IRL: How To Prepare To Leave Your Job By Writing A Killer Resume & Landing An Interview


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Let’s talk resumes. It’s our own personal map of our professional careers.

It shows potential employers your career journey and where we plan to go in our respective industries. A resume is a critical component of the job hunt process. Without it you, you risk being passed up for positions that align with your goals. Avoid these pitfalls and you’ll land your dream job. Although, I don’t believe there is such thing as a dream job. Dream vacation, YES! Dream occupation, NO! But you should love and enjoy what you do for a living. When you no longer love it, it’s time for Operation GTFOH.

Here is a guide to help you avoid some of the most common resume mistakes.

Layout and Structure

Resumes contain valuable information such as your skills, experience and acumen to do a great job in a new role. Employers want to get the best return on investment when hiring and a resume is the first opportunity in the decision process. It goes without saying, it is important that a resume has a clean layout and is structured well. It should be aesthetically pleasing while prioritizing the most important information and the least important last. If a recruiter only has five sections to review a resume you want to make sure the vital items are first.


The header of the resume is the money shot in my opinion. While it is just your name and contact information, I feel that this space sets the tone for the rest of the resume. Start with a font that’s easy to read, professional and fresh (not Comic Sans or Times New Roman). Start with your name on a separate line, in bold and a few points larger than the rest of the text. For example, if your resume is mostly written in 11-point font, aim to list your name in 14-point font. Next, on a separate line list, your contact information OR you have the option of adding that information in a footer. You can also use icons next to the email, phone, address and LinkedIn account. It’s a personal preference.

It’s vital that you use an email account such as Gmail, that’s professional. An example would be your first and last name Using other email providers like AOL, Yahoo, Hotmail or even Edu could potentially provide bread crumbs for an implicit bias based on age.


The profile section of your resume can be transformational and take you from being a potential candidate to an actual person people would want on their team. Think of this section as your well-written elevator pitch. It’s 3-5 sentences that sum up some of your skills as well as the position you are looking to land. It’s different from an objective in that it isn’t transactional.

Most objective sections begin with the word “To…” and jumps right into what you are looking to gain; not the benefit to the company. The profile section sells who you are to the employer by showcasing the talents and hard skills you currently possess that will lend itself well to a new more challenging role. In this section, you can also bullet list areas of expertise, just make sure you list complementary skills or proficiencies relevant to new positions.


The education section of the resume shows employers your scholastic career. In this section list colleges or universities that you attended and completed a degree. You can list the type of degrees such as doctorate, masters, bachelors or associates degree. Make sure you know the difference between a bachelor of art and bachelor of science. If you don’t have a formal degree (congratulations, you have no student loan debt) but you have a certificate in a particular industry list it in this section. If you are currently working to obtain a degree that has not yet been conferred you can still add the school and degree with an anticipated completion date.

If you are a recent graduate list your overall GPA if you have a 3.0 or better. There’s no need to list the GPA for your particular major. Also, don’t list your GPA if Beyoncé was the lead singer of Destiny Child around the time that you graduated. It is obsolete at this point in time PLUS you have gained so much more knowledge and expertise that you’ll later list on your resume.


If you have space, you can list your areas of expertise that aren’t necessarily hard skills needed for the job but soft skills that align well with the job description. For example, stating that you are a strong writer, a problem solver, strategic thinker or excellent communicator shows that you have a diversity of leadership skills. If you list them as bullet points you can elaborate on them in your cover letter or during the interview process.

Professional Experience

This section is vitally significant because it provides the information that applicant tracking systems utilize to determine if you’re a viable candidate worthy of an interview. This software typically scans resumes to pick up keywords relevant to the job description and past experiences so its important to infuse those keywords throughout this portion. When listing your experiences start in reverse chronological order—meaning your most current role is listed first. Provide the last ten to fifteen years of experience; highlighting the most noteworthy occurrences. Stick to three to five bullets per role. Make sure you use power words and provide quantifiable metrics. For example, if you increased revenue by 10% each year over the last five years and that amount happens to be an additional $101,000 over the course of five years then list it as “increased revenue by over $100,000 within five years.” This is the section where you’ll want to brag!

Awards & Achievement

We all know that as adults its significantly harder to earn awards and other merits like when we were children. I wish there was a participation trophy for showing up to work—although I’m not sure I would receive that one either. With that being said, if you’ve earned an accolade list it in this section. Awards can be from credible sources in your industry, your employer or even from your department. Awards like “Top Seller of the Year,” or “Volunteer of the Year” speaks to your hard work and dedication beyond your role. It is a selling point for a potential employer and can help yogurt top dollar when negotiating salary.

Summary of Qualifications

Think of the summary of the qualification section as the segment you would write if you were only allotted four bullets to condense the last 15 years of your career. This section is optional or can be used interchangeably with the Expertise section. In this area, bullet list qualifications as it relates to the industry. This is a space to list your proficiency in software systems that are used by your particular industry; not Microsoft word. If you work in media, this is the section where you would list your noteworthy ability to create and launch successful communications plans or the like. This is also another place to add those keywords.

Additional Experience

If you have the allotted space you can add other relevant experiences beyond your 9 to 5. This can include part-time jobs, side businesses, volunteerism, speaking at conferences, training you’ve hosted, published works, etc. It’s a placeholder that shows you are a well-rounded person.

Other things to check for…

  • Length matters, try not to exceed two full pages.

  • Tense of words. Only your most current job should be written in the present tense, everything else should be in the past tense.

  • Make sure that if you opt to use periods at the end of your bullets that it’s consistent throughout.

  • Add links to emails, websites and social sites like LinkedIn.

  • Avoid adding a picture to your resume. However, make sure your LinkedIn profile picture is a professional headshot.

  • Spellcheck your resume and also proofread for typos. Regular spellcheck will not pick up “business causal” when you meant “business causal”.

  • Look for grammatical errors and misused homophones like “affect or effect.”

  • Ask someone you trust to review it before you submit it.

Pro tip: provides a free resume review service. Just log on to the website to upload your resume and they’ll provide you feedback in 3 days.

Download your copy of resume power words!

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Ar’Sheill Monsanto

Love + Light