37 Resume Writing Tips

What is the difference between people who get called to job interviews by great companies from those who don’t? A good resume.

Your resume can make or break your career. Here are some tips on creating a resume that lands you in the job of your dreams.

  1. Keep your resume short: you will benefit by keeping your resume concise and focused. One page is ideal. You can write a longer resume if you have a long and distinguished career.
  2. Emphasize recent experience: if you have a long career, spend more time describing work experiences that are recent and relevant to the job.
  3. Stick to the last 15 years: as a general rule, you shouldn’t have more than the last 15 years of experience on your resume. This is because your previous job experience might no longer be relevant.
  4. Get inspiration from other resumes: get hold of resumes from successful people in your industry. Be careful though, not all resumes are good for inspiration.
  5. Remove the fluff: don’t pad your resume with fluff. Hiring managers look at each resume for just a few seconds. Don’t keep them from finding the information they want, fast.
  6. Tailor your resume to the job: you will be more successful if you customize parts of your resume for each job you apply to. You don’t have to change everything, just the crucial parts related to the job.
  7. Use a good font: use an easy-to-read font at size 10 to 12 for your resume body. Fonts like Arial, Helvetica, Verdana, or Calibri are tried-and-true fonts you can trust.
  8. Create a strong summary: summarize your professional title, career accomplishments, and key skills in a few short sentences. Put those at the top of your resume.
  9. Downplay job hopping: create a career highlights section or consider removing the months of the beginning and end of each job you had.
  10. Remove short jobs: consider excluding jobs where you worked for just a few months.
  11. Downplay employment gaps: have you engaged in freelancing or consulting work? Volunteering? Got a degree or some kind of certification? Mention it.
  12. Sell yourself: be proud of your accomplishments and list them out. If you are afraid of looking boastful, you are probably being too modest. It’s a competition. All candidates sell themselves and so should you.
  13. Add an education section: include your college and graduation year and list your degrees in chronological order.
  14. Add your GPA: consider adding your GPA to your education section, but only if it’s above 3.5.
  15. List certifications: write down any relevant certifications, awards, or participation in an honors society.
  16. Add a skills section: do you have experience with Microsoft Office or google docs? What about Photoshop or Canva? List any relevant experience with software in a technical skills section.
  17. Leave out soft skills: while soft skills like communication, the ability to do teamwork, and leadership are very important, you should demonstrate those skills in your job experience section rather than through a dedicated section. Show, don’t tell.
  18. Don’t include a picture: in the United States and the United Kingdom, it’s inappropriate to add a picture to your resume due to strict anti-discrimination laws.
  19. Use numbers: did you save money at your previous job, increase sales, or finish projects faster? Get detailed and use specific numbers “Increased sales from our email list by 65%”.
  20. Use important keywords: many companies employ ATS (application tracking systems) for automatically sorting through thousands of resumes. If you don’t use keywords relevant to your job, you might be left out. A way to do this is to use the keywords from the job ad on your resume.
  21. Use active language: verbs like achieved, saved, and increased make you seem like the person who makes things happen. E.g.: “Increased sales by 30% in our e-commerce store”.
  22. Don't include references: take a printed list of references to job interviews, but don’t include them in your resume. If the hiring manager is interested, they will ask for them.
  23. Don’t include an empty work section: if you’re just starting your career, do not include a work experience section. Instead, list any volunteer work or school activities and accomplishments.
  24. Put your education after the job experience section: this makes sense for experienced professionals who left education a while ago. Consider removing the dates from your education section to prevent age discrimination.
  25. Leave out the hobbies section: unless you practice hobbies that are impressive(marathon running) or are related to the position you’re applying for, it’s better to leave out this section.
  26. Include links: if you have a portfolio, a website, or a LinkedIn profile, consider including links to these to add depth to your resume.
  27. Exclude reasons why you left jobs: you can talk about it during job interviews but omit that information from your resume.
  28. Use a beautiful template: it’s important to make your resume stand out from the pack. Avoid making it too flashy, unless you are a visual arts professional.
  29. Make it easy to read: your resume should be easy to skim. You only have a few seconds to sell yourself. Make each second count.
  30. Use bullet points: short sentences and bullet points make your resume easier to read. Avoid making your resume look like a wall of text.
  31. Include contact information: don’t forget to include your phone and email addresses. Including your physical address is optional. Consider adding the city and zip code of the company you’re applying to avoid being excluded in case you live in a different city or state.
  32. Check for errors: avoid typos and grammatical mistakes. Avoid common cliches and vague wordings. Proofread your resume.
  33. Name your resume file: include your name and the position you are applying for, e.g.: “James-Smith-Software-Developer.pdf”.
  34. Send a pdf file: most companies prefer a pdf file. You can generate these from Google Docs or Microsoft Word.
  35. Hand-deliver your resume: if you can find the business owner or hiring manager responsible for hiring, deliver your resume face to face. It will set you apart from your competition.
  36. Hire a career coach: if you are still not being called for interviews, consider hiring a career coach. They will look at your resume with a critical eye and suggest changes that can help you get the job.
  37. Don’t lose hope: sending your resume is a numbers game. The more resumes you send, and the better you tailor them to the job, the more likely you are to be called for interviews.

Read more: