Resume writing is an art. Like other forms of art, resume writing is subjective. However, you can make your resume as pleasing as possible to the average hiring manager by following some commonly accepted guidelines. This article will give you 7 resume writing hints to make your resume more attractive.
1. Begin your resume with a clear focus.
You want the hiring manager to quickly understand your profession and capabilities. One way to do this is to center the name of your profession under your name and street address, then follow up with a skills summary. You could also write an executive summary that begins by stating your profession, then describes your skills.
If you don’t have a profession to put on your resume, writing about your skills with a focus on the position you want still helps. Including a generic objective is a common resume mistake. There is no reason to put a one-size-fits-all objective on your resume!
2. Start phrases with action verbs.
Managed! Achieved! Sold! Launched! Using action verbs like these fires up your writing and makes your resume more exciting. Pick the most energetic and impressive verbs you can think of to correctly describe each of your skills and accomplishments.
To get a feel for how action verbs help your resume, contrast them with state-of-being verbs: is, am, were, was, being, been, are, and be. These verbs don’t have the same zest because they don’t show what you actually did. Use these state-of-being verbs only when you need to, and don’t start phrases with them.
Even powerful verbs can get boring if seen too often, however, so try not to repeat one in the same block of text or paragraph. Starting more than three phrases with action verbs can also get boring, so mix up your sentence structure when needed.
3. Use the correct verb tense for each job or accomplishment.
If you’re talking about a position you held in the past or an accomplishment you already achieved, use past tense. If you’re talking about a job you currently hold or an achievement you’re working toward, use present tense. When writing about a skill you’ve used before and will keep using, use present tense. If it sounds awkward, use the past continuous tense, such as “have sold more than 27 paintings…” or something similar.
4. Make your resume easy to read.
Your resume should have a simple structure with lots of white space. Each section of text should have less than 7 lines. If you need more than this, start a new section or paragraph. None of the sections of the resume writing article you’re reading now contain more than 7 lines.
The reader will be more impressed by short, powerful phrases than fluffy sentences and big words. Crop out repetition and unneeded information. Each phrase should be direct and concise. Commas can help you break up longer phrases into bite-sized chunks. Remove pronouns, such as “I” your resume is obviously about you.
Resume writing is best suited to a conservative font, like Times New Roman. The font size should be 11 or 12 point, although 10 point may be OK for a chunky font like Verdana.
Leave a fairly broad border on your resume so the text doesn’t look crammed in.
5. Apply uniform formatting.
Consistency and parallelism are attractive, so adapt them to the art of resume writing. For example, if you italicize the years during which you worked for one company, do this for all the years you worked for each company on your resume. The same goes for capitalization, bullet points, underlining, and bold text.
6. Print hard copies of your resume in style.
Resume writing doesn’t end when you finish writing your resume! Go the extra mile to make hard copies of your resume look professional. If possible, use a laser printer to prevent runny ink from smearing your well-crafted words. Don’t settle for anything less than a typeset look—your competition won’t.
Select white, off-white, or ivory paper. The background these words are on is an example of an appropriate color. The paper should be 8.5 inches by 11 inches in size. Never use smudged paper and never staple your resume. Buy the highest quality paper you can afford. There really is a difference between standard printer paper and more expensive papers.
Stone paper, for example, has a surprisingly smooth texture that could make the average hiring manager want to hold on to it longer. It is tear resistant, water proof, and heavier than normal paper. Unfortunately, laser printers don’t work well on stone paper, so you’ll have to either use an inkjet printer, or risk the smeared look that could come from a mistake on a solid ink printer.
Pure cotton paper also has an enticing texture. It is stronger and more durable than regular paper. Cotton paper is also easy to print on. You can expect a resume printed on 100% cotton paper, such as that produced by the Crane paper company, to outlive you with little or no deterioration! Crane’s watermarked rag paper is considered a must for senior-level resumes.
7. Present the information on your resume strategically.
Presenting the truth in an attractive way is part of the art of resume writing. Organize your resume to make your most impressive skills and experiences stand out. Decide where to place everything with the idea of your resume as an advertisement in mind.
Information on the top of the page is considered more important. English-speakers obviously read from left to right, so information on the left side is seen first. Bold text jumps out while italicized text recedes back. The viewer’s eye will go to words surrounded by white space faster than words buried in a block of text.
Keep design elements, structure, and the overall effect on the viewer in mind.
A final word on the art of resume writing…
If you think of resume writing as another grating chore to complete on your way to your next job, your resume will reflect your attitude. On the other hand, if you think of resume writing as an opportunity to create a beautiful advertisement, you will feel proud of the final product.