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Do's and don'ts for your resume and LinkedIn profile: practical tips

Feb 13, 2022

A good resume is the first and most important step in building a successful career story for any specialist. Your resume should present you as the best candidate for the desired position. Remember the words of the famous Coco Chanel: "You will not get a second chance to make a first impression." Her quote also applies to your resume, since it’s your potential employer’s first impression of you. We are going to take a look at the do’s and don’ts of resume writing so you can learn how to craft this document in the best possible way. Once complete, your resume will work for you 24/7 and will help you to get the position you want.

What should be in a resume?

In order to make the right impression on a potential employer, you must immediately show your professional value. Describe your work experience in detail, being sure to clearly articulate your responsibilities in each position. Also indicate your professional achievements and completed training and courses and note any certificates you have that are important for your field (for example, a PMP or SHRM).

You also need to correctly organize the information on the page. Here's how to do it:

  1. Include your contact information: phone number, email, instant messengers, etc. The best advice is to use a formal email with your first and last name ([email protected], for example)—numbers, children's nicknames, and nicknames are not appropriate here.
  2. Highlight a separate “Education” section detailing your vocational training, including university, years of study, specialties, and degrees obtained. You can also list professional courses, training, and so on here.
  3. Focus on the important things. For example, you may want to include sections like “Skills” (containing a description of your soft skills), “Projects”, “Internships” (it’s better to list internship experience separately from work experience), “Certificates”, “Languages”, “Volunteering”, etc.
  4. The best way to present information is to use a bulleted list. A list allows you to quickly highlight your best experiences and qualities and clearly and concisely convey the message you want to transmit.
  5. A resume should be as functional as possible and designed according to the same parameters as the rest of the document package. Stick to using standard fonts such as Arial, Times New Roman, Calibri, or Trebuchet, size 10.5 to 12.

Here are some other useful resume tips:

  • Proportionality. The attention you give to a certain workplace should correspond to the achievements and duration of your time there. That is, if you worked in one position for a year and in another one for five years, the description of the five-year position should be about five times longer. If you don’t have a lot of work experience, your resume should be no longer than one page.
  • Literacy. A recruiter can assess your education level by how well you write your resume. Your resume is your first impression, no matter what your qualifications are. So check and recheck your resume before sending it.
  • Details. List your responsibilities and accomplishments in your previous positions—and be specific!
  • Honesty. Always tell the truth and be willing to call a spade a spade. An internship is a valuable experience but not enough to classify it as a “job”.
  • Keywords. Just like when you’re writing a motivation letter, you need to use keywords in your resume. (Keywords are the terms recruiters use to search for candidates.)  But how do you find them? Start by reading job descriptions carefully. Who are they looking for in this position? What skills do they want to see? Highlight the skills and knowledge that are the most in-demand and include them in your document.
  • Trends. Analyze what resume format is used in the country where you are going. Each country has its own expectations for a resume, which can include how it’s prepared  and the addition or removal of certain information, such as age and date of birth, gender, and the presence of a photo. Look for the information you need on specialized forums; in short, look everywhere you can.
  • Readability. Pay attention to the font size, logical distribution of text by thematic blocks, and structural information (i.e. a design that is relevant to your purpose). A student resume with no experience, a volunteer resume, or a resume for a job will each have a different look and feel. Is your punctuation consistent? These small details are very important.
  • Correct format. Don't forget that your finished resume must be in PDF format to open correctly on any device. The document’s file name should be FirstName_SecondName_Resume or vice versa: Resume_FirstName_SecondName. Also, pay attention to how your document will look on a tablet or smartphone. Does it look good? Lastly, check to ensure your file fits in a standard letter sent by email, which is still the most common way to send a resume.

In any case, you need to approach the design of this document responsibly. Take your time and do everything right. Your future—and your whole career—could literally depend on it!

What should not be included in a resume?

And now let's briefly consider what you should not include in your resume, as this is also an important aspect of resume writing.

