3 Resume Rules that Apply to Everyone (Yes, Everyone)

Resume rules and hiring manager expectations vary widely across every industry, and when it comes to quirky, individual pet peeves, faux pas, and must-haves, every single reviewer and hiring manager will bring a different set of preferences to the table. But there are a few rules that apply all across the board, and if you’re looking for work, you’ll want to keep these rules in mind regardless of your industry or your level of experience.

1. Resumes Must Be Clear

Clear, straightforward messaging usually plays a powerful role in the success of a resume and the outcome of a job search. And even at the highest executive levels, hiring managers can become easily confused by a poorly worded claim or phrase. If you clutter your self-description with empty buzzwords or use your work history and your accomplishments to mislead or misrepresent yourself, don’t expect great results. 

Here’s a rule of thumb: Imagine your resume being reviewed by someone with little experience in your industry, no ability to process abstractions or suggestions, and a very tight schedule. This person has no spare time (not even a few minutes) to spend puzzling through a line to determine what the writer might have meant. Keep it simple. 

2. Resumes Must Be Relevant

Your resume might be the impressive personal profile ever created, and you may be very proud of your athletic victories, your beautiful children, your recovery from a difficult illness, or your blue ribbon pie at the county fair. You have had the best grades in high school, the fastest marathon times, and the most successful band in town, but your employers will only be interested in the accomplishments that suggest readiness for his specific job.

It can be hard to navigate around this challenge if you’re in the middle of a career transition from one industry to another. But if you find a way to demonstrate how your tasks and victories as a salesperson translate into the world of healthcare (or vice versa), then you’ll gain a stronger foothold and attract more positive attention. 

3. Resumes Must Be Formatted In a Recognizable Way

Resumes look the way they do for a reason. Actually, they look this way for several reasons. And this traditional style with its familiar layout has been a part of the corporate landscape for generations. Show that you understand this format and you’re willing to adhere to this structure, and you’ll be making a statement about your readiness for the corporate environment.

Keep your contact information at the top of the page, and follow this information with a well worded summary, a brief synopsis of your education, and a job history with each former position serving as a separate subheading. Complete your document with a section describing your special skills and the kinds of contributions and talents that can add value to this company and this job.

If you vary from this pattern, you might not be immediately dismissed, but you will be making your resume difficult to file, skim, review and compare with those of your competitors. 

An Easy Read for Your Reviewers Means an Easy Job Search for You

Make the review process easy for your potential employers and you’ll greatly increase your chances of landing the job you need. Visit LiveCareer for formatting tools that can keep your job search simple, error-free, and on track. 

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