Resume Do’s and Don’ts

Episode 2

Episode Overview

Hire Calling Episode 2, Resume Dos and Don’ts, shares details and tips on how to write the best resume possible to stand out from the crowd. Carter Alexander, Client Manager for 4Corner Resources, shares his expert insights with Pete on what makes a great resume in today’s world.

26 minutes

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Pete Newsome

About Pete Newsome

Pete Newsome is the president of 4 Corner Resources, the nationally acclaimed staffing and recruiting firm he founded in 2005. His mission back then was the same as it is today: to do business in a personal way, while building an organization with boundless opportunities for ingenuity and advancement. When not managing 4 Corner’s growth or spending time with his family of six, you can find Pete sharing his sales and business expertise through public speaking, writing, and as the host of the Hire Calling podcast.


Pete Newsome 0:02

Welcome, everyone. And thank you for listening to Episode Two of the higher calling podcast. I’m joined today by Carter Alexander, Carter has been part of the four corner team from two for two and a half years now. And he manages clients for us, currently, but spent more than two years recruiting all day every day. And during that time, Carter, you’ve, you’ve looked at a few resumes, right?

Carter Alexander 0:26
Yeah, yeah. Thanks for the introduction, Pete. A few resumes is definitely an understatement. You know, we’ve looked at lots of different candidates across lots of different industries. So yeah, I’m really excited to talk on behalf of

Pete 0:38
these resume do’s and don’ts. And that’s what today is going to be about it’s we’re going to be focused on resumes for those who unexpectedly find themselves on the job market. And with 10s of millions of people in that position. Right now we want to offer our expertise and experience of being in a position where we do look at resumes. for a living and we help candidates, perfect their, their their formatting and the way they present themselves. So we’re going to list a number of things today that you can hopefully apply immediately in your job search. So Carter, let’s get right to it. Awesome.

Carter 1:17
Yeah. So, really, we like to start with the basics here. Nothing’s more important than that, you know, first thing we like to, you know, always make sure it’s on the resume is contact information. You’d be very surprised how many resumes i i sift through I found, you know, pretty decent candidate for position reaching out to and, you know, there’s no contact information, phone number, email, anything like that on the resume. And you know, I know that a lot of these job boards will maybe just say, Hey, you know, they’ll they’ll instant message you through our system or something or anything like that. But hey, I mean, if you are on the market, and you’re looking for a position that you know, you want to be a good candidate for, you know, you need to make sure you’re accessible. So that’s usually the first thing we like to go over and

Pete 1:56
that and that’s huge. Yeah. Recruiters need to Be able to get ahold of you without having to work for it. So put the number on there that is going to be most accessible for you, like Carter just said, where you’re going to be able to pick up. A lot of folks will, you know, ignore the the email address as well and leave an old one on there. So take the time to make sure that your information is current, and whoever is trying to get ahold of you will not have any trouble doing so. So what’s next, or

Carter 2:29
what’s next, clearly state your intentions and your goals. This is also very important, you know, we really like to see right away a snapshot of the positions that you’re going after. So you know, if you are a front end developer per se, and you don’t necessarily want to be contacted about back end developer type positions, or you don’t want to be contacted about even like management level opportunities, anything like that you really want to capture within either your objective your summary, or even like the skills that you present on the resume. What you’re going after. So again, front end developer might put things like their technologies, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, these kind of things and make that the most prevalent thing that stands out on your resume. Always add the things that you’d still do have experience with and maybe like the back end side or or any type of other skills that you have, but don’t make those stand out as much.

Pete 3:20
So I like to think of a resume is the cover of a book write the story of you, and you want to portray your intentions on that and your job search recruiters and hiring managers who are going to be looking at your resume. They’re not they’re not mind reader’s, they don’t know. You know what your expectation and desires are, unless you tell them so state that clearly lead with that at the top of your resume, make it concise, don’t don’t don’t be lengthy in doing so. But let everyone know who’s going to be reading your resume exactly what you’re on the market for. So so you know, that’s actually a natural lead into the next point, which is, you know, Taylor Taylor Your resume for the specific job that you want. I think a lot of folks who we encounter who aren’t used to creating resumes and being on the market and that’s a good thing, right that you haven’t had to create a resume in a while, expect to just have a one size fits all version of the resume. And that’s definitely not the approach that we would recommend. We want you to tailor it for the specific job that you’re applying to. And yes, that that takes a little work, it takes extra work, there’s no question about that. But finding the job is a job. So you have to treat it that way. You want to be as thorough as possible. And that definitely means customizing your resume for the individual job to which you’re applying.

