20 Tips for an Effective Resume

For a job hunt, a resume is key. Make sure yours is as professional as it can be.

By FamilyTime


Your resume is your foot in the door when it comes to getting hired. It is not a document designed to get you a job as much as it’s designed to get you an interview. A resume’s function is to catch the attention of a potential employer and then provide basic information about you.

It’s a reality these days that companies often get hundreds or even thousands of resumes for limited numbers of jobs. Yours has to stand out. Most employers spend about 10 seconds with a resume before moving on so your job, as the resume writer, is to make sure yours does not end up in the “discard” pile.

Following are 20 tips to make your resume shine:

  1. Use strong language—action verbs and keyword nouns—to describe your strengths and accomplishments.
  2. Write descriptions of your most recent job or jobs to include positive achievements. Be specific. For instance, you might say you “Coordinated team building sessions for [company name] more than 500 employees in four different locations;” or “Compiled an updated employee benefits manual.”
  3. List these accomplishments with bullets or otherwise in easy-to-read list format.
  4. Understand the value of keywords. These are nouns that sound strong and upbeat to an employer. You can find numerous articles about keywords on the Internet and it’s a good idea to read them. Some examples of typical keywords are: allocation, cost analysis, marketing campaigns, database, upgrades, special events, and procurement.
  5. Include about 25 keywords in your resume. Do a search when you have compiled it and add more if you don’t have enough.
  6. If you have worked for or with someone who is well known in your field, mention the person’s name. Otherwise, do not “drop names.”
  7. Do not worry about jobs you had more than 15 or 20 years ago. A laundry list of jobs dating back to the 1980s is boring and unnecessary. Concentrate on your most recent places of employment and any relevant education. List most recent jobs first on the resume, working backwards chronologically.
  8. Write a profile of your job skills and abilities. The resume should open with this brief description—four to five sentences—of what you bring to the table. An employer is more interested in what you offer than your own “job objectives.”
  9. Concentrate on your professional accomplishments more than your former responsibilities.
  10. Talk with friends, family members, and appropriate co-workers about your particular skills and strengths. You may be surprised what you learn.
  11. Do not include anything negative in your resume (or, for that matter, during an interview). If you were fired from a job, be open about it during an interview, although you should never dwell on a nasty boss or ruthless co-workers.
  12. Do not include your age. This is not the employer’s concern.
  13. Never, ever lie or even stretch the truth. Not only is it unethical, it’s very easy for an HR professional or someone else to uncover falsehoods.
  14. Do not include hobbies or other extra activities unless they pertain directly to the job you are seeking.
  15. Tailor your resume for different jobs. Fortunately this is easy to do with electronic files.
  16. Keep the resume clean and straightforward. Avoid fancy fonts, upper case, bold or italicized words, and complicated formatting.
  17. Use bullets and lists and short sentences to explain your experience.
  18. Format the resume so that it looks as neat and tidy when pasted into an email as when sent as an attachment. Some prospective employers prefer it in email; others like it as an attachment. It’s a good idea to send it both ways. If it’s posted on your website or blog, make sure it’s easy to find and download.
  19. Make sure there are no spelling or grammatical errors. Never use slang or jargon. Ask someone else to proofread the resume for you. Do not rely on spell and grammar checks on the computer.
  20. If it makes you feel better or you are a novice at resume writing, consider hiring a professional service or individual to help you.