Do's & Dont's


  • Use a direct, active writing style. Make your statements short, telegraphic sentences. Avoid the use of “I”; Instead, begin sentences or phrases with action words.
  • Start with a first draft. Begin the process with the knowledge that a top-notch resume is rarely written the first time. Expect to do several revisions.
  • Open with a summary or objective statement. Indicate in which functional area you want to work; what combination of special skills/expertise and distinctions you bring to the job; what you can do for your future employer.
  • Keep the resume to one or two pages. Employers, search firms, and agencies simply do not have the time, nor the patience, to read a lengthy document. Make it easy for them to keep reading yours.
  • Make it visually appealing. Use lots of white space and wide margins, which make it easy to scan.
  • Use the present tense to describe your current job. However, if describing something already implemented or achieved, use past tense. All previous positions should be described in past tense.
  • Support all activities and accomplishments with results and benefits.
  • Summarize early employment by briefly describing your functions.
  • Pick a resume format and be consistent. If dates appear on the left side of the page, don't randomly switch to the right side.
  • Describe specific responsibilities. Highlight accomplishments by describing results, qualifying or quantifying the accomplishment wherever possible. Use positive language in describing your accomplishments.
  • Write out all numerals up to and including the number nine. Use the numerical form for “10” to “999,999.”
  • Use short phrases rather than complete sentences. If you can say something in three words, don't use 10.
  • Keep the receiver of your resume In mind. Ask yourself, “If I were the employer, would I interview this person?" Unless the answer is an unqualified “YES,” you still have some work to do.
  • Use words and phrases appropriate to your next employer/industry, not your previous employer/industry.
  • Lay out your resume so that a job description or a sentence on the first page doesn't run over to the second.
  • Use capital letters, dashes, underlining, or bullets emphasize certain items to make them stand out. Use these symbols judiciously, or they lose their effect.
  • Proofread the final product for correct spelling, punctuation, and grammatical and typographical errors. Have an independent, “detail” person proofread for errors you might have missed.

  • Avoid using abbreviations. Use professional or technical jargon only if it is relevant to the position you seek.
  • Exclude extraneous Information such as personal Information that does not support your objective or summary statement.
  • Resist the temptation to use odd-sized paper, overly fancy stock, color, style, or anything considered eccentric. Use a good white, cream, or light gray 8 ½” x 11” paper stock.
  • Leave the snapshot of yourself off the resume.
  • You don't need to list references. Reserve them for the interview.
  • Leave off the personal data: age, marital status, number of children, health.
  • Devote more space to recent jobs than you do earlier ones. Employers are generally Interested in your most recent experience.
  • Reverse chronological order is standard.
  • Avoid overemphasizing your educational background. If you have been out of school five years or more, you are selling your work experience rather than your academic record.
  • Make sure there aren't any gaps between employment dates. List jobs by year rather than by month and year. Briefly state a good reason for any gap (e.g., returned to school full-time or worked on temporary jobs), or use the functional resume format.