demonstrates to hiring managers that you possess the required skills and expertise."
— Steve Scott | chief technology officer, Spreadsheet Planet
8. Active Voice vs. Passive Voice
Prompt: "I should write my resume using active voice rather than passive voice."
Why: "You should avoid using passive voice phrases in your resume because it not only lengthens the material but also makes it confusing to recruiters. Instead of saying 'the specific project was managed by me,' write 'Managed particular project,' or 'Implemented new processes,' rather than 'the new procedures were implemented by me,' and so on. The active voice sentences are fairly succinct and easy to grasp for recruiters."
— Sasha Quail | business development manager, Claims UK
9. Unique Fonts
Prompt: "Using unique fonts will help make my resume stand out."
Why: "As long as you aren't going to be a graphic designer, you should keep your resume clean and professional in look. Try to use the same font on your resume and be consistent with it. They will be able to find inconsistencies quickly. You should choose a good sans-serif font for your text, such as Calibri or Tahoma."
— Kavin Patel | founder and CEO, Convrrt
10. Resume Length
Prompt: "I should keep my resume to one page or two pages at the most."
Why: "Remember, the best resumes are no more than one page in length. On top of that, you don't really need to list jobs that ended more than 10 or 15 years ago, unless they are particularly relevant to the position."
— Tiffany Payne | head of marketing, Replace Your Docs
Why Do Resumes Matter?
Resumes are crucial in the job search process for several reasons. They highlight your most relevant skills and experience, which shows potential employers what you have to offer. A well-structured resume can make a good first impression.
However, a confusing layout can easily get discarded. Research shows many recruiters skim resumes for details. A 2018 eye-tracking study by Ladders found that recruiters make up their mind about a job candidate in 7.4 seconds.
Page last reviewed February 8, 2024.