Things That You Should Never Leave Out On Your Resume

Image via inChemistry
You may want to refer to the source as well, where they discuss the top 10 early career resume mistakes.

These are common things I want to briefly highlight some resume advice for folks who typically miss out on the important details.


✎ Add a section called SKILLS. Many job seekers forget to do that. This section is just as important as your work experience and education. Here, you would put the names of the software and apps SPECIFICALLY that you use well and that you’re proficient with.

✬ E.g. Microsoft Office is too general as many only just list that. Expand on it – do you use MS Publisher, MS Access, MS One Note, One Drive, Teams, and SharePoint as well? These are also part of the MS Office Suite, and some are critical business tools as well.  So, list out the all the tools used by name. 

What about social media tools? Skype or Skype for Business, YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter?  The list goes on, but you should list the ones you use. If you have a LinkedIn profile, add it to your resume – if not, be sure to create one and start to network there if you’re looking for jobs. This is a good thing to show employers as they can see beyond your resume. According to Zety, “a recent study says that up to 40% of employers may not consider interviewing you at all if they can’t find your LinkedIn profile.”

Please also keep in mind that hiring managers also look at “crossover skills”… that is what OTHER skills do you bring as shown on your resume? — Does your resume show a history of consistently sticking to your goals? Do you stay on jobs for short-term or long-term? You want to be mindful of that because if you are selected to the interview — During the interview, did you come across as teachable and focused on success, or “just need a job” attitude? If you don’t know what crossover skills you should include, you may want to refer to 8 Crossover Skills You’ll Need Whether You Go To College Or Not.


EDUCATION – Just list your most recent education. If you have attended a college/university, please do not forget to include what your major is. This is especially helpful for employers to know when you are applying for a job in a specific field.

Note: High school graduates, College students and recent graduates often include their GPA in their resume. However, if you are worried about a low GPA, simply leave it off your resume. You can still include your school, graduation date, and any awards received.

If you are still attending high school, or you are currently an undergraduate in college, or if a high school diploma is your highest degree, you can include your high school information. To save space and time, there is no need to include your high school if you have completed higher education. It is only relevant if you have graduated from high school and are not planning to attend college or a university.

However, once you complete any other form of education including a training program from a trade school, you should eliminate this HS information from your resume. Your resume should constantly be up to date.


WORK EXPERIENCE – I cannot stress this enough, however job candidates often miss out on the details of “numbers that define” how they did their job. Always use numbers to show how you helped your employer, as that is what many employers want to see.

Remember, list accomplishments/achievements, and not just your duties. Don’t forget to include numbers as well!

“Greet customers” tells me what you do… but not how well you do it; “Managed 50-60 face-to-face customer inquiries daily” tells me both;
“Restocking shelves” tells me what you do… but not how well you do it; “Supported store revenue goals by overseeing 17 aisle inventory consisting of 300 items per shelf” tells me both.
♛ How many team members did you collaborate with? What tasks or goals did you meet together?
♛ Were you involved in monthly, quarterly, or annual cycle count of the inventory at either store?

Don’t forget – employers are looking for candidates who bring the “tools” for success.
❅ E.g. What tools did you use for custodial duties?


✎ For a general resume, what is listed above would be ideal… I want to underscore that. That said, however, with a little more effort on specifics, you’ll be able to transform it into a “powerful personal branding tool”. Your resume is your marketing tool of selling yourself to the employer.

✎ You can also visit O*NET OnLine, where you can point your cursor to Occupation Quick Search and search up “Customer Service Representative” and there, you will find many performance objectives that match up things you also did. Use those to create additional bullets that demonstrate your acquired skills and experience.

How To Get Past The Applicant Tracking System (ATS)

Image via TalSuite

I am sure many of you are aware of what an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) is, since all job applications are required to be submitted online. Back then, job seekers had it way easier. They just had to rely on the newspaper and telephone, and they will be asked by the employer to come in for an interview. However, they have since, revolutionized the hiring process and the labor market in a blink of an eye.

Image via Jobscan
To find out more about how Applicant Tracking Systems have evolved, their article gives useful facts on their infographic.

An ATS is basically a robot that is programmed to pre-screen the applicant’s resume before the hiring team gets a chance to lay their eyes on them. Obviously, it is not as intelligent as humans are, since it is pre-programmed to do what it has to do.

The ATS is programmed to scan for specific keywords that the employer has entered into the system. Some resumes will only be selected to move on to the next step, based on the keywords that the employer has configured. Many employers use the ATS as a way to screen out candidates by asking knockout questions. This is a way to determine which candidates are able/willing or unable/unwilling to perform a job function. For instance, if an ATS is programmed to eliminate resumes that do not hold a Bachelor’s Degree, then those with an Associate’s Degree will definitely not be considered. Here are more examples of the types of knockout questions to look out for when applying on an online portal/job board.