  1. Age. You don’t know exactly what criteria the employer is using or whether there is an age-related prejudice. If you list your age in your resume, you could unknowingly remove yourself from the possibility of further consideration.
  2. A picture. A photo is an ambiguous detail in a resume. It takes up a lot of space and carries a minimum of information. It’s better to provide a picture of yourself only if an employer requests it. And if you don’t have a photo of sufficient quality, it’s better not to use one at all.
  3. Recommendations. These should also only be included if required.
  4. Extra documents. Items such as scans of diplomas, certificates, and examples of work are too bulky for a resume format. They are usually sent separately at the request of the employer.

If you follow most of the above tips, your resume will look more professional and attractive from the employer's point of view—and you should always keep the employer in mind when drafting your document. 

Now let's talk about building up your profile on the social network LinkedIn.

Filling out your profile on LinkedIn

Your LinkedIn profile is not the online equivalent of a resume, although many people think it is. It does look similar, but it's actually much more than just a resume. Your LinkedIn profile allows you to tell your story, share your ambitions, and build your personal brand without the limitations of a regular resume. This is a kind of “digital business card”. Here are some simple tips to help you turn your LinkedIn profile into a useful career advancement tool:

  1. Be an active user by posting content regularly. Present your content as if you were talking to friends (while remaining professional, of course). Let your star shine brightly. Feel free to show others what you love about your job and business and share things about your life outside of work. The two most important characteristics to keep in mind when posting are your professionalism and sociability.
  2. When writing your title, don’t limit yourself to your position. Your position alone will not necessarily convince an employer. There are a lot of different professionals on LinkedIn, and the chance of finding a person with the same position as yours is very high. Therefore, it’s worth adding individuality. You can talk about your major clients or employers, for example, or how you can help people with their problems.
  3. Use a short story to tell the reader about yourself. The summary section of your LinkedIn profile is not the same as an abstract on your resume. On LinkedIn, you're not limited to a one-line achievement. There is enough space here to tell the story behind your accomplishments to let readers understand the context of your work and how it affects the people around you. You can also write a short story about advancing your career or share the story of how your business came to be.
  4. Add a background photo. Not all users know that you can set a background or cover photo to your LinkedIn profile. This background photo is the same type as that used on Twitter and Facebook, but you’ll want professional pictures, not selfies, for LinkedIn. Here are a couple of ideas for what you can use as a background photo: a business logo, the front cover of a book, a banner of an event where you were a speaker, a picture of you speaking at a conference or seminar, or a screenshot with a thumbnail of your work. (LinkedIn background or cover photos must be 1584 x 396 pixels and a maximum of 8 megabytes in size.)
  5. Link to your other accounts and websites. LinkedIn allows users to link other social media accounts to their LinkedIn profile so your current contacts can find you on other platforms. For example, instead of a standard, plain portfolio, you might link to your site as a Graphic Designer Portfolio. If your website address differs from your brand name, you can use this feature to include the brand name next to the address.
  6. Use visual information. With visual information features, users can present proof of their work by uploading videos, articles, presentations, or PDF files next to each work item. Showcasing visual information on your LinkedIn profile is a great way for creatives to showcase their work and for entrepreneurs to prove the value of their products and services through case studies in a PDF or video demo.
  7. Use the achievements section. Don't ignore the achievements section on LinkedIn. This is a good way to improve your LinkedIn profile or experience section and categorize your accomplishments. For example, you can add publications, certificates, courses, projects, awards, patents, languages, or exam scores.
  8. Ask for recommendations. Acknowledgments are meant to validate your skills, but they are not enough to make you recognizable. You will need some recommendations. LinkedIn user mailing lists will tell a story about your work, how good you are at certain skills, how you handle tasks, and how others rate working with you. The recommendations in your profile give it a lively feel and confirm the claims in your profile.

Remember, the devil is in the details, so it will take some time to edit your profile to make it look more presentable and attractive—and most importantly, to work for you. LinkedIn is a very popular platform for professionals today, so don’t ignore the opportunities that it can provide.

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