The New Résumé Rules

Photographed by Nina Westervelt.
If you think résumé rules are as nebulous and confusing as office appropriate attire, that's because they are. Like knowing the "right" thing to wear to work, the "right" résumé is unique to the job candidate, the industry, and the office environment. No two jobs are exactly alike, and the way you sell yourself on paper should vary from one job application to the next.

But, that doesn't mean there aren't a few universals that can apply in nearly every situation. Ahead, career industry experts share the dos, do-nots, and why-nots of creating a résumé that'll get you through the human resources robot filter, help you stand out, and just maybe get you the gig. Ready to land your dream job? Read on...      
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Illustrated by Jasmin Valcourt.
Yes, you likely sent an electronic copy of your résumé and have all the info on LinkedIn, but paper still matters when it comes to the in-person interview. "Printing it out shows that you've made an effort, and it also makes it easier for you to physically point out and highlight certain accomplishments in a way that wouldn't be possible if it were simply the hiring manager looking at the résumé on screen," says Dana Leavy-Detrick, founder of Brooklyn Résumé Studio, a career and résumé consultancy.
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Illustrated by Jasmin Valcourt.
If you're applying for a job in a creative field, a black and white résumé in 12-point font won't stand out, warns Joseph Terach, a career counselor at Instead, think of incorporating charts, graphs, and other visuals to highlight your best work. Grown revenue by 20% every year? A chart can highlight that information far more impressively than a sentence can. A Google or Pinterest search of "infographic résumés" can bring up examples across industries.

Another advantage of a highly visual résumé: You can convey information in less space than it might take to write it out. You've likely heard that you shouldn't have a résumé longer than a page, and that wisdom is right — especially if you've been working for less than a decade.
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Illustrated by Jasmin Valcourt.
It used to be that jobseekers were terrified to have any gaps in their employment history. Nowadays, due to the economy and the rise of freelance and short-term contract assignments, a gap of a few months or a year won't raise eyebrows. "Your cover letter is a chance to more fully explain your employment history," says Terach, adding that it's better to leave a short-term assignment that doesn't relate to your field off the résumé entirely.

"You can always explain if asked, but having a variety of gigs in unrelated industries can make you seem scattered on paper." In other words, there's no shame in babysitting for a few months to make ends meet while you were looking for permanent gigs, but unless you're looking for a career in early childhood education, leave that off the official résumé to allow yourself space to highlight work experience that directly related to the job you want now.
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Illustrated by Jasmin Valcourt.
Your Twitter handle, your LinkedIn profile, and even your Tumblr if you blog about industry-related news are all fair game to put in the header section of your résumé, says Terach. "You're likely going to be Googled regardless, so it's good to have the information you want the hiring manager to see up front," he explains.

On that note, while you know to make sure any social media pages are appropriate and not full of #sundayfunday beer photos, also make sure they're current. No tweets since October sends the message that you may not be as on top of the game as your competition.
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Illustrated by Jasmin Valcourt.
Fact: If you're applying to jobs electronically, chances are the first "eyes" on your resume won't be human. So make sure that your resume has keywords that will sift your resume to the pile that'll actually be looked at by a human, says Leavy-Detrick. Even if you hate corporate speak, making sure the words relevant to your industry are on paper can mean the difference between netting an interview or not.

For example, if the open position is for an "Art director who can execute in Photoshop and InDesign," make sure the words art director, Photoshop, and InDesign appear somewhere in the resume text. "If you're networking, and actually getting the resume in human hands, then you can have a resume that's more creative in terms of visuals and descriptions. But, for electronic applications, the resume has to get through the filter first," says Leavy-Detrick.
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Illustrated by Jasmin Valcourt.
If you're changing industries or looking to get to the next level, it can be smart to hire a résumé coach, or even have a trusted colleague in the field look over the résumé with you. "A lot of people simply don't know how to speak to their strengths. An outside perspective can help you see and speak to skill sets you didn't even know you had," says Leavy-Detrick.

Make sure whoever you're speaking with works in your field and has experience in today's job market — i.e., even though your dad may be an ace proofreader, unless he's in your industry, avoid the parental once-over and ask a former manager, internship supervisor, or colleague for help.
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Illustrated by Jasmin Valcourt.
Newsflash: everyone likes "restaurants" and "traveling." While hobbies aren't necessary on an old-fashioned resume, LinkedIn has an "interests" section, and experts agree it's a great place to show off both your personality and your skill set.

Raised $10K running a marathon for charity? Add that information. Have a travel blog devoted to your weekend adventures that showcases your photography and writing skills? Link to it. That way, you're giving employers a holistic view of who you are — and showing that you have a skill set that works on and off the clock.
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Illustrated by Jasmin Valcourt.
Recently, more and more job seekers have created YouTube videos where they present a video résumé — a move that's especially effective in creative industries, says Dawn Siff, a media producer who created a résumé on Vine that went viral.

"It was a unique and memorable way to show off my skills, and it applied directly to the work I was doing," Siff says. Avoid gimmicks by making sure the finished product is as professional as possible — if it looks like something you made in 10 minutes in your bedroom, better to stick to print.