Answers to the 7 Most Common Resume Questions
Your resume is the first point of contact employers have to understand who you are, what you’re interested in, and what you have (or have not) accomplished. That’s a lot to convey on a single piece of paper.
How do you know what details to include and what to leave out? Where do you include skills that make you successful at your job like organization and direct communication? What does a great resume really look like?
I have 8 years of professional experience—is it still appropriate to include internships that aren't specifically related to the job I'm applying to?
Probably not. With 8 years of experience, you should have plenty of more useful details to include. If you’re actively applying, always tailor your resume to a specific job description. Edit and/or reorder your experience bullet points to surface the most important information.
For example, if scheduling is a big component of the role, move all mentions of scheduling in your resume to the forefront and use that action verb!
I do a number of tasks for my current job that do not all relate to my title. What is the best way to highlight these tasks that may relate to a job I am applying for when my title doesn't necessarily reflect those tasks (besides a cover letter)?
Rarely do job titles convey the breadth and depth of what you really do—that’s what the descriptions under your job title are for! Don’t be shy when including specifics of your day-to-day—you know better than anyone what your job really looks like.
Even if you have a title like “Office Manager,” but you take care of, say, tracking the company’s financials, definitely include those experiences. The person reading your resume will see the variance of responsibilities and (should) be impressed with all the aspects of your work.
Is it okay to only list my GPA from graduate school and not my undergrad scores?
Leaving this detail out should be fine, but it could look like an error. Since you list your undergraduate and graduate information in the same area on your resume, it may seem odd to have one GPA and not the other. In fact, you may accidentally bring attention to the missing GPA. Play with the formatting of this information, but you’ll probably find that you should either include both GPAs or neither.
How many pages should my resume be?
There is no set rule on how many pages your resume should be. However, you should strive to keep it to one page. You may find that as you gain experience, the details of your past work feel important and will benefit your chances of landing the job you want if you include them—and that may result in a 2-page resume.
To try to keep it to one page, take cues from the job description of the role you’re applying to and try to match up your experience bullet points with the list of responsibilities. See what your resume looks like when you edit out the components that aren’t necessarily relevant. You may find that taking out experience from years ago makes your resume more concise and stronger.
Are there any descriptive words that are overused and should be avoided? Is there anything I should use instead to make my resume stand out?
The best way to make your resume stand out is by using strong action verbs and writing for the job you’re applying to. This means you should use details like quantitative information and avoid generalities.
Here is an example of a vague experience bullet point, followed by a detailed, strong example:
- Responsible for catering and team meals
- Order, manage, and schedule all client catering, company off-sites, and weekly team meals for 50 employees
How (if at all) do you address a gap in your job history on your resume (e.g. taking time away for family)?
Treat your resume solely as the depiction of your professional experience. Gaps in job history happen and if your resume is written well and relates to the job you’re applying for, that time period won’t matter. If you feel strongly about addressing the gap, do so in your cover letter.
How many bullet points should you have under each position when describing your role?
What matters more than the number of bullet points is the quality of each bulleted description. Generally, though, a position that only has one or two bullet points probably isn’t worth mentioning. Or, you should dig deeper into what you accomplished to add more detail. Keep an eye on how the resume looks as a whole and edit to make sure you aren’t underselling yourself or over complicating your descriptions.
Remember: you don’t have to actively search for a job to update your current resume. In fact, editing your resume every so often can be a huge unlock in a lot of ways: it’s a track record of your accomplishments and, if you use LinkedIn, can be a tool that networks for you. You may even discover, after listing out your experiences, that you have the leverage and skills to ask for a raise or promotion. Find more inspiration and guidance in our Resume Writing and Formatting Guide!