Jun 092009

We are all well aware that the job market is very tight and there are many people who are competing for the same positions. The first step in the process is for employers to review the resumes of people applying for a position. What are they looking for and what can you do to increase your chance of landing an interview?

1. Start with a clearly stated job objective or background summary. An objective works best when you can be specific as to the type of position you are looking for. If you are flexible and can consider several types of positions, the background summary may be the best way to highlight your skills and abilities.



Position as a Controller utilizing successful accounting and managerial experience.

Background Summary:

Experienced manager with excellent team abilities and strong leadershipskills. Enthusiastic, highly motivated and can be counted on to get the job done.Excellent communication skills with the ability to relate to all levels within an organization.

(Note: If you have your resume on your computer, you can change the objectiveand/or background summary to fit a particular position.)

2. A good resume sets forth your accomplishments. It should not be a list of jobduties. Employers want to know what can do for them and how you havecontributed in your previous positions. Begin each statement with an action verb and provided quantifiable information whenever possible:


Increased sales by ___% each quarter for the past two years.

Developed a ___________program resulting in savings of $__________.

Served as team leader on a project which resulted in cost savings of $________.

Designed and implemented a performance appraisal program for six locations.

3. It is not necessary to list every job you have ever had. Employers are most concerned about what you’ve done recently and not what you did fifteen years ago. Listing many years of work experience could be a liability in competing with younger workers.

4. Do not list hobbies or outside interests unless they have a direct correlation to the skills and abilities an employer is seeking.


The following could raise a red flag with an employer:

Hobbies; skydiving, racing – employer may consider you an insurance risk

However, if you a volunteer for a hospice program and you are applying toa social service agency, this could be a plus.

5. There is nothing magic about a one-page resume. In fact, if you have been inthe workforce for any length of time, it would be impossible to communicateeverything you have to offer in one page. Try not to go beyond two pages or your resume might not get read.

6. DO NOT FALSIFY your work history or education. More employers than ever are doing background checks and you will not get hired if you are found to be dishonest. The employer can terminate you at anytime if they find out your application and/or resume was false.

7. Use a quality bond paper, white, cream or grey. Don’t get cute or fancy withbold colors or graphics unless you are applying for a position in the arts. Do not include a picture!

8. Do not overuse bolding, underlining or mix fonts. Make sure your resume is easy to read and has lots of white space. Check and double check for spelling and typos. Using spell check is not full proof. For example, if you use the word their when you really meant there, spell check would not pick this up as the word is not misspelled. Have two or three people proof your resume. After you’ve been working on it awhile, you can easily miss something.

9. Make sure your contact information at the top of your resume is current. If you are using your cell phone, be sure your voice mail message is professional! You will definitely turn a recruiter off if your voice mail is offensive. When job hunting, do not have little children on your voice mail.

10. Seek professional help if you do not have good writing skills. It is well worth the cost as you only have one chance to make a good first impression.

One final piece of advice! When sending out your resume, you increase your chances of getting an interview if your cover letter specifically addresses how your background and skills match what the company is looking for. Do not use a one-size-fits-all cover letter. It will be obvious to the recruiter. Do your research and find out something about the company. You will truly stand out if you do this as most people don’t take the time to go that extra step.

Good luck and happy job hunting!

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  15 Responses to “Top Ten Tips for Resume Writing”

  1. Hey Cathy, this top ten list is fantastic, excellent recommendations for resumes. I think people don’t understand the importance of a well put together resume, I have poured a lot of time into mine for my summer internship for my MBA program and I have seen a big difference in the number of interviews I receive compared to classmates of similar skill level and experience. It is the first impression that hiring managers receive and they only have so much time to interview people, it is essential to use this document to your advantage. You can post this to our site http://www.toptentopten.com/ and link back to your site. We are trying to create a directory for top ten lists where people can find your site. The coolest feature is you can let other people vote on the rankings of your list.

