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Resume Writing Tips and Best Practices

Are you considering a new direction in your career? Chances are, your resume is at the forefront of your thoughts. Have you recently updated it? How can you effectively showcase the skills acquired from your current job or industry in a different field? What strategies can you employ to distinguish yourself from other applicants? And just how daunting will the process of revising your resume be?

The mere act of posing these questions can be draining, let alone finding the energy to answer them. Moreover, if you’ve been out of the job search game for a while, the prospect of meticulously considering every detail and crafting a resume that impresses potential employers can be utterly overwhelming.

But fear not! We have compiled a list of 20 Resume Writing Tips and Best Practices that will bring you closer to achieving success in your endeavor. These Tips and Best Practices will serve as valuable tools in your quest for an interview-worthy resume.

Before diving into the details, let’s first understand why resumes hold such significant importance in the hiring process.

Importance of a Resume

When it comes to your job search, your resume reigns supreme as the most crucial document you’ll submit. It serves as your frontline representative, offering you the initial opportunity to showcase yourself to prospective employers.

Considering that hiring managers and recruiters typically spend a mere six to seven seconds reviewing each resume, it becomes imperative to make every second count.

A well-crafted resume has the power to make you stand out from the competition, whereas a lackluster one can swiftly eliminate you from consideration.

Research conducted by Zippia reveals that professionally written resumes not only increase your chances of securing an interview but also have the potential to boost your earning potential by 7%.

Now that we understand the vital role resumes play in the recruitment process, let’s delve into 20 Resume Writing Tips and Best Practices to enhance your chances of success.

20 Resume Writing Tips and Best Practices

Crafting an outstanding resume is a crucial step toward achieving your career goals. In the upcoming section, we will present you with 20 essential tips and best practices to elevate your resume writing game.

These practical insights will empower you to create a compelling document that captures the attention of hiring managers and boosts your chances of landing an interview.

Get ready to transform your resume into a powerful tool that showcases your skills, experiences, and potential to potential employers. Let’s begin our journey towards resume perfection!

1. Keep it Concise: Fit your resume onto one page

When it comes to resumes, keeping it concise is crucial! Given that hiring managers typically spend just six seconds reviewing each one, they may not even reach the second page. Unless you’re pursuing an executive or partner position, it’s widely recommended to stick to a one-page resume as a best practice.

The key is to remember its purpose: it’s not meant to showcase your entire career history but rather to highlight the relevant background, skills, and experience that make you a strong fit for the job at hand.

2. Error-Free Zone: Polish your spelling and grammar

Spelling and grammar errors can have a significant impact on your resume’s chances of success. In fact, there are recruiters who will immediately disregard a resume upon spotting such errors.

While it can be a painstaking process, it’s crucial to not only review your resume multiple times but also seek the assistance of a friend for an additional proofread. Their fresh perspective can help catch any overlooked mistakes and ensure that your resume is polished and error-free.

Remember, taking the extra effort to maintain impeccable spelling and grammar will greatly enhance your resume’s professionalism and credibility.

3. Timing is Key: Mind your tenses

Here’s another common mistake that can significantly impact how hiring managers perceive your resume. As a general rule, ensure that your verb tenses are consistent and appropriate.

When describing past experiences or roles, use the past tense (e.g., managed, delivered, organized). On the other hand, if you are currently engaged in a position, use the present tense (e.g., manage, deliver, organize).

Adhering to this simple guideline will ensure clarity and accuracy in presenting your work history to potential employers.

4. Leave “I” Behind: Skip the first-person pronouns

It is generally advisable to avoid using personal pronouns such as “I,” “me,” or “my” in your resume. Instead, opt for a more concise and direct approach.

For instance, rather than saying “I hit and exceeded company sales quotas 100% of the time,” you can rephrase it as “Hit and exceeded sales quotas 100% of the time.”

By omitting the personal pronouns, you create a more professional and objective tone in your resume, focusing on the accomplishments themselves. This practice helps streamline your resume and highlights your achievements in a clearer manner.

5. PDF Perfection: Send your resume in PDF format

To ensure consistent formatting and presentation, it is recommended to save your resume as a PDF file rather than a Word document. When you save it as a PDF, the document is frozen as an image, ensuring that hiring managers view it exactly as you intended.

