Top Ten Tips For Resume Writing

Friday, October 30, 2009

Image by US Army Korea - IMCOM via Flickr

By Cathy Baniewicz

1. Start with a clearly stated job objective or background summary. An objective works best when you can be specific as to the type of position you are looking for. If you are flexible and can consider several types of positions, the background summary may be the best way to highlight your skills and abilities.


Objective: Position as a Controller utilizing successful accounting and managerial experience.

Background Summary: Experienced manager with excellent team abilities and strong leadership skills. Enthusiastic, highly motivated and can be counted on to get the job done.Excellent communication skills with the ability to relate to all levels within an organization.

(Note: If you have your resume on your computer, you can change the objective and/or background summary to fit a particular position.)

2. A good resume sets forth your accomplishments. It should not be a list of job duties. Employers want to know what can do for them and how you have contributed in your previous positions. Begin each statement with an action verb and provided quantifiable information whenever possible:


Increased sales by ___% each quarter for the past two years.

Developed a ___________program resulting in savings of $__________.

Served as team leader on a project which resulted in cost savings of $________.

Designed and implemented a performance appraisal program for six locations.

3. It is not necessary to list every job you have ever had. Employers are most concerned about what you’ve done recently and not what you did fifteen years ago. Listing many years of work experience could be a liability in competing with younger workers.

4. Do not list hobbies or outside interests unless they have a direct correlation to the skills and abilities an employer is seeking.


The following could raise a red flag with an employer: Hobbies; skydiving, racing – employer may consider you an insurance risk

However, if you a volunteer for a hospice program and you are applying to a social service agency, this could be a plus.

5. There is nothing magic about a one-page resume. In fact, if you have been in the workforce for any length of time, it would be impossible to communicate everything you have to offer in one page. Try not to go beyond two pages or your resume might not get read.

6. DO NOT FALSIFY your work history or education. More employers than ever are doing background checks and you will not get hired if you are found to be dishonest. The employer can terminate you at anytime if they find out your application and/or resume was false.

7. Use a quality bond paper, white, cream or grey. Don’t get cute or fancy with bold colors or graphics unless you are applying for a position in the arts. Do not include a picture!

8. Do not overuse bolding, underlining or mix fonts. Make sure your resume is easy to read and has lots of white space. Check and double check for spelling and typos. Using spell check is not full proof. For example, if you use the word their when you really meant there, spell check would not pick this up as the word is not misspelled. Have two or three people proof your resume. After you’ve been working on it awhile, you can easily miss something.

9. Make sure your contact information at the top of your resume is current. If you are using your cell phone, be sure your voice mail message is professional! You will definitely turn a recruiter off if your voice mail is offensive. When job hunting, do not have little children on your voice mail.

10. Seek professional help if you do not have good writing skills. It is well worth the cost as you only have one chance to make a good first impression.

One final piece of advice! When sending out your resume, you increase your chances of getting an interview if your cover letter specifically addresses how your background and skills match what the company is looking for. Do not use a one-size-fits-all cover letter. It will be obvious to the recruiter. Do your research and find out something about the company. You will truly stand out if you do this as most people don’t take the time to go that extra step.

Good luck and happy job hunting!

Cathy Baniewicz has over 30 years experience in human resources. Her career began at Beatrice Foods Co., where she progressed to Assistant Director of Affirmative Action and Corporate Personnel Manager. Prior to joining EffortlessHR, Cathy was Assistant Director of Human Resources at Golden Eagle Distributors, Inc. (Budweiser). Cathy has her B.A. degree from DePaul University, Chicago, Illinois, and MBA from George Williams College, Aurora, Illinois. Cathy obtained her Professional in Human Resources (PHR) certification in December of 2004.

EffortlessHR is an online Human Resources Program for small businesses. This program will guide you through the maze of human resource laws and issues. You will have access to your employee information anytime, anyplace. Federal and State laws, personnel forms, “How To” guides, posters and reports are at your fingertips.

For more information, go to

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