Tips for a Better Resume

Creating a good resume is the first step toward landing your dream job. When you prepare your resume, try to follow these general guidelines to impress your potential employer with your professionalism and style:

  • Avoid being clever or cute: Even if a potential employer enjoys a nice bit of wordplay, it simply doesn't belong in your resume (or cover letter). Stick to the facts in plain English.

  • Write in plain English: Having a large vocabulary can be a great asset in a job, but knowing how and when to use it is even more important. Avoid business jargon, acronyms that few people understand, and general business-speak in favor of plain English. For example, "assisted in the facilitation of" can be replaced by the more succinct "helped facilitate"; "utilized" can probably take a backseat to plain old "used."

  • Keep your personal life out of your resume: Unless it involves skills or characteristics that can help you get the job (such as volunteering), what goes on outside the office does not belong on your resume. That includes your personal life, your opinion of your previous employers, and your politics.

  • Don't overdo it with superlatives: Although the purpose of your resume is to make yourself look good, stick with the facts and be honest. Don't overuse superlatives like greatest, most productive, and hardest working when you describe yourself unless you have received official acknowledgment for those traits. And think twice about using any exclamation points. Remember: There's a thin line between tooting your own horn and blowing it.

  • Make sure your resume looks professional: Use nice 8-1/2-x-11-inch paper that is white or off-white with black ink. Use a single, simple typeface that is easy to read and looks professional. Remember: This is a resume, not an invitation to a baby shower.

  • Proofread! Although a single typo probably won't remove you from the running, bad spelling, bad grammar, and sloppy organization don't speak well of your abilities. After you're fairly sure you have a decent resume, give it and a red pen to someone you trust and ask her to mark any errors she sees.

Be honest: It simply isn't true that everyone lies on their resumes. Some claims may be harder to check than others, but you simply don't know to what lengths an employer will go to check out potential employees. If you get caught in the smallest of lies, you will be branded as an untrustworthy liar, landing your resume in the circular file.