7 Commonly Asked Questions
1) How long should my Resume be?
- Keep it to one page if you are in the early stage of your career (less than 3 years of experience in your field).
- Despite what you may have heard, experts agree two pages are appropriate if you have more than 3 years of relevant experience.
2) What about Education?
- Again, the rules differ depending on where you are in your career. Recent grads should highlight their education and GPA above work experience.
- Anyone else should drop their education info below work experience. Once you have been out of school 5 years or more, you can omit your GPA, unless it is 3.5 or higher.
3) What if I don’t have a Degree?
- If you took classes but didn’t earn a degree or are still working towards it, add the relevant coursework. List the universities you attended, the years and area of study, specifying “coursework” instead of “degree.”
- Check the job description to see if equivalent experience is accepted. Many companies will accept equivalent experience in place of a degree, if the experience gives you the knowledge and skills necessary to do the job. While timeframes may vary by company, below are some general guidelines for years of equivalent experience:
- 2 – 4 years: equivalent to an Associate’s Degree
- 4 – 8 years: equivalent to a Bachelor’s Degree
- 10+ years: equivalent to a Master’s Degree
4) Is a Resume all I need?
- Not necessarily—if you are in a creative field (such as Marketing or Graphic Design), you should also have a portfolio. Even if you aren’t in a traditionally creative field, you may want to consider having a portfolio to properly brand yourself. You can include letters of recommendation, work samples, transcripts, awards etc. Having all these items available can really help market yourself to employers.
- If the job description asks for it, don’t forgo the cover letter. Like your resume, a “one size fits all” approach is not appropriate so make sure you tailor it to the job description.
5) Where do I put my References?
- Your resume is not where you need to supply references or their contact information. Keep those separate and omit “References Upon Request” – that is assumed and takes up valuable space. If you have a portfolio, you may include them there.
6) Should I use special fonts & designs?
- Stick with simple, easy-to-read fonts. Remember, many hiring managers scan resumes, so you want them to easily pick out your key accomplishments without getting distracted by fancy fonts or embellishments.
- Avoid graphics, designs, tables or boxes on your resume. Not only can they confuse Applicant Tracking Systems and mess with your format, but they can also detract from your accomplishments.
- Consistency is key. While it is okay to utilize bold, italicized and ALL CAPS text to make key elements stand out, make sure to keep their usage uniform. These elements can add distinction where needed, but will end up looking sloppy if you don’t use them consistently.
- Use an appropriate font size. A small font size (10 and up) is okay as long as there is enough space between points to make it easy for hiring managers to find what they need. Don’t be tempted to go below a font of 10 just to squeeze in more information. Instead, add that second page if it’s appropriate, or cut down your content. Take out any information that isn’t necessary for your branding. Remember you can always use it as talking points during an interview instead.
- Don’t include a headshot on your resume. It wastes space and isn’t relevant.
- Save your resume in a Word Doc or PDF format. Wondering which is better? It’s up to you, as there are advantages to both. Recruiter’s tend to prefer Word Docs because they are easy for them to view and add notes too. However, a PDF is your safest bet to avoid format issues upon viewing.
7) What else should I include?
- Anything concrete and measurable. This is key to giving the reader a better understanding of your experience and accomplishments. “Cost savings of $2 million” is much better than “saved the company money.”
- Clearly state time of employment for each job and be prepared to explain any gaps in employment during an interview.
- Specify if something was a job or an internship. A 6-month internship at a reputable company is a great accomplishment, but if the hiring manager mistakes it for a short-lived career stint, it may reflect badly on you.
- Save space by being brief about non-relevant work experience. State something simple like, “previous work history in non-related fields” along with the dates. Not only does this avoid looking like you had a gap in work history, but it will also save the reader time picking out what is important on your resume.
- Be honest – this goes for work history, education, certifications and references. Being caught in a lie will immediately hurt your chances and can happen easier in today’s world of social media.