We’ve consulted with hiring managers, recruiters, and employers to select the 35 best resume tips to help you write a great resume.
If you’re aiming to land more interviews — and ultimately a great job — then read on.
Basic Resume Tips
There are some basic details you need to include on your resume to make it presentable. Follow these simple (yet important) tips to ensure your resume makes it to the hiring manager.
1. Keep your contact details up to date
You need to make sure your contact details are in a prominent place on your resume. For example, in your resume header or in a dedicated section at the top or side of your resume. They also need to be accurate, so double check them, otherwise the hiring manager won’t be able to contact you. They should include your:
- Phone number
Adding your mailing address is optional. The hiring manager doesn’t need it because it’s too slow, but you might want to include it (or just your city and state) to reassure them that you’re local and don’t need to relocate.
You can add a link to your online portfolio or personal website if you’re creating a graphic design resume for example, or seeking work in another creative industry.
2. Display your education section correctly
How your resume education section looks will depend on how recently you graduated college or high school.
If you’re a recent graduate, your education section will be more prominent, and might even include bullet points listing job-relevant coursework.
As you gain more work experience, your education section will shrink as your work history expands. But at a minimum, your education section should list your highest educational degree (for example, high school, college, etc.) and institution name.
3. List all required certifications for the job
Many roles demand certain certifications or other requirements for you to be considered.
If these qualifications are stated in the job listing, make sure to include them. Some examples of details you may need to list are as follow:
- Licenses and certifications
- Professional affiliations
- Awards (including “Employee of the Month”)
- Professional memberships
4. Include a resume introduction
There are several factors to take into account when you decide how to begin your resume. You should consider:
- The industry
- Your career stage (for example, entry level or with several years of experience)
- If you’re in the trying to make a career transition (you’ll need a career change cover letter if that’s the case)
Your resume introduction is the hiring manager’s first introduction to your professional history. Get it right to impress the hiring manager.
5. Target your skills section to the job opening
It’s essential that your skills section includes the resume skills necessary (or highly preferred) in the field you’re applying to.
However, you should also include some soft skills — skills that are transferable across industries. These show the employer you’ll get along with your new colleagues and work well under pressure.
6. Leave out references
It’s a waste of valuable resume real-estate to include references on a resume — or write “references available upon request.” Only provide them if the hiring manager asks you for them.
Instead, use the additional space to include an extra bullet point to your work experience section, or add more relevant skills to your resume.
7. Ensure your experience is achievement oriented
Take time to write a quality work experience section because it’s:
- the biggest section of your resume
- usually the most important section for hiring managers to evaluate your ability (or inability) to do the job.
The key to writing an effective work experience section is to orient it around your accomplishments. Other than this, your experience also includes the organization name, job position, service period, etc. As hiring managers may use this information to conduct background checks, it’s essential to highlight the details correctly. Include specific numbers or quantifiable details related to your past jobs with a number or something quantifiable in each bullet point you write.
For example, a call center representative might write that they answered 47+ calls a day.
Resume Formatting Tips
There are three main resume formats you can use to create a resume: chronological, functional, and combination. However, be aware that there are some formatting conventions hiring managers generally expect you to follow, regardless of your preferred format.
The following resume formatting tips will help you build a strong foundation for your application.
8. Don’t depend on resume samples
Quickly typing “resume sample” into Google brings up hundreds of thousands of results. While there’s no doubt you’ll find some truly professional resume examples available online if you look for them, there are definitely bad examples out there as well.
Although you can use other people’s samples as models, writing a resume that hooks the hiring manager requires you to do more than just copy-paste information from other applicants’ samples.
9. Start with a chronological format resume
Most hiring managers want to see candidates using the chronological resume format for their application. This resume format lists your work history experience from the most recent position you’ve held to the oldest, which is what most employers look at first to assess if you’re a good fit for the position.
When to use it:
- you need a way to display a few skill sets
- you have lots of experience
- the job requires very specific abilities you need to show you have
If you have some gaps in your work history though, the functional resume format is good for showcasing your relevant skills while downplaying the content of your experience section.
10. Select an appropriate template
Applying for a creative role in graphic design or photography? Use a creative resume template, or create one with your design skills. Basic resume templates are better for roles in traditional fields like finance, law, or senior management.
11. Tailor your resume to each position
The vast majority of job seekers have only one version of their resume, and they use this same resume for all of their job applications. This strategy has limitations, simply because jobs vary so much. One resume can’t possibly be optimized for all of them.
Boost the likelihood of getting a call-back for an interview by tailoring your resume to the role you have your eyes on.
No need to worry — you don’t need to create a whole new resume each time. Just tweak your introduction, work history, and skills section so that they include similar language to the job posting.
