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52 Resume Writing Tips

  1. Like diamond quality, resumes have four C’s. Be consistent with your formatting, style, and wording. You want to present an integrated image of yourself as an organized person.
  2. Be concise, since employers do not want to read a novel about you.
  3. Clarity counts for resumes, as well as diamonds. Be sure your resume is readable and makes perfect sense, even at a glance.
  4. Employers also need a complete resume, in order to appropriately evaluate you.
  5. Formatting

  6. Ensure that you use plain formatting in your resume to accent and highlight important parts, but do not distract from the content.
  7. Standard fonts should be used for the same reason. Stick with fonts such as Arial, Times New Roman, etc…
  8. Use a minimum number of font sizes throughout your resume. Most sources suggest using no more than 2 or 3 different sizes of the same font.
  9. No matter what font or sizes you pick, be sure nothing is too small or too large. The key in resumes is moderation, especially for formatting.
  10. Unless you are in an artistic field, do not use pictures or clip-art on your resume. Once again, this is distracting.
  11. To keep your resume from being monotonous, break up paragraphs with bullets. This also makes for quicker and easier reading.
  12. Just be sure your bullets are plain. Do not use anything like Wing Dings. Also, limit yourself to one or two types of bullets throughout.
  13. Do not fill every spot on your page with text. By using space effectively you can give your reader’s eye a break and draw attention to certain sections.
  14. Whether you use hyphens or dashes, be sure to remain consistent. Do not use a hyphen to separate one date range, then shift to a dash for the next one.
  15. Facilitate quick reading by aligning your dates and position titles in a column.
  16. Find out if your industry has an expected length for resumes, and stick with it. For example, legal resumes are widely accepted to be only one page.
  17. If your industry allows (or even encourages) more than one page resumes, be sure to use effective page headers for subsequent pages. Remind your reader who he is reading about, and also make sure pages 2+ do not get irretrievably separated from page 1.
  18. Writing

  19. Emphasize your strengths with powerful action words. Don’t be a writing wimp.
  20. Make your words jump from the page with active voice. In other words, stray from “passive” words, such as: is, was, am, do, did, etc…
  21. Tailor your resume to the specific employer to whom you are applying.
  22. Likewise, tailor it to the position you seek.
  23. As part of your tailoring process, find out the industry key words and use them in your text.
  24. Be careful with abbreviations; in fact, you should not use them if at all possible.
  25. It should go without saying that you use perfect grammar in your resume. For a little help on grammar, check out Strunk & White’s Elements of Style.
  26. Aim your resume carefully by tailoring it to your employer.
  27. Make your point even stronger by tailoring to the position for which you are applying.
  28. Provide clear guidance for your reader with clear section headings.
  29. When writing descriptions of jobs and activities, keep them short to minimize reading time.
  30. Be consistent when typing out dates. For instance, always abbreviate in the same way or never abbreviate.
  31. Use the proper names for all companies you have worked for, positions you have held, and schools you attended.
  32. Content

  33. Include a phone number that has a professional voice mail greeting.
  34. Likewise, ensure that your email address is professional (not cooldude@server.com) and that your signature (if any) is professional.
  35. Type your name on your resume like you want it to appear professionally. If you do not want your middle name used, leave it off or just include your initial.
  36. Do not include references on your resume, but offer them during your application process or interview.
  37. List any languages that you speak, even if they do not directly pertain to the job description.
  38. If you have special skills (such as computer or technical abilities), include them if applicable to the position or company.
  39. Include any major publications you have authored, such as a magazine or journal article.
  40. Many career counselors debate whether or not to include an “objective” section. Here is a good article that sums up a lot of the debate. Find out the standard in your industry, and follow it.
  41. Include old jobs on your resume (even if not directly applicable to the position), but feel free to shorten their descriptions.
  42. List all education you have had, and explain how it will help you in the target position.
  43. Activities listed on your resume should reflect positive job qualities in some way. If they don’t, cut them.
  44. Leave no time gaps, since this will make employers wonder what you did during that time.
  45. Tell the truth! Check out the top resume lies, and don’t do it.
  46. Revising

  47. Spell check to catch any glaring errors.
  48. Proofread your resume several times, during several different sittings, on several different days.
  49. Get feedback on grammar and content from a friend, family member, or colleague.
  50. Closely tied to feedback, you should find an editor that will work with you during the writing and revising process. You need a sounding board for wording and another pair of eyes for proofreading.
  51. Presentation

  52. Print your resume on professional resume paper. You can find this at your local office store. Unless you are in an art field, stick to white, off-white, or ivory. Go for paper around 24 lb in weight.
  53. Be sure your printer will produce a quality printout. If your printer is not up to speed, use a friend’s or go to a local print shop.
  54. When you buy your paper, don’t forget matching envelopes. You will need to mail some resumes and cover letters, so you want everything to coordinate.
  55. If you are submitting documents electronically, send them as PDF files. This prevents formatting changes on different computers. Here is a free PDF creation program (print anything to a PDF file)
  56. Final Thoughts

  57. Keep your resume updated, so you can send it out at a moment’s notice. Also, by updating it every 6 months or so, you will not forget important accomplishments that should be added.
  58. Finally, hone your resume further with these helpful links: here, here, and here.

[tags]legal andrew, resume, career, job[/tags]

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39 Responses to “52 Resume Writing Tips”

  1. Tel
    October 20th, 2006

    Terrific Tips Andrew.

    Thanks for leading me to your site. Saw your post in mine. I bet you have resume samples.

    At day’s end, it’s really landing the job, and tailoring the resume after the company one is applying for. So, with a honed resume, a jobseeker has prepared, a tweaking here and there, to suit the prospective employer’s needs.

    Want me to post your article in my site? Let me know. With complete acknowledgment of course.


  2. Andrew F
    October 21st, 2006

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I’m glad the tips spoke to you. You definitely summed them up nicely in your comment.