Carter 4:44
Right and I always like the phrase especially that pertains to this the whole work smarter, not harder. And I always think you know, work smarter and harder but at the same time, you definitely want to, you know, not be throwing your resume into black holes necessary. Barely, you know, the, the worst kind of technique that you could have for this is to just throw out your resume to, you know, 5060 companies and just hope for a response, right? I would say instead of doing an approach like that, throw out your resume to, you know, 10 to 15 positions that you really really, you know, have an aptitude for or something that you’re very interested in and, and make sure that those, each of those resumes are tailored specifically to that position. Just as you know, Pete said, We have lots of different skill sets, that you know, each position looks for it, you know, make sure to look at the actual job description, and decide, what are the main points that they’re looking for. And without putting them word for word, make sure those exact things are on your resume, if you do have the skills required for it.

Pete 5:46
Yeah, and you don’t want to make the person who’s reviewing your resume is gonna make a very quick decision whether to move you forward or hit the delete button. You don’t want them to have to work to figure out what it is that you’re doing. And who you are. So make sure that that’s clearly stated and make sure it matches with the job. There’s going to be a lot of resumes sent to every opening right now. So if you want to stand out, make sure that it’s very clearly stated why you’re submitting your information for that particular role. And that is, is consistent with everything that we’ll talk about today on on this podcast. And the next thing that we want to focus on is, you know, how you should list your jobs and your skills on your resume. So Carter, what what’s your thought on that?

Carter 6:38
Yeah, no, absolutely make it an easy call for the recruiter. Honestly, there’s there’s an old saying where it says, you know, recruiters spend an average of seven seconds reviewing a resume. And while that’s not always the case, it is partially true. Those seven seconds are the resumes that are not getting the call, right. I always like to, you know, look at the resume and if it’s not the exact skills that were Looking for right away for this specific job. And that is our priority to fill. You might not get that call, you know, right away. So make sure again, go through the job description, make sure everything’s listed there. And, you know, make your resume that does get the extra, you know, minute or two and then and then the call, you know, following that

Pete 7:16
well, and to continue with the cover the book cover analogy, if you go to a bookstore, and you’re browsing and deciding which book you’re going to pick up and read, you’re going to look at the covers, and that’s going to be your first indication of whether you you’re interested in you know, what’s what’s underneath that cover. So it’s, it’s your one shot coming out of the gate to grab someone’s attention. And once again, you want to just be clear in your message as to why you’re interested in that particular role. Or more specifically, why the person who’s reviewing your resume would want to pick yours out of the crowd.

Carter 7:55

Pete 7:56
So let’s move on.

Pete 8:00
Everyone has difference in PC here a lot of different opinions on how a resume should be laid out being a functional resume, or one that lists jobs in a specific order. And Carter or someone who is that person who may be looking at the resume for seven seconds, what do you want to see, as far as how the resume should be formatted

Carter 8:21
chronological order is, is the is the number one most important thing you should have right off the bat. So, you know, right away, when you look at the resume, you want to see things like objective summary skills, right? Right below that you want to have your experience, the most recent position you’ve worked and typically a little bit about that as well. So you want to see how long that person’s work there. You want to see the actual months and years, you know, we’re going to ask you no matter what, even if you put your work there from 2018 to 2020. I’m gonna ask you how long you know, January 2018, as opposed to December 2018. That’s a big difference there. So you know, we’re going to ask you those things. If there’s a gap in your resume, you know, feel free To explain that it is it is okay. There are things that um, that you know, deem a valid gap in your resume. You know, don’t try to hide, hide that by just saying, you know, here’s your years or anything. So let’s go back to the chronological point you want to have, you know, most recent position at the top of your resume following following downwards. And then obviously, as an education bullet, again, in chronological order, you won’t have education, if that’s something that you completed in the past that led into your career, have that at the bottom of your resume. And other than that, you know, I would, I would keep it, keep it pretty simple.

