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The resume do’s and don'ts you need to know for 2024!

The resume do’s and don'ts you need to know for 2024!

Artwork by: Aleksandra Zabnina

  • Resume do's and don'ts: What to include in your 2024 resume
  • Dos and don'ts of writing a resume: Optimize for the ATS
  • What not to include in your resume
  • Key takeaways:

Knowing the do’s and don’ts of writing a professional resume can be the difference between getting your dream job and missing out on a perfect opportunity. Stop guessing and get your resume past the ATS and in front of the decision-maker by learning the resume do’s and don’ts you need to know for 2024.

It’s 2024, a new year, a new you, and time for a new job. Your goal for the new year is to find the perfect position. But before you start sending off your resume, you want to ensure it is in tip-top shape and will stand out from the competition. 

If it’s been a while since you have written or even updated your resume and you are not sure of the do’s and don’ts of resume writing, then Career.io has got you covered with what you need to know for 2024.

In this article, you’ll discover:

  • What you should include in your resume for 2024

  • How to optimize for Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS)

  • What a resume should not include in 2024

Resume do's and don'ts: What to include in your 2024 resume

Contact information

A resume should always have your contact information. The information should include your full name, city, and state, along with the zip code where you currently reside. It should also include your home and mobile phone numbers, a professional email address, and your Linkedin URL, if applicable.  

Note: It’s often better just to list a mobile phone number as it can avoid the “unprofessional” appearance of a child or other family member answering a home phone and/or you not getting notified of the call.

The contact information is perhaps the most important part of the resume. No matter how well-written or value-packed the resume is, if the hiring organization does not know your name or cannot contact you, the resume is useless.   

Career summary or career highlight section

Your resume has six seconds to grab the attention of the reader and make a positive impression. Include a career summary or a career highlight section at the top of your resume to make the most of those brief seconds.

Whether you write a resume summary or career highlights, you want this section to illustrate your skills, experience, and the value you will bring to the hiring organization. 

Recent and relevant work experience 

Because the experience section is the heart and soul of the resume, you want to show your accomplishments and achievements versus listing your day-to-day duties.

Expert Tip

Experience does not always equate to paid experience. Volunteering counts as work experience as well.

Using the PAR method is a great way to structure your resume experience. PAR is an acronym that stands for Problem, Action, and Results. When writing the experience section of the resume, think of the problem you encountered, the action you took, and the positive (quantified) result.

Expert Tip

Always use power verbs and quantify your accomplishments and achievements whenever possible.

Example: Maximized company profits by 100% and generated over $1.5 million in 2022. 

Credentials

You always want to add your degrees, certifications, licenses, and relevant courses. Adding these can help you stand out from the competition. Projects can also be relevant to add.

Hard and soft skills

Employers want to know that you can do the job, so including your hard and soft skills in the resume is a must. 

Examples of soft skills:

  • Analytical thinking

  • Communication

  • Customer service

  • Leadership

  • Time management

Examples of hard skills:

  • Budget management

  • Computer proficiency

  • Contract negotiation

  • Data analysis

  • Project management

Dos and don'ts of writing a resume: Optimize for the ATS

An absolute must-do for your 2024 resume is to ensure it is ATS optimized. So, what is an ATS? ATS stands for Applicant Tracking System. The ATS is a software that hiring organizations use to screen out resumes without relevant keywords, which reduces the number of qualified resumes they receive for an open position.

A few things to know about the ATS to help optimize your resume:

  • Use keywords from the job description.

  • Create your resume in either a chronological or hybrid format (not functional).

  • Avoid tables, images, and columns as they can throw off the ATS.

  • Do not get crazy with fonts. Stick with traditional font styles such as Times New Roman, Helvetica, Garamond, or Georgia.

Expert Tip

Knowing the do’s and don’ts of writing a resume will go a long way in creating an effective resume that gets you noticed.

What not to include in your resume

Personal information

A resume should never contain personal information such as your physical address. While the resume will have your city, state, and zip code, your physical address is no longer required.

Also, never include information related to your age, race, marital status, or religion. Unfortunately, this could lead to discrimination.

Don’t use a resume objective

Some circumstances may warrant an objective statement, such as a job seeker entering the workforce for the first time or perhaps someone who has made a complete career change. 

But for most job seekers, a career summary or career highlight section should be used. A career summary tells the hiring organization the value you will bring to the company (what you will do for them). A resume objective informs the hiring organization of what you hope to gain (what they can do for you). The hiring organization is not trying to fill your needs but to meet their hiring needs.

Keyword stuffing

Optimizing your resume for the ATS is a great strategy for 2024. However, keyword stuffing is a big no-no. Keyword stuffing is when a resume is filled with keywords to the point where the resume is incomprehensible to the reader. It is also unbelievable that a person goes beyond being an expert to knowing everything under the sun.

Expert Tip

At all costs, avoid “White Wording,” which is a resume hack to try and beat the ATS. White wording is when the job description is copied and pasted to the bottom of the resume in white font so the resume will contain all the keywords in the job posting. 

This is a bad idea and will get your resume thrown in the trash. ATS systems are now much more sophisticated so they can check for white wording, and recruiters also have their own ways to discover this hack.

Don’t go back further than 10-15 years

This is not a hard and fast rule; however, most will want to abide by this guideline. Of course, there are situations where going back 15 or more years can be positive. For example, a c-suite executive may want to go back further than 10-15 years.

Keeping your resume experience within 10-15 years accomplishes a few things.

  • It’s enough time to show your progress from where you started in your career to where you are now as an experienced professional.

  • Adding experience beyond 10-15 years may be irrelevant to the position you are applying to. For example, being a store clerk 15 years ago may not be relevant to the position of Director of IT Operations today.

  • Going back over 15 years can date you. You will want to avoid any red flags that may open the door to discrimination – age discrimination in this case.

Lies 

This may seem obvious, but it happens more than you know. Be truthful and never lie on your resume. At some point, that lie will catch up with you and may follow you for a very long time. 

Cliches or Jargon

Always write for the reader. While you may have over 20 years of experience in a specific field, the recruiter who is reading your resume may have no idea of the jargon used in your field or your resume.

Keep the language professional and simple so no matter who reads your resume, it will resonate with them.

Personal accomplishments and hobbies

Do not include your personal accomplishments or hobbies. The reader is only interested in learning how you can solve the problem of the hiring organization and not that you love fly fishing on the weekends. The resume should only contain information that shows the job seeker as the best candidate to solve the problem as outlined in the job description.

The only exception is if your hobby or accomplishment somehow ties in to your ability to do the job effectively. For example, a hobby of weekend flying with a personal pilot’s license would make someone a great candidate for an air traffic controller position and would be worth mentioning.

References upon request

Putting references upon request on the resume is no longer a thing, and it hasn’t been for some time now. You never want to waste precious resume real estate by stating the obvious. When the time comes, the hiring organization will request your references.

Expert Tip

Following the do’s and don’ts of resume writing will help optimize your resume for the ATS and improve your chances of landing that perfect job in 2024.

Key takeaways:

  1.  Following the do’s and don’ts of writing an effective resume will increase your chances of a successful job search in 2024.

  2. Optimize your resume for the ATS but avoid keyword stuffing.

  3. Don’t use lies, cliches, or jargon.

  4.  Never add information that may lead to discrimination.

  5.  Always quantify your accomplishments when possible.

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