Resume Dos and Don'ts to Stand Out in 2022

Brandi Glass
4 min read
Use these resume dos and don’ts to beat the ATS machine readers, impress recruiters and increase your chances of being invited to job interviews.

Recruiters receive thousands of resumes, which means standing out from other applicants isn’t easy. With these 10 resumes dos and don’ts, however, you’ll find it easier to capture a recruiter’s attention and get invited to a job interview.

Do Use Keywords from the Job Listing

Only one in four resumes is ever seen by a human. The other 75%? They’re automatically filtered out by an applicant tracking system (ATS). This is a program that scans resumes for specific phrases and discards any files that don’t have them.

To beat the ATS, you should include keywords from the job listing. Try to use the exact phrasing at least once. For example, if the job listing asks for “customer service skills,” don’t refer to “client service skills” or being a “customer-oriented professional” instead.

Don’t Rely on Buzzwords

Even though you should include keywords, you don’t want your resume to become a long list of buzzwords. You might make it through to the recruiter’s desk, but you’re unlikely to be shortlisted by them.

Make sure all the keywords and phrases you use are accurate, meaningful and backed up with evidence or metrics. In other words, don’t say: “Excellent customer service skills based on reducing customer effort via active listening.”

Do, however, say: “Excellent customer service skills: Maintained a 93% positive customer service satisfaction rate over the last six months, with 99% of clients agreeing that ‘this agent actively listened to me.’”

Do Keep It Concise

On average, recruiters spend just 7.4 seconds looking at a resume. You’ve probably spent longer than that reading this paragraph.

In other words, the time it takes to read your resume matters. Keep it concise by cutting out as much irrelevant information as possible. Ideally, your resume will be less than a page long and contain the most important information at the start, either in a professional statement or a skills section (more on that to come!).

Don’t Forget a Cover Letter

Writing a cover letter isn’t easy: you need to customize it for each job and capture the recipient’s attention from the first line. What’s more, many recruiters don’t even read cover letters. So, do you really need to write one?

Yes. Because even though many recruiters don’t read cover letters, most hiring managers do.

A good cover letter can support your resume or resolve unanswered questions about your resume. Take the time to craft one that shows why you want this role and what makes the ideal candidate.

Do Include a Skills Section

Adding a skills section to the start of your resume allows you to highlight your strong points. It’s a particularly good idea if you have applicable skills that aren’t evident from your recent work history, but all job applicants will benefit from adding this section. Plus, it’s also an easy way to include keywords from the job listing.

You can read more about the sections you should include in our blog post on how to build a resume.

Don’t Include References (or Hobbies, or Your GPA)

Space is precious. You’ve got a lot of information to include in just one A4 sheet of paper, so don’t waste words on things that don’t matter to recruiters or hiring managers. Recruiters know that they can ask you for your references if they decide to move forward with the application, so there’s no need to state “References available upon request.”

As for your hobbies, if they’re relevant to the role in question, you’re best off mentioning them under the skills section. E.g. “Social media skills: YouTube vlogger with 20,000 followers.” Otherwise, leave them off.

Your GPA, meanwhile, is only worth including it’s higher than 3.5 and you graduated recently.

Do Customize Your Resume for Each Job

Every hiring manager has a different idea of the ideal candidate, so it’s important to adapt your resume to match. Pay attention to the keywords in the job listing as well as the finer details of the role and the brand. It might take you a little more time, but it will also significantly increase your likelihood of getting invited to interview.

Don’t Forget to Proofread — And Check the Font, Too!

Claiming a “metclous attention to detali” will convince recruiters that, no, you really aren’t as detail-oriented as you would like them to believe. Typos won’t always get your resume discarded (unless they’re in an important keyword that the ATS is scanning for), but why take the chance? Do a quick proofread for typos before clicking “Apply.”

Double-check your font, too. If you’ve copied and pasted text, or edited a document multiple times, you may have inconsistent formatting. Make sure your resume is written in a conservative and easy-to-read font like Arial or Times New Roman, that everything except for headers is size 12 and that formatting is the same across the entire document.

Do Send Your Resume as DOCX File

Here’s another tip to help your resume get past the ATS: send your resume as a DOCX file. This is the same as a Microsoft Word file. While more and more ATS are capable of reading PDF files, DOCX is still a safer option — and you should steer clear of less common file formats, such as INDD or PAGES.

Don’t Use a Document Header or Footer

While we’re on the topic of ATS, don’t make the mistake of putting information in the header or footer. Many ATS can’t read those sections of the document, meaning anything written there is lost. If you’ve written your email address or phone number there, you won’t be hearing back from the recruiter — no matter how good your resume is.

Of course, this is different from using subheaders or Heading 1 formatting. Subheadings are a great way to organize your resume, regardless of whether it’s a computer program or a human reading it.

Write Your Resume in Minutes

There’s a lot to consider when creating your resume, but the process doesn’t have to be time-consuming.

Our resume builder will make crafting your resume quick and simple. It will suggest the best structure and layout based on your experience and qualifications. You’ll be able to choose the style you prefer, too, from classic to elegant.

The resume builder will also provide recruiter-approved phrasing that will help you catch a hiring manager’s attention. All our resume templates are ATS machine-readable as well.

It takes just 10 minutes to custom-tailor one of our resume templates to your professional background, skills and goals, so get started now.