J Patrick + Associates Blog

5 Best Practices For Resume Writing

Posted by Daniel Sullivan on Mon, Jun 24, 2013 @ 10:23 AM

5 Best Practices (1)

It’s an age-old question: “What should I put in my resume?”  There are plenty of articles and how-to videos offering advice on what a resume should say and how it should look.  But, when looking for employment, be sure not to put the cart before the horse. Realize this one thing: you are not writing a resume to get a job; you are writing a resume to get an interview.  

That said, let me offer you 5 great tips to keep in mind while writing your resume:

1. Don’t Just List Your Strengths

When writing your resume, don’t just list your strengths.  Say, for example, you’re a good public speaker. Connect it with some real-life success and tell a potential employer why they should care.  If an employer can look at your resume and see a relevant personal experience in which you displayed your strength it will put you at an advantage.

2. Use The Right Keywords

Working in a recruiting office I witness first-hand every day how true this statement is.  The bottom line is that, recruiters in my office sort and search through piles of resumes using keyword searches.   If your resume doesn’t contain the right keywords for the job you’re after, there’s basically no chance you’ll land that interview.

3. Customize Your Resume For Each Potential Employer

As easy as it would be to just make one resume and just dish it out across the board, do not make a generic resume.  Is every job the same? Of course not, so don’t make every resume the same. Tweak and fix your resume to make it a custom fit for each particular job description.

4. Don’t List All Your Job Experiences

When people are writing their resumes they innately want to cram as many job experiences as possible on one or two pages. You know, to “impress” the potential employer, right?  Actually, this is the opposite of what you should do. Your resume should not be packed like sardines on the page, but rather clear, legible, and eye-catching. Obviously, you need to list the most current and the most relevant jobs on your resume, but try to keep it all within the last 15-20 years.

5. Begin Narratives With Action Verbs

Follow this very powerful and useful practice when writing your resume.  It’s an attention grabber. And describing your accomplishments with action verbs such as organized, managed, directed, etc., actively describes what your duties were at that job.

Final Thoughts

When you sit down to write your resume, really think about what you have to offer an employer. You’re not simply a beautiful snowflake, just like everyone else. Your resume is the first step in differentiating your personal brand from the rest of the pack. It’s a tool to position you as an employable commodity.  Along these lines, don’t just write what you think they want to hear. It’s imperative to always proofread as well-- nothing says unqualified better than a resume with grammatical and spelling errors. If all else fails, don’t be afraid to get professional help. After all, it’s your future we’re talking about. So, why wouldn’t you want the perfect resume?


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Tags: Recruiter Tips, Job Search, Job Interviews, Resume Optimization, Career Strategies