Help! Are There Any Guidelines for Writing Resumes?

February 17, 2017


Important Elements of a Resume 
Tips to help you to be successful


Over the past ten years, I have seen resume formats change due to technology and the needs of hiring managers. Having an outdated resume will be ineffective in helping you land an interview. If you don’t have enough information based on the needs of the hiring manager or you have bogged down your resume with irrelevant information, the chances of getting an interview will be decreased.

In order to create interest, your resume must immediately convey your ability to do the target job and show your unique value proposition to a prospective employer. It needs to clearly communicate your capabilities to deliver the job requirements, and demonstrate accomplishments that jump off the page.


                     Where do you find this information?

In the Job Posting!


Let's Review a Few Sections of the Resume


Objective Statements are no longer used.These are vague statements that do not add value to a resume or show the value you can bring to company as a new employee. If your resume contains an objective statement, it is a good sign you need an update. Almost all objective statements contain phrases such as

“I want to bring my skills to a good company and grow my skills to become a greater asset. I also want to continue my professional development to continue to enhance my skills.” 

Everyone writes some version of this and it doesn’t mean anything to the employer because it doesn't address his needs, it addresses what you want.


Professional Profiles have replaced objective statements and tells a prospective employer your value proposition based on their needs. It includes your areas of expertise and experience, giving the hiring manager a good snapshot of your skills and unique abilities. Try to hold this paragraph to five or six lines deep, as longer paragraphs tend to lose the attention of a busy hiring manager.


Below is a Professional Profile for a Pharmaceutical Expert


Accomplished Pharmaceutical Expert with 2 decades of extensive experience in challenging environments, delivering comprehensive solutions to physicians and patients reflecting optimal payor guidelines while reducing costs. Outstanding team player who focuses on benefits and information sharing to benefit staff, clients, and patients. Understands the needs of large employer groups and health plans, and works to establish programs working on both a corporate and personal level. 


What is “tweaking?” This is a technique that is crucial to your job search. Each position you apply for needs to have the exact title of the position at the top of your resume. The job posting becomes your best friend and helps you to choose the correct title and keywords for use in your resume. It is perfectly fine to use the same verbiage from the job posting, as this is what most employers will have set up in their ATS databases.


You will also want to use a technique we refer to as “keyword scatter.” Once you have identified the most important keywords from the job posting, these should be listed throughout the resume in a contextualized format to show the potential employer where you used the skills listed. This also increases search engine optimization and increases your success of being pulled from an employer’s ATS database!


Let's Talk About Resumes and Applicant Tracking Systems


As we have all come to realize, the world is ever changing and many things that were once considered hard fast rules no longer fit in today’s world. Technology continually changes, and it becomes increasingly important to keep up with the changes that affect resume writing and job searching. Large and small companies and recruiters use some type of Applicant Tracking Systems to screen resumes they receive electronically.


When you apply online through a job board or a company website, you have an 80% chance of going through and ATS database. Hiring managers use Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) databases to parse and score resumes finding those that match up with the most keywords, skills, and qualifications they need in each particular job. This makes the job posting very important as it is your guide to showing the hiring manager how you have used each skill he has asked for in the posting. This is why generic resumes do not work.

To meet the challenges of ATS systems, resumes need to be crafted using key words and accomplishment statements addressing the needs of the employer. Generic resumes are not effective and the days of sending your resume to an employer with the hope of having them find a job within the company where you will fit no longer exists. They simply do not have the time to read the stacks of resumes received for every job posted.


There are other items ATS' do not like and I would encourage you not to take a chance and have your resume end up in a black hole. There are currently 193 ATS' on the market and many of these are older systems and cannot do what the newer systems can. The problem with this is that you don't know which company has what type of system, so I suggest writing carefully to meet the needs of all.

Items to keep in mind:


  • Tables, graphs, and charts: Not all ATS' can penetrate these and if you are going to use one, make sure you have the data locate somewhere outside of the  table for the ATS to pick up.

  • San serif fonts are the safest for ATS.


Use caution when using the following:


  • Keyword stuffing with words out of context.

  • Keywords that are misleading (listing "Bachelor of Science Coursework" when the candidate does not have the degree).

  • Charts or graphics without the key information repeated in the text.

Not worth the risk:

Likely to inhibit scoring of resume in system


  • Text boxes (nothing in them will be read in many systems.

  • PDF documents (Not readable/scored in many systems)

  • Spaces between letter to "expand" text (ATS sees each letter as a separate word).

  • Word Templates (underlying code seen as spyware or virus); if you don't if the client's old resume uses one, start from a blank document.

  • Word document saved in the newest file type (.docx).


Yes, you will need to " tweak" your resume for each job you apply for to make sure you are hitting the keywords and showing the hiring manager you can meet the skills and qualifications he is asking for.


Resume Length



How many pages should your resume be? One? Two? I'm sure you've heard resumes can only be one or two pages and this is simply not true. A resume should be as long as need to relay the relevant information needed to match up to the job posting. Also, the more experience you have and the technical your job is, the longer the resume will be.

That said, keep your paragraphs short (no longer than five lines deep) and your bullets short and concise (no longer than two lines deep). Your bullets should be accomplishment based and not a list of responsibilities. Also, do not add hobbies, interests, religion, or politics. Hiring managers are simply not interested in this information. Also, do not include your reference on your resume. The employers does not need these until you are being considered for the position.

When I write resumes for people with a lot of experience, I try not to go back more than 18 years if the information in those earlier years are relevant. Technology and other processes have change so much, that employers don't put much weight on these jobs. You can use a general rule of thumb of 1 page for every 10 years of experience. 

I hope this information helps with some of the questions many people have. Feel free to contact me at
LisaJones@SpecializedResumeServices if you have any questions that I didn't cover. Happy to help!!





Resume Writing Academy (2016) Formatting Applicant Tracking System (ATS)              Resumes, pg. 3.










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