Standing Out: The Dos and Don’ts of Effective Resume Building

//Standing Out: The Dos and Don’ts of Effective Resume Building

As the first impression you will make on a future employer, your resume deserves continual attention and maintenance in order to ensure that you are best presenting your current skill set and past work experience. While many aspects of a resume layout remain crucial to highlight, others have now become obsolete and simply disrupt the flow of necessary information. It is important to keep your resume up-to-date, and present its information with the company you’re applying to in mind. Check out these helpful tips on what to do and not to do on your resume:

Organize Your Information

While a one-page resume is the common length, recent studies (yes, there are actual studies about resume layouts) suggest that hiring managers are more than twice as likely to hire applicants with two-page resumes, especially at the senior level. This isn’t to suggest that you should fill two pages with embellished or pointless information, but rather to inform that you no longer have to feel limited to that single-page restriction.

Your resume should be organized for ease of reading, with the most important information listed along the top and left of the page. A single pop of color can add to your resume’s design, but refrain from placing photos and graphics, they will only distract the reader. Your hiring team is most interested in you and what you have to offer.

Highlight Your Experience

While both hard and soft-skills are factors that will help land you your next position, it is important to be specific when listing these qualities on your resume. There is no need to add outdated or general skills that you — and most everyone else — possess, nor is there any value added by listing abstract personality traits. These descriptors should instead be embedded in your listed experience.

Employers want to see what you are capable of, and if you can back up, your claimed skill set. If there is an accomplishment or achievement that still applies to your current position, consider adding another section to highlight these important points in your career. Showing who you are through what you have accomplished will speak volumes, and help you far more than using your resume as a subjective self-assessment.

Be Personal And Present

Companies want to know that your choice to approach them was a specific and personal one, and not a blind canvassing. Not all positions hold the same requirements of you, and thus each application submitted holds an opportunity to curate your best qualities to the company’s position of need.

These simple alterations will significantly improve your chances of standing out:

  • Including aspects of the job description and company background in your resume shows the employer that you have done your research and understand what is expected of you.
  • Focusing your listed experience on the past 5-10 years helps eliminate outdated information and reduces unnecessary clutter.
  • Omitting irrelevant positions you held during an applicable timespan no longer serves as a red flag, but rather better curates your experience to the position being applied for. If an employer asks about a gap, it is fine to tell them where you worked, and why that information was omitted.

Keeping your resume up-to-date and curated to each individual company will show how passionate and prepared you are to earn the job you are applying for.  

Know What to Delete

On the subject of editing, there are few other items that were once former resume staples that are no longer mandatory. A mailing address, for example, is no longer necessary, as nearly all correspondence throughout the hiring process is now either over the phone or through email. An address can also serve as a hindrance or distraction for the employer if you are applying from outside of the state. References need not be listed on their resume, and instead can be held until they are asked for: save your page’s real estate to advertise yourself, and the testimonials of others can be left to the next stage in the process.

Helping You Find Your Match

If you find yourself wishing you had additional guidance along your hiring process, using the service of a recruiter can be helpful as you navigate your options. Recruiters can serve as an extra set of eyes on your resume and application, an advocate for you prior to meeting a client company, and a knowledgeable source if a company is the right fit for you. After all, the point of applying is to find a match, not simply a vacancy that will have you brushing up your resume again in a few months’ time, wishing for a change of scenery.

AAFA is a national professional partnership of finance and accounting search firms. Not only do AAFA’s members assist client companies in recruiting, they also aid in candidates’ searches for finance and accounting career placement. AAFA’s agencies cover local markets across the United States and provide the same sophistication and character at each location. Find an affiliate or a new job opportunity near you at