The job search is impossibly tough.

Especially when you’re A: Newer to the workforce, B: In an insanely competitive market, and C: Doing this all during a GLOBAL PANDEMIC.

My heart goes out to all of you. Seriously.

So before I get into all of this tough-luv-style resume advice, here are a few words of encouragement:

Keep heart. You’re going to get through this process and learn a lot about yourself along the way. You’ll grow with every interview. You’ll keep getting better. Try not to be discouraged. Often the jobs you DON’T get, give you the most important push in the direction you’re meant to go.

Believe in yourself.

You will find the job for you.

But it all begins with the right resume.

This stressed me out the most when I was on the job hunt. I had so many different versions of my resume that I would lose track of them all.

The filenames ended up looking like “Lexi-Herrick-Resume-Final-Version-45-This-Is-The-One-I-Swear-OK-Cool-Bye”

Mild exaggeration, but you get it.

Over the years, I’ve also been responsible for receiving and reading resumes.

Being on the “hiring” side of the hiring process has helped me identify a few tips and pointers I also wish I knew myself years ago.

So, I’m here now to share these tips with you. Here are the do’s and don’t’s I’ve seen most frequently in resumes from young professionals. May this wisdom lead you to land your next gig.

Happy searching, friends.


1. You don’t need to list proficiency in Microsoft Office programs as a top skill.

computer screen showing UNK UNK

I would make this multiple points if I could.

It is 2021. You should be familiar with basic word-processing and presentation programs. That’s a given!

Including this on your resume takes up valuable space that could actually be used to demonstrate your unique skills, experience and attributes.

If you are an excel wiz, talk about your formulaic, computing and statistical skills instead of saying “Microsoft Excel.”

If you kill it with presentation decks, say THAT, not that you know how to use Powerpoint.


2. Keep your resume to one page.

woman signing on white printer paper beside woman about to touch the documents

Several-page long resumes are super ineffective.

Hiring managers and recruiters are looking at dozens of these bad boys a day. You have to quickly, cleanly and succinctly grab their attention, and one page is the standard for doing this in a resume.

“But LEX, I have SO much awesome experience to demonstrate on my resume! How will I ever fit it on one page?!”

I hear ya. It’s tough, and I have struggled with this too. If you’ve read my essays, you know brevity is not my strong suit.

That said, you have to know where to make cuts. Only include applicable jobs. Summarize your work experience into bite-sized sentences. Play around with templates that have a bit more space where you need it.

No matter what, keep it to one page.


3. If you’re going to list your social media pages, make sure you’re prepared to have them be an extension of your resume.

black iphone 4 on white ceramic bowl

Hiring managers and recruiters look at social media. They just do.

This is especially the case if you are citing your social media presence as a testament to your marketing, content or social media marketing experience.

Be mindful of what you’re posting when you’re in the hiring process, for any role.

And if you are applying for a job in marketing or social media and listed your account information on your resume, be prepared to use your own feeds as work experience. In a world of micro-influencers and side-hustles, this is pretty common, and something to consider if you’re in the field.


4. Only list applicable work experience on your resume.

two women talking while looking at laptop computer

Even if your job experience is a little thin, it’s better to bolster up the applicable work you have completed than list every single job you’ve ever had.

For example; if you’re a college student, it looks better to call out the internships, academic course work and business clubs you participated in than to show you were a lifeguard one summer five years ago.

I know it hurts a little to shave off those summer jobs, (RIP my three years as a Treat Team member at Rita’s Italian Ice) but the time is now.


5. Showcase your personality and creativity.

person in white long sleeve shirt holding Surface device

It’s important to strike a balance between professionalism and personality in your resume.

If you swing so far to the “what a resume is supposed to sound like,” side of the house, you end up with a page that feels awkward, stiff and forced. I’m not saying to write it in the same tone you type a text in, but a hiring manager or recruiter should still be able to read it and get a feel for your personality.

Don’t be afraid to showcase who you are!

Passion, enthusiasm and a willingness to learn go a long way early in your career. Tap into those qualities, and allow them to shine in the language and style you use in your resume.


6. Use numbers.

graphs of performance analytics on a laptop screen

If you have statistics on your past performance, use them. Managers love concrete evidence that you know what you’re doing.

Example: You managed x number of campaigns driving y amount of revenue for an ROI of z.

Even softer numbers help; like how many projects you managed, teams you collaborated with or accounts you were responsible for. Anything to demonstrate your work in a quantitative way adds a lot of value.


7. Resist the urge to auto-populate your resume from sites like Indeed and LinkedIn.

gold iphone 6 beside green plant

I know this option can be tempting, but trust me it makes all the difference.

These sites often just dump all the copy in there in an unformatted way, and it makes the resume several pages long. Your lovely work experience turns into a big giant text blob that no one wants to read.

It’s way better to attach your clean and complete resume.


8. Highlight any specific awards and recognitions you have earned.

yellow and white trophy

Don’t be afraid to humblebrag. Call out your awards and showcase your most impressive recognitions. Any kind of scholarships or notable positions you held are great additions as well.

Try not to skip over this part! It can really set you apart from other candidates and shows that you’re a stand-out performer.


9. List the systems, tools and platforms you have experience with. Include certifications as well.

woman sits on padded chair while using MacBook during daytime

Knowing that an applicant is already familiar with a certain tool or program that’s required for the role is crucial in today’s hiring process.

We use SO many different platforms in every field and the less a new hire needs to be trained on every single one of them, the better. It also shows that you’re more prepared to hit the ground running when you start, and that will always work in your favor.

Pro Tip: If you don’t have experience in programs that you see coming up on a lot of job descriptions, get certified in them.

Google, for example, offers free certifications and training programs for job seekers looking to learn new skills.

There are a lot of examples out there like this, so if you feel like there’s a tool you need on your resume, run a search and research the options.


10. Highlight YOUR skills, and be honest about them.

woman in blue denim jeans sitting on black office rolling chair

Sell yourself, but don’t oversell yourself.

It’s really easy for hiring managers to tell when you are inflating or exaggerating the skills on your resume. If not from the initial read, they’ll definitely be able to tell in the interview, and that’s not a good use of either of your time!

Try not to add buzz-word skills that seem related when you do a quick Google search but you’re actually pretty unfamiliar with them. That’s an honest mistake; the classic skill synonym search. It may SEEM like a good idea when you’re trying to beef up your resume, but it breaks down with one interview question.

Instead, focus on what your true skills are. Tactical skills and soft skills are both important. Speak to the role itself, the industry you want to thrive in and the reason why you’re the one for the job.

Let your resume say WHO you are and WHY you rock.

Be yourself. Keep sending them out. Keep searching.

Your next gig is right around the corner.


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