Pete 9:32
So want to talk about education real quickly, because the order of things in your resume should, in some ways, be determined by how long you’ve been in your career. So if you’re right out of school, and you don’t have a lot of career accomplishments and haven’t had a link to job history, then it would make sense to highlight your education up front,

Carter 9:55
right? But

Pete 9:56
if you’re someone like me, who’s, let’s just say, been out of school, For a little while, it would probably make sense to put your education at the very bottom because the reality is that significantly less important to what I can do for that employer. My education is really going to be on the back burner compared to what what I’ve done professionally. But if you’re young, you know and new in your career, not something you should you should certainly

put up front.

Pete 10:27
So anything else on the it would be important to point out when it comes to listing your jobs chronologically?

Carter 10:37
I’m not necessarily.

Pete 10:40
Okay, so we’ll move on from that one. All right, so so let’s move on to the next point. And that’s one of highlighting your achievements. So let’s let I guess we’re just going to go with this book analogy. You have to be willing to toot your own horn. And this is your opportunity to do that. It’s your highlight reel. Real however you want to look at it, not the time to be shy in highlighting your achievements. So, Carter, what what thoughts do you have on that as far as what recruiter wants to see when they’re looking at the resume?

Carter 11:12
Yeah, actually, I just had a very close friend of mine. He went through the interview process just three days ago, believe it or not, and he he was specific or I was going through just kind of a basic preparation with him and this really does still tie in to the resumes as well. He was you know, asking me what kind of you know, questions they were going to ask him in the interview and kind of what he should talk about and I was going over some just brief tips and he kind of backed up he’s like, Well, I mean, I don’t want to you know, sound overconfident or anything like that. And like, I made it very clear to to this candidate or this friend that he needs to absolutely toot his own horn make sure he is you know, completely heard and that he is bragging about himself. This is your 30 to 40 minutes to actually shine This is your resume to you know, exemplify the the achievements that you have had in your in your careers and everything. So make sure everything that you Done that is, you know, worth noting is on there. I also like to add, if you have real numbers you can put on your resume that is that is crucial, you know, you don’t just say things like, Oh, you know, I increased sales in my organization. Okay, how did you increase sales? What are the, you know, the numbers behind that? Did you increase sales by 20%, you know, you know, for the previous year, or 30%, you know, make sure those things are there, especially if they’re worth worth noting, because those are the things that you know, management really does care about that the hiring managers do want to look at to see how you can make an impact in their organization.

Pete 12:32
So one of the things that I feel compelled to add to that is, while you want to portray yourself in the best possible light and highlight your accomplishments, you want to be prepared to speak to each of those. And so this is not the time to exaggerate. It’s not the time to overstate your accomplishments. And so don’t confuse those those points there because you will be asked about those and you should be comfortable in your answer. And believe me, when I say if you’re not the recruiter and the interviewer is going to is going to sniff that out, it becomes very obvious to those in a hiring position, when someone you know, has a difficult time answering the points on their resume and believe it or not, it’s something we see pretty commonly. So we, those of us in the profession look for it. And we look for things that may seem that align. So, you know, we’ve all heard, you know, some famous stories of people who’ve, you know, lied or exaggerated on their resume. You don’t want to be that person because you won’t get a second shot at that opportunity. So and but but, you know, while we’re talking about highlighting things, you also want to show your career progression where you can write because that that shows it if you’ve done well, historically, then there’s a great expectation you’ll continue to do that in your next role. And that’s something that employers are looking for in their in Candidate they’re gonna maybe not necessarily hire but certainly move to the next level. So Carter, what what advice do you have on on that?

Carter 14:07
Yeah, I would absolutely say career progression is pretty important, you know, in showing on your resume. You know, if you’ve moved from a, you know, even even even little things like a junior software developer to a senior software developer or even mid level, you know, you you want to use those keywords on your resume that you actually show Hey, okay, so in 2018, I was a junior developer, now I may, I may just, you know, have software developer on your resume, and then maybe a couple years down the road, you can add senior to it. Those kind of things, even if they’re not directly associated with your title are great things to put in your resume. Because again, it does show that you’re progressing in your career that you might be able to, you know, go into a team lead role after that, or one one way, shape or another. So, yeah, I would definitely recommend that.

