Resume Do's and Don'ts

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So you’ve spent hours perfecting your resume and sent it out to multiple companies and plenty of recruiters. You expect your resume to be appreciated and thoroughly examined by the recruiter. Sorry to break it to you but that’s not always the case. According to studies, most recruiters spend an average of 6 seconds looking at a resume. This means you have a small window to make an impression.

First impressions can make or break you when going through the interview process, which is why it is important to have a top notch resume that captures the recruiter’s attention right away. From grammar to formatting, there are many parts of a resume that you can tweak and adjust. Below are the best tips to follow from our own Rockwood Recruiters.


  • Don’t use an objective statement. A resume objective fails to give a quick summary of your accomplishments to the recruiter/hiring manager.

  • Do consider a summary statement. Think of it as an elevator pitch.

  • Don’t combine multiple roles from one company.

  • Do highlight each job title to show growth and promotion with a company.

  • Don’t put your education at the top if you aren’t entry level. Hiring Managers often care more about experience than education as roles become more senior.

  • Do put your education at the top if you are less than 3 years out of college. Feel free to also include your GPA, but only if it is 3.2 or above.

  • Don’t include more internships than jobs. If they no longer strengthen your candidacy then the internships should to be excluded.

  • Do include relevant internships when you are still in school, applying for an entry-level role, or are less than 3 years out of college.

  • Don’t lie! Whether it’s about your grades in college or how long you worked at a company, never lie.

  • Do tell the truth, ALWAYS! Whether the hiring manager calls you out on the lie right away or down the line in 6 months, you should just tell the truth from the get go. Avoid making the same mistake as Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson did in 2012 when he got caught lying about his college degree and was ultimately fired.

  • Don’t have typos or grammatical errors. Typos show signs of sloppiness and carelessness.

  • Do remember to proofread or have a peer review your resume.

  • Don’t speak in third person. Your name should be in bold at the top of your resume so the hiring manager will know who the information is about

  • Do write in first person minus the pronouns. Use the present tense to write about your current role and past tense when writing about previous roles.

  • Don’t have an absurdly long resume. As mentioned before, the average recruiter spends 6 seconds looking at a resume and if you have a 4 page resume for under 10 years of experience then you will most likely be overlooked.

  • Do your best to make it one page if you:

    • Have under 10 years of experience

    • Have held fewer than 2 positions with one employer

    • Are making a career change and need to omit irrelevant experience

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  • Don’t have too small of font that is impossible to read or too large of a font that would take up too much space.

  • Do have a legible font style and size to allow for an easy to follow format. You can use italicized or bold fonts to make your title or headers stand out but try not to get too crazy.

  • Don’t copy the job description word for word. The goal of your resume is to show off your accomplishments and achievements, not the duties of your next role.

  • Do incorporate keywords form the job description into your resume. Make sure to review the job description and add any words that pop so your resume comes up in Applicant Tracking Systems.

  • Don’t send out the same resume for each role.

  • Do customize your resume to each role. First, create a general resume with all of your experience. Then you can remove or add relevant experience and skills that will work for that role. This doesn’t mean you have to write a new resume every time, but rather mold it to each unique job.

  • Don’t simply put “Microsoft Office” under skills. Basic computer skills are an industry standard so being broad with your skills won’t make you stand out.

  • Do add specific technical skills. You can include Word, Excel with macros, PowerPoint, SQL, VBA, etc.. Show off those skills!

  • Don’t use an unprofessional email, your current employer’s email, or college email on your resume. Avoid using these emails when applying as well. This is unprofessional and shows that you don’t mind using company time or resources for your personal errands.

  • Do create a professional and personal email account to use on resumes and job related documents/apps. Make sure your email and other contact information is easy to find.

  • Don’t have any unnecessary information including: “References Available Upon Request”, DOB, ethnicity, religion, headshots/pictures, relationship status, etc. Avoid anything personal or information that could be used in terms of discrimination.

  • Do wait until the hiring manager asks for references. By omitting this phrase you save valuable space on your resume.

  • Don’t be afraid to add details that separate you from other people and make you stand out.

  • Do include any accomplishments, processes improved, anything else you may have directly affected in your roles.

  • Don’t under estimate the power of the activities/hobbies section. Don’t just state that you enjoy reading, hiking, and cooking.

  • Do take your activities/hobbies to the next level. You can be more specific and creative in this section. Instead you can state that you enjoy Stephen King novels, cooking Mediterranean cuisine, or ran the NYC Marathon in x amount of time. You never know when you’ll have something in common with your interviewers, let alone the same specific interests.


It can be easy to overlook some of these minor details, but in the end, they can make a huge impact and help you get that first interview. If you are still unsure of some resume mistakes, have a fellow peer look it over or ask a resume/career coach for assistance.

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