  2. Good Summary. I like to also remind people that they should have 2 versions of a resume. One should be electronic so they can apply online. This is the starting point today for many positions. This should have lot’s of good job related keywords that can be picked up when people are searching for candidates. Use synonyms because you don’t know the terminology used by the searcher. (For instance, a supervisor in a manufacturing plan can also be a shift leader or a line lead.) The second one like you mentioned in #7 is on nice paper. This is the version you show up with at your interview or use for a job fair.

  3. This is actually full of great information. You wouldn’t happen to have any tips on cover letters or when you apply for a job and they want you to send them an email with your resume. I don’t feel right about sending an empty email with a resume attachment.

  4. Nice information regarding the writing a resume. Let’s not forget that the cover letter is as important…

    It’s a refreshing take and certainly thought provactive. I’ll subscribe to your RSS feed for future updates.


    .-= Jane@Winning Cover Letter´s last blog ..What Should I Do? =-.

  5. You are right on the money with these examples:

    “Increased sales by ___% each quarter for the past two years.

    Developed a ___________program resulting in savings of $__________.

    Served as team leader on a project which resulted in cost savings of $________.”

    The current Recession (Depression?) is heating up the competition. Employers want RESULTS not excuses. Since there’s tons of experienced employees losing their jobs nowadays, employers are less focused on finding people with POTENTIAL as they are with finding people who are PROVEN ASSETS. This focus might mean the difference between survival and bankruptcy.

    Every resume is really sales copy. You are selling your skills, your experience, and your overall value. So don’t be passive… write it to SELL!

  6. These are great pointers. I agree with point number 6 wholeheartedly. There is no way that you won’t get caught out if you add false information regarding work history or education. Your experience level will give you away as soon as they ask a couple of pertinent questions.

  7. You mentioned it already, but its good to self review your resume 3-4 times. Get it reviewed by your colleagues too. Its never necessary to include all the information in resume, only the best ones.
    JB recently posted..Tips on how to write a good resumeMy Profile

  8. Useful tips here, after spending a few hours scanning through resumes, I totally agree that the format should be easy to read, I would also recommend that you consider highlighting keywords from the job description in the resume, when there are 1000+ applicants we’ve had 3 people working around a table just trying to manage the sorting of resumes. It certainly helped to see important keyword in bold or italics.

  9. Wow! You have some very good tips for people that wish to build a good resume. As you stated, one of the most important things to remember is not to “Falsify” information on you resume. One little fib will cost you that job and could affect future positions. Ensure that your resume is written to match the job description, without falsifying information.

  10. Great tips on resume writing and the advice like creating a cover letter. Of course, you should be very focused about the hiring company. Ultimately, the goal is to convince yourself that you are the best and you can handle it properly.

  11. The job market is certainly tight and although its all very well posting your resume out I suppose its forces someone in HR to notice you, at least for 30 seconds anyway, but email is the new way of communicating and there may just be a move towards online profiles such as linked in or even your own flash / html web resume. It all really depends on your industry, solicitors and doctors and the like and slower to take up technology and probably still want a hard copy sent by snail mail but many industries prefer eMail attachements. Just make sure its in a readable format. Just like with snail mail who you mark your letter for is very important you rightly state do your research but for sure you need to find the email of the actualy person doing the hiring not just HR – imagine what I did emailed my Resume to the MD of the company who loved it and passed it on to HR – now they simply weren’t going to go against his recommendation although he didn’t really say much to them but the transfer of power sends a message to the gatekeepers – message of the story don’t get blocked by the gatekeepers find a way to slip you Resume through, resume writing is wasted if it doesn’t hit its target.

  12. I really like this post. The tips about having a professional answer phone massage is so true. Hobbies, should only be used if, and only if they show skills that will benefit the employer. The topic on consiceness is perfect. 1 or 2 page resume and CV only.

  13. Thanks. I appreciate your comments and I will try to keep the blogs interesting!

  14. Cathy,

    Great post – I just realized it is from 2009! Going on 4 years old and still relevant. I agree with all your points, specifically numbers 2 and 5 (these are what I typically need to stress to my clients). Anyhow, thank you for your recommendations!

  15. Hi! Thanks for this. I only found out that this was an old post when I started reading the comments. Still, really good though..

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