Top 20 Resume Writing Tips

resume writing

The Internet is filled with tips and tricks on how to create a winning resume. Some articles explain what sort of language to use; others offer advice on what information to include and what to leave out. And along with each article come numerous samples of resumes, from simple and straightforward to ornamented and outlandish. Sometimes, the sheer amount of information available about resume writing can feel overwhelming. Here we offer a concise, effective list of the best tips for writing an interview-winning resume.

  1. Don’t assume a chronological format is your only option. While listing your job history sequentially is common, it may not be the best format for every job hunter. You might have taken a break from the labor force for any number of reasons: retirement, college education, kids, or just an inability to find work. Maybe you tried your hand at an entrepreneurial venture! When you decide to go back to work, there will be a gap in your years a part of the workforce, so a chronological resume may not be the best choice.
  1. Don’t underestimate yourself. Everybody has something to offer, you just have to find that special something within yourself. Focus on the skills that you possess and which you think are needed at the company where you’re applying.
  1. Highlight the areas that deserve the spotlight. Once you’ve identified your strongest skills, decide which of these you want to highlight in your resume. If you’re applying for a job in marketing, for example, you will want to emphasize your communication skills.
  1. Anticipate future accomplishments. If you are pursuing a Bachelor’s degree or any other form of higher education but haven’t yet finished your program, include the expected completion date in your resume. For example, “Spring 2015 – Doctor of Philosophy in Medieval Trebuchet Building, Yale University (anticipated).”
  1. Write about achievements, not tasks. A common mistake job hunters make is listing their job responsibilities or tasks, not their accomplishments. As a cashier, for example, instead of writing, “Took payments from customers,” this task could be reworded as, “Coordinated 45 transactions per day,” or, “Balanced money drawer at end of shift.” These sound more interesting, right?
  1. Check for errors. Twice. Proofreading is a must before submitting your resume. Check your grammar, tense, margins, font, and spelling. Ask a friend or colleague who knows how to proofread to check and edit your resume. Since recruiters go through hundreds of resumes on a daily basis, a typo or error will likely send send your application straight into the trash bin.
  1. State your objective. How will the company know which position you’re applying for if you don’t include an objective? The objective lets them know which job opening or department you’re interested in. Don’t expect the manager look for the right job for you; they don’t have time for that. For example, if you want an Administrative Assistant job, you could write, “Seeking a support position requiring excellent business management skills in an office environment.
  1. Look at all of your experiences, both inside and outside the workplace. First-time job seekers always think they have no experience worth referencing. However, your experiences at school—whether from sports, theatre, club, church, or volunteer work—might be translatable to real work experience.
  1. Create your own experiences. If you really cannot think of a school or work experience that might translate directly to work experience, create your own. Consider organizing a fund raising event for a local charity, arranging a rummage sale, tutoring at a local school . . . your opportunities are endless. You just have to be creative.
  1. Tailor-fit your resume. Hiring managers are trained to identify whether a resume was created especially for a particular job opening or not; generic resumes end up in the trash. Omit irrelevant jobs from your resume so that it only showcases your experiences which are significant to the position you’re applying for.
  1. Know the company. Take time to research the company. Pick some terms, acronyms, or topics from the company’s website and use them in your resume. This gives the impression that you’re really interested in the company and in the job. Spending 8-10 minutes learning about the company is nothing compared to the years you might spend with them if you’re able to win the job.
  1. Include keywords. Since online applications are favored now, include keywords related to the job so that your resume stands out. Identify the right terms in the industry where you’re applying and include enough keywords to help hiring managers find you faster than your competition.
  1. Know the difference between a resume and a CV. A resume is typically 2 pages long and shows relevant education, work experiences, skills, and achievements. It is typically sent with a cover letter. Alternatively, a CV is usually used for academic and research pursuits. It lists detailed descriptions of every position, a list of publications and presentations, education, honors, and skills. A CV is typically at least 3 pages long, oftentimes longer.
  1. Intrigue the recruiter by leaving some mystery. A winning resume gets you an interview, but it doesn’t necessarily land you the job. Although this may sound as though it contradicts the other tips listed so far, don’t put everything in your resume. Instead, leave enough mystery so the employer will actually want to meet you and learn more about you.
  1. Exclude any signs that you’re elderly. If you are a veteran professional, you may hesitate to include all of your work experiences on your resume, since that will reveal your age and enable recruiters to discriminate you in favor of younger applicants. It is perfectly acceptable to use only your last 15-20 years of work experience, omit your birth date, and instead include the year of licensure, if relevant.
  1. Be proactive. After sending in your resume, wait 2-3 weeks before contacting the company. Ask about any updates or feedback about your application. There’s no need to sit idly and wait in agony for a response.
  1. Add your personality on paper. Showing your personality in your resume is great for getting noticed, although you should make sure to avoid any controversial topics. Add your hobbies or interests if it will be advantageous to your application. For example, if you’re a marathon runner, including that hobby would be very relevant if you’re applying to work at a sports footwear company.
  1. Be simple and to the point. Employers have no time to read everything that’s written in every resume on their desk. They’ll only skim the resumes, so make sure your resume can get their attention by being concise, clean, and clear.
  1. Avoid cliché phrases. Don’t clutter up your resume with filler words and phrases such as “duties,” “experienced,” “results-driven,” or “written communication skills.” Instead, give solid evidence of your traits, achievements, and skills.
  1. Enhance your resume with social media. Include your Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts on your resume. This will make it easier for the recruiters to look you up before deciding to schedule you for an interview. Include a professional profile photograph so the employer can easily associate you with your credentials.