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20 Resume Writing Tips

1.    Type it

If you want to offer up a professional appearance, you have to type it. The days of handwritten parchments and scrolls harkening back to William Shakespeare and Egyptian hieroglyphics are long over. You’ll come across as a rank amateur, if you didn’t pound out your resume on a key board, besides, for many of you, your handwriting is so bad, that being forced to type your resume is only doing you a massive favor, by making it legible.

2.    Leave white space

You need to leave white space on your page for four reasons. First, it makes it easier to read. Second, it allows important pieces of information to stand out. Third, it looks more appealing to the eye and finally, more appealing is more professional. If you clutter up your resume with too much information and massive blocks of condensed writing, busy execs may commit your resume to the trash can, instead of committing it to memory.

3.    Keep it legible

In addition to avoiding massive blocks of text, also make sure your type fonts are easily legible in terms of the style and size that you’re selecting.

You may love the more artistic or handwritten looking fonts, but all those HR execs want when reviewing your resume is convenience, clarity and speed. If your resume requires extra time and effort to get through, your reviewer may “get through” with you a lot faster by removing you from consideration.

4.    Include references

If you wait to see if they ask you for references, they may select someone else, who included references, which avoided an unnecessary delay. Be over-prepared, so you can easily slip through the qualification processes, more quickly and more efficiently than some others who need to wait and be hand-fed the individual steps.

5.    Update your job history

If you haven’t looked for a new job recently, make sure you try to update your resume. You don’t want to accidentally, omit any great new experience you’ve had, accreditations you’ve earned, or worse yet, leave the wrong contact information, because you forgot you changed your phone number.

You can also cover all your bases by checking to make sure that the businesses you’ve worked for in the past and your references have valid phone numbers provided. 

If you don’t do this, someone else may get the job you wanted, while your application is held up pending confirmation of information you could’ve helped to verify earlier.

6.    Include your current contact information

What a huge mistake it is and yet, one that’s surprisingly common...

The HR staffer who reviews your resume likes you enough to give you a chance. They try calling and whoops, your phone number doesn’t work, or worse yet, it’s a wrong number. Lets be honest, you probably just lost the job. The chances of HR professionals playing super-sluthes to try to track you down are pretty low.

Make sure you provide the best and most up to date contact information possible and before you do, make sure your cell phone is charged and you have internet.

On that note, another silly mistake job hunters make is failing to check their messages and emails on a regular basis. Again, if they can’t get ahold of you, they’re not going to wait around. Chances are, there are several other qualified applicants and it’s likely you’re one of several other possible clients.

If you turn in your resume and then you’re out of contact for three days, because you lost your cell phone and didn’t bother to check your messages, or because you went to the beach and don’t get cell reception there, you could’ve missed your preferred job opportunity.

7.    Be honest

You may think that providing falsified information that makes yourself sound more appealing is a good idea. You may tell yourself that the company who hires you will never find out, or that even if they find out, they probably won’t mind. Wrong.

The best companies frequently do extensive background checking. There’s a good chance that they’ll latch on to your deception and your resume will be balled up for a Jordan-esque three-pointer into the nearest waste basket or worse yet, added to some sort of banishment black list. 

Even if they don’t expose your lies, do you really want to go into a new job under false pretenses?  Talk about bad karma, it doesn’t get much worse than starting a new situation on the foundation of a lie. Things might be going great later and someone at work may stumble across your deception and the next thing you know, your great job is gone and you’re unemployed.

If you lied about your knowledge or skills, what they require you to do at work could turn out to be an embarrassment and ultimately a disaster. Plus, if your lies are too good, they may decide you’re actually overqualified and pass on you for that reason.

8.    Don’t be a job hopper

A series of short jobs on your resume generally looks very bad, so try to avoid it. Longevity is key.

If you leave a job to go to college, or you get a much better offer from another company, that’s fine, but if you have a string of jobs lasting one to six months and your reasons for leaving include; low productivity, boredom, dissatisfaction, poor work ethic, tardiness, or fighting with your supervisors, you have done yourself a massive disservice when it’s time to craft a resume.

9.    List pertinent skills and abilities

Some people actually forget to list their strengths on their resume. It seems a little obvious to say it, but tell people what’s good about you.

Sure, your accreditations, education and job history will carry more weight, but don’t be oblivious to the fact that a nice list of attributes like; punctual, team-player, willing worker, eager to please, communicative, etc. might give those HR people another little nudge in the right direction.

And using a list of basic attributes is especially beneficial for those who don’t have a lot of job history and credentials to fill out a resume. High school and university students who are just entering the job market should thank their lucky stars that they can list skills and abilities so their resumes consist of more than two lines and their contact information.

10.    Just bring it

Don’t be a dope and leave your resume at home. Follow the Boy Scout’s motto and “always be prepared.” This means that when you have a job interview, you automatically double-check, update and print your resume and bring at least two copies with you to the interview.

Do this for several reasons.

First, it makes a good first impression and demonstrates that you are a serious professional who knows how to prepare and goes out of their way to do the right things.

Second, because you have your resume on hand, you eliminate the risk of holding up your application process, because you didn’t bring it.

Third, bringing at least two copies makes it easier to discuss your credentials with your interviewer and if there was any doubt, you give even more credence to the idea that you are professional, prepared and pay attention to detail.

11.    Put it on cardstock

Print your resume on a fine cardstock, with a watermark on it. This adds professionalism, elegance and character to your resume and makes it more noticeable than the other resumes, which are simply printed on cheap, limp typing paper.

