Resume Writing Tips

Read these 16 Resume Writing Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Resume tips and hundreds of other topics.

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What should I do if I have gaps in my work experience?

Resume Dates

By solely using years instead of months and years in your chronological resume, you can avoid revealing gaps in your work history. However, you'll need another strategy if you have a gap of two years or more.

Don't simply leave the gap on your resume without an explanation. Without an explanation, the hiring manager may think that you have something to hide. If you were a full-time student, a full-time mother, or a volunteer at a humanitarian organization during the period of time that you weren't working, then explain that in the body of your resume.

These are not only valid explanations that will comfort the recruiter, but they may also stimulate interest. Employers often want employees who are not one dimensional.

Should I send a resume even if I don’t seem to be qualified?

Resume Submission

What is the harm of applying for a position for which you don't seem to be qualified? If you tailor your resume and cover letter the right way, nothing is wrong with going for it.

Applying for a job is like entering a lottery; you have to be in it to win it. You certainly should focus on jobs for which you are very qualified, but don't be afraid to apply for jobs which are seemingly out of reach. Your unique skills and personality may secure you a dream job.

Should I tailor my resume to fit an employer’s job posting?

Resume Key Words

Using the same key words that an employer uses in a job posting has become one of the most important resume writing criteria.

For instance, if the phrase “excellent communication skills” is used in a job posting, then it would behoove you to use the same or similar phrase in your resume. This is not only important for catching the recruiter's eye, but it is also important because many companies now use computer software that searches resumes for key phrases.

Is it okay to make up my own job titles?

Official Titles in Resumes

You should always put your official title on your resume. This is one of the things that an employer checks, so you may be immediately dismissed from the job screening process if your contrived job title doesn't match the title provided by your human resources department.

If you feel strongly that your official title doesn't accurately represent your duties then you may create a more appropriate title and put your official title in parentheses immediately adjacent to your self-proclaimed title.

Potential employers may raise their eyebrows at this though, and you could just as easily list all of your accomplishments within the scope of your current position and then list the additional project and goals you have attained.

Should I cite my ethnicity or religion in my resume?

Ethnicity and Religion in a Resume

You shouldn't cite your ethnicity in your resume unless you're sure that it would have a positive impact on getting a specific job. Of course, you may want to think hard about taking a job where your ethnicity is a major factor.

The discussion of ethnicity and religion poses potential legal issues for employers, and employers are typically more concerned about how you perform, not where you pray or the color of you skin.

When filling out my work history, should I list my duties or list my accomplishments?

Accomplishment Statements in a Resume

Simply listing your job duties on your resume is not very valuable. It's quite likely that many people have the same job duties as you. You differentiate yourself from the competition by elaborating on how you have leveraged those duties to improve business.

Resume Writing Tip: You should list any revenue that you brought in and any savings you may have sparked through analysis, project work or your every day duties. Listing job duties tells the employer about your job; listing accomplishments tells the employer about you.

How should I prioritize my accomplishments and skills?

Prioritizing Accomplishments in a Resume

You should prioritize your accomplishments and skills according to impressiveness, uniqueness, and relevance to the prospective position. Don't bury the skill that would be most likely to impress a recruiter.

Resumes are scanned quickly, so a recruiter may move on to the next resume if you lead with an irrelevant skill. Revenue and statistical data can make a big impression on a resume, so keep track of what you do in your daily work that is impacting the company overall.

Should I include references in my resume?

References and Resumes

References should be included in a document separate from your resume and should only be furnished upon request.

Even including a line that explains that references will be furnished upon request is unnecessary and wastes valuable space.

Employers assume that you will be able to supply references, and a prospective employee that refuses to do so will probably not be hired.

How can I make my accomplishment statements more impressive?

Resume Numbers

Inserting numbers is a simple and effective way to increase the value of your professional accomplishment statements.

Employers like to have measurable results, not arbitrary assessments of your skills. Use the numbers that are most impressive. Assuming that 2% = $250,000, would it be more impressive to state that you increased revenue by 2% or $250,000?

Should I exaggerate on my resume?

Exaggerating in Resumes

You should neither exaggerate nor lie on your resume. This is not simply advice that will make the world a better place; this will make your job search a better job search.

It's quite likely that your exaggerations will be exposed during a background check or an interview. Not only will you be risking immediate removal from the candidate pool, but it might taint your reputation in the industry.

How can I make sure that my resume is error free?

Proofreading Resumes

You should definitely proofread your resume before sending it to an employer. Using your word processing software's integrated grammar/spell-check function is definitely helpful, but it doesn't always catch every error.

You should also have at least one other friend or colleague look over your resume. He or she may not only catch a mistake, but may also have some resume writing tips on how to change the structure or style of your resume.

Should I mention my hobbies and interests in my resume?

Hobbies and Interests in a Resume

Typically, you should avoid mentioning hobbies and interests when resume writing. These hobbies and interests often don't bear much relevance to the position you're applying for, so save your valuable resume space for describing your key experience and skills.

However, you may want to include your hobbies and interests if there is a strong correlation to the available position. Your love of camping would be appropriate to mention if you are trying to become a park ranger.

Should I list old or irrelevant jobs in my job history?

Old Jobs in Resumes

Old jobs can be listed in your job history as long as they bear relevance to your current career track. Otherwise, you would be wasting valuable space and distracting the employer.

You should only include irrelevant jobs if their omission would create a large gap in your work history. However, your accomplishment descriptions should be brief, and you should be prepared to explain why you shifted from your career track.

How can I structure my resume to avoid age discrimination?

Resume Tips to Avoid Age Discrimination

Age discrimination is an illegal practice, but don't assume that it doesn't happen. Avoiding ageism is always a challenge, but here are some tips so that you can at least get your foot in the door.

You can help to avoid age discrimination by not listing your complete work history on your resume. Instead of giving your complete 40-year work history, you can describe the most recent 15-20 years of your work experience under the heading of “Recent Work History,” “Relevant Work History,” or simply “Work History.”

It's probable that your most important and relevant experience was developed during the last 15-20 years, so relating the responsibilities of your first job probably wouldn't help your cause. You may, however, refer to any prior critical experience by adding a paragraph at the end of your resume that doesn't mention dates (“Prior Relevant Experience”).

Will one small mistake on my resume really make a difference?

Resume Quality

Despite all your wonderful experience and references, one small mistake on your resume could disqualify you from the competition. Of all our resume writing tips, this is one that you should not ignore.

With all the competition for jobs these days, hiring managers look for reasons to thin out the competition, and making a grammatical or spelling mistake would provide them with an easy excuse to toss your resume in the garbage. If you're going to make claims that you're “thorough” and “detail oriented,” then you better make sure that your resume is error free.

How do I write a good resume?

Resume Writing Tips

Describe your job history and skill set in the best possible manner on your resume by harvesting the knowledge of our resume guru at Use resume writing tips from solid resources and avoid passive and wordy descriptions by learning to write in a clean, concise manner that will truly communicate your vast array of skills.

Don't let your resume fall to the bottom of the stack by weighing it down with poor categorization, the wrong job titles or exaggerated content.

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