12. One page is long enough
If you have a lot of experience, it can be difficult keeping your resume concise.
One page is the best resume length for entry- and mid-level professionals. Two pages is also OK if you have extensive experience or a huge relevant skill-set that gives the hiring manager a more in-depth insight into your work history.
However, if you need more than a single page, try to fill up the second page. Leaving it half empty will makes it appear like you have nothing more to say. In such a scenario, simply cut it down and make a single page resume that includes your most compelling work experience and skills.
Unless you’re a senior executive or academic writing a CV, don’t let your resume go beyond two pages.
13. Select appropriate fonts and margins
Even a qualified applicant won’t land an interview if the resume margins, style, and the font for your resume are unprofessional and make their application difficult to read.
If in doubt:
- Size 12 font is standard — never go below 10.5
- Use Georgia or Helvetica
- Choose ½–1 inch margins
14. Transitioning to a new industry? Change the format
If you’re transitioning between careers, use a combination resume. The combination format lets you highlight your transferable skills, while also equally showcasing your most relevant work experience.
15. Save your resume as a PDF
Most job seekers attach their resumes to their emails in Microsoft Word’s docx format. But consider attaching it as a PDF as well. PDFs keep their formatting no matter how they’re viewed, so hiring managers have no trouble opening them.
There are many more reasons to consider when deciding whether to use a resume PDF file or Microsoft Word format, but PDFs are typically a better option.
You can save your resume in Microsoft Word as a PDF by choosing File → Save As, and then clicking PDF in the drop-down menu.
16. No photo necessary
Photos are absolutely unnecessary unless you’re applying to be an actor or model).
Professional resume templates never include space for a photo because hiring managers legally can’t hire you based on your appearance — to do so would open them up to lawsuits.
17. Resume is not the same as CV
CV is an abbreviation for curriculum vitae, which means “course of life” in Latin. It’s the standard application document in academia — for example, you’d use one if you were applying for a doctoral program, or a tenure track professor position.
What’s the difference between a CV and a resume then? CVs are in-depth, multi-page documents that detail every single publication you’ve published, as well as your affiliations and honors. Resumes are professional documents used for job applications.
Resume Content Tips
Using the right resume template will help you create an eye-catching resume, but the content is what keeps the hiring manager reading. Our resume content tips will help you create a content-rich resume and land interviews.
18. Don’t let your skills section be too generic
The majority of job seekers should add a skills section to their resume, but do you truly have the skills the job posting calls for?
Make your resume stand out by including both hard and soft skills to showcase you have both people skills and technical know-how related to the job.
Your soft skills are related to your personality, like whether you have good communication skills and keep calm under pressure. Hard skills are technical skills that you learn.
19. Don’t highlight employment gaps
Employers will be turned off by gaps in your work history, so don’t draw attention to them on your resume. That way, you hopefully won’t have to talk about them until the interview, if at all.
A functional resume can help you de-emphasize work experience gaps. This format works by helping transform your unconventional work history into a selling point as it focuses on your skills and abilities.
20. Try a modern summary of qualifications
Have several years of professional experience? Add a summary of qualifications to your resume to showcase your particular skills and abilities.
Use your qualifications summary to replace the traditional resume objective, which focuses more on your goals than the company’s needs.
Resume objectives are still suitable for new graduates, who don’t always have the experience to build a good qualifications summary.
Qualifications summaries let you advertise your accomplishments and competencies at the top of your resume in concise bullet points, allowing the employer to see them immediately.
Another option for starting off your resume is a resume profile, which borrows elements from both objectives and qualifications summaries. Choose the one most suited to your work history and your resume will immediately improve.
21. Keep the content of your resume recent
Your recent career trajectory is what hiring managers want to see, so they can assess your professional development. That’s why the chronological resume format is the standard style for most job applicants.
However, you should only list the last 15 years of work history on your resume (if your history even goes back that far). Experiences before then generally aren’t relevant, unless you achieved something particularly notable that’s related to the role during that time.
22. Omit unnecessary information
Adding hobbies to your resume can give an insight into your personality. However, focus on hobbies applicable to the position if you decide to go this route.
For instance, if you’re applying to be a personal trainer, saying you do tai chi will show you have the right level of fitness. However, it probably won’t help you get a job as an accountant.
23. Optimize your resume for applicant tracking systems
Many corporations use applicant tracking systems (ATS), a type of software specifically designed to filter applications. ATS software can help companies pinpoint keywords and key phrases in applicant resumes, and disqualify applicants who don’t use these terms.
They’re generally programmed to use the same keywords and phrases found in the job posting, so make sure your resume includes them.
24. Boost your resume with action verbs
Action verbs make your resume bullet points more compelling. They better sell your abilities to hiring managers, and help you avoid sounding robotic.
