Although writing a resume is a very personal experience, it pays to follow some basic guidelines in order to increase the likelihood of potential employers taking your application to the next step. The following ten points are collected from top expert sources and should assist in making your resume clear, interesting and impactful.

  1. Get down with the times. As well as your name, address, phone number and email address, many hiring managers would also expect to see a LinkedIn address if you have one. For the more technical of readers, QR codes are becoming increasingly common as a method of quickly and easily connecting people with your online profile.  
  2. Choose your words carefully. Some companies now use resume screening software before a manager will sit and read them. In order to make sure your resume flies straight through this process, use accurate and professional language that is relevant to the skills, qualifications and job history the job requires. An easy way to do this is to read the job description and company webpage and echo the language used.
  3. Make the first paragraph stand out. This can either be an ‘Objectives’ section or a ‘Summary’ section. Either way, grab the reader’s attention by using impressive language and listing your biggest achievements.
  4. Keep the layout consistent. There are various formats a resume can take: for example, chronological or functional. Choose the format that suits your application best. Make sure that your resume sticks to the formatting rules throughout and never combine different layout plans, which will lead to your resume appearing disorganized.
  5. Keep it down to business. A potential employer does not need to know what you look like till he or she interviews you. Neither do they need to know your marriage status, family set-up or religion, unless it is highly relevant to an application (if applying to be a Catholic Priest, feel free to include your religion). This ensures that no one can make personal judgments about you based on your resume.
  6. Make sure you list the biggest accomplishments of your previous positions. Did you raise the company revenue by $2 million in your first year? Mention it. Did you restructure middle management in your previous organization to make it more effective, culminating in a much high productivity level? Let your potential employer know.
  7. Make the small print small. If you were a regional manager, write ‘Manager’ as your job title and leave the regional information - ‘Responsible for the Northwest region of the USA’ -  in the smaller text below. I would not recommend leaving this information off your resume, but there is no reason to draw attention to it.
  8. Don’t lie. Although you can draw attention to the more impressive aspects of your resume, lying on your resume is a sure way to lose a job or job offer. If you can understand basic French, do not write that you are a fluent speaker. You never know when you’ll be asked to interview with a native French speaker or be asked to proofread an email to an office in Paris. Even if you don’t lose your job, you will lose any admiration you earned in your new workplace.
  9. Use the appropriate amount of pages. Whilst the advice to stick to a one-page resume is outdated, do not write more than you need to. Read it repeatedly when you are finished and eliminate any waffle or ‘fluff’. If you need to save space, take out the personal interests section: very few hiring managers care if you do yoga once a week.
  10. Proofread your resume. A high percentage of people will discount a resume for even the smallest of errors. It is imperative that both your spelling and grammar are of a good standard and that the resume reads well. If you are applying for job in an English speaking country and English is not your first language, we recommend having an English speaker proofread your resume.


Copyright © 2013-present BlueSteps, Inc. All rights reserved. The Executive Job Search Engine for Professionals | Bluesteps