9 Top Tips on Writing a Resume

Tips on writing a resume that stands out from the competition.

A resume can be difficult to develop but it is the most important marketing tool in your initial job search.

In order to be effective your resume has to grab the reader's attention in the first 20 seconds. Your resume has to prove clearly and concisely that you are the right candidate for the job opportunity.

Use these simple resume writing tips to make an immediate positive impact with your resume.

9 Top Resume Writing Tips and Tricks

1. Customize your resume

It takes a little extra effort but a resume that is tailored to a specific job opportunity and employer is a great deal more effective than a general resume.

Start by customizing your resume objective to the job you are applying for, then go on to customize your profile and job history information to the target job.

2. Include a targeted and persuasive objective statement

Convince the reader immediately that you are able to successfully perform the job. At the start of your resume write a strong objective or profile statement that summarizes your key skills and strengths as they relate to the target job.

Demonstrate straight away the value you can bring to the prospective employer. Top tips on writing a resume suggest that customizing your profile to the job you are applying for is key to a successful resume. When you write your profile keep in mind the question "What makes me the best candidate for this job?" and answer it clearly and convincingly.

The tips and sample objectives at objectives for resumes and the resume objective examples at free resume samples will provide you with a practical guide to developing your own compelling summary.

3. Identify your strengths

Tips on writing a resume include to highlight your strongest skills and abilities as they relate to the target job. Know what your strengths are and make sure you focus on those relevant to the job opportunity. Get help with identifying your key competencies with this guide to What are your strengths?

The list of strengths will provide you with a clear understanding of how the strength or competency presents in the workplace.

4. Put your work experience in reverse chronological order

Your most recent work experience is probably the most relevant. It is usually advisable to only include the last 10 - 15 years of work history. You can summarize earlier work history with a brief description of your achievements during that time.

Prioritize the information provided for each position starting with the most relevant and important details in relation to the job you are applying for.

5. Use the right keywords

This is what gets your resume noticed. The right keywords will ensure that your resume gets read and receives serious consideration. Keywords for a resume are specific to each job opportunity and each employer.

Go to resume keywords list by industry  to find out how to identify the right keywords to use in your resume and to get a list of sample keywords for different careers and job types.

6. Use good resume action words

Highlight your skills and experience by using powerful action words. Resume verbs such as analyzed, controlled, developed, supervised and negotiated provide a clear and convincing picture of your expertise and experience.

Go to resume action words for a comprehensive list of persuasive resume action words for different job categories.

7. Quantify your job performance

Give numbers to your skills, strengths, achievements and experience. Include profits, budgets, number of employees supervised, sales made, clients managed.

Be specific about your accomplishments. Actual facts and figures are more convincing than a generic description of your work tasks and performance. Provide concrete evidence of your skills and abilities to a prospective employer.

8. Put experience before education

This is to highlight your skills and abilities in direct relation to the target job. An exception would be if you are a recent graduate.

Education should be listed in reverse order with degrees and licenses first and certificates and training following. Be selective about the training you include by making sure it is relevant to the target position.

9. Eliminate irrelevant details

Your resume should accurately reflect the work experience and skills you have that match the job requirements. Everything you include in your resume must reinforce the fact that you are a suitable job candidate.

Look carefully at the job description and candidate profile and ensure that you focus on the knowledge, skills and experience that meet the job requirements.

You can get help with understanding the job at free job descriptions. Expert tips on writing a resume suggest a resume should be no longer than 2 pages.

Top tips for a job-winning resume include...

Use an easy-to-read resume format

Organize your information in a factual and focused manner:

  • use bullet points to list your skills and experience
  • long paragraphs of text tend to lack impact and the reader is likely to lose interest
  • short, concise sentences or phrases are more effective

Use the right font

Ensure the font you use is the right size for most people to read comfortably;

  • 12 points is usually an adequate size font
  • avoid fancy fonts that are difficult to read
  • stick with the simple and straightforward such as Arial and Times

A good resume writing tip is to include all the basic information

Your resume should include:

  • your full name
  • address
  • phone number
  • email address
  • include your name, in bold, on each page of the resume

Make sure your email address looks professional.

  • if you have a fun or cute email change it to something more serious
  • avoid using a work email address
  • check your voicemail to ensure that also sounds professional

Resume proofreading tips and tricks

This is one of the essential tips on writing a resume. One small spelling mistake or typo makes a big negative impression.

  • Ask a friend to proofread it as well. Another set of eyes often picks up what you do not.
  • A good proofreading tip is to read your resume backwards. This eliminates text blindness by breaking your reading pattern.

Include a cover letter

It is essential to include a job and employer-specific cover letter with your resume. A well written cover letter makes an initial powerful impact and convinces the reader to take a good look at your resume.

Find excellent cover letter examples and advice at sample cover letters

How to write resume objectives

A top tip for writing a resume include making sure you start your resume with a powerful resume objective. Find help on writing objectives for resumes

Resume Objective Samples

Tips on Writing a Resume part 2

Use these tips on writing a resume to create a resume that lands you the job interview.

Essential tips on writing a resume online

Find out how to create an online resume that gets past the ATS software many companies use to filter out applicants online.

Avoid resume mistakes

10 Resume Killers

Following up on your resume is key to success. Use this sample follow up on resume email to find out about your resume submission.

What about including references in a resume?

There are two schools of thought about including references in your resume. One is that it is advisable to include a reference list with your resume to save the employer having to get back to you and request references. The other is that it is not necessary at this point in your job application, takes up valuable space on your resume and distracts from the substance of your resume.

Including the line "references available on request" is a popular way of indicating that you have references ready and available for potential employers when they require them. However if the employer explicitly states in the job posting that they want references then a properly formatted reference list should be included with your resume.

Sample Job Reference List

Resume Reference Page

Sample resumes that work


Over 50 Sample Resumes


Sample Resume Template


Top Resume Writing Tips

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