Sending your resume in any other format may result in variations in styling, formatting, and fonts on different computers, potentially compromising the overall appearance. By using a PDF, you can eliminate the risk of compatibility issues and confidently present your resume in a professional and consistent manner.

6. File Name Clarity: Label your resume file accurately

When it comes to saving your important resume document, it’s surprising how many people opt for random or generic file names like “sgks123.pdf” or “resume.pdf.” However, it’s crucial to keep in mind that recruiters can view the names of the files you send, and they receive a multitude of resumes each day.

To ensure that your resume stands out and is easily identifiable, it’s highly recommended to save it under a logical and descriptive name like “FirstName_LastName_Resume.pdf.”

By using this naming convention, such as including your first and last name, you make it crystal clear whose resume they should click on. This approach eliminates any confusion and allows recruiters to quickly locate your resume among the countless files they receive.

Remember, creating a clear and distinctive file name demonstrates professionalism and increases the likelihood of your resume being noticed and given the attention it deserves.

7. Logical Layout: Format your resume in a structured manner

Equally, if not more important than giving your resume a logical file name is organizing its content in a logical manner. The layout of your resume should be tailored to your current career stage and future aspirations.

While a chronological format is the default choice, it may not always be the most effective way to present your case. Muse writer Lily Zhang explores alternative options that could better suit your needs.

By considering different resume layouts, you can strategically showcase your skills and experiences to make a compelling case for your candidacy.

8. Reader-Friendly Format: Ensure easy readability

It’s understandable to feel tempted to shrink the text size in order to fit your resume on a single page. (Ironically, it’s reminiscent of those times in school when we adjusted font size to make our assignments longer. Ah, memories!) While some adjustment is possible, it’s crucial to refrain from going below a 10-point font size.

Maintaining a readable font size ensures that your resume remains legible and professional, allowing recruiters to easily navigate through the content without strain. Remember, striking the right balance between content and readability is key when formatting your resume.

9. Organized and Eye-Catching: Impress with a visually appealing layout

Do you recall the fact that hiring managers typically spend only six seconds glancing at your resume? You can assist them in making the most of that limited time by ensuring your resume is exceptionally clear and easy to read.

To achieve this, consider bolding (and perhaps capitalizing) each section, as well as every job title. By utilizing a template, you’ll also simplify the process for yourself.

10. Cohesive Coherence: Maintain consistency throughout

Similar to the need for consistent verb tenses in your writing, it is equally crucial to maintain consistent formatting. If you choose to bold one title, ensure that all other titles are also bolded.

Likewise, if you include a period at the end of one bullet point, make sure to do the same for all other bullet points. Consistency in formatting enhances the overall professional appearance of your content.

11. Context Matters: Provide relevant background information

When showcasing your experience, it’s vital to provide context. Include details such as the city, state (or country) where the job took place. If you traveled and worked in multiple locations, mention them.

Don’t forget to mention the dates of your experience as well. Was it a brief stint of five months or a long-term commitment spanning five years? Remember, context holds significant value and helps paint a complete picture of your professional journey.

12. Numbers Speak: Quantify your achievements

It’s easy for anyone to claim they excelled in their previous job, but it’s crucial to provide evidence that supports your claims to impress hiring managers. Numbers, percentages, and supporting facts are powerful tools that demonstrate your track record of success.

For instance, instead of simply stating “successfully hit sales quotas” as a bullet point on your resume, you could say “consistently achieved 100% of sales quotas and surpassed goals by 25% in the last 5 months.”

This approach can even be applied to positions that don’t inherently involve numerical data. By incorporating quantifiable achievements, you provide concrete proof of your accomplishments.

13. Name and Title Drops: Mention influential connections

Seize this opportunity to showcase your accomplishments. If you were promoted or received a raise due to your exceptional performance, don’t hesitate to mention it.

Likewise, if you had the privilege of working directly with the CEO or served as a point of contact for a major corporate client, including their names! These details significantly demonstrate your ability to work alongside influential individuals.

They convey confidence and capability. Remember, it’s essential to present the facts accurately without exaggeration. So, let your achievements shine while maintaining honesty and integrity.

14. References Not Required: Don’t include references

Save valuable space on your document by refraining from including the names and contact information of your references. Avoid phrases like “references available upon request.”

