The primary purpose of a resume is to allow a hiring manager to determine if you have the technical skills, educational background, and work experience to perform well in the job you’ve applied for. However, there’s a reason job offers aren’t made based on your resume alone. The hiring team will conduct further interviews to determine whether this position will be a good cultural fit, as well as whether you have the personality, work ethic, motivation and other “soft skills” necessary to succeed. Quite often, candidates will try to demonstrate both areas simultaneously in a resume. This is a mistake, and usually reduces the effectiveness of the overall resume.

An objective is usually unnecessary. It will typically not be read by a hiring manager since they will assume your objective is to obtain the position that you have applied for. Not only will it be wasted space, but if it bumps more important information to the second or third page of your resume. In this way, it is actually doing you a disservice.

Education should be included near the top of the first page and should include your degree, university attended, and possibly your GPA. If you have an extensive list of research papers or publications, include those later in the resume.

It is widely known that hiring managers do not look beyond the first page of your resume. Therefore, the first page should showcase everything important about who you are and why you’re a great fit for the role. You should tailor your resume to fit the specific description of the job you’re applying for by looking for keywords and phrases that are emphasized in the job description and integrating those phrases into your resume. The absolute best place to add these would be under the description of your current role. This step is often overlooked but can provide a very positive effect on your chances of receiving an interview. Your current job, like all positions listed on your resume, should include the dates you worked, the job title you held, and a somewhat thorough description of your responsibilities in that role. Did you have direct reports? Did you manage projects?

Following the education portion of your resume, it’s usually considered best practice to include your work history in chronological order, and you should always incorporate your skills and responsibilities underneath each position, as opposed to having it in a separate section. Whenever possible start your descriptions with action words such as “Lead”, “Managed”, “Executed”, and remember that there’s nothing more important than what you’ve done recently.

It might seem like common sense, but quite a few resumes list skills and responsibilities separately from the chronological list of previous positions held. Doing this usually frustrates the hiring manager and hurts the candidate’s chances of securing an interview. Forcing hiring managers to look for this important section of information is a mistake.

Moving on from your most recent role, previous roles that are related to the position you’re applying for should also be listed with dates, job titles, and job duties as well.

Your resume’s main purpose should not be to show personality, cultural fit, or other soft skills. If you insist on including this information before receiving an initial interview, consider sending a cover letter to supplement your resume. Overall, the rest of the interview process will be used to determine those variables.

Note that none of these areas mentioned above are intended to show work ethic, personality, motivation, drive, or any other “soft skills”. As discussed previously, these will all be assessed during phone interviews and face-to-face interviews throughout the hiring process. The goal of a resume is not to get you hired; the goal of a resume is get you invited for an initial interview.

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