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Resume Tips from an HR Pro


Last summer on the blog Punk Rick HR, a blogger identified as Laurie, answered some questions she frequently receives about resumes. Some of her answers align with standard advice that many experts give, while others are iconoclastic. Today, the more conventional answers, with our commentary below each:
It doesn’t matter what font you use as long as I don’t have to increase the magnification on Microsoft Word by 200%. Your best bet is Arial or Times New Roman. No smaller than 10. No bigger than 12.
Excellent advice. A font size of 11 to 11.5 points works well for most fonts. It’s best to stick to common fonts that everyone has. Garamond and Verdana are also popular for resumes. Job-seekers often use microscopic fonts so they can squeeze their resumes onto one page, which leads to Laurie’s next point …
I don’t care how many pages you have for your resume. You aren’t starting a political revolution, so you should probably keep it shorter than a manifesto.
While it’s true that you should use as many pages as needed, the current trend is the briefer the better. If you have lots of experience, one page may be unrealistic, but try, if possible, not to exceed two pages.
Every space on the page is precious. Use it wisely. Aesthetics matter. Margins should be even. Bullet points should be aligned properly. Spacing should match from paragraph to paragraph. Your resume should look like an elegant marketing tool. I won’t hire you based on a resume that looks like a Rorschach test.
You bet. The resume should be pleasing to the eye. Another reason not to cram everything on one page.
Please use a separate email address for your job search. It should be a simple version of your name. I like something like for my cat, Scrubby Ruettimann. Use your new, simple email account for all career-related websites, job boards, and anywhere you need to enter an email address related to your career. Set some parameters on your behaviors, too. Don’t check your email more than three times/day. Use the extra time to network, volunteer, take a class, walk, or clean your basement. Your wife and kids are right. You waste too much time on the Internet.
The advice to use a dedicated email address for job-hunting was new to us, but it makes a lot of sense.
As a professional, your “summary of qualifications” statement should be no more than 100 words. It’s a summary, not an Oscar speech.
In our research, many hiring decision-makers have indicated they don’t even read these statements and often consider them unsubstantiated fluff. Still, a qualifications summary can be useful for positioning you for a specific kind of job, as well as for adding keywords to your resume. Laurie’s advice to keep it brief is right on. Make it concise but sharply targeted to the job you seek and be sure you can substantiate each claim, either later in the resume or in the interview.
Please don’t include hobbies, interests, or anything that could disqualify you — even subconsciously — in the eyes of a recruiter or hiring manager. I think people who collect dolls are weird. Do you want me to read your resume and think of my grandmother who collected teddy bears? Do you want me to remember that episode of Hoarders where a woman collected dolls because her husband died and she couldn’t get over the pain and sadness? Leave it off.
While a few hiring decision-makers like to see this information (because it tends to humanize the job-seeker and provides conversation points), most don’t. Other information that can disqualify you includes religion, political affiliations, and even specific name of your fraternity or sorority.
If you have a gap in your resume, own it. You are not self-employed, especially if you collect state unemployment benefits. Don’t try to sell me on your imaginary consulting firm.
We’ve always advised job-seekers to explain gaps and try to show they were doing something productive during times of unemployment. But Laurie’s right; if you have a resume entry that attempts to explain a gap, make sure it’s legitimate — something real you can talk about in an interview.