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Resume Tips

A resumé is one’s own personal marketing tool. It is not an autobiography, but rather a concise purposeful document that sums up your experience, credentials, qualifications and skills as related to a specific position. Typically employers spend less than 15 seconds looking at a resumé before they decide if you should move forward. The following are some tips on how to make your resumé stand out, in a good way.

Key Content Components

Basics you should include in your resumé.

Contact Information

  • Full name, mailing address, personal phone number and personal email address.
  • Spell out abbreviations, i.e. Ave. should be written as Avenue.
  • Do not use your work phone number/email address, rather list a professional sounding personal email address. Avoid using the silly and/or inappropriate email address you created when you were 13 years old. Create a new email address if you have to, it’s FREE!!
  • Make sure your voicemail has a favorable greeting. Smile as you are recording your voicemail greeting you will sound a lot more pleasant.

Qualifications and Skills

  • In 3-7 statements summarize what qualifies you for the position and what sets you apart from other applicants.
  • Statements should be tailored to the position and should highlight what is to come in your resumé.


  • List experiences in reverse chronological order, so most recent first.
  • Include both paid and unpaid experiences if they are relevant to the position.
  • List at least 5 statements of accomplishment for each position, but no more than 10.
  • Stay within the past 10 years, unless you have experience relevant to the current job you are seeking that is just outside of the 10 year timeframe.
  • Keep the focus on significant contributions, rather than standard responsibilities.
  • Past experience should be referenced in the past tense, a current position should be referenced in the present tense.

Education, licensures and professional certifications

  • List schools attended for at least one year in reverse chronological order.
  • Provide the full name of the school, spell out abbreviations and acronyms.
  • Indicate degree/credential earned, completion date month and year (or anticipated completion date month and year).
  • Include relevant professional affiliations, licensures, etc. along with expiration date month and year (this can also be a separate section if you have a lot to list).

Formatting Tips

Your resumé should be visually pleasing to the eye.

Minimize empty space

  • Set margins within ½ to 1 inch on all sides.
  • If you are having difficulty finding the right balance between space and text or fitting everything onto one page, modify the font type or size.
  • Bullet point statements are easier to read than complete paragraphs.


  • Stick to one page if you have less than 10 year’s professional experience in the field for which you are applying, and/or have completed up to the bachelor’s level of education.
  • Two pages are acceptable if you have more than 10 years professional experience in the field for which you are applying; have completed a master’s level or higher degree; or are applying for an engineering type position for which you will need space to prove your technical knowledge.


  • Stick with a conservative, easy to read font that potential employers can read as well as software programs that scan for keywords.
  • Use black type.
  • Stay within 10-12 point for general body text, section headings can be slightly larger 12-14 point or bold.
  • Use “safe” fonts such as Arial, Calibri, Century Old Style, Garamond, Georgia, and of course Times New Roman.
  • Your name is generally the only opportunity to stray from the above tips, but don't get too crazy. Use a slightly larger, fun, but easy to read font.

Miscellaneous Tips

  • Always, always, always check spelling and grammar. Get a second opinion from another set of eyes.
  • Also make sure font and page formatting is consistent throughout the document.
  • Write abbreviations and acronyms out.
  • You may think a little embellishment never hurt anything, however do not lie on a resumé. Keep in mind a potential employer may ask you or a reference details about an item listed on your resumé.
  • Be familiar with the information you included in your resumé.
  • Do not over-share personal information on your resumé. Again, this is a concise document that sums up your professional experience, not your life story.
  • Consider using some word phrases from the responsibilities listed in the job description. A word may stand out to a potential employer skimming resumés.
  • If applying to multiple positions at once, make sure you tailor each resumé to each position.
  • If submitting your resume electronically, save it as a PDF to preserve formatting.

Resume style will vary slightly depending on the organization, position and individual. The main goal of a resumé is to effectively communicate assets in writing to a potential employer. You may also want to research examples of resumé formats within your specific industry. Happy job hunting!