Good resume examples: What good resumes look like

Throughout my career working in information technology, I've done a lot of hiring (and, unfortunately, firing). I've interviewed a ton of candidates and looked at countless resumes. Frankly, I was rarely impressed.

Fortunately for hiring managers (but bad for candidates), it's relatively easy to pick out the best resumes because there are so many bad ones. Really, really bad ones.

And with the sheer volume of resumes that most hiring managers look at, only a fraction get a second look. Remember that you won't be the only one applying for your next position. Far from it.

There are too many resumes that make you wonder if the candidate actually proof-read it at all. Or just spammed a bunch of companies instead with the same un-tailored piece of junk in the hopes that something will hit.

Over the years, I've become accustomed to the red flags that give hiring managers instant pause, and over time, we've learned to pick them out of resumes almost instantly.

Did you know that, according to Career Builder, 75% of hiring managers have caught a lie on a resume? Or that 4 in 10 managers spend less than a minute reviewing each resume they get? Yes, less than 60 seconds!

You need to set yourself apart by avoiding those red flags that will instantly send your resume into the circular repository.

Resume red flags include:

  • Typographical errors
  • Resume is much too long (or short) for the position; try not to make your resume longer than two pages or shorter than one full page
  • Gaps in employment or education
  • Lack of attention to detail (missing words, cut and paste error, etc)
  • Failure to follow directions on the application
  • Outright lies or inconsistencies

But, good resumes definitely exist.

Resumes that are tailored to the position do the best and, of course, those that are free of errors or strange omissions or gaps are most likely to get a call back.

Good resumes, first and foremost, are tailored to the position and follow any specific directions outlined in the job requisition.

In general, the best resumes include:

  • Your full name and current position
  • Personal contact information
  • A professional-sounding email address (ie: [email protected] is not professional, nor will it get you your next job)
  • Education and work history (including specific accomplishments or achievements with each
  • List of specific skills (technical, managerial, etc); for example, MS Office, Adobe Creative Suite, GMail Office Suite, etc
  • Hobbies (optional depending on the position, but this helps the hiring manager know more about YOU as a person)
  • References (or a mention that references are available upon request)

The anatomy of good resumes

The resumes that stood out at me during my career were always those that were clearly designed (tailored) specifically for the job for which we were hiring). If the job was for a project manager, the objective clearly outlined the candidate's managerial skills and accomplishments.

Your resume should include:

A cover leter

Some job requisitions require a cover letter, but even those that don't, include one. In fact, nearly 10% of hiring managers will disregard resumes outright if they don't include a cover letter. It will also help set you apart from the pack when the job req doesn't require one.

Here is an example of a cover letter from Top Resume:

Your name and contact details

Don't make it tough for the hiring manager to contact you or figure out, you know, who you are. Make this information clear and direct - usually at the very top.

Your reason for applying/objective

I always like to read objectives, even if there's a cover letter included as well. It gives me an indication of why this person is applying for the job and a general feel for where he or she is going. Remember, your objective should be tailored to the position.

Education and Work history

Naturally, you'll need to include education and work history. Place the most impactful parts higher up on the resume.

If you're just starting your career, consider putting education first because that's what will sell your resume. After a long career, your education probably isn't as important, so move that down below your work history.

Be sure to highlight any awards or graduation niceties (like graduating "Summa Cum Laude", etc) in your education history, if applicable.

Skills and Strengths

List your top skills and strengths that relate specifically to the job. For extra credit, include how confident you are about each skill (examples of this are provided below).

References

These are people who will vouch for you. If you are uncomfortable putting references directly on your resume, state that they are available upon request.

Good resume examples

Let's take a look at three different resumes examples:

Resume #1

What I like about this resume:

  • It's clear and direct (one page is good!)
  • No "creative" fonts or background coloring
  • Objective is clear and specific (small business, etc)

What I don't like about this resume:

  • No details about previous jobs (only the title, but no accomplishments)
  • No GPA for each education listing

Resume #2

What I like about this resume:

  • It is direct and easy to read
  • It uses a very basic template free of distractions
  • It includes a job description and accomplishments for each position

What I don't like about this resume:

  • Very dry; I don't learn much about this candidate as a person
  • No objective; by looking at this resume, I'd have no idea what this person actually wants to do and where they thrive

Resume #3:

What I like about this resume:

  • Minimalist design despite a lot of information
  • Objective clear and freely accessible at the very top, and the picture makes the resume much more personal
  • Feels like a data-centric personality with a slice of creativity, which gives me insight into where this person would fit best

What I don't like about this resume:

  • Typo in the resume "Projectst" (red flag!)
  • Skills are a little wishy-washing ("Active Listening", "Perseverance", etc)

Resume writing will take some practice, and the more that you interview and apply for jobs, the better you'll get at crafting the perfect resume.