Resume Do’s and Do Not Do’s in Plain English

This advice comes from being the former file clerk for a global consulting firm in their HR department and previously working for an immigration attorney. I have reviewed hundreds of resumes of the people who get hired. No, I won’t share anyone’s specific details. That’s illegal. I also don’t give legal advice, and won’t pretend to do so here. I own my own business, and sorry- no, I’m not hiring currently. I’m not going to stomp on you, however. What owning my own business means is that I don’t have a conflict of interest in sharing some resume tips. I’m doing my thing, and I want people to get hired and to do good work especially if you’re long-term unemployed.

Here are some things to consider when preparing the all-important resume for something (even if it’s just trying to submit a resume to fill the quota in order to get next week’s unemployment check.)

  • Resumes are the College 101 Class in the Human Resource Department:
    • They are meant to weed out people who won’t work before they ever review the people who do qualify. Often, computers do the weeding before a recruiter reviews the ones who pass through.
    • Treat resumes like paper/electronic first dates, without the picture involved, and where all that you can share about yourself is what you have actually or intend to (in some cases and pertaining only to education) accomplish.
  • DO USE the SAME or extremely similar wording (close synonyms allowed) on your resume or cover letter as whatever is in the ad.
    • Companies spend a lot of time and money on making sure that their ads are properly legal. Companies have been sued before over what is in an ad, so they will automatically disregard and dismiss resumes that do not include their ad’s “buzz words.”
    • Some job ads use highly specific wording due to their being part of immigration cases based on specificity of skills, expertise/experience that does not currently exist in the US. The demand requires someone with a certain job skill set. Although there will be ads for the job, and every applicant has to be interviewed, someone already has the job. Don’t despair. This is another reason for being very careful with the ad’s “buzz words” and ALWAYS applying for multiple jobs even while waiting to hear back on anything.
  • DO NOT have any spelling or grammatical errors.
    • Do not assume that Spell Check or that Grammar Check is your friend. Find at least five people who use big words correctly and ask them if they can check your resume for you.
  • DO be honest. Dishonesty is a one-stop ticket to getting fired, especially if you have falsified any credential, accomplishment, etc.
    • You should be willing to have anything and everything on your resume verified via background and social media/Internet search checks.
  • DO NOT EVER share your Social Security Number or Alien Residence Number unless it is required as part of a W-9.
  • DO NOT ever pay to get into a job. A job that solicits your money in advance of hiring you is a scam.
  • Be careful of working in a place where you are paid in cash without a payroll or accountant, and where you are responsible for your own taxes unless you are the owner of the business.
  • DO NOT overshare.
    • Humans are not perfect. That means that you do not need to tell them about your most spiritual experience in your religion or about how your kid scraped his knee in Little League. They need to know whether or not you can get to the job, do the job, and whether or not you will fit in with their existing company members.
    • You can choose whether or not to put on your social media information. Were I to be in the actively-seeking job market, I would not include it on my resume. Know that HR Departments regularly check Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc., especially before hiring people.
    • Everything on a resume has to be checked before hiring occurs, including social media. If you give an employer your username, you’re asking for any little thing to be looked up and researched (So, You ate a doughnut Christmas morning 2009. Are you really “friends” with a friend of Stalker 1234?) Social media bleeds information. Even craft stores and Subway shops require background checks.
  • DO NOT include a picture of yourself on your resume. That is what an interview is for unless you are an actor, dancer, etc. Then you need a professional headshot. Otherwise, no. Social media searches will likely take care of giving you a picture to match on interview day. Social media can also be your friend if it is professional and not ludicrous, crass, or incriminating. Weed your feed before you apply, even if your Google search results appear over-whelming.
  • DO NOT automatically include references on your resume unless required. See Tips page for more info.
  • Special Cases: Be willing to do what it takes (and work to do what it takes) to remove (expunge) past penal (court, law) issues. Arrests matter, no matter where or when. Having issues like this does not completely bar a person from employment, but it does put you down the list.
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