We all know there is no such thing as a perfect resume. There are so many rules out there that sometimes even recruiters can’t agree on what you should or shouldn’t include.
However, you can follow the basic resume rules to perfect your resume and make it stand out. To get an objective and professional opinion of my resume, I reached out to Amanda Augustine, career expert at TheLadders, to revise my resume, which I hadn’t updated since shortly after starting here at Business Insider.
Below is my original resume:
It wasn’t surprising that Augustine ripped my resume apart. Here are the critiques she offered on my really, really bad resume:
Don’t use headers or footers.
Although it may look neat and concise to display contact information in the header, it “can confuse an applicant tracking system,” says Augustine. Instead, she advises to list contact information within the body of the document.
There’s no need to list your street address.
“You don’t need to list your street address in the contact information,” says Augustine. “The city, state, and zip code are plenty. In fact, if you were trying to relocate, I’d advise you to remove the entire mailing address from your resume.”
Include a URL to your professional online profile.
The latest Jobvite social recruiting survey found that 93% of recruiters will look at a candidate’s social media presence, so make it easy on them by including a URL along with your contact information, says Augustine.
For most, this means a link to your LinkedIn profile. This will prevent recruiters from having to guess or mistaking you for someone else.
“Given the nature of your work and your career goals, consider including your Twitter handle,” says Augustine. “Before you add your Twitter handle and LinkedIn URL, make sure your profiles are fully fleshed out and align with your professional brand and goals.”
Include your professional title at the top.
My resume is missing a professional title at the top of the page, which Augustine says should be located below contact information and above core competencies and work experience.
This is not necessarily the title that you currently have, but should tell the reader exactly the type of work you’re targeting. For instance, Augustine advises me to have a combination of “Journalist,” “Reporter,” and “Editor” in the title.
“You can take it a step further and have a line directly below that to describe your specialties,” she says.
Include a professional summary.
Your professional summary is basically your elevator pitch in approximately three to five lines that should include what you’re great at, passionate about, and why your experience is valuable to your targeted employer.
“Clearly spell out your qualifications, based on your career goals. Since language skills are often sought after, I recommend putting ‘Fluent in Vietnamese and English’ at the very end of your professional summary,” says Augustine.
Create a core competency section.
“Core competencies, also known as areas of expertise, are typically found at the top of the resume, just below your professional summary,” says Augustine. “It’s a quick way for the reader to get a sense of your skill sets and areas of expertise.”
“I would include in this section the types of work you do. Since you focus on a wide range of topics, you can either work them into this section or include them in your professional summary,” she says.
Center the headings.
TheLadders research shows that a recruiter’s eyes are drawn to the headers and then down the center of the page, says Augustine. “This includes your professional title, and the headers for your professional experience and professional development sections.”
Use consistent formatting.
Consistency is the name of the game on a resume. “In your contact information at the top of the resume you abbreviated the state, but in the experience section you wrote the states out,” Augustine points out. “Either is allowed, so long as you are consistent.” The same rule applies to using consistent formatting when displaying dates, meaning choose between spelling out the month or abbreviating it.
Eliminate student positions.
Since I’m no longer entry-level, Augustine tells me to delete some of my older internship experience, which includes positions with Turner Broadcasting System and Cable News Network. She also advises me to delete my position as a press release coordinator and student assistant while I was an undergraduate student at the University of Georgia.
Delete college scholarships awarded.
“For the same reason, it’s time to take off the scholarships you received at University of Georgia,” says Augustine. Basically, it’s been too long since college.
Do include specific titles.
“If your resume includes internship positions, add a word in front of the ‘Intern’ title that describes the type of work performed,” says Augustine. “While we eliminated most of your internships, the CBS News internship still remains, since it was done more recently in your career and helps to fill an employment gap.”
“Some would argue that you should remove [the internship] entirely from the resume, but I like it because it fills in an employment gap,” she advises.
List achievements in two to five bullet points.
Under each job or experience you’ve had, explain how you contributed to or supported your team’s projects and initiatives. “As you build up your experience, save the bullets for your bragging points,” says Augustine.
“Think about how you’ve increased efficiencies, cut costs, grown revenue, and so forth,” she advises. “Discuss the number of projects you’ve worked on, the size of the team you worked with, and if you were able to meet or beat deadlines and come in on or under budget.”
“Your internship with CBS News would certainly only have a one-to-two sentence blurb describing your role and day-to-day activities. There’s no reason to develop bulleted ‘bragging points’ for this work experience, since it was only an internship and you held the position for a short amount of time,” she says.
Consider re-labelling the education section.
Augustine says to name this section “Professional Development” instead, and include all of the following information: Education (in reverse chronological order), certifications, technical skills, language skills, relevant awards you’ve received since graduating school, and professional associations and memberships that relate to your work.
After much critiquing, below is a revised version of my resume: