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No-Nonsense Résumé Writing by, Beth Gupta


From a blogger, Ian Clifton, comes some straight-forward tips for basic resume writing. They go beyond the “do’s” and the “don’t’s,” to give you the “why’s” and the “how’s.” All too often, we get lists of tips without any explanation of the impact they have on your resume, and in turn, you. Ian tells you what to do or don’t do, why it matters, and how these simple tips can take your resume from good to great!

Size does matter
For 99% of jobs, one page is how long your resume should be. If you have a two-page resume, you stand out, and not in a good way. Employers expect a one-page resume (the front side of one sheet of paper), so more than that says that you don’t understand the nearly-universal expectations of a resume (i.e., you can’t follow directions) and/or you don’t know how to summarize (i.e., you have a comprehension problem). If you have less than one page, employers will think that you must not have many valuable skills.

Appearance does matter
Just like the expectation of length, employers expect a particular format. The resume should be on the nicest white paper you can buy (this keeps it from looking like a cheap, photocopied resume and it increases the contrast and readability). Each section should have some kind of heading and that heading should very clearly go with the section it is for (e.g., 12pt of spacing above the heading, but only 6pt below it). Don’t include a photo of yourself on your resume no matter how beautiful you think you are.

Pay attention to alignment. You should be able to take a ruler and see that all bullets on the page line up, all headings line up, etc. When applicable, text should be justified (usually CTRL+J) so that both the left and the right edges go to the margin. This ensures the right side of the document appears as full as possible without being choppy.

Consistency should be consistent
If you are listing bullets that go along with a job, they should all start the same way (e.g., with past-tense verbs). Your headings should all be the same size and font (which should be different from the size and face of the primary font). The spacing between each section should be consistent and your left margin should be the same as your right margin.

It’s not you, it’s me
Never say “I” on a resume and never sound pompous. You’d be amazed at how often people write descriptions of their past jobs like this:
“I learned how to be the best paper stapler ever. I had a coworker who wanted to keep his Swingline stapler, so I had to put him in his place. I got a lot of praise from my boss and I got a lot of awards.”