Resumes get you the interview. Interviews get you the job.
But resumes are very subjective. Just about every person you talk to will share different advice and opinions. It's key to absorb that advice with an open mind and ultimately make the best decision for you. Know that you won't be able to please every recruiter, but if you're true to yourself, that will help you find a job that's a good fit for you.
But we get it, sometimes you just need some answers.
Here are answers to some of the most common questions about updating your resume. And if you still need help, download our resume guide for a complete how-to on all things resume.
There are a few basic elements of a resume that you should nail down before you start adding your information.
Find a template that makes sense for you and your experience
Stick with a common font that is easy to read
Determine the name of your headings to capture your professional background, education, and skills
Updating Your Resume: FAQ
Is it okay to use color on a resume?
You’ll get a lot of varied answers on this one. It’s going to be more acceptable for marketing or design roles and probably less acceptable in finance or accounting. Color can also be helpful in making your resume pop and stand out from others. If you do use color, keep it low-key and gentle on the eyes. For example, maybe just use color to accent a line or heading. And avoid the fluorescent hues.
Should I submit my resume as a Word document or PDF?
Great question. Though unfortunately, there’s no simple answer. Unless instructed otherwise, your two options should be Word doc or PDF.
A Word doc may be preferred if the employer is using an ATS (Applicant Tracking System). An ATS system will scan for keywords in order to determine which resumes move on to the hiring manager. A Word doc is the easiest format for the system to read.
A PDF may be preferred when emailing your application because it preserves the formatting. Your resume may be one page on your computer but you can’t be sure how it will open on someone else’s. Plus, a PDF removes all the red squiglies that likely appear under your last name or company names.
How should I name my resume?
So happy you asked! Too often, resumes are titled “Resume Template” or “John SmithResume”. Not demonstrating great attention to detail in those cases. Use some combination of your name + resume to title the file. For example, “John Smith_Resume”.
Is a skill rating a good way to demonstrate your skills?
The consensus on this seems to be pretty universal. No, a skill rating is not helping your application. It’s actually probably hurting it. The difficulty of the skills will vary and there’s likely not any science behind your rating.
Should I include skills on my resume at all?
Yes! Technical skills should always be captured. Often times when a recruiter is quickly sifting through resumes via ATS search, they are looking for the non-negotiable skills a hiring manager is asking for. So if you're applying to a job that needs Java experience as a requirement, make sure you clearly list it so you come up in search results. Whether you list your skills within your bullet points or draw more attention to them by dedicating a “Skills” section, you want to ensure they are captured somewhere. And if you find that updating your resume makes it multiple pages, make sure your "Skills" section is on the first page.
Are objective statements impactful to include on resumes?
Well-written, objective statements can be useful on a more general resume to clarify the path you are pursuing. You want whoever is reviewing your resume to have some context to your goals. There’s also a good chance you included a cover letter with your application and resume, which will speak volumes beyond an objective statement. In this case, it's not necessary to include one.
Is it okay to use personal pronouns on a resume?
Nope! Leave the “I’s” at home. They get repetitive, take up space, and since your name is at the top, it’s implied that the document pertains to you. But, including your preferred pronouns (she/he/they) are very helpful for interviewers if you get further into the process. To include your preferred pronouns, add them somewhere at the top of your resume near your name and contact information.
Should I include a photo on my resume?
Generally, no. Unless you're applying to a job in which your physical appearance is important to the position (i.e. acting), including a photo can be considered unprofessional. Photos can subject your application to unconscious bias, distract from your skills (remember, recruiters generally only spend 10 seconds looking at your resume), take up space, and could be problematic for applicant tracking systems (ATS).