It’s always a challenge to start something new. Whether you’re learning a new skill, starting a new diet, or even driving a new car, it’s guaranteed to be a struggle at first.
The same things can be said about creating a new resume. It’s something we all have to do at some point. However, things can get pretty tricky when you haven’t created a new resume in years.
While everyone faces unique problems when creating a new resume, there are some common issues people tend to struggle with.
Here are five common struggles people have when creating a new resume.
What do I put on my resume?
This one might be one of the hardest to figure out. What you put on a resume matters a lot, and it tends to be the first impression you get to make with a potential employer.
As a starting point, most people will usually put their education, work experience, and skills. As to how detailed you have to be, it’s up to you. Some people will focus heavily on the skill section, and others may want to dive more into their work experience.
A guideline to follow is to include what you feel is necessary to land the job. When you look at a job posting, it helps to look at what it’s asking from a potential new hire and work off that. If you see a job listing mention someone needed with exceptional Excel skills, mention that in great detail in the skill section. If a position asks for someone with five years of job experience, include enough past jobs to match five years.
How should it look?
This one is pretty tricky. There’s not really a uniform way all resumes should look. It’s more-or-less up to you to decide what looks appropriate.
There are some general rules to follow, such as leaving some white space and not have everything look cluttered. You should also stick to black font color and use clear headers.
It’s worth doing some research to see how a typical resume looks in the industry your applying for. Online resume templates can help with creating resumes that speak to specific career fields and skill levels.
How far back should my work experience go?
It’s hard to figure out how far back you want to go with your job history. It’s tempting to want to include your entire job history, but realistically, you should stick to your most recent jobs.
If you are younger and don’t have much work experience, this isn’t as big a problem, but the older you get, the more job experience you accumulate. You might have some older jobs in a different career field that would help you land a new job, but they could be three or four jobs back.
In a lot of cases, it depends. The general rule is to put your most recent position, followed by one to three recent jobs. If you feel a much older job is relevant, you are free to put it on your resume. There’s also the hope you would be able to land an interview and explain to a potential employer about certain jobs you may not have mentioned on your resume but are relevant.
How long should it be?
The length of a resume gets debated a lot. Most people say one to two pages is acceptable, but others say a resume should be no longer than a page.
Like many of these struggles, it really depends on your situation. For example, if you’re applying for a job that requires you to go into great detail about your job history, you would probably submit a resume with two pages. If it’s an entry-level job, you should stick to one page.
A guideline to follow is to make your resume as concise as you can. Put a strong focus on the skills, awards, and experiences you feel will help you land the job and remove anything you think doesn’t add much value.
How do I explain gaps?
A gap in a resume isn’t the end of the world, but it can be a deal-breaker to a hiring manager when left unexplained.
It can be hard to explain a gap within a resume, especially if it’s a long one. You may have a gap because you were laid off and have been struggling to find a new job. It’s also possible you may have taken some time off to raise newborns.
If you’re upfront and can explain the gaps, it shouldn’t be too much of a problem. The more honest you can be, the better. The issues arise when you can’t or don’t explain gaps, especially if it’s a long one. You need to add some type of explanation to justify the gap.
Creating a new resume can be pretty stressful. There’s no set-in-stone rulebook to follow, and it’s up to you to figure out what works.
Your best approach is to be flexible and adaptable. Follow general guidelines people recommend and make necessary changes to land the job your after.
Rachael is a content writer at resumecats.com, who has written on a Ultimate Resume Guide, from colored diamonds to SEO software. In her spare time, she enjoys singing, sketching, cooking, and video games.