of Resume Writing
Place your strongest
material in the two-inch visual space that begins about 2 5/8 inches
from the top of your resume. Make sure you include your most impressive,
impactful achievements and qualifications in this "primetime" space.
It’s where the reader’s eyes will focus first.
Use a professional profile or qualifications section in your résumé's
primetime space to give the employer a quick but concrete summary of
your achievements and skills. Write it when the rest of your resume is
complete and you’ve already decided what your strongest qualifications
Give the most weight to your most recent (past ten to fifteen years)
professional position. The section of the resume for your most recent
position should contain more bulleted accomplishments than your previous
positions. For each position, rank the accomplishments in order of
decreasing relevance to the employer you are targeting.
Quantify your impact on the organizations you have worked for. If you
reduced expenses, say by how much or by what percentage. If you
supervised a project, say how many were on your team. Always ask
yourself how you helped the organization, and insert the numbers that
demonstrate that impact.
Pay as much attention to your résumé's design as you do to its content.
Use bullets or other appropriate symbols, insert rules (horizontal
lines) to separate major sections, and use a 10-to-12-point conservative
typeface for the body text of the resume. Aim for 1-inch side margins
and slightly smaller top and bottom margins.
Include publications, patents, presentations, honors, relevant volunteer
experiences, and professional licenses or certifications in your resume,
particularly if they are relevant to the position you seek. These
"extras" can sometimes be the factor that wins you the interview.
Edit and proofread mercilessly. Edit your resume to reduce fluff and
make every word count. Set your resume aside for a few days and then
come back to it again with "fresh eyes." Misspelled words and
grammatical mistakes are the proverbial kiss of death in a resume.
Place your education after your experience if you’ve been in the
workforce for more than five years. If the degree you earned is the most
relevant or impressive detail of your education section, highlight it.
If the school you attended is the selling point, emphasize it.
Use a two-page resume if appropriate. Two-page resumes are fine (and in
some cases, preferable) if you’ve been in the workforce for about ten
years or more or have particularly impressive work experience.
The Don'ts of Resume Writing
Don’t make things up
or inflate your accomplishments, level of responsibility, or skills.
Don’t confuse your resume with your autobiography. While there are
many pieces of information that your resume must have, its primary
purpose is to focus on the aspects of your life and career that
address the employer’s needs.
Don’t automatically include a separate "objective" line at the
beginning of the resume. If you believe that stating your career
objective will improve your chances, then mention the job title you
seek in the "Professional Profile" or "Qualifications" section at
the beginning of the resume. More often than not, separate objective
lines are too general and take up valuable space at the top of the
resume that could be better used to focus on the skills prospective
employers need. Use your cover letter to explain your career
Don’t use pronouns ("I") or articles ("a," "the"). They detract from
the force of your accomplishments, slow down the reader, and take up
Don’t provide personal data. Marital status, date of birth,
height/weight, and similar non-work-related information can be used
to illegally discriminate against applicants, and they rarely add
anything of value to your qualifications.
Don’t repeat the same action words throughout the resume. Instead of
using the verb developed or led over and over, pull out your
thesaurus and mix in terms like accelerated, delivered, directed,
established, initiated, or reengineered.
Don’t leave out dates. Even if you choose the functional resume
format to minimize frequent job changes or lack of experience,
include your dates of employment somewhere on your resume (usually
at the end).
Don’t use more detail than you need to convey your accomplishments.
Dense, paragraph-sized bullet points make for tough reading. A good
rule of thumb is to limit each bullet to one to two lines of text
with three to five accomplishments for each position.
Don’t use clichéd adjectives like self-starting. Let the
details of your resume and cover letter convince the employer that
you have these qualities.
Don’t make your resume a list of your job duties — make it a list of
your accomplishments! Weave your job responsibilities into your
descriptions of your achievements.