8 ways to make your resume suck less

Hiring is hot in my company right now. We are growing fast and looking for the best of the best, the cream of the crop. I’ve reviewed thousands – not exaggerating – thousands of resumes over the past two weeks, and less than 1% of them were half-way decent. What’s up with that? Your resume is your brand, people. It bears your professional soul. You wouldn’t post to Instagram unless your perfectly-filtered photo wasn’t well, perfect. Approach your resume the same way you would your Match.com profile and put your best self out there. Here are some of my basic resume do’s and don’ts:
  1. Unless you want me to Google Map your house, leave off the street address from your contact information. Name, city and state, and a professional email (e.g. not dwaynes_boo@gmail.com) is all you need. I also read somewhere that including a middle initial in your name makes you sound smarter, so do it (e.g. Bad A. Chick).
  2. Skip the objective. You want a job. I get it. Convince me of your awesomeness in a well-crafted cover letter. Removing the objective will also allow for more space to brag on yourself.
  3. Did you graduate from a prestigious school aka Harvard? Go, you. Begin your resume with an Education section and put that ish in bold. This goes for master’s degrees too. Otherwise, list your education credentials at the bottom of the page and immediately focus on your professional experience. Do the opposite if you’re a recent grad with little experience; put that degree to work, woman. Only list a GPA of 3.5 or above (I once saw someone list a 2.1; not something to brag about). And if you’ve been working for several years, you can leave off the GPA; real experience is more important than your ability to Wikipedia yourself through undergrad.
  4. Within five seconds, I need to know what you’ve been doing in your current/previous job/s. An unformatted list of “answered the phone, made copies, ordered food, and filed” gets the delete button. That’s important stuff that keeps offices operational, so tell me something good. “Oversee the day-to-day office operations through management of front desk procedures for a high-volume dermatology practice” sounds way more legit. Work with what you’ve got! Condensing your job duties is also key, so keep it very high-level (an interview gives you the opportunity to be more specific).
  5. Focus on results. So, you’ve been a Marketing Manager for the past three years. You’ve written more creative briefs than you can count and revised copy for dozens of magazine ads. What I want to know is were you any good at it? Tell me if those magazine ads increased market share by 25% for your brand or if your strategic media placements generated $200,000 in sales. Highlighting your achievements and how you advanced your company or customers is what makes you stand out against those who bullet every single task (e.g. posted Facebook updates, called people, compiled media lists, pitched news outlets…boring!).  
  6. I know references are available upon request because I will request. You don’t need to mention this on your resume. If you’re called in for an interview, bring a printed list of three professional references, including names, their companies and titles, a phone number and/or an email address. Skip their home address because I’m not showing up to their house to ask about your Excel skills.
  7. Speaking of skills, what do you bring to the table? In addition to your experience, or lack thereof, what skills do you possess? Your resume should highlight your computer skills (i.e. Word, Photoshop) and your proficiency in using certain programs and equipment (i.e. payroll processing, project management software). Your skills are what can translate easily from job to job, especially if you’re applying for a different role or in a new industry. Make it known that your an expert in, for example, Oracle; a lot of organizations use this software, or a similar variation, regardless of sector. This can be highly attractive to potential employer and easily transferable.
  8. It’s sad that I have to include this, but proofread like it’s your job, or else you’ll have no job. The smallest error on a resume gets the delete button. Hiring managers will reject a candidate if their bullet points don’t line up – I’ve seen it happen. Look for spelling and grammatical errors, but don’t solely rely on spellcheck; you could have misused a word that is actually spelled correctly. Obsessively proofread, then ask your mom/boyfriend/cat to proofread again. Format and spacing is also a clear indication of your attention to detail, so it needs to be perfect0. Consistent use of commas, periods, and bullet points also reveal how well you pay attention to the little things. When it comes to resumes, it’s all in the details. Trust. Lastly, keep your resume template clean and crisp. Do not alternate each line with pink and green, or sorority girl monogram script. Stick to black ink on cotton resume paper with Cambria or Palatino Linotype font. Profesh.
If the struggle is real and your resume still sucks, fear not, sister. I am happy to offer a resume-writing service that is guaranteed to blow up your inbox with interview requests. Check it our here, or email me at hotmess@hotmessatwork.com for all the deets. Project dream job starts now.


A former hot mess bringing you no-nonsense career advice. I've been hired, fired, demoted, and disrespected; and it was entirely my fault. I've made every possible professional mistake and want you to learn from my screw ups, so you can have the career of your freakin' dreams.

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