10 Dos and Don’ts for Your Resume

by Ad 2 Tampa Bay | March 25, 2015

You can learn a lot about a person when they have to sell themselves with one sheet of paper. That’s why mastering the art of resume writing has become a secret passion of mine. And writing a resume for advertising isn’t the same as other industries. I’ve learned a lot over the years from stories, news articles, blogs, and of course, personal experience. I found common patterns and correlations which have led me to this list of my top “Dos and Don’ts” for writing a resume.

Top 5 Dos

1. Do pay attention to organization. It was instilled that chronological order is the way to organize your experience on a resume, but it’s not always true. Another option is to make sure the most relevant information to the position is prominent. This is especially true for those looking to make a career switch. For example: if you have a variety of skills and volunteer work related to marketing, but currently work in another industry, think about putting your skills and involvement before your professional experience.

2. Do change your resume for different positions. This is especially important for those looking to get their foot in the door. Most jobs are not one-size-fits-all. Carefully read the expectations, requirements, and responsibilities for each role that you apply for and make sure that your resume reflects that individual position. Also, don’t have an overly designed resume (see Do #4) for a more buttoned-up agency or position.

3. Do proofread your resume. This should be a no-brainer, but I am shocked at how many resumes I see with typos. A good tip is to read your resume out loud before even attaching the file.

4. Do add a personal touch. More than any other industry, a bit of personality on a resume goes a long way. It could be your favorite color, a list of your interests, or a different font. This will make your resume stand out. But be careful to not go too overboard (see Don’t #2) or else you’ll send your resume straight to the trash can.

5. Do start your responsibilities with verbs. It’s common knowledge that resumes are often scanned for information. Make it easy for the hiring manager to see your accomplishments by starting each description with a strong verb. Here are some examples: achieved, improved, collaborated, managed, volunteered, and launched. There’s nothing worse than sounding like a pencil pusher.

Top 5 Don’ts

1. Don’t include an objective. This one causes a lot of controversy. An objective is a sentence that sits at the top of a resume used to state your career goal. Or rather, that’s what it was supposed to do. Somehow it evolved to a very long, “fluffy” sentence that reiterates the job you’re applying for. Most are not well thought out. Opt for a “Profile” or “About” section instead. This will summarize what your goals are while adding a bit of personality.

2. Don’t make your resume difficult to read. This includes heavy formatting, too many fonts or colors, and for my sake, never have a full colored background. Or neon colors. Or all-cap fonts. You get the point. Pro tip: think about how your resume would look if someone printed it out on a poor quality, black-and-white printer? It also doesn’t hurt to ask, “Could my mom read this?” If the answer is no, cut it back.

3. Don’t include everything. Be concise. Quality goes a long way here. Only include relevant information and work that you’re proud of. Almost everything else can go on LinkedIn and you can include your link in your contact information.

4. Don’t be redundant. It can be difficult to differentiate the descriptions of similar positions. Watch for redundancy in these areas. It’s best to be concise. Don’t worry about filling up the page. A little white space never hurt anyone. Talking about your accomplishments is one way to prevent redundancies.

5. Don’t use these words: “go-getter”, “think outside of the box”, “team player”, “go-to person”, “bottom-line”, “hard worker”, “dynamic”, and “self-motivated” They are overused and don’t carry weight. Most of the intent behind these words will show through your experience and work.

These are just some tips I’ve found that have worked for myself and others over time. I look forward to hearing other pro-tips about writing a stand-out resume!

Amber Stickel | Vice President + Achievements