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The Only 9 Resume Tips You’ll Ever Need

The most important part of resume writing is making sure it gets read. Your potential employer will never know how amazing you are if your resume is long, boring, and ugly. Keep it short and to the point with bullet points and lots of white space.

The Only 9 Resume Tips You'll Ever NeedTo land your dream gig in today’s cutthroat job market, you’ll need a resume that blows hiring managers out of their chairs. To help, I scoured the Web for nine tips that will help you rock rewriting your resume.

Sell Your Achievements

What’s the most important content on your resume? It’s not your education, or even your past employers. Aside from perhaps your phone number (so you can actually get an interview), the most important part of a winning resume are achievements. If you’re just out of school, your degree is certainly an achievement. But if you’ve been out for more than a year, what else have you done? Be as specific as possible. Toot your own horn!

Use Bullet Points

Hiring managers receive dozens, if not hundreds, of resumes every day. You want yours to stand out…fast! Putting bullet points on your resume will make the document easy to scan and more likely to catch somebody’s eye.

Skip the Template

Your resume should be unique—just like you—so skip resume templates. Read up on what a resume should include, but never just cut and paste your info into somebody else’s idea of what a resume should look like.

Engage Action Verbs

No, it’s not a flashback to high school English class…it’s a drop-dead rule of great resume writing: Use action verbs! Verbs that pack a punch and are descriptive all by themselves like “organized”, “managed”, “analyzed”, “created”, “planned”, “oversaw”, etc. Note: To avoid going overboard and sounding ridiculous, pick six resume action verbs to start with and add more carefully.

Tell a Story

The best resumes have a theme and tell a story, even if they are just a collection of bullets. Even if you have held several jobs in different areas, what is one thing that motivated you at each. What similarities do all of your accomplishments share.

Keep it Short; Really Short

These days more than ever, less is a lot more. We’re all strapped for time, so the faster you can get your point across, the better. So keep your resume short. If you’re still under 30, it should never be more than a page.

Avoid Clutter

Since you want to keep your resume short, you definitely don’t want to clutter it with things you don’t need. What don’t you need on your resume? Mission statements or objectives, excessive keywords, photos, and jobs you held for less than a year (you’ll probably have to explain those, but save it for the interview). Getting rid of clutter is especially important at the top of your resume. Don’t waste that valuable resume real estate with a generic mission statement!

Avoid Resume Design Blunders

Even if your resume is perfectly written, hiring managers may still overlook it if your resume is miserably designed. Learn to avoid the seven deadly sins of resume design or, even easier, stick with simple black type on high-quality (but not showy) white paper. Use a simple font (but not the boring old Times Roman). Finally, if you send your resume electronically, always include a simple text-based version. You never know how your formatted resume will look on another computer—or if a hiring manger will even care enough to open an attachment.

Improve Yourself, Not Just Your Resume

These days we’re taught from a very early age to do more, more, more just to add bullets to our resumes. The sad reality is, the more we try to accomplish, the poorer we’ll perform at each task. And what good is an awe-inspiring resume if we’re really just mediocre at a lot of things? With that in mind, focus on improving yourself, not your resume. You’ll be far happier—and more successful—because of it.

Published or updated on August 16, 2012

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About David Weliver

David Weliver is the founding editor of Money Under 30. He's a cited authority on personal finance and the unique money issues we face during our first two decades as adults. He lives in Maine with his wife and two children.


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  1. Sarah Y. says:

    Yes! I couldn’t agree more. I review resumes as a Career Counselor and give these tips on a daily basis. I would echo that tip about selling your achievements and answering the question “What do I uniquely bring to this employer that differentiates me from other candidates”. That can be easier to convey in a cover letter but still important to consider in a resume.

  2. I think it is very important to make sure that the paper you use to print your resume should be flawless, too just like its content. Make sure that it is a high-quality paper. Make the color professional and not necessarily boring like the common white.

  3. Very good tips, back when i needed my resumes done, i hire expert online. Its very cheap and very good.

  4. The Length of your resume depends entirely on the profession

    In Wall Street if you exceed one page, you’re not going to get looked at

    As a professor if you only have one page of accomplishments… you’re likely not really a professor.

    Templates are also good, just not the ones from Microsoft.

  5. J B says:

    I have to disagree with the limiting to your resume to one page, as a general rule, if you are under 30. I am a hiring manager, and if people have a strong resume early on in their career, they are selling themselves short squeezing in into one page when it really should be on two.

    Personally, I am still in my late 20’s, and have had a two page resume since my mid-20’s. Trying to fit three jobs, two of which include promotions and noteworthy accomplishments, an undergrad, MBA, and second masters in progress, as well as the technology portion of my resume [I am a technical management professional] on one page would be impossible, unless I wanted to send it over in 6pt font (which I do not want to do).

  6. Great post.. I think one needs to look at resumes as an advertisement for himself.. the basic purpose of a resume is to get you through to the interview table where you should be able to sell yourself.. So have a resume which will higlight your strengths without exaggerating it … Also keep it short , not beyong 2 one reads beyond that.

  7. Shannon says:

    No. 10: Get someone else to read it before you send/print. I immediately toss any resume with misspelled words. If your resume wasn’t important enough for you to read thoroughly, why should I? We often overlook our own typos. Get a friend to look at it. They’ll find something you didn’t, I guarantee. They can also provide good feedback about your strengths, weaknesses, accomplishments that sometimes you don’t consider sharing.

  8. Norana Cummins says:

    I have always had difficulty with resumes and have received much wanted advice from many many people who do hiring. I have come up with one conclusion: Everyone wants something completely different. Every person I have spoken with who does hiring has a completely different list of do’s and don’ts.

  9. I can see your point, Jason—I would guess that’s the most controversial tip on the list. I think it’s common advice NOT to have a mission statement because many people don’t write good ones. But if you have a statement that’s specific and obviously effective, stick with it!

  10. Jason says:

    I’m not entirely sure I agree with you about the mission statement, though you might be right sometimes. I’ve been told by several hiring managers that my mission statement really made it stand out, and I haven’t had trouble landing jobs in years now. My resume is also a full two pages (just because I’ve had a really diverse blend of experience for someone relatively young, and think that’s one of my selling points).

    I actually do intend to slim down my resume next time–the blend of experience is less important now that I’ve been in the same specialty for four years–but a lot of forward-looking hiring managers actually seem to appreciate the diversity, as well as a heavily personalized resume that includes a killer mission statement.

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