The dos and don’ts of writing a great resume

The first step in the job search is writing a good resume. A good resume can make all the difference when it comes to getting noticed and being asked to interview for the position.

Sometimes, when a position receives a high number of applicants, hiring managers and recruiters will scan the resumes for grammar or formatting mistakes to quickly thin out the pile.

There are also programs that scan resumes automatically for certain keywords and formatting, which could knock you out of the running before you’ve really gotten a chance. 

This means that your resume must be easy to read, have proper formatting and grammar, and grab the reader’s attention within the first minute to avoid being passed over.

The dos of writing a good resume

Resume Length

If you do not have a lot of experience, then you should condense your work experience into a single page. For those that have more work history and experience to share, it is acceptable to write a resume that is two pages in length. If your work experience is going to exceed the two pages, then condense the last 10 years of employment history.

There are exceptions for those seeking executive-level opportunities, and that is to include all relevant work history but should limit the length to three pages. 

Contact Information

Most employers will want to see contact information included on your resume, so make sure you include your professional or personal email address (one that you think employers would want to see) and your current phone number. This will likely be what they use to contact you to schedule an interview.

Tense matters

All employment history should be listed based on the most recent and work backward. This means that your current job would be listed at the top, followed by the job before that, and so on. In your current role, make sure you use present tense to show the audience what you are currently working on and/or responsible for. Previous work history can be written in past tense so the reader understands what you did in your prior occupations.


Make sure formatting is consistent and that there is not a lot of blank space on the page. You’ll want to edit your margins, use an easy-to-read font, and stay consistent in font size. You can use a larger size font or bold the headings, but make sure they are consistent throughout the document and do not have variation. For example, if each previous employer is in bold, then make sure the font type and size are also the same.

The don’ts of writing a good resume

Remove unnecessary information

When people are reading your resume, be mindful of the time they are investing in this process. All information should be relevant to the position you are applying for. Remove unnecessary information, some of the most common items that fit into this category are:

  • Objective statements – this used to be a requirement in the past but many employers understand that your objective is to get the job in which you are applying for. Make your resume speaks to your accomplishments.
  • References – Do not include references on your resume, this takes up space that could be better used for listing your current and past accomplishments. When an employer is ready, they will ask for references.
  • GPA Information does not need to be included unless you are currently enrolled or have recently graduated.

Don’t rely on spellcheck alone

Spellcheck is a great tool to help catch some grammar mistakes but it doesn’t always capture homonyms that might be in your resume. Therefore, it is important to make sure that you proofread your resume, and have someone you trust look it over, too.

Avoid trendy templates

There are creative resume templates that you can find online that attempt to visually capture the hiring manager’s attention. The fact is, while they might be catchy and nice to look at, they detract the reader’s attention from your accomplishments and experience. Hiring managers want to be able to quickly read over your experience in easy-to-read formatting, and creative templates may keep them from being able to do so.

Writing a resume doesn’t have to be complicated. Following the tips above can you help build a strong resume and hopefully get you noticed!