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Help with Writing a Resume

Updated on November 14, 2019
angela_michelle profile image

Angela is an avid reader who studied English Literature in college. She has a passion for the written word and loves literature.


The Format

How long should your resume be? One page or two? In most cases, you should stick to one page. On the other hand, if your accomplishments are extensive and you can fit them on two full pages, then go ahead and use the extra sheet. If you do use the second page, make sure that the first page wows the prospective employer enough to read the latter; otherwise, your work is in vain. If you only use a third or less of the second page, then it is essential to try to condense your material onto one sheet. Avoid using fillers to fill the second page, as it will be boring or irrelevant. Both will detract from your successes.

Margins should be between 1" to .75".

Font size should be 12 to 10.5, but no smaller.

Font style should be Times New Roman, as it is professional and easily read. Remember, they will be reading a lot of resumes, and you want yours to be as easy on the eyes as possible. By keeping the copy clean and not fancy, it will be much easier to read.

Make It Look Professional

Typing your resume could be one of the most important things you do in your entire life, since it can land you the position that will determine your career path.
Typing your resume could be one of the most important things you do in your entire life, since it can land you the position that will determine your career path. | Source

Writing Tips

Be short and to the point: When writing your resume, you want to be as brief and thorough as possible. You should avoid writing in complete sentences. When describing your previous employment or schooling, avoid using words like the, a, and an. For example, instead of writing, "I was the top salesperson in July," condense it by stating, "top salesperson in July."

Focus On Accomplishments: Another mistake people make is by focusing too much on their responsibilities rather than their accomplishments. A loan officer at a bank might write:

ABC Company - location - dates employed

Loan Officer

Responsibilities included: greeted customers, approved or denied loans, sent out mailings, assisted tellers.

Most people, who are looking to hire you, know what your job entails; therefore, it is better to focus on what you have accomplished. Instead, you should write something like:

ABC Bank - location - dates employed

Loan Officer

Accomplishments: top salesperson in July, consistently exceeded personal sales goals last year, received a promotion with additional duties in April.

These are just a few of the accomplishments you might have. Feel free to mention if you have perfect attendance; they will like to know they can count on you. If your job gives you ratings and you excelled in a particular area, feel free to boast about that. Avoid using jargon that only your previous employer understands. For instance, if your annual review is called FOCUS, do not type, "received top scores on FOCUS." Instead, refer to it as your yearly review.


Although the font is necessary, what you write is more important. Listed is a general title layout of what you may choose. Most titles can be added or deleted, except the Work History is a must:

  • Objective/Career Objective - is a one-sentence declaration of your desire for a job in that field. Keep it short, specific, and to the point.

Example One: Seeking a long-term career with a well-respected company.

Another example: To enhance my professional skills while achieving the company's goals.

Notice they are short and mention one key asset of yours yet focused on the company as well.

  • Profile/Qualification - This should highlight why you are qualified for a particular position. Generally, a resume will either have an objective or a profile, but not usually both. A profile section can use bullet points and may include such items as "Twenty years experience in this field," "Managed a small office for five years at ABC Company," "Collaborated with a team of professionals during my master's program where we built a company from the ground up," etc. Write anything that shows you are qualified for the position.
  • Education/Academics - should present your most recent education first. If you have little education after high school, then include your high school education; otherwise, it is okay to leave it off. Also, include any training or college you may have had that is relevant for the position.
  • Work History/Professional Experience - should have your most current employment at the top. Under each place of employment, you should include dates of employment, name of the company, position held, and location of employment.
  • Skills - It can be set up in one of two ways. One is as its header, the other being under each bullet within the work history section for each of your previous employments. If your skills are repetitive when setting up under each work history bullet, you want to make "skills" its own header. You may also want to stick to a separate header If some of your previous job skills are irrelevant to the job that you are applying.
  • Awards/Professional Recognition/Honors/Special Training - This section is much like skills. It can become part of the education or work history section, or it may be a heading of its own. If most of your recognition or training occurred before your most recent employment or educational experience, then you should have a separate awards/(etc.) section. You don't want to give a false perception that you no longer seek out specialized training nor work hard to receive recognition or rewards. Another reason to have a separate header is if your awards or honors do not pertain to either your employment or education.
  • Activities/Volunteer Work/Leadership Activities/Extracurricular Activities - This is an excellent section to include if you are unable to show your leadership abilities in other areas of the resume. If you are involved in the community, this is an excellent area to show that. Many prospective employers will look highly on your involvement. Make sure only to include extracurricular activities that pertain to the job in which you are applying. Ideally, your activities will prove you can lead, work well with others, multi-task, perform a particular job function, etc.
  • References Available Upon Request - is not a must and is often used more as a filler to a short resume. If you are applying for a job, it is expected that you will provide references if they ask; therefore, this is somewhat redundant and should be avoided.