Our ultimate list of resume action verbs is a starting point if you want to make your resume demand more attention from whoever reads it.
As well as resume action verbs, don’t forget to add some resume adjectives to really sell your resume.
25. Include internal promotions on your resume
Many people only list the highest position they were promoted to at each company they worked for. This is a mistake.
You should list each of the titles you held, along with the dates you held those titles, because they indicate career growth. For instance, if you were promoted three times in a five-year period, list each of those titles in your work experience section.
Resume Advice: Language & Grammar Tips
A single grammatical mistake or typo might lead to the hiring manager tossing your resume. Think about it from their point of view: if you can’t make sure a single-page resume is error free, how can they trust you to create error-free work?
Follow these tips to create a grammatically sound resume.
26. Proofread. And then ask someone else to proofread too.
Even if you consider yourself the next J.K. Rowling, you’re not immune to typos. After you’ve written your resume, double- and triple-check it for small errors.
Next, ask someone else to proofread it. You’d be surprised how easy it is to miss typos in your own work. Ideally, pick someone who you know is a good writer.
27. Consistency with periods is essential
Decide whether bullet points should end in a period or not, and then keep it consistent.
28. “Me, myself, and I” — avoid personal pronouns
It’s best to not use personal pronouns (“I,” “me,” and “myself” for example) throughout your resume. Your resume is a record of your personal professional experience — including personal pronouns is redundant.
29. Format numbers consistently
Generally speaking, it looks best to spell out numerals 1-9, (e.g., one, two, three, four, etc.). Numbers 10 and onward should be written in Arabic numerals, e.g., (10, 11, 12).
Professional Resume Tips
Add a little professionalism into your resume with some of the following professional resume tips.
30. Most personal information is unnecessary
Interviewers who ask questions about personal information classified as“protected classes” can be sued by the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Protected classes include:
- Marital status
- Sexual orientation
There’s no need to include this information on your resume.
31. Drop the college/teenage email
If you still have access to your university email account, don’t use it on job applications. Some schools delete student email accounts when you graduate — so you might never get your emails.
Concerned about overloading your personal email with job-related emails? Create another email only for job applications. For example, CeciliaRyderCareer@gmail.com
Also don’t use any teenage email addresses with dubious account names. CrazyGirl1069@hotmail.com might have been funny when you were 13, but it’s not going to impress employers.
32. Consider adding social media links
Most job seekers don’t need to include any social media links, except LinkedIn. However, linking to your online profiles sometimes enhances your application. Here are the full details on which social media links to add to your resume:
- LinkedIn: Lets hiring managers get a broader insight into your professional background and see whether you have mutual networking contacts. Once you’ve finished writing it, you can add your resume to LinkedIn. Make sure your profile photo is professional and welcoming by opting for a smile and a smart new outfit.
- Facebook: Adding your Facebook details is unnecessary. However, since many hiring managers check out potential employees’ Facebook accounts, make sure there is nothing unsavory on there, or lock down your privacy settings so only friends can see your profile. Save the status updates and baby pictures for your friends and family.
- Twitter: Adding your Twitter account can be useful if you’re applying for a social media role.
- Instagram: Only add your Instagram account if it’s directly relevant to the industry. For example, you’re applying for a chef’s role and you have many pictures of your creations on Instagram.
Job Search Advice
Creating a perfect resume is just the first step. You still have to send it out to hiring managers.
Follow our job search tips to get your application noticed fast.
33. Write a customized cover letter
Matching your resume with an effective cover letter is essential for creating a great application, because it gives hiring managers additional insight into how your work history and accomplishments fulfill the requirements in the job posting.
You can use a cover letter template that matches your resume to make your application particularly eye-catching. Once you’ve found your favorite template, learn how to write a cover letter — after all it’s not much use having a great resume but a subpar cover letter.
34. Don’t forget to attach every document to the email
Nothing is more embarrassing in the job hunting process than sending two emails because you forgot to include something in the first.
Double check that you’ve attached your resume and used the correct email address for the recipient. Check the message body and subject line for typos too.
The subject should include your name, the position you’re applying for, and the words “Job Application”:
“George Lopez – Delivery Driver Job Application”
35. Last, remember to follow up
To confirm that the employer received your paperwork, follow up your application with a phone call. You can also use this as an opportunity to showcase your communication skills by talking like a professional over the phone.
And after an interview, send a polite thank you letter to reiterate your enthusiasm for the position if you felt the interview went particularly well.
Writing a great resume doesn’t have to be difficult. Bear these tips in mind as you write your resume, and you’ll find your odds of success improve.
If you don’t have the time to write your own resume though, we’re here to help. Simply download one of our free industry-specific resume examples and use it to boost your application.