10 Tips for Writing a Better Resume

Over the past two decades, I have helped numerous individuals refine their résumé for one or more job roles. In this article, I am providing ten tips I frequently give to job candidates that may prove helpful to you, or others you know, in updating or creating a résumé.

  1. Address:You no longer need to include your address on your résumé. If you’d prefer, you can include city and state. The header of your résumé should include your name, professional e-mail address, and phone number where the recruiter or hiring manager can easily contact you.

  2. Objective: An objective is no longer necessary on your résumé. Your objective is really to get the role you’re applying for, right? It’s a waste of valuable space including one, when you can use that to include other relevant details about your qualifications and experience.

  3. Small Banner:Instead of an objective, consider a small banner under your résumé header using 2-3 words to describe you (only if it feels right and comfortable to you). For example, Kevin has over 5 years’ experience as a project manager and is looking for a new PM role. He may use that space to put EXPERIENCED PROJECT MANGER. This is a signal to the recruiter and hiring manager right away and could cause his résumé to be reviewed sooner than others.

  4. Summary of Qualifications: This is where you can leverage a few sentences or 4-6 bullet points to include the highlights of why you’re a great candidate for the role. Think of it as your written elevator speech. If the recruiter or hiring manager only look at one part of your résumé, this would help provide a quick and easy view of why they should interview you!

  5. White space: Although it may be difficult to do, white space on a résumé is a good thing! It means you’ve been able to summarize your qualifications and experience for the role you’re applying, and able to leave space for the résumé to breathe.

  6. Length: Aim to keep your résumé at one page. If you bleed into two pages, that is okay. Ensure you’re really focused on what you’re including versus just adding information that is not critical to the role you’re applying. Remember that you can also include a link to your LinkedIn® profile if the recruiter or hiring manager wants to know more.

  7. Skills: If in doubt on what skills to include on your résumé, here are a few tips. The first is to find a few job descriptions that align with the type of role that you’re planning to apply. Look and see what skills are noted within the job description. Conduct a Google® search on the term transferable skillsto see what skills you have and how they can be used in a different type of role.

  8. Years of Experience: Only include up to 10 years of past work and volunteer experience, as well as awards or certifications received. If you have items older than 10 years, include a link to your LinkedIn® profile where those are included.

  9. Work Experience: Include the name of the role, department, company, years worked (can include months also, if you prefer). It’s usually easiest to include 3-5 bullet points under each role with a description of what your responsibilities and wins were. Start each bullet point with a verb (leverage Google® if you get stuck thinking of some)! Where possible, include numbers, percentages, statistics, awards, leadership roles, etc. to tell the story of your experience in that role.

  10. Education:It is completely up to you if you prefer to put graduation years on your résumé for the education you’ve completed. It is not fair to the recruiter and hiring manager for degree information to be listed in the Education section of a résumé when a candidate did not complete the degree. Do not lie or include misleading information on your résumé. It is acceptable to include classes taken towards a degree, even if you have not finished that degree, only if you make note of it in that way.

If you have additional tips that would be helpful for individuals working on their résumé, feel free to post in the comments below.