Dear Sam: I am getting conflicting advice on writing a professional resume, which leads me to write to you. Can I use ampersand signs to save room? Can I abbreviate words to free up space? Must I spell out numbers? You also mentioned not putting your career objective on the resume; I heard differently. You mentioned leaving your address off of the resume; I heard differently, and why is that? Can I use bullet points? You mentioned putting your skills and experience on the top of the resume; I have always put it on the bottom? Since I have such an extensive background, is it okay to have a two-page resume? Should references also be kept off of a resume? – Dawn
Dear Dawn: All great questions, and I thought it would be fun to answer some rapid-fire questions for a change! Here goes…
1. You can use the ampersand symbol in headlines but not in body copy.
2. I would not abbreviate words—unless it is a common acronym—as that may reduce your keyword relevance.
3. The general rule is to write out numbers between 0 and 9 and use numerical digits for 10 and above. If you have a sentence with a 4 and a 12 in it, you will use numerical digits for all. I sometimes break the rule in the resume world as numbers tend to jump off the page, so as long as you are consistent in your approach, you could present all as digits if you prefer.
4. Objective statements are archaic and have been replaced for 10+ years with qualifications summaries. Unfortunately, the old advice is still floating around!
5. Leaving off your address is an emerging practice. It stems from an awareness that it is unlikely to receive mail in a job search before you had phone or email contact, and because we are increasingly transient, meaning where we live does not dictate where we would work. Some also omit this information for privacy reasons. Presenting or omitting your address on your resume is certainly not going to make or break your candidacy. I often remove the physical address but leave the city and state for clarity.
6. Skills are critical, so you would want them to be seen during the screening process and on the most important real estate of your resume: the top one-third of page one.
7. You should have a two-page resume! One page would present a disconnect between your experience and the value you were able to contribute.
8. References do not go on a resume; they are presented at an interview.
Hope that helps clear up a few things for you!