Four Tips for Resume Writing Success

As we bring this month's resume focus to a close, we reflect on our best tips for resume writing success.

Tip 1: There are no hard and fast rules on resume length.

There used to be a general rule that resumes should never exceed one page in length. Currently, resume length is better understood to be flexible based on a variety of circumstances.

I recommend that if you cannot appropriately showcase your skills and expertise in one page, then use TWO FULL PAGES. Not one page and 6 lines on page two. Not one-and-a-half pages. Two full pages. Be concise, of course, and don't include unnecessary detail. But, don't be afraid to go for a two-page resume because you think you'll get disqualified out of the gate.

If you're having trouble finding enough quality content, then our next tip is for you...

Tip 2: Provide a consistent base of information in your resume.

ALWAYS include the following sections:

  • Your name and full contact information

  • Areas of Expertise

  • Education

  • Professional Qualifications

  • Employment History

  • Appointments*

  • Volunteer Activities and Directorships*

  • Articles and Publications*

  • Honors and Awards*

* Not required, but if you have content for these sections, DO include them.

Tip 3: A generic resume will absolutely not get you an interview (or a job).

Positioning your skills and achievements to attract employers is key to landing your application in the interview pile.

  • Refer to your responsibilities AND accomplishments.

  • Always note promotions and title changes.

  • Remove unnecessary/potentially disqualifying detail.

  • Use metrics wherever possible.

Check out this example, from an old and current version of my resume:

Before:

Facilitated the vote to approve LEED v4 with the U.S. Green Building Council membership.

After:

Successfully executed the member ballot vote to approve LEED v4, with participation from nearly 2,000 of USGBC’s member companies in 46 countries.

The second entry includes metrics and more detail about my job responsibilities. The Hiring Manager can infer a lot more about me from the second entry. The metrics may align with the performance outcomes they want. And so, reading the second entry is more likely to entice a Hiring Manager to offer an interview.

Tip 4: Be aware of overused words in your resume.

According to Career Rocketeer, these are the 10 most-often used words and phrases in LinkedIn member profiles:

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How many of these show up in your application materials? Using these words isn't necessarily a problem. In fact, I said "be aware," not "beware" in the title of this tip for a reason.

Using one or two of these phrases specifically and intentionally may not be an issue. But, if your application materials are full of cliches and jargon, then it's likely to get tossed. Note! This is true even when the job postings are using these phrases! (Which they all do, constantly).

Rather than fill your resume with these phrases in order to mirror a job post, consider using some of the following replacements:

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Are you trying to optimize your resume? If so, blueprintgreen can help!