Remember, the purpose of this document is for recruiters to assess your qualifications and decide whether they want to engage with you further.

If they reach a stage in the application process where they wish to connect with your references, they will reach out to you specifically for those details.

Until then, there is no need to mention or allocate space for them in your resume. Focus on highlighting your relevant skills and experiences instead.

15. Creativity Within Reason: Use judgment when adding creative touches

Different industries have varying levels of creativity. In fields such as digital media, design, or elementary school education, it can be appropriate to infuse creativity and color into your resume.

However, when applying for positions in finance, operations, or most corporate jobs, it’s generally advisable to maintain a structured, black-and-white format.

Consider the nature of the industry and be mindful of the level of creativity you incorporate (or choose not to incorporate) in your resume. Striking the right balance is essential.

16. Selective Showcasing: Include only relevant experiences

Every word in your resume should serve a purpose. During the writing and editing process, consistently ask yourself the question, “Will this sentence contribute to my goal of securing the desired job?”

If the answer is no, it’s crucial to consider editing or removing that particular sentence. By ensuring that each sentence adds value and supports your job-seeking endeavors, you’ll create a more impactful and concise resume.

17. Reader’s Perspective: Tailor your resume to the target audience

Always keep in mind that a real person will be reading your resume. This person’s role is to identify exceptional candidates to interview and recommend to their boss or team. It’s important to understand that their primary responsibility is not to do you any favors.

Therefore, when crafting your resume, consider how you can make their job easier. How can you present your qualifications in a manner that genuinely excites them, makes them believe you’re an ideal fit for the job, and motivates them to advocate for you within their team?

By approaching your resume from this perspective, you increase your chances of capturing their attention and generating a positive response.

18. Stand Out: Emphasize your unique qualities

During the application process, it’s crucial to stay true to yourself while still presenting your best qualities. This authenticity should extend to what you include in your application materials.

Don’t hesitate to showcase who you genuinely are, including your likes, interests, personality traits, and what makes you unique.

However, exercise judgment in certain situations (e.g., when applying for a traditional role in a traditional industry) where expressing too much personality may not be the best approach. Nonetheless, embracing your true self could be the differentiating factor that sets you apart and leads to being hired.

Remember, the individuals hiring you are real people who would likely prefer to work with someone enjoyable and who align with the company culture. If your personality doesn’t fit the job, it’s better to find out during the hiring process rather than discovering it later and feeling unhappy in the role. Being authentic benefits everyone involved in the long run.

19. Job-Specific Approach: Customize your resume for each application

One effective strategy I recommend to showcase yourself as the ideal candidate for a job is to carefully analyze the job description and identify key phrases.

As you write or edit your resume, strive to incorporate those specific words and phrases from the desired job description. This technique can prove immensely beneficial, especially when your resume is being quickly reviewed by either an automated system or a human recruiter.

By aligning your resume with the language used in the job description, you increase your chances of catching their attention and highlighting your suitability for the role.

20. Story of Success: Craft your resume as a compelling narrative

The overarching concept behind all the tips I’ve shared is that your resume should effectively communicate the story of “you” in a clear and concise manner. The goal is to help hiring managers grasp why they are the ideal candidate for the job. This purpose underlies the entire resume-writing process.

Therefore, when you review and edit your resume, ensure that it conveys the narrative of your background, highlights the skills you’ve acquired, showcases your experiences, and unequivocally explains why you’ve reached your current position and why the role they are hiring for represents the perfect next step for you.

By crafting a compelling and coherent story, you increase your chances of making a strong impression on potential employers.


Indeed, the job search process can feel overwhelming at times. The encouraging news is that you don’t have to navigate it alone. Remember, reaching out to friends and family can provide invaluable support or even offer a welcome distraction from the challenges you may face.

Additionally, if you believe that a professional perspective could benefit your application materials, consider utilizing Muse Coach Connect, which connects you with experts providing resume writing services. It’s important to acknowledge that feeling overwhelmed is normal, especially when faced with a list of 20 rules. However, following these guidelines will give you a significant advantage over other applicants.

So, stay motivated, seek support when needed, and remember that adhering to these recommendations puts you in a favorable position in the competitive job market.



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