Make a memorable impression with an attractive, results-oriented marketing document. Resume writing is purely sales.
Since your resume is actually a marketing document, its visual appearance is critical. To survive next to hundreds of equally qualified candidates, it must look sharp and dynamic. Don’t have it printed onto plain bond paper and don’t model it after resumes from years back.
Unless you’re seeking a position as a graphic artist, don’t put logos or artwork on your resume. Your choice of paper color isn’t important, as long as it’s conservative -white, ivory or light gray.
Format shouldn’t be your primary consideration when preparing a resume. Decide on a resume format after your text is prepared. Start writing without worrying about the format and concentrate on marketing yourself. It’s likely that when you’re finished, the format you should use will become obvious. Review other resumes for ideas, but craft your document to “sell” only you.
If possible, adhere to these formatting guidelines:
Don’t expect readers to struggle through 10 to 15 line paragraphs. Substitute two or three shorter paragraphs or use bullets to offset new sentences and sections.
Don’t overdo bold and italic type. Excessive use of either defeats the purpose of these enhancements. For example, if half the type on a page is bold, nothing will stand out.
Use nothing smaller than 10-point type. If you want employers to review your resume, make sure they don’t need a magnifying glass!
Don’t clutter your resume. Everything you’ve heard about “white space” is true. Let your document “breathe” so readers won’t have to struggle through it.
Use an excellent printer. Smudged, faint, heavy or otherwise poor quality print will discourage red-eyed readers.
Spelling, Grammar and Syntax
Typographical errors signal job-search death. Recognize that resumes serve as your introduction to employers, and indicate the quality and caliber of work you’ll produce. An imperfect document isn’t acceptable.
Resumes aren’t job descriptions. If you list responsibilities, include their scope and your contributions. Generalizations aren’t impressive; you must cite specific figures, percentages and results when describing previous accomplishments in the workplace.
Listing all your past employment isn’t necessary or helpful. And if positions you held 15, 20, or 30 years ago aren’t relevant to your current career path, delete or briefly summarize them at the end.
To highlight your strengths, develop strong, results-driven position summaries. Prospective employers want to read a description giving a sense of the scope and results of your experience. Sell your achievements, not your responsibilities.
A resume doesn’t work if readers can’t quickly grasp who a candidate is and what he or she seeks to do. Omit an objective and start with a “summary” or “career or technical profile” instead. Unlike an objective, which states what you want, a summary describes what you know and quickly grabs readers’ attention.
A resume should be more than a list of past jobs. It should serve as a personal sales and marketing tool that attracts and impresses employers. Your qualifications, words, format and presentation must all be packaged to sell yourself.
Giving accurate and sufficient contact information is extremely important. You want someone interested in your skills to be able to contact you. However, do not list current work phone numbers unless you really want to be called there.
Don’t list or send your resume from a questionable email address, such as or firstname.lastname@example.org. Not only can such addresses be flagged as SPAM or Junk Mail, but they raise questions of your professional integrity. If you have an email address that could be considered unprofessional, set up a separate email account to communicate with potential employers.