Too many talented professionals have the same challenge. They invest time in building a resume, send it to prospective employers, and post it on career sites, only to have their efforts met by silence. When someone doesn’t receive a response to his or her resume, it probably ended up in the no pile because of mistakes or because it wasn’t read at all due to the ATS vetting process.

Please keep in mind that the advice given in these slides is about American-style resumes, the style of resume required not only in the U.S. but also by many international companies worldwide. Many of the recommendations will be relevant no matter the country where you aim to work, but more research is needed on a country by country basis to know expectations you need to meet. 

Now let’s discover how to write a resume so that it lands in the hands of a person with decision-making power and will grab their attention so that they keep reading until the end and place it in the “yes” pile.


1. Choose a sleek design

The design of your resume is what the reader will notice first. To create a great-looking resume, select one amongour free templates.

2. Incorporate keywords in your resume

The best way to get keywords for your resume is to read the job postings that interest you carefully. If you apply for different job openings, you should study each job description for keywords that show what the employer wants in an ideal candidate. Then include those keywords in your resume. 

3. Tell a story

Your resume must tell your story to catch the reader’s attention. Your narrative will give exactly and only what recruiters and potential employers want. As you write the content of your resume, you should always keep the employers’ needs in mind, and share what you can bring to the table to meet those needs. 

Throughout your resume and especially in the professional experiences section, be sure to show the tasks you completed and the results: how you excelled: achievements, outstanding results, and competitive wins. Show the measurable impact you made through quantitative and qualitative results. 

4. Tailor your resume to the job

Don’t prepare a one-size-fits-all resume, where the only thing you will edit is the company name and job title. Tailor your resume to the specific job that you are applying for and that the recruiter will think that the resume is directed to him.

5. Decide about resume length

Rule of thumb is either 1 or 2 pages. Experts recommend that you keep your resume to only one page. Recruiters and managers have a short attention span, so don’t overdo it. This is understandable, considering how recruiters may be dealing with endless stacks of resumes on a regular basis.

6. Avoid headshots

Several modern resume templates include a spot for a photo. While it might seem tempting to add such a personal touch, many recruiters in the U.S. will automatically reject any resume with an applicant photo to avoid any claim of discrimination.

If you want to know whether to use a headshot, read our article “When you should include a photo in your resume and how to get the perfect one.”

7. Keep it recent and relevant

Your resume should include the most recent 10-15 years of your professional history.  It should only include the experience that is relevant to the positions to which you are applying.

8. Do not overuse verbs

Don’t overuse the same verbs in your resume and substitute them for alternative synonyms.

9. Choose the right font and font size

Your resume should be easy to read. Some of the best resume fonts are Calibri, Arial, Georgia, or Verdana. There is no wrong or right here. Maybe you should not use old-fashioned “Times New Roman.” Keep in mind that some fonts are bigger and wider than others, and some applicant tracking systems may not recognize unconventional fonts and display errors.

The resume should be easy to read, but you also want to ensure you have enough space to include all your relevant information.

  • Use something between 10.5pt and 12pt for the font size
  • Less than 10.5 is difficult to read, and anything over 12pt is too big

10. Choose right tenses

Your current position should be in the present tense, and all of your past jobs should be in the past tense.

11. Use white space

White space makes your resume easier to read. Add space in between sections and positions.

12. Keep your formatting consistent

Make sure to keep fonts, heading styles, tenses, and date formats consistent throughout your resume.

13. Use a professional e-mail address

Your email address should be professional and modern. Make sure you are using a modern email provider. If you are using Gmail, make sure your profile picture is updated and professional because it will show up on the recipient’s email.

14. Include the key sections in your resume

The key sections that your resume must contain are:

  • Work experience and history This section includes your career highlights in the jobs that you have held in the past. This is also the section where you show your most important duties and responsibilities of each position you held.
  • Education This section includes the degrees earned and recognitions received. It also covers training and workshops attended, as well as certifications and accreditations obtained, which will add to your marketability as an employee.
  • Skills This section includes the additional skills and qualifications that are not clearly identified in the work history and experience section. These are often divided into two categories: hard and soft skills.
  • Additional Sections, This includes other sections you might want to add for example Volunteer Work, Awards and Honors, Hobbies and Interests and Accomplishments or Achievements.

 15. Keep it reverse chronological

Organize the information on your resume so that your most recent experience is listed first.

16. Save your resume in .doc version

Save your resume as a .doc document because that it makes it easy for the Applicant Tracking System (ATS) to parse the text of your resume. 

17. Choose the right name for the file

To make a professional impression name your resume file, “First Name_Last Name_Resume.” Avoid position names, companies, or dates when naming your file. This way, you can use it for a variety of positions, and it also makes it easier for the recruiter to find it on their computer.

18. Proofread several times more than you want to

Making critical spelling or grammatical errors will prevent you from ever getting a call for an interview. A great tool to check your resume is Grammarly, which reviews your spelling, grammar, and catches punctuation. It’s also a good idea to ask someone to look over your resume because after you’ve been staring at your work for too long, it’s sometimes difficult to catch errors. 

19. Get help from the professionals

Some jobseekers pay resume writers and professionals to assist in writing or editing their resumes. There are several pros and cons to this, and the decision will depend on a lot of factors. If you experience problems writing your resume, it surely can be very valuable to you.

20. Bonus Tip

Once you’ve completed your resume, scan it using Jobscan.co. By doing so, you can assure that your resume gets through the top Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS).

If you are really serious about writing an effective resume, sign up for our online course “How to Write a Job-Winning Resume.”

How to Write a Job-Winning Resume

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