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What to Put and Not Put on Your Resume

In today's competitive job market, the power of an effective resume cannot be overstated. It's your first opportunity to make a lasting impression on potential employers. However, the world of resumes is constantly evolving, and job seekers must adapt to new trends and technologies. In a recent presentation by Linda Brubaker, Ph.D., titled "Resumes: Do This, Not That," several key insights were shared to help job seekers create resumes that stand out in the digital age. Below is an abridged version of her presentation in an attempt summarize the key concepts of resume writing that Linda Brubaker promotes.

Dr. Brubaker emphasizes the importance of concise resumes. Recruiters typically won't go beyond the first page unless they're truly captivated. In fact, you have just eight seconds to grab a hiring manager's attention, so make every word count. You also want to make sure to include the key words that will ensure you get past the recruiter ATS (Applicant Tracking System) screening systems and into human hands. Below are some suggestions from Linda that should help.


  • Use a plain and simple format.

  • Use fonts such as Arial, Times New Roman, or Calibri.

  • Maintain margins of at least 0.8 inches all around for a clean, professional look.

  • It will be printed in black and white, so stay away from colors.

  • Contact Information – At the top of the resume. Stick to just your name, City, State, Zip and clickable links to your email and LinkedIn URL. Make sure the links are not in the header.

  • Don't use your street address, it is considered irrelevant.


  • Page Count Predicament – The length of your resume can make or break your chances. The notion that you can have as many pages as needed is a myth; brevity is key.

  • Keep your resume to 1 page, 2 pages max.

  • Experience Matters, but Not All of It - Limit your work history to the last 10-15 years. Experience that is older is often viewed as less relevant. List older experience only if relevant to the job. If necessary, group experience older than 10 – 15 years under a section "Additional Related Experience” and include only company name and title.

Resume Style

Objective or Professional Summary – Introduction to your resume. This section sets the tone for who you are and what you have accomplished or are looking to accomplish in your career.

  • Objective – This section type is for more junior candidates without much industry experience. This is where you clearly state your career goals and aspirations. This is usually the best method for a candidate who is new to the industry and has little or no experience and is seeking employment for the first time and establishing themselves. Ensure that it is clear, concise, tailored to the job, highlights skills and value, motivational, professional, and avoids generic terms.

  • Professional Summary – This section is for a more senior candidate, where they can list accomplishments. Summarize who you are and how your experience aligns with the new job. This is for the candidate who is more seasoned and can provide insight into their professional experience. Make sure it is concise, relevant, and includes key qualifications.

After the introduction summary, there are two distinct types of resumes that are standard to choose from: Skills and Accomplishments based, and Functional Skills / Expertise based.

Skills and Accomplishments Resume

This resume style is the preferred style among hiring managers. This format prioritizes accomplishments and skills followed by work history.

  • Summary of Skills

  • This is a quick summary of skills at the top of the resume under the Professional Summary section. This is a great place to put keywords / broad concepts that summarize what you have expertise in. Remember the recruiter's ATS.

  • Aim for 6-18 skills and use three columns for an aesthetically pleasing layout.

  • Use keywords relevant to the position.

  • Tailor your skills on your resume to match the job you are applying for.

  • Avoid using company or industry jargon; opt for more generic terms, especially when referring to software.

  • Accomplishments

  • List the accomplishments that you have achieved at each of the companies you have worked for.

  • Accomplishments should feature brief, specific, and generic bullets that leave hiring managers curious about the story behind the achievements.

  • Highlight the most significant accomplishments related to the job.

  • Be specific with metrics and quantifiable data and limit it to 2-8 brief bullets at the top of your resume.

  • Steer clear of starting sentences with "Responsible for"; focus on actions and results to showcase your impact.

Functional Skills / Expertise Resume

  • Uses brief bullets for several skills or responsibilities in categories of roles instead of positions at companies, such as Administrative, Customer Service, and Problem Solving.

  • Lacks specific details about where the work or accomplishment was achieved.

Remember, a resume is not a one-size-fits-all document. Customize it for each job application, emphasizing what you can offer the specific employer. Tailoring your resume to align with the company's needs and the job description will greatly increase your chances of landing that interview.

Watch Linda Brubaker, Ph.D.'s presentation here for more in-depth insights into resume best practices.

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