Handshake Seals the Deal

Your goal of a well-written resume is to get the handshake that welcomes you on board.
Your goal of a well-written resume is to get the handshake that welcomes you on board. | Source

Words To Use

When choosing how to describe yourself, feel free to boast about yourself, but be careful of using words that sound like you are embellishing. Common embellishing words include phenomenal, fantastic, outstanding, or awesome.

Avoid weak words like "worked with," "to be," "to do."

Use power words such as conceptualized, systematized, streamlined, collaborated, authored, pioneered, designed, targeted, coached, increased (IE. Increased profits 10%), or reduced (reduced waste by 10%). These words make an ordinary task sound impressive.


Instead of: Worked closely with the inside sales department.

State: Collaborated with the inside sales department.

Instead of: Created logo for fourteen companies in the past year.

State: Conceptualized and designed logos for fourteen companies in the past year.

List of Adjectives to Describe Yourself

hard worker
quick and eager learner
task oriented
eager to learn and grow professionally
pays attention to detail
team player
solution oriented

Dress for Success at a Job Fair

No matter where you are interviewing for, dress for success.
No matter where you are interviewing for, dress for success. | Source

Listing Skills

Expressing your skills is a vital part of your resume; it is your skills that cause you to stand out among the pile of resumes in front of them. The most impressive skills should be under your most recent employment to show that you have grown and developed as a worker. Another place where you can show your skills is under a profile section.

Focus on the needs of the company. This means you may have to change your abilities dependent on where you are applying. Most often, they will tell you what skills they want you to have in their job listing. For instance, a real-life ad stated,

Our client is looking for candidates that will be responsible for checking documentations against electronic files to ensure the accuracy of documents. Electronic files can be scanned documents, spreadsheets, and other data reserves such as blueprints, schematics, designs, etc. The training and support from more experienced Engineers will be provided to the selected candidates.

This ad shows that they need someone accurate, so you want to use words like detail-oriented, focused, diligent, and conscientious. Be sure to use these keywords either in your skills section or within your profile.

You also need to tell them if you have experience looking at blueprints, schematics, designs, as well as electronic files and spreadsheets, which would go under the skills section, or if applicable, in the work history section.

Finally, they mentioned you would be trained; so other good things to note are that you are teachable and a quick learner, as well as work well with others. These are good things to show under an objective or profile, as well as the skills section. Useful keywords include quick and eager learner, ambitious, energetic, and intelligent.

It's important to edit your resume several times before sending it out to a prospective employer.
It's important to edit your resume several times before sending it out to a prospective employer. | Source

Once Your Resume Is Complete

  • Check for spelling or grammatical errors.
  • Take a look at the layout. Make sure that it is uniform, professional, and straightforward.
  • Check for spelling or grammatical errors a second time.
  • Have someone look over it for you. Often, the prospective employer will see things that you will overlook due to having stared at it for hours.
  • Set it aside for at least an hour, if not for a day, then read over it one last time.

If it is clean of spelling and grammatical errors, print, deliver, and begin preparing for the interview that will hopefully follow.

Your resume is what will open doors to new employment. It must look professional, neat, and free of mistakes. First impressions are lasting impressions. Make sure you impress from the beginning, so you stand out amongst the rest.

The 4 Elements Every Resume Must Have

© 2012 Angela Michelle Schultz


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