50 Resume Writing Tips

Need help writing your resume? Our expert writers have compiled their best advice and we present it in this list of 50 resume writing tips. A mix of do’s and don’ts, it’s a great place to start if you need to write a resume that gets noticed and lands you interviews.

General Resume Tips

  1. Your resume should be able to be distilled into one sentence.
  2. Your resume is a sales document. It should be crafted to show your best skills, abilities and attributes.
  3. Use keywords liberally. Mirror the terminology from the job posting.
  4. Never lie on your resume.
  5. On the other hand, it is perfectly acceptable to omit information that doesn’t present you in your best light.
  6. It is always acceptable to leave a job off your resume.
  7. Your resume should answer the question “Why do I want to hire this person?”
  8. Your resume is written for the employer, not for you.
  9. Your resume does not exist in a vacuum. Keep in mind the person likely to be reading it as well as your competition.
  10. A resume written specifically for a job posting will always be more successful than a generic resume.
  11. A professional resume writer is like a ghost – done correctly, it should never be apparent one was used.
  12. You should always include a cover letter when submitting a resume.

Resume Formatting Tips

  1. The real visual impact comes from the content of a resume. Clean and simple is the best way to get notice.
  2. Don’t be cute. HR professionals are used to evaluating resumes in a certain way. Go along to get along.
  3. Unless you are a designer, skip the color. The content should be the focus of your resume.
  4. Avoid Times New Roman. Use Palatino Linotype or Georgia instead.
  5. Use justified text for an extra clean look.
  6. Mix narrarative prose and bullet points. A resume consisting solely of one or the other has less impact.
  7. Use horizontal lines to separate and emphasize content areas.
  8. Use as much space as needed to tell your story. A one page restriction is unnecessary.
  9. A dense resume is unattractive. Use whitespace liberally to create an open, easy to read resume.
  10. Every resume should have a headline that informs the reader of exactly what he or she will be reading.
  11. Do not put a picture on your resume. EOE conscious employers will discard it without reading it.
  12. Generally avoid italicizing. Instead, use bolding wisely.
  13. Depending on the font used, paragraphs should have line spacing between 1.15 and 1.5

Resume Structure and Layout Tips

  1. Lose the objective. It’s pointless and takes away valuable space to sell yourself to employers.
  2. Open your resume with a 4-5 sentence summary of who you are and what you can offer.
  3. A separate skills section includes valuable keywords and allows readers to see your top skills at a single glance.
  4. Unless you are a new graduate, list professional experience before education.
  5. Where space allows, treat certifications and licenses separately from education.
  6. If you must use a functional resume layout, use a hybrid functional resume.
  7. Any reference to references should be banned from your resume. It’s a given that you will furnish references upon request.
  8. Write your resume in first person, but never use the words “I”, “me”, “my”, etc.
  9. Eliminate the months from your timeline. It looks better and aids in covering any employment gaps.

Resume Content Tips

  1. Your resume needs to be a mix of tasks and accomplishments, with emphasis on accomplishments.
  2. Use action verbs instead of passive terms such as “responsible for”.
  3. A jack of all trades is truly a master of none. If possible, your resume content needs to be focused on the job to which you are applying.
  4. Proofread your resume multiple times. Have a friend or loved one proofread it to. A single typo can get your resume tossed.
  5. Use soft skills like “hard worker” or “great communication skills” sparingly. They are cliches and add little to a resume.
  6. Accomplishments fall into three categories: increased revenues, lowered costs (including productivity gains) or improved reputation.
  7. Use a professional email address. “SexyDude69@aol.com” is guaranteed to turn recruiters off.
  8. Be concise. The person reading your resume will definitely appreciate your getting to the point as quickly as possible. More is not better.
  9. Skip the humor and self-depreciation. Your resume should be all business.
  10. Take maximum credit for participation. There is no need to mention that you were part of a team that achieved results.
  11. Don’t list hobbies or other personal information on your resume.
  12. Use numbers. Numbers are concrete and convey accomplishment.
  13. It is not necessary or advisable to go back more than 10-15 years when listing employment history.
  14. Unless you’ve graduated within the last five years, avoid listing dates for your education.
  15. Only list a high school education if you have no other education to list on your resume.
  16. Do not put salary information on the resume. The exceptions are for federal resumes and job posts that specifically state submissions without salary history will not be considered.

And finally, the best tip of all: Hire a professional resume writer like Resume Express, and stop worrying about your resume!

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