September 28, 2021 | 5 min read
Resume Writing: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly


Resume writing can sometimes feel like a stressful burden. Whether you’re a new graduate entering the job market or a seasoned professional ready for a change of scenery, it never seems to get any easier. There’s always some sort of consistent mental battle throughout the intricate process. What to include, what to leave out, what to expand on are just a few of the roadblocks you’ll come to along the way. So how should you go about putting together an exemplary CV for a potential job opportunity? Here’s the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to resume writing.

The Good

Be specific about duties/accomplishments

Resumes are a safe space for bragging. So do just that: sell yourself. Discuss where you worked, what you did, and how you did it. Be sure to include what you accomplished. And if you got some awards, certifications, and/or notable recognitions along the way, be sure to include those too! Keep it short and sweet of course, but make sure an employer will know who you are and what you’re capable of bringing to the team when reading your resume.

Optimize keywords throughout

Don’t just apply for a job. Apply yourself for that job. Do a deep dive into the role and find out what the position entails. Pick up specific keywords and relevant excerpts and connect them directly to your resume. Optimize keywords throughout your resume so that they stand out to a hiring manager or show up in related searches on job boards you’ve submitted your resume to. Just be sure to avoid keyword stuffing, which is when the resume contains so many keywords that the resume no longer sounds like it was written by a human.

Customize your resume

In a fast-paced job market, a hiring manager’s main objective when rifling through resumes is to find one with the qualifications that most closely match the position they’re trying to fill. To make sure you stand out, create a resume tailor-made for that role. In fact, having a few individual resume templates on hand for different job opportunities can’t hurt at all. Don’t be afraid to tweak your resume regularly either. Whatever gives you the competitive edge.

The Bad

You rattle on for too long

“How long is too long?” is a question many people ask when resume writing. The answer really depends on where you are in your career. A good rule is that anyone with less than 10 years of experience should try to keep their resumes to a one-page minimum. If you have more than that, you can have two-three pages depending on what level of position you’re applying to. While there is no hard and fast rule, you don’t want to short-change yourself when resume writing. However, you want to be as detailed and concise as possible.

Not proofreading

Proofreading is a critical, yet often overlooked part of the resume writing process. Giving your resume a thorough look over to make sure everything is correct is imperative for every job seeker. Honestly, do it three or four times. Even better if you can ask a friend to review! There’s nothing wrong with finding a mistake you made and editing it quickly. It’s substantially worse if the hiring manager finds it before you as it can raise some red flags about your attention to detail. It is especially important to review your work history, but the same goes for personal information. Make sure your phone number, e-mail address, current address, etc. are all copacetic. And if any of that changes along the way, be sure to update it.

Listing references

Having a list of references to support all your merits and work ethic is an advantage for your job search prospects. Cramming their names, job titles, and contact information onto your resume to go along with all of your details should be avoided. Most hiring managers will ask for that further along in the interview process, so no need to burden them with extra information at the start of the hiring process (unless they ask). You can have that information on hand with you for the interview stages, but don’t feel it’s necessary to include all that with every resume submission. The reference check is a separate entity in itself.

The Ugly

Listing irrelevant jobs

Overly saturating your resume with every job you’ve ever held can be a pretty big resume writing mistake. Of course, you want the hiring managers to be able to tell that you’re a hardworking and qualified professional from your resume. However, it’s important to be strategic when listing positions or experiences. For example, including the two summers you worked as a lifeguard on your resume might not be relevant to the Accounting Clerk position you’re applying for.

If you’re a new graduate entering the workforce or an individual who wants to jump back into the workforce after taking a career break, including volunteer experience, older jobs, and other relevant information can help showcase your skills without adding too much filler.

Getting too creative

How can something so pretty be so ugly? While thinking outside of the box can help your resume stand out in some cases, it’s important to think strategically when selecting the format for your resume. If you’re applying for a job at a start-up or in a creative industry, for example, a well-designed visual or supplemental video resume might be the right move.

However, resume writing doesn’t always have to be an art. Many hiring managers still appreciate a standard resume format. Too many visual elements such as charts, crazy colors, fancy backgrounds, etc. can distract the decision-maker from important information. Your experience and accomplishments should speak for themselves. Read also: 5 Creative Ways To Refresh Your Resume Design Without Overdoing It

Embellishing your resume

Lying can only get you so far. Littering your resume with misleading information, suggesting you’re more experienced than you are, or flat out fabricating your capabilities may land you an interview or even a job offer, but the consequences will be a lot greater than the temporary reward. Not only can lying cost you the job, but it can damage your industry reputation. If you don’t meet all the qualifications for a job, but think you can learn, honesty is the best policy when resume writing! There are several ways you can leverage your transferable skills and experiences to prove your potential to a prospective employer. Read also: Overqualified Or Underqualified? How To Evaluate Job Requirements Before Applying

Subscribe to the Tandym blog

Get our latest job search and career insights delivered straight to your inbox

Related Resources