Knowing how to write a resume may not be rocket science, but then why is it so stressful?! If you’re stuck on trying to write the perfect document to get noticed, we’ve got some resume tips to get you started on a resume that can showcase your abilities without suffering the blunders that will get your hard work booted.

stack of papers

[Image by Quinn Dombrowski]

1. Make it clean and readable.

Imagine that you have to read through tens, dozens, or hundreds of resumes for the same positions. You’re probably not going to hang on every word in the resume, but rather skim through to narrow down the field of qualified candidates before making more careful selections. If your resume is a jumbled mess, hard to see or read clearly, or a block of solid text, that hiring manager may just chunk it in the trash than bother with it. Don’t let the resume you spent hours on go straight to the recycling bin! Format it so that it is clean and has headers, bullet points, or bolded text to draw the eye to important places. Also, make sure it is broken up into clearly organized sections to maximize readability.

2. When in design doubt, use resume templates.

Not everyone is a designer. If you are having problems formatting your resume or getting the look you want, browse through design templates for resumes. Some resume templates are free and some cost money to download, but a neat resume created through a template is definitely better than one that looks less than organized.

Good resume templates will have a clean look and maybe include a little bit of flair or interest somewhere. However, if you are applying for a visually creative job, graphic design for instance, try to avoid using templates since part of your skill set should include creating unique images and designs. Also, don’t be afraid to put in little pops of color, separating lines, or to experiment with headers. As long as they look clean, unique features can help show your personality and originality.

Want to browse great resume templates? Check out these examples on Pinterest.


[Image by Dan Taylr]

3. Print on nice paper.

You may be wondering why you need to print anything, considering that most applications are submitted online these days…we’re glad you asked. While the digital world is extremely convenient and makes applying for a new job fast, it’s easy for an emailed or electronically submitted resume to disappear into the realm of the Internet and never be seen again.

If you really want a job, research important figures in the company. Find out who is in charge of hiring, who heads the department you’re applying for, and who is the president, vice president, etc. Mail resumes printed on quality paper to these people with a cover letter. It will show you’ve done your research and will increase the likelihood that your resume will get passed along if you’re qualified for the job.


[Image by Jacob Botter]

4. Be concise.

You don’t have to share your life story to prove you’re right for the job. Try to limit your resume to one page by only including relevant positions and details. Also, you want to show your worth as quickly as possible, so put your most important points toward the top of your resume. Even if the person who receives your resume merely skims through the beginning, you’ll still get across what’s important.

Another good practice is to read over your resume after it’s written to see if unnecessary words can be deleted or if anything can be written in fewer words. This editing will help you stay most concise and take out any fluff.

5. Use strong verbs.

Making sure your verbs are strong will not only add a punch to your statements, but it will also help you be concise. Try to avoid linking verbs like is, are, was, were and use action verbs instead. For example, “Was responsible for volunteer training,” is lengthier and less effective than, “Coordinated volunteer training.”


[Image by Ken Teegardin]

6. Let the stats show.

Companies appreciate quantifiable results. If your action helped increase sales, bring in referrals, or decrease expenses, give the numbers to prove it. It gives the employer a concrete way to judge your performance. Plus, on a page full of words, numbers tend to stand out and call attention to your specific achievements.

7. Use key words from the company’s job posting, mission statement, and website.
When companies list certain skills, experiences, or missions that they want their employees to have, use your resume to prove you fill those shoes. Integrate wording from the job posting into your resume, and give evidence that you have the specific skills the company is looking for. People tend to be drawn to others who are a bit like themselves, so showing that you line up with the company may attract attention to your resume. At the least, it will show that you are aware of the job responsibilities and that you took the time to research the company’s mission and values on its website.

Resume Clichés

In the attempt to sound like the ideal employee, we sometimes fall into the trap of using expressions and phrases that everyone is using, and, in effect, causing our resumes to get lost in the shuffle. Here are some common phrases that hiring professionals are tired of reading:

Resume Clichés to stop using… now.

“Team player”
“Strong communication and organizational skills”
“I’m passionate about…”
“Strong work ethic”
“I have a proven track record of success”
“Highly motivated”

Now, this list doesn’t mean that companies are not looking for team players or strong communicators, but it does mean that your resume needs less of the what and more of the how in your statements. Try replacing overused wording with concrete, specific examples that demonstrate how you possess that quality instead of just declaring it to be true. If you have a proven track record, just give the information to prove it instead of using a general statement that doesn’t actually show your value.

Now that you’ve got a few resume tips under your belt, get writing! And remember…don’t try to be someone else on your resume. Be you, show off why you’re an asset, and don’t copy from the Internet. Only your original words can express why you are truly right for a job.

Pen and paper



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