3 Dos and Don’ts for Resume Writing in 2020 and Beyond

As Giving Tree’s Executive Search practice has grown, so has the number of applicants we receive for each role. This is great news! We are so excited that so many of you are following our jobs boards and want to work with us on finding your next awesome opportunity. 

As part of Giving Tree’s search team, I spend many hours a day sifting through resumes to find our rockstar candidates. Since starting work on Search in 2016, I’ve noticed a change in the way resumes catch my attention, and in this post, I want to share with you 3 Dos and Don’ts for your resumes in 2020 and beyond. Combine this article with Amy’s blog post from 2018, and you will certainly get through the screening process. 

Top 3 Dos and Don’ts for your 2020 Resume

Number 1:

Don’t list out your responsibilities

Do quantify your impact 

One of the biggest mistakes that job seekers make is to simply list out their job responsibilities on their resume. These passive resumes are OVER – we are now looking for active, or high score, resumes. Think about it this way, recruiters and hiring managers already know what is involved in job roles. We wrote the job description, after all.

So instead of telling us what you did in your role, tell us what you accomplished in each area of responsibility within your role to make an impact.

For example, if you are an events manager, I already know that you are going to be responsible for managing the organization’s events. I also know what is involved in planning an event. What I really want to know is: 

  • Were you any good at doing what you were tasked to do? 
  • What have you done to reduce costs and/or increase funds raised?   
  • How have you increased attendance at the event?

The list goes on…

Show me, don’t tell me, why you are awesome. A good way of checking you are doing so is to ensure each bullet point has a success verb and a number. Check out our freebie for some success verbs to get you started.

Number 2:

Don’t disregard social media

Do maximize the use of social platforms 

In the 2010s we saw social media launch, flourish and boom. Social media is now, in 2020, so much a part of my work life that before even opening an applicant’s resume, I have looked them up on LinkedIn. I cross check LinkedIn with the resume to make sure the person is telling the truth. I look for endorsements from colleagues, extracurricular interests, and articles posted and engaged with. I use LinkedIn in conjunction with the resume and cover letter to decide if I interview the candidate. Make sure your LinkedIn and resume align – think about dates, job titles, and responsibilities. Have a professional profile picture. Ask for some endorsements. Update your key skills.

And, for better or worse, it doesn’t stop at LinkedIn. Be prepared for recruiters and hiring managers to look you up on Facebook, Instagram, and even Google you! If you are going through a job search, either make these more social/less business accounts private, or ensure that you are projecting a professional image of yourself at all times on all platforms. Everything you do online has a footprint, make sure yours presents the best you, at all times. 

Number 3:

Don’t make assumptions that we know everything

Do make things as easy as possible for the reader 

I have a couple of points to make here. 

  1. There will be at least three (if not more) people who read your resume. Not all of those will actually know about your industry. One of these might even be an applicant tracking software (ATS) or a robot! It’s important to avoid jargon, acronyms, and abbreviations as much as possible.
  2. I have recently started seeing resumes with a subheading under the company name which briefly explains what the company does. I can’t recommend this enough! It saves me a task in searching for the company if I have not heard of it, and it shows that you want to make life as easy as possible for me. (Thanks for that!)
  3. Finally I want to talk about gaps on your resume. We’ve all had them, don’t worry about it. What I’d like to know is: what did you do during the gap? Maybe you took time off to raise your family, maybe you traveled, maybe you left a job and it simply took you awhile to get a new one. Life happens and that’s okay, but I always appreciate when people include a bit more information about those times. 

Here are some examples of ‘filler lines’ for the examples I shared:

  • Stay-at-home parent, for a family of four, energized to return to work. 2011- 2020
  • Fortunate to travel to 13 countries before returning to focus on professional career. 2015 – 2020
  • Returning to work after a period of personal exploration and growth. 2018 – 2020

Bottom line, recruiters may read 100+ resumes in a day, so we get pretty good at skimming. Make it easy for us and you’ll reap the benefits.  

If you’re thinking about sprucing up your resume and LinkedIn for 2020, whether embarking on a job search or just to get things up-to-date, Giving Tree is here to help. Contact Jamie Perry, at to learn more about how we can be your partner.