Resume Writing Tips

In addition to all the free resume templates that we provide, below is a list of useful resume writing tips.  Applying these resume writing tips to one our free resume templates should help you produce an eye catching and effective resume!

How to Tell Your Story

Don’t Include Everything

Do not include all your career history, unless it specifically relates to the position you are seeking. Focus on your experience, skills, and accomplishments that are the most relevant to the position. Avoid any negativity in your resume. Be sure that you have researched the company and position to which you’re applying, so that you’ll have a clear understanding of what the company needs.

Put Your Best Information “Above the Fold”

The top third of your resume is the area referrered to as “above the fold”. It’s the area that a hiring manager is going to see first so be sure to include your most relevant and impressive experience and accomplishments.

Skip the “Objective Statement”

The only time that you need to include an objective statement is if you are making a significant career change and you need to explain why your experience does not necessarily match up with the postition for which you’ve applied.

List Experience in Reverse Chronological Order

In almost all cases, it’s best to list your most recent experience first.

Limit Your Resume to One Page

Your resume should be as concise as possible so that hiring manager can quickly assess your fit for a position. If they’re having to wade through a lot of superfluous information, they may discard your resume and move into another one. Limiting your resume to one page helps you to keep it concise. In some cases, if you have a lot of work history, experience, and credentials, it will be necessary to exceed one page. In that case, do your best to limit your resume to two pages.

Consider Linking to An Online Supplement

If you feel that you can’t tell your whole story in one to two pages, you wish to include samples of your work, etc., then consider providing a link within your resume to a home page that includes additional details.

How to Format Your Resume

Keep It Simple

Your primary focus should be readability for hiring managers. Use basic fonts that are easy to read, such as Arial, Verdana, Calibri, or Century Gothic. Use a 10 or 12 point font size. Use a consistent font throughout your resume. However, you can deviate for your name, headers, and companies for which you’ve worked.

Stand Out (Carefully)

Creative resumes that integrate videos, infographics, presentations, etc. can set you apart but do not overdue it. If you’re applying with a more traditional company, a flashy resume might not be the best approach. However, some tasteful design elements and/or colors can help your resume to stand out.

Ensure Your Contact Information is Prominent

Including your mailing address on resumes is no longer a requirement. However, be sure to include a telephone number and email address, by which you can easily be reached by prospective employers. Also, it can be helpful to include any social media accounts you might have – LinkedIn, Twitter handle, etc. Just ensure that none of the social media accounts that you share with a prospective emmployer contain anything that would be considered embarassing and/or unprofessional.

Design to Easily Skim

Given hiring managers have limited time, to review many resumes, ensure that your resume is laid out to be easily skimmed.

Hire a Professional

If you feel that you cannot put together an effective resume on your own, there’s no shame in seeking some help.

Work Experience

Keep It Recent and Relevant

Typically, you should only include the last 10 to 15 years of work experience, relevant to the positions to which you’re applying. Since you should limit the length of your resume, be selective as to what you include – include the most relevent skills and experience. If you lack relevant experience, it helps to include a cover letter. The cover letter will allow you to sell yourself and explain why you’re a good fit for particular position. Also, if you have little work experience to put on your resume, feel free to include non-traditional types of work such as part-time work, freelancing, blogging, and volunteer work.

Highlight Accomplishments, Rather Than Duties

Employers care more about that you have accomplished than what you have done (your duties). Below is an example of an accomplishment vs. a duty:

Duty: Manage corporate Exchange Server email system.

Accomplishment: Migrated all email services to Office 365 cloud platform, saving the company $50,000/year in operational, licensing, and maintenance costs.

Other Tips for Content

Don’t get too technical with industry jargon, as recruiters may not understand it. Quantify your accomplishments by providing specific facts, figures, and numbers. Mix up your use of common words and phrases, to avoid being repetitive. Limit the number of bullet points to no more than six per section of your resume. Based on the job description, ensure that you’re targeting the most common keywords in your resume. It will help your resume to more likely get noticed in applicant tracking systems.

Education

Put Experience First and Education Second

Experience should always precede education, unless you’re a recent graduate, with little to no experience. Also, list your education in chronological order, unless you have older courswork that is more relevant to the job.

Omit Dates

There is no need to include your graduation date. This tip is especially important for older candidates, that might be subject to age discrimination.

Other Tips for Education

Highlight any honors (i.e. umma cum laude) that you’ve received but do not include your GPA. Include any online education or continuing education that you have received.

Skills, Awards, and Interests

List Your Skills

List all your skills and industry-related certifications that are revelant to the position. However, be sure to omit any skills that everyone is expected to have, such as typing skills (for a administrative assistant position). If you have a lot of skills to list, try to break them up into sections. For example, break into a section named “Software Skills”, “Language Skills”, etc.

Personal Interests

Feel free to include any personal interests and/or hobbies that are related to the position that you’re applying. However, unless the position is related to politics and/or religion, it’s best to exclude those topics.

Employment Gaps and Other Potential Issues

Omit Short-Term Jobs

If you worked in a postions for no longer than a few months, consider omitting it from your resume. However, be honest about your work experience if asked during an interview.

Minimize Gaps in Work History

In order to minimize any gaps in your work history, it’s best to only list the year in which you started a job and the year in which you left a job. Also, if you have been out of the work force for an extended period (a year or more), be sure to emphasize anything that you have been doing (part-time work, volunteer work, independent consulting, etc.) or any skills that you have obtained, that relate to the position for which you’ve applied.

Explain Excessive “Job Hopping”

If you have frequently changed jobs, be sure to clearly explain why, as “job hopping” is a major red flag to hiring managers. Providing an explanation such as “layoff due to downsizing” or “moved to a new city” will lessen the hiring managers concerns about your “job hopping”.

Finishing Touches

Don’t Include “References Available Upon Request”

If a hiring manager is interested in hiring you, they will assume you have references and ask for them, when needed. There’s no need to state the obvious or potentially come off as presumptious.

Proofread

Be certain that your resume is free of spelling and grammatical errors. Do not simply rely on spell checkers and grammar checks; also have friends and/or family read over your resume. Of particular importance, make sure your contact information is correct. Otherwise, you will likely never hear from any hiring managers!

Save As a PDF

Saving your resume as a PDF ensures that if the hiring manager is using a different Word Processor (or different version), the formatting will remain consistent. Also, be sure to include your name as part of the file name, when saving your resume – i.e. “John Doe – Resume.pdf”.

 

We hope that you find these resume writing tips useful.  Be sure to look through our free resume templates (below) to find the perfect resume template to combine with our resume writing tips, above.

Basic Resumes

Chronological Resumes

Functional Resumes

Professional Resumes