In this article, I will go over some tips for writing effective résumé. While there is no one right way of writing résumé, tips below are considered as best practices by many people.

1. Make your résumé easy to read

Think of recruiters going through thousands of résumé or hiring managers burnt out with consecutive meetings. When they are reading your résumé, chances are they are already tired and might even annoyed to read through those. If they see your résumé with a dense block of text with generic sentences, they will most likely to move on to the next one. If you want your résumé to stand out, make it easy to read! Here are some guidelines to follow to increase readability of your résumé:

  • Don’t make it too crowded or use small fonts (minimum margin should be 0.5 in on all sides and minimum font size should be 10 pt.).
  • Stick with single column, as multiple columns can distract readers.
  • Do not use too many colors. If you want to add an accent to your résumé, you may use one color other than black and white, but no more than that.
  • Bullet points should be no longer than 2 lines.
  • Sentences should be short and concise (recommended maximum word counts per sentence: ~40 words)
  • Spell out any abbreviations that are not obvious to everyone (e.g. USA is fine as is but RPA is not). You may continue to use abbreviation after spelling it out for the first time.

2. Keep your résumé 1-page (2-page résumé is acceptable, if needed)

Résumé, which means ‘summary’ in French, is supposed to be digest version of your career and skill set. For this reason, it is strongly recommended to keep it in one page (for college grads, this is a must!). If you find yourself that you are running out of room (which is very common), consider removing any irrelevant experiences or items that are occupying valuable real estate.

If you did everything you can to remove any waste from your résumé, it is okay to spill some over to second page, but try your best to keep it 1 page, as possible. When you are in this situation, do not make your résumé look too crowded, as it can hurt readability greatly.

For any additional details that are not important, consider putting them in LinkedIn or your homepage so that readers can have an access to those information, if needed.

3. Only include relevant information

While you may have great achievements, if it’s not directly related to the position, you should consider removing it. Readers want to know about your relevant skills and career, not necessarily your whole career.

4. Use action verbs and specific metrics

When writing bullet points, use action verbs to show what you did during your tenure. Examples of action verbs are: execute, organize, orchestrate, develop, found, establish, implement, reduce, improve, and more.

In addition, when writing about your impact, try your best to be specific by providing metrics. Instead of saying ‘Saved significant amount of manual hours‘, say ‘Saved 30,000+ manual hours of savings by automating 5 most time-consuming processes‘.

5. Customize résumé for each job posting and company

When writing job descriptions, hiring managers put some of the keywords that they are looking for. This means, if you can include those keywords in your résumé, it will definitely stand out among the other ones. Therefore, if you want to increase your chance of being recognized, you should tailor your résumé to each company and job posting.

6. Use appropriate fonts

Generally speaking, as long as font that you are using is not too crazy, it is okay to use any fonts (avoid using fonts like Comic Sans!). In my opinion though, san-serif fonts (e.g. Arial, Helvetica, Calibri) is preferred because it is suited for computer screens (nowadays, this may not too matter), and it is being used more nowadays (default fonts for computer system and MS Word is san-serif fonts). However, it might be better to use serif fonts for more conservative organizations (e.g. banks). So consider using appropriate fonts for your résumé.

7. Start with master résumé and create custom résumé from there

Since it will be difficult to customize résumé for every single job description, it is often good idea to create master résumé which contains all the information about my career and trim down any irrelevant information from the master résumé. You can also consider using LinkedIn profile as your master résumé and customize your résumé from there.

Suggested formatting for effective Résumé

You do not need to follow this format but use this as a reference.

Top section
  • Name (make it big)
  • Phone number
  • E-mail address (consider creating more professional looking e-mail address)
  • Your area (don’t include your full address)
  • LinkedIn Profile
  • Website (if applicable)
  • 3-4 sentences to promote you
  • Use keywords from job description
  • This is where you grab attention of
Work Experience
  • Company
  • Official title
  • Time in position/company
  • Highlights in bullet points (primary responsibilities, impacts, etc.)
Project Experience (if applicable)
  • Project/Engagement name
  • Role
  • Time in project/engagement
  • Highlights in bullet points (primary responsibilities, impacts, etc.)
  • School name
  • Degrees and minor
  • Time in school
  • GPA (optional)
  • Honors (if applicable)
  • Include only relevant skills
  • Make sure to include any skills highlighted in job description
  • Avoid using percentages or gauge meters to show your proficiency (it doesn’t mean anything to the readers); instaed use: novice, intermediate, proficient
  • Include only relevant achievements and certifications
  • Embed URL for certification verification (if available)

Note: While my blog is primarily focused on travel related information, I am posting this article to help people creating effective résumé.

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2 years ago

thank you for the informative content!

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