How to Write a Better Resume

Whether you're looking for your first job, hoping for advancement with your current employer, considering a job change, or just getting your records in order, maybe now is the time to make sure your resume is in good shape. Robert Half International offers some tips on building a good resume.

A good resume alone won't get you a job. But a bad resume can prevent you from getting an interview. Since your resume is a primary tool in finding a better job, extra time spent on its preparation is a good investment.

There is room for some creativity, but not for gimmicks. What works today is a professional, business-like style and a focus on key achievements.

We believe the best way to explain the rules of resume writing is to explain what you should always do and what you should never do.

Always

  • Print your resume on standard, white, 8 1/2 x 11 paper
  • Have your resume typed, with plenty of space between paragraphs, and allow for adequate margins. There's no need to have it professionally printed
  • Use short paragraphs - preferably no longer than five or six lines
  • Proofread your resume and cover letter to check for any errors
  • Include your contributions at each one of your jobs
  • Allow the most space to your most recent job
  • List your activity with professional associations - but only if they're appropriate
  • Keep a permanent file of your achievements, no matter how inconsequential they may appear to be. This is the basis for a good resume.
  • Send a brief, customized letter with each resume
  • Send your resume within a week of a position being advertised
  • Re-read your resume before the interview - chances are the interviewer will have questions that relate to information you include on your resume

Never

  • Give reasons for leaving a job. In almost all cases, the reader can find negative connotations to even the best reasons. You're better off explaining in person.
  • Take more than two or three lines to list hobbies, sports and social activities. If in doubt leave them out.
  • State "References Available on Request." It is assumed, and clutters up the resume. Other things to leave out are your spouse's occupation and your personal philosophies.
  • List references on the resume
  • Use exact dates. Months and years are sufficient.
  • Include the date your resume was prepared. If your search takes longer than a few months, the resume will appear outdated.
  • Include your work phone number unless your immediate boss knows you are leaving
  • State your personal objectives unless they relate to that particular job
  • Use professional jargon
  • Provide salary information on the resume. Save it for the interview. If you are asked to provide this information, do so in your cover letter.

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