The ATS has simplified the hiring process for employers, since 75% of recruiters and talent managers use some form of recruiting or applicant tracking software; according to Capterra.

On the other hand, causing it to be opposite for job seekers – the ATS makes their job search process more challenging and stressful as they have to pay close attention to every little detail. According to Mashable, nearly 80% described their job search as time-consuming and stressful, and many reported that they would be deterred from completing an application if they encountered tech hurdles (60%), couldn’t upload their resume (55%), couldn’t follow up on the application’s status (44%) or couldn’t complete the application on a mobile device (20%).

The nitty-gritty of getting past the ATS is to analyze and study the job description and keywords carefully as you tailor your resume to what they are looking for. Many job applicants tend to just submit their resume without tweaking their resume to the positions that they are applying for. Always make sure your resume matches the job description and that it has the exact keywords listed.

Note: The ATS is unable to distinguish the difference between the terms CPA and Certified Public Accountant, it is always more safe to list the whole word out instead of abbreviating or shortening it.

Note: Make sure your resume font and format is simple, organized and consistent. If a resume looks too fancy and abstract with colors, images, symbols and other unnecessary stuff, the ATS may count it as unqualified and will move on to the next resume. According to Forbes, studies have shown that up to 75% of qualified applicants are rejected by ATS programs because they can’t be read. You don’t want to be one of the 75%.


DO’s

  • Keep your font simple. Use Times New Roman, Calibri, Arial or any font that looks “appropriate” and “legible”. Make sure the size font is between 10-12. No bigger, no smaller.
  • Use simple bullet points like the one I am using at the moment or even a dash (-) works as well. Just make sure it isn’t a special kind of symbol because that can program the ATS to view your resume as “unqualified” and you don’t want to jeopardize a qualified resume just because of an unrecognizable symbol.
  • Consistent formatting. This is important to ensure that your resume will pass an ATS, so that it would not confuse the system.
    • Margin Size: 1 inch
    • Left Alignment is the way to go because that is the standard way of reading. Don’t center it or align it to the right. Definitely, do not include text boxes. I’ve seen some job seekers do that. This will just confuse the ATS. If we all read from left to right, that is how the ATS will be programmed to read it as well.
    • Length: Keep it minimum at 1 page and maximum at 2 pages. Remember, make sure it has the included keywords and is visually appealing to the employer! You are not writing a Curriculum Vitae. Unless you are applying for a profession that you have had years of experience in and highlighting publications that are linked to the work you do, (i.e., college professor), there is no need to go past 2 pages with irrelevant experience. Know how to distinguish the difference between a resume and a curriculum vitae.
    • Font: As mentioned in the first bullet point.
  • Your resume should aim towards the specific position. Like I have mentioned earlier, read and study the job descriptions. Always always always, keep a look out for specific keywords whether it is in the required qualifications or preferred qualifications that involves your education, competencies/skill sets, licenses, trainings and experience.
  • Do your research on the employer! Make sure you are always tweaking your resume based on their mission, goals and culture.
    • How can you be of value to them? How does your experience, education, skill sets match the employer’s needs of the role?
  • Make sure your section headers are simple: “Objective”/”Professional Summary”, “Skills”, “Certifications/Licenses”, “Work History”/”Experience”, “Education”

DON’Ts

  • Unless you are a graphic designer, avoid including images, graphics, tables/charts, special fonts or unrecognizable symbols. The ATS is programmed to read simple and straightforward things.
  • As mentioned in the DO’s section, section headers are preferred to be simple rather than overdone. An ATS will not understand “Where I Attended School”. So leave it as “Education”.
  • Do not misuse keywords. Use them where you see fit.
  • So many job seekers that I have assisted often put on the bottom of their resume, “References Available Upon Request”. This consumes space and employers obviously know that if needed, they will contact you for it.
  • Select the right file type for your resume. To play it safe, upload your resume as a .doc, .docx or .pdf file. These are the most common and preferred formats. It just looks more appealing to employers as well.
    • Please avoid using specialty formats such as .dot, .dotx, .rtf, .txt, .htm, .docm, .dotm, .xml, .mht because not only are employers unable to access the file, but many ATS can’t read them.
  • Categorize your section headers carefully.
    • If the employer is seeking specific skills (pro tip: when they list the requirements/qualifications, pay attention to those on the top as those are what they looking for in a candidate the most) and you have that, you may want to shift your skills section to the top while leaving your experience and education to the bottom.
    • If the employer is seeking 5+ years in talent management and you’ve been a talent lead or in the HR team for over a decade, you may want to put your experience first and highlight those relevant skills as you go along.
  • Never list your job duties using other terms other than action verbs!
  • When listing out your experience, make sure you do not include the word “I”. It should always be in third person as if you are the narrator of your resume.

Still need more career and resume advice on how to tackle the ATS and ensure that you land your dream job/career? Check out TopResume’s useful article and their informative infographic about ATS.