There are literally hundreds of ways to format, design, and construct a resume. Choices range from the size of the font to the type of paper used to print the resume. With so many possible variations, it can be hard to figure out how what will look best.
Following is a list of tips on how to get started. The list is meant to inform you and provide guidance. Read the list thoroughly and take time to absorb the information. If you think you need professional help putting your resume together, there are several resource listed at the end.
Tips for Resume Writing:
Bullet Points: Bullet-pointed lists make your resume easy to read quickly. Hiring managers do not have the time or desire to read long paragraphs about what you may have accomplished at your last job. They want to know about your skills and experience, but they do not want to read difficult paragraphs. Make your resume clean and concise by using bullet-pointed lists.
Don’t Waste Space: If you had a previous job that required you to handle dozens of different responsibilities, pick the most important ones – the ones that gave you transferrable job skills – and list them on your resume.
Use Targeted Keywords and Phrases: If you see a job posted that lists specific job requirements, and if you actually have the skills that match them, make sure your resume reflects it. In your resume, use some of the keywords that were used in the original job posting. You may need to customize your resume to fit the requirements of each job you are seeking. This is especially important when applying for jobs at large corporations. Many large organizations utilize technology to scan all of the resumes they receive for specific keywords. There are computer programs designed to reject resumes that do not contain specific words or phrases.
Don’t Show Your Age Unless You Think It Will Be a Benefit: There are rules and laws that prevent employers from discriminating against potential employees based on age. However, that does not mean that hiring managers will not take notice of your age if you include the year that you graduated from high school or college on your resume. It’s perfectly fine to leave off the year that you graduated if you think you will not be granted an interview based on your age. On the other hand, if you believe the potential employer is looking for a more mature employee, feel free to include this information. Only you can be the judge of whether or not to include this information on your resume each time you send it for specific job openings.
Leave Off Irrelevant and Negative Information: If you include every detail of your life on your resume, it will not only look cluttered but also it will look as if you are trying to draw attention away from your professional experience. Also, you want your resume to look upbeat and positive. If you left your last job because you hated your boss, do not allude to this fact on your resume.
It is Fine to Have a Two-Page Resume: Many years ago it was recommended that job applicants limit the length of their resume to one page. These days, however, it is acceptable for your resume to be two pages in length as long as the information on the resume is relevant and necessary to include. Do not fill your resume with unessential information just to make it look like you have more experience than you actually do.
Recommended Typeface and Point Size: There is no set rule on the exact typeface and font size that should be used on your resume, but some general guidelines are recommended. Usually a 10 or 12 point font is standard for resumes. Do not use less than a 10 point font – even if you are trying to squeeze in a lot of information – because smaller points are difficult to read. You want to make it as easy as possible for a hiring manager to decipher what you are trying to convey on your resume. Along the same lines, do not use a non-standard typeface. Some people like to print their resumes in a cursive or calligraphy font because they think it looks more formal, but in reality these types of typefaces are not easy to read. DO NOT USE ALL CAPITAL LETTERS EITHER!
Your Resume Will Not Get You a Job: The overall goal of a resume is to get you called for an interview. It is rare that a person is hired on the spot after sending a resume to a potential employer. Therefore, use your resume as a tool to get your foot in the door. Your resume should represent your skills, talents, and professional experience – it should not be your life’s manifesto.
Use Your Resume to Highlight Your Strengths: During your interview, your potential employer will probably ask you to describe your strengths and your weaknesses. But your resume is not the place to offer a list of your top weaknesses. Use your resume to describe how you can benefit your next employer. Are you detail oriented? Organized? Skilled at managing others? Use words on your resume that represent your abilities.
List Your Official Title: Chances are that your professional title at a previous place of employment was not simply “Sales Person” or “Clerk.” Make sure to use good descriptions such as “Lead Department Sales Manager,” or “Accounts Payable Clerk III.” Good descriptions allow hiring managers to get a better glimpse of your professional experience.
Other Simple yet Important Things to Remember:
• Don’t Lie
• Don’t Waste Space
• Don’t Include a Provocative Picture of Yourself
• Don’t Send Your Resume More Than Once
• Don’t List Your Hobbies or Information About Your Spouse or Children
Need Help? Contact a Professional Resume Writing Service:
In a competitive work environment, landing a good job takes planning and hard work. Now that you have your resume together, read "The Job Search" to help take that next step in finding a new job or career.
Written by Melanie Fischer, Career & Job Expert who has been writing professionally for over 10 years.