Pete 14:53
So that’s great advice, for sure. And everyone should be able to use that and customize it further. Your own situation and just know that when you’re creating a resume, prior to starting worrying about the format and how you’re going to put it all together, it makes sense to sit back and just spend some time thinking about your career and what you’ve accomplished. You may have to look through all the emails, you may look through old notebooks, if you keep them you know, it’s it’s not uncommon that these things aren’t going to be you know, at the forefront of your mind, especially when you’re worried about that, that job and where it’s going to come from. And certainly, there’s a lot of stress right now for so many reasons. But find a quiet place, sit back and think about it and make bullets you know that that is something that I’ve been recommending to friends, family and business associates for years, when it comes to building a resume is just start with bullets and you know, you won’t you won’t necessarily think of them all at once and that’s okay. Is it on the point we made earlier? a resume is not a static thing. It should Be a living, breathing document that you can change as much as needed. So, you know, don’t worry about trying to get perfect from the start, no one does. But build that bullet list and then add to it as you go. And when it’s time to start actually describing the individual roles, this is a time to be specific. There are many generic job descriptions out there. The the role that you were in may be generic, have a job, generic job description associated with it from your employer, but you know, feel free to take some liberties in writing your job the way it actually was, versus the HR approved job description that you were hired under. You know, very rarely those things line up completely, and often they don’t line up much at all. So write the job description, as it actually was, and be it be specific, be concise, but be specific about what you accomplished. What else you want to add on? On that point?

Carter 17:01
Yeah, no, that’s a great point. And that’s, that’s consistently something that I, you know, really coach my candidates for. You know, it’s very, very frequent that I see a resume that will say built website. You know, we’re using this technology to to build website, right. Okay, how did you use that technology? And what steps did you use that technology, you know, the hiring managers really want to see that and even back it up a little bit for before that, you know, even HR, you know, if this resume goes to HR first and they’re screening this resume, and they, they are maybe not the most inclined with these technologies, they’re not working with them day to day but you know, they’re going off a job description to some of these resumes and vet them over to the hiring managers, you really want it to be very concise and laid out even if it seems obvious to you. You know, a lot of hiring managers can infer these things, but you know, human resources or an HR rep or recruiter talent act, something like that. They might not understand every every aspect and they might not be able to infer that Being concise and being specific with the technologies you used or any other type of skills or requirements is pretty important.

Pete 18:10
So if you’re picking up on a theme here, we hope you are and that’s make it easy on the person reviewing your resume, don’t make them guess don’t make them work too hard, because they will quickly move on. So even though the seven second idea of how long recruiters actually look at a resume may be exaggerated, assume it’s not. And then and then operate accordingly when you’re describing your role and yourself. So, along those lines, it’s a natural segue to talk about something that I can tell you my recruiting team absolutely can’t stand and I can’t stand it either. Because I, I realized frequently how much time they spend on formatting issues with resumes. If this is not the time to get cute, it is not the time to try to be fancy. To come out with a format that will help you stand out from the crowd that is a terrible idea. And if someone’s suggest otherwise, you know, you know have have them call me for that discussion because I, I would love to hear their logic. But formatting issues drive recruiters crazy because oftentimes, your resume needs to be uploaded into a system that just it just won’t allow for that. And so, you know, keep it keep it basic in that regard. Carter, you’re someone how often do you have to reformat resumes and how much? How annoying is that for you and your job as a recruiter?

Carter 19:39
Yeah, I would typically refound format four out of five of the resumes that I receive, and that doesn’t include any of the, you know, any content or anything like that, that is simply, you know, dumbing the resume down and completely deleting any format and then redoing the entire resume. And that, um, that just comes down to I know, there’s lots of different templates, maybe on Google or an Anything like that that you know how they’re they’re colorful they’re they’re maybe split up into different sections they use you know strange charts or graphs No, you just want to keep it very simple exemplify your objective summary skills education and experience and leave it at that nothing fancy.