Do not, however, print your resume on any paper with unusual colors or designs, which might be distracting and mark your resume as the creation of an amateur.

12.    Vary the look

You want your resume to be readable at a glance. You don’t want all your type to look the same, which makes it difficult for readers to differentiate what information they should be looking at.

Use your bold, underline and italics. Make sure it’s not a random usage, but a well planned and well orchestrated minimalist approach.

Not enough differentiation is really bad and too much could be horrendous, so you need to locate the comfortable middle ground.

13.    Seal the deal

When you hand your resume to your interviewer, stand up straight, extend the resume with your left hand and make sure you share a big smile with them, while extending your right hand for a handshake.

These are the little things that can set you apart from a vast and crowded field. They are the details that some interviewees never consider, but some interviewers never forget.

14.    Live it to win it

Have you heard the saying, “I’m in it to win it?” Well, here’s a variation on the saying, “You’ve got to live it to win it.”

This means that you should realize that the construction of your resume begins long before you commit to putting it to paper. Realize that who you are, including your education, job history, accreditations and volunteer work will all be a part of your future resume. Plan accordingly.

You have to live a full life, create skills, earn accreditations and hold respectable jobs for long periods of time in order to craft an excellent resume. These are not things you do during the writing phase of your resume, they’re the things you do during the living stage.

Face it, you’re competing with some ambitious people who have been deliberately and systematically constructing their resume since middle school. It’s never too early to start planning for the future. 

15.    Include a photo?

Adding a photo to your resume is something for you to consider. There are pros and cons to including a small black and white photo in one corner of your resume.

On the one hand, it adds value, puts a face with the name, thus making it more memorable and personalizing it. On the other hand, it opens the door for potential race, or gender discrimination, or perhaps the supervisor will make a snap judgment about you, based simply on whether they like your look or not.

In many cases, it’s not common to include a photo on your resume. In those cases, you may be doing yourself a huge disservice by appearing to be unfamiliar with the standard procedures. You may want to check some resumes in your chosen field to see what’s included.

16.    Top down approach

Determine what your strengths are and give them the prominence of presentation that they deserve.

If your strength is education, you lead with that. If you never went to college, but you have wonderful job experience, then downplay your education, by moving it to the bottom of your resume and make sure a summary of your top jobs leads off your resume, followed by a more detailed list of companies and the responsibilities you had for each of them.

Likewise, prioritize the attributes that are most applicable for the job you’re applying for.

For example, if you’re applying to be a computer programmer, it probably makes more sense to lead with “Punctual, reliable and hard working,” rather than, “Good with people, Communicative and a team-player.” All those attributes are good, but if your job is isolated work with computer programming, the importance of your social skills probably isn’t as important to your suitability for your desired job.

17.    Seek out bullets

No one knows your personal history more than you, that’s why it’s so amazing that some people simply throw together a resume haphazardly and never bother to mine the juicy bits and impressive successes to give their accomplishments and their job history some extra zing.

Okay, so maybe you were a salesperson for Nokia. You list the dates you were there and the name of your position.

Your job’s not done! Think about your job. Was there anything positive that you did that made you stand out? Call and ask your former boss, if you have to. Petition co-workers. Perhaps you find out that your sales team broke the all-time sales record for that Nokia store in June, 2009. That’s pretty good, right? It adds flavor. It gives the interviewer something positive to hold on to. It makes you stand out and shows you in a positive light.

Okay, sure you went to high school, you put the name and address of the school and listed the years. Okay, but that’s boring and it says very little about your worth as a candidate.

Did you serve on student council? Were you captain of your sports team? Did you volunteer to be a teacher’s assistant your senior year?

Try to find something that’s positive, that goes beyond simple names, addresses and dates. There should be more to life than a name, an address and a date. Hopefully, you actually did something good and if you did, don’t forget to share it.

18.    Omit drawbacks

It’s not lying. If you had five jobs, but you didn’t get along with one of your bosses, you can think about leaving that job off your resume. Only list four.

If the interviewer asks you what you did between those two jobs, you can always tell them about the job you chose to leave out. If they ask why you omitted it, in many cases, you can tell them you needed space for more pertinent information and job listings, because you were trying to keep your resume to a single page.

19.    One and done

Resumes should always be no longer than a single page. If you feel like you have a tremendous amount of information you would really love to include, then condense all of that into the best one page resume you can and use that, then create a longer, more detailed resume you can offer and give it only upon request.

Remember, if you turn in a three to five page resume, you may be trying to show that you’re detail oriented, well prepared and willing to work, but in most cases, you are simply branding yourself as an amateur who is unprofessional and unaware of or unwilling to follow standard procedures.

20.    Add a business card?

If you’re looking for ways to add professionalism to your resume and to stand out, one more thing to consider is to create a very professionally made business card and staple it to the upper left corner of your resume.

If the business card is professional and all the information on it is up to date, it can change the weight of your resume, thus making it stand out in a pile, while adding one more layer of professionalism.  If the evaluator likes your card, it may also help you stand out in their mind.

Some people might say it’s more professional to forego a business card, but adding one is something to consider.

Comments sent

3 comment(s).
I wish more authors of this kind of substance would take the time you did to investigate and create so well. I am astoundingly awed with your vision and info.
facts in hindi - 6/6/2018 10:29:19 AM
nice post and thanks for sharing this. because i don't know about resume writing.
DEBEM BOXER 503 - 4/16/2018 2:05:16 AM
To get a nice resume, the first is the skills, work, school you have studied oke. Then we will talk about ways to present the CV in a reasonable manner, suitable for the job application.
Thank you for the post, it was great!

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