We’ve all been there: you find the job of your dreams online, with the perfect location, the perfect salary (or you know you have the passion if not the experience to max out the “DOE”), and you spend at least a day (and maybe a restless night) revising your resume and writing the perfect cover letter that you’re sure will shock and awe. You get each document ready, fill out the required fields with every bit of information about your past that you can possibly remember, upload your perfectly formatted resume, click submit and…. wait. A week or more goes by and maybe you get what is obviously another insulting “automatic reply” email – I mean, you’re the perfect candidate! In the end, your whole application goes dark, leading you to same question as the time before and time before that: what do recruiters look for? This is the age-old question that we, the recruiters of Xtreme, are going to shed some light on.

It can be exhausting being told to tweak your resume for the umpteenth time – you might have so many versions you’re not even sure which one is the most current. To help mediate this frustration, the recruiters of Xtreme have compiled a list of important Do’s and Don’ts just for you – the perfect candidate. The reality is that resumes really are that important. A resume can make or break your chances of a recruiter picking up the phone to give you a call or moving on to the next candidate (all in the span of 60 seconds, mind you) so it’s important for it to be as clear and concise as possible, without short selling yourself. While there are millions of different opinions on resume formatting, here is a complete list of Do’s and Don’ts the recruiters here at Xtreme compiled themselves, just for you.

Do aim for a resume length between 1 and 3 pages. It’s great if you can include the “meat” of your resume within the first page (i.e. the most pertinent information, recent work history) because this is what catches our recruiters’ eyes and makes them want to read more. “I like to see resumes that are more than one page. One page resumes are a thing of the past. Candidates are competing with other candidates for the same jobs and one page resumes are leaving Managers with too many questions. It could cost you an interview. Less is not always more in this case,” explains Melissa Newstrand, Xtreme’s Senior Recruiter.

Do leave out dates on your education. Don't open yourself up for potential age discrimination by providing more information than necessary.

Don’t use size 14 font. It is just too big and sloppy. Xtreme recruiters feel that most clients are happy with between 10-12 size fonts.

Do include a skills section at that beginning of your resume. Create a skills bank at the top of the resume and make absolutely sure that those skills are threaded throughout the entire resume (first one listed should appear the most, last one can only be mentioned once) to ensure that the recruiter and client can see where you used that skill/technology and have a general idea as to how long.

Don’t bold key words throughout your resume. It makes your resume look jumbled and disorganized. Use the skills section to highlight your amazing abilities.

Do keep it concise. You want to give the client a good framework of your work history, but leave some room for Q&A in the interview.

Don’t include “selfies”. A self-portrait or picture is never a good idea on a resume. You don’t want to open yourself up for any potential discrimination and adding a picture can do so in various ways.

Don’t list your previous managers on your resume unless they have specifically given you permission to do so.

Do include descriptions in your employment history that explain your daily responsibilities as well as represent your role within a company. Here’s an example from Xtreme recruiter Chris Ogden: “As an account manager I was responsible for ‘X’ many accounts and generated ‘Y amount of money.’ This helped the company reach goal ‘Z.’”

Don’t include “references available upon request.” Everyone know that we can request references, so if you need more space, omit this formality.

Don’t include the skill “quick learner.” Anyone can be a quick learner! This is a filler that cannot be easily backed up by concrete experience. Set yourself apart with a unique skill.

Don’t use paragraphs. They are too wordy and your brilliance gets lost in the words. Always use bullet points instead.

Do know your audience. Xtreme recruiter, Andrea Batra, explains: “If you are a technical writer, your resume needs to be clear, concise, and easy to follow. A writing manager will not want to hire someone with a wordy resume, let alone read it. Another example is a UX designer – if you send over a resume without a portfolio and general attention to design, there is a very slim chance you’ll make it to the interview process.”

Do include location. You do not need to include your full address, but city information gives us an idea of where you might like to work or be able to travel easily so the recruiters can take their commute into consideration if it is an on-site role. If you are planning or willing to relocate, just add a note at the beginning of your resume so we know you are legitimately interested in the role you applied to.

Do make your “Career Objectives” short and sweet if you choose to include them. This means no more than 5 lines.

Do have a word version of your resume as a backup if you choose to submit your resume in PDF format (or a plain text if you have a table pasted into word). You never know how we will need to format your resume and sometimes sending to/from different operating systems can turn your resume upside down. Always have a backup so you don’t have to go back and re-create a plain-text version when the timeline for submission is short.

So, while job searching can sometimes be disheartening, and rules for creating the perfect resume may often be ambiguous, remember this vital list of do’s and don’ts compiled by our recruiters here at Xtreme, and you’ll be sure to get noticed.

Topics: Staffing & Hiring, careers, job hunting, job search, recruiting

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ABOUT Britta Jones

Britta works as a part of the Marketing Team at Xtreme Consulting, focusing on brand strategy, designing new campaigns and programs, and strategic planning. Outside of Marketing, Britta enjoys snowboarding, watching football (Go Huskies & Hawks!), and spoiling her two golden retrievers.
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