Pete 20:17
So it colored scented hardcopy resume that scanned in and, and, you know, reformatted a bunch of different ways to be able to upload is not a good idea is

Carter 20:28
not a good idea. I also don’t suggest profile pictures on your resume either, you know, that’s, that’s something we see and I do not recommend.

Pete 20:37
So let’s let’s kind of shift into that a little bit. We’ve talked about all the things that are so important to do but now let’s focus on a couple things to avoid and why don’t you expand on that a little bit Carter as far as you know, what, what are some of those things that you would just consider to be just an absolute you know, do not do on your resume?

Carter 20:55
Right? Yeah, pictures are for LinkedIn pictures are not for Your resume if I want to maybe see a snapshot or something, again, I’m going to visit LinkedIn. But it’s not something to include on a resume. It is, you know, strictly professional, in that, in that case, hobbies, also not something that you want to throw on your resume I very frequently see, you know, very, very subtly at the bottom of a resume, what this person likes to do on the weekends, again, might be something I ask you in an interview, not something I’m gonna, you know, look for on your resume, it has no, you know, relevance to the position for hiring for anything like that. And then there’s an

Pete 21:33
there’s an inclination, the natural inclination for some reason to, to want to share, you know, let your personality shine through at times and, you know, if you’re a volunteer, you know, or or or youth sports coach, I mean, those are great things. They’re, they’re noble acts, but all they do is is detract from the issue at hand, which is really, are you qualified for the role, save those personal items. And personality, things that look, they’re going to save for the interview. Right? That’s, that’s you, you may not get to the interview if you distract the recruiter by having to see you know, that you play volleyball or, you know you like you like training dogs. I mean, those are all wonderful things, but just not relevant to your resume in your career. And, you know, just trust us when we say the recruiters really don’t have tolerance or time, you know, to deal with that kind of stuff. So, you know, Carter, before we wrap up today, I want to bring up an issue that’s as important as anything else on here and that is spelling and grammar. What does that say about a candidate when a resume comes over and you know, their spelling issues all over the place?

Carter 22:51
Yeah, well, considering we’re in a time of spellcheck, where everything is almost done for you. I am very surprised To see lots of different spelling errors and such on resumes. I don’t know if I could put an exact number on that. But I’d say maybe one out of 10 resumes will have blatant spelling errors throughout the resume which is something I immediately you know recognize and recognize a sloppy at the same time. When we send over resumes to our employers and everything one of the things especially if I see them in the first place with our candidate is I let them know hey, you know, this is your, you know, this is your first impression of a hiring manager or whoever is on the receiving end of that resume. So make sure right away they know that you are you know, professional, you’re not sloppy, you have everything put together and can understand the basic spelling and grammar. So very important, very basic, yet, you know, it’s something that you need to make sure you’re on top of

Pete 23:46
and often miss says surprising is that maybe we see it over and over and nothing will will cause you to be ruled out faster than typos and spelling and grammar issues. So before you say Send your resume anywhere externally to a job to a recruiter. Have it proof read, you know, everyone should should know someone who, who can do that for them use grammerly. That’s a really easy site to run your resume through. There’s just no excuse to send over a resume with typos and grammar issues. So that that’s a great point to end with. Because if you can do these things, then you are, we can tell you definitively you are ahead of the curve. You will be operating in a way that most people do not and that may sound surprising, but just know that resumes are something that most people are not good at doing. And yeah, we in the recruiting industry know that we accept that. We’re not bothered by that at all. But when it comes to attention to detail, and just taking that little extra step for something as important as your career You know, it really sets a tone for, for how serious you are about the role and how serious we should be about you. And so use these tips as as a way to get started with this and we’ll share more information at a deeper level as we go forward with our podcast series. But this is a this is a starting point we think everyone should be able to apply from the start. So Carter, anything else you want to wrap up with before we go?

Unknown Speaker 25:25
Yeah, I mean,

Carter 25:25
really like, like, like we’ve been kind of having this revolving theme is, you know, make sure to keep it keep it concise. Keep it simple. Make sure you know you exemplify everything you need on your resume. And, you know, you’ll again, be ahead of the curve with those kind of simple facts there.

Pete 25:40
Well, great. Thanks for joining today. I look forward to having you on again very soon. And thank you everyone for listening to the higher calling podcast and we look forward to speaking with you soon.

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