It seems I’m the go-to guy for resumé help. I’ve had a couple friends ask me in the last few days to review and comment on theirs so I decided to collect my thoughts here as most people make the same mistakes.

  1. Make sure your name at the top of the resume is HUGE. We’re talking 24 point bold font here folks.
  2. Always list your education at the very top starting with the most prestigious degree and moving down to certifications (ie. Doctor -> Masters -> Bachelor -> Minor/Associates -> Certificates).
  3. If your GPA is around or over a 3.5 for a specific degree then put it on there. If you put it for one degree you should put it for all or not put it at all (ie. 3.3 for Masters and 3.8 for Bachelors). Make sure to put the scale. Most schools are on a 4.0, but not all, so put something like (GPA 3.5/4.0).
  4. If you have a ton of skills or work experience then list a “Skills Summary” at the top of your resumé so that people can quickly look over your qualifications and decide whether to read your entire resumé from there.
  5. Your resumé can be longer than 1 page. However, if your resumé is more than one page be sure to put a footer with your name, page number and number of pages.
  6. Have at least two people read it over and look for spelling and grammar errors.
  7. Don’t embellish titles. “Sr. Engineer of Coffee Brewing” doesn’t make your job at Starbucks sound any better than it actually was.
  8. Don’t simply list “Microsoft Office” if you are a complete wizard at Access or Excel. Specifically mention how good you are with these two applications since every job on the planet uses them.
  9. Only list jobs that are applicable to the job you are looking for, but be sure to list at least three prior jobs.
  10. Include references in your resume if at all possible. This expedites HR‘s ability to get you into an interview.
  11. If you have an Object on your resumé keep it simple. Don’t mention you want to learn new things or advance your career. You wouldn’t be looking for a job if you didn’t want those things. A good example would be “To obtain a job in web programming, which leverages my knowledge of PHP and MySQL”. Make sure to change your Object depending on the job you are applying for.
  12. If you are sending your resume electronically it is a good idea to include more than one format. PDF, Word DOC and plain text are good choices. If you work on the web (ie. designer/programmer) then create an HTML version with links to your previous work or screenshots. If you think your personal views on your personal site might hinder you getting a job then purchase a separate domain for your resumé. In other words, don’t post blog entries about how you want to kill people at work on the same site you host your resumé.

Lots of people send cover letters to. I never have because I think they’re corny. I would consider those optional. And, for Pete’s sake, do NOT write it after you’ve had a few beers one night and then start sending it out (inside joke).

4 thoughts on “

  1. As someone who just read 181 resumes in the span of four days — in response to an ad we placed for an office administrative assistant — and as someone who knows Joe a little bit, I offer the following comments and editorial comments:

    24 point might be a little bit too billboard for the name, but yeah, make it prominent.

    The listing of the gpa on the resume thing is, like, totally lame, OK? Anytime someone lists their gpa on their resume I think to myself “what an asshole”, the way the young Woody Allen said it when he was walking away from his annoying Uncle Joey Nickles in “Annie Hall”. Seriously. A high gpa only indicates a willingness to submit to testing. Not a good sign, in my book.

    Your resume should be one page. Fuck that footer shit, I want your story in a page, no more; and if you can’t condense you are an idiot. For chrissakes, most of the time people can’t fill a page with meaningful shit. You wanna include references, put ’em on a separate page. Your life fits on one page, and yes, I realize how sad and tragic that is.

    Joe, goddammit, it’s objectIVE, not object.

    Lastly, I must quote:

    “Lots of people send cover letters to. I never have because I think they’re corny. I would consider those optional. And, for Pete’s sake, do NOT write it after you’ve had a few beers one night and then start sending it out (inside joke).”

    First of all, in the context above, you’d want to use “too”, not “to”. Refer to your tip number six, above. =8-)

    Second, I totally disagree with your assesment of the cover letter. The cover letter is the chance for the applicant to actually SAY SOMETHING, beyond the rigorous confines of the resume itself, before wasting any time on the resume or an interview. The cover letter is a chance for the applicant to express their intelligence, verbal/writing skill, and understanding of the job. It’s also a chance for them to express themselves as individuals. I am always intrigued by a good cover letter and usually fantasize about having sex with the authors of the best ones.

    We hope this can serve as a confusing supplement to Joe’s prescribed tips above. Good night.

  2. I disagree with the GPA. It doesn’t prove your “willingness to take a test” it proves you CAN take a test and do well, which for a lot of people seems to be quite difficult.

    It also proves that you can manage time, assignments and stress quite well. This is especially true if the person was involved in campus activities.

    Finally, the one page resume is totally not possible and not standard anymore. My “relevant” work history easily covers 2 pages in a “condensed” version. If your resume is that long you should include a cover letter, though.

  3. Education at the top?!

    Education is only relevant when your experience in a particular field is very thin or when you are looking at making a severe career change (Who hasn’t thought of a major career change at some point or another?). Having said that, I tend to agree with Rob that GPA isn’t necessary, but I wouldn’t discount someone for having it on there.


  4. IMHO cover letters are essential. They are the one thing that allows your employer to see what kind of person you are and how much effort you put into applying to the job. Resume’s can be easily embellished, I think you get a much better feel with a letter.

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