On average, hiring managers only spend about six seconds reviewing your resume.
You might already know the basics of how to make a resume, but if you want to get hired in 2023 your resume needs to stand out from the rest.
To help you do just that, we’ve put together 30+ insider resume tips for getting noticed and showing employers you’re the right person for the job.
Resume writing tips
After many heated internal debates, we’ve narrowed down a list to 35 of our favorite (and winning) resume writing tips and tricks. In no particular order, let’s get to it:
1. Keep your resume concise
Hiring managers are busy people. One way to make sure they read all of the information on your resume is by keeping your content informative and short.
As you’re writing your resume, only focus on your most important accomplishments. Condense as much information as possible, and cut unnecessary words.
Providing too many details on your resume will make a hiring manager zone out. A zoned-out hiring manager is much less likely to remember your application and get in touch with you.
2. Read the job description for keywords
The best way to start your resume is by reviewing the job description for the position you want.
Typically, employers list the exact skills, experience, and talents they’d like each candidate to have directly in the job description.
As you’re writing your resume, take note of any keywords you spot in the description. Highlight as many of these keywords as you can to show employers that you’re the perfect candidate for the position.
Here’s an example of a job ad for an administrative assistant position with the skill-related keywords highlighted:
3. Look at other resume examples for inspiration
Not sure what kind of information to put on your resume? You’re not the only one.
Fortunately, there are plenty of resources available online that can help guide you. Reviewing resume samples written by other people who work in your industry is a helpful way to jumpstart the resume writing process and show you exactly what you need to put on your resume.
Additionally, looking at examples will give you an idea of how formal you need to make your resume, and how to format each section.
4. Use action verbs to show off your skills
Most job seekers start their resume bullet points off with phrases like “Responsible for” and “Tasked with”. While these phrases are okay, they don’t do a great job of describing what you actually achieved at work.
Instead, you should begin each bullet point of your resume with action verbs that highlight your accomplishments. These power words will help your resume stand out by making your experience section more impactful.
For example, here’s a resume bullet point using passive language (on the left), and an improved version with action verbs (on the right):
- Followed customer service protocol
Not So Good
- Enforced all formal customer service protocol
There’s a reason this is one of our favorite resume tips — simply adding action verbs makes your resume immediately sound more impressive.
5. Put key information in the top third of your resume
Ideally when you apply for a job, the hiring manager would carefully review your resume.
However, in reality that’s not often the case. Most hiring managers only read the top third of your resume. If you don’t catch their attention, they’ll just skim through the rest of your information.
Our insider trick is simple: put the information you really want employers to see at the top of the page.
For example, if you’re a recent graduate your education is probably your biggest selling point. In this case, list your education section at the top of the page to make sure employers see it.
This way, hiring managers get a general idea of why you’re a great candidate even without reading all of your resume.
6. Add hard numbers to demonstrate your achievements
One of our best tips for dramatically improving your resume is to provide hard numbers in your experience section. Instead of just saying you increased revenue or raised efficiency at your former job, prove it by adding data that shows the exact impact you made.
How many people did you train? By what percentage did you increase sales? How much revenue did you generate?
Adding hard numbers to your resume makes your achievements easier to understand for the hiring manager — giving them a reference for what you can accomplish for them if hired.
7. Highlight your accomplishments (not your responsibilities)
When most job seekers write their resumes, they tend to focus only on what they’re responsible for.
One of the most effective ways to level up your resume is to make your experience section accomplishment-oriented.
Focusing on your achievements proves to hiring managers that you’re more than just a drone who can complete tasks, and that you can be trusted to handle the demands of your job.
8. Focus only on relevant information
A lot of job seekers think their resume is the place to list every job they’ve ever had. However, not every job is relevant to the position you want.
It’s best to provide employers with a well-organized breakdown of your professional history and skillset. If you only focus on the skills and experience directly relevant to the job you’re applying for, your resume stands a better chance of earning you an interview.
For example, if you’re writing a paralegal resume, including the job you had bussing tables at a restaurant wouldn’t help your application. None of the skills you picked up bussing are going to be relevant to what you’d be doing as a paralegal, so leave them off your resume.
9. Stick to your more recent experience
If you’re already a decade or so into your career, then you probably have more than a few relevant positions to list on your resume.
However, a lot of job seekers take the “include relevant experience” idea a little too far and fill up multiple pages with an overview of their entire work history. Doing this quickly guarantees that hiring managers zone out and don’t actually read your resume.
A general resume writing rule is that you should only include work experience as far back as 15 years. Anything that occurred before that isn’t useful anymore, unless it included a notable achievement or is incredibly relevant to the position.
Bottom line: keep your resume updated and current. Employers won’t care about that marketing internship you had in 2003, they care about what you’ve been doing recently as a professional.
10. Make sure your resume is ATS friendly
Many large corporations use something called Applicant Tracking System (ATS) software to sort through the many applications they receive on a regular basis.
These systems search for keywords and phrases relevant to the position and filter out applicants whose resumes don’t include the content the employer is looking for.
To get past this software and make sure your resume is seen by a hiring manager, there are a variety of ways you can make your resume ATS friendly.
For example, including keywords from the job description, using a standard resume layout, and avoiding graphics on your resume are all effective ways to make sure your application isn’t being rejected by ATS software.
11. Use an online resume builder
A lot of job-seekers make their resumes from scratch or manually fill out a template – and you can tell. Manually making your resume increases the chances that you’ll end up with typos, formatting mistakes, and less-than-impressive bullet points.
Using an online resume maker app is a great way to save time and end up with a resume that’ll impress hiring managers. Resume builders help you fill out every section of your resume, provide pre-filled bullet points, and format it all for you.
The end result? You have a great looking resume and you save a bunch of time that you can then use to work on your job hunt.
12. Avoid buzzwords
“Go-getter”, “results-driven”, “synergize” – a lot of job seekers think using buzzwords like these on their resume will magically impress employers.
But the reality is that most hiring managers see buzzwords on your resume and immediately roll their eyes. These phrases are cliché, and actually communicate very little about your skills and experience.
Instead of relying on buzzwords, stick to simple descriptions that clearly communicate your achievements and skills.
13. Include non-traditional experience
One of the biggest mistakes job seekers just entering the workforce make is thinking that their resume is only for formal work experience.
That’s just not true. Your resume should include all your relevant experience, including experience that isn’t a regular full-time job.
For example, relevant coursework, volunteer work, extracurriculars, and freelance work all make great resume additions. This is especially true if you lack work experience or are writing a career change resume.
14. Downplay any gaps in your work history
If you have long employment gaps on your resume, it can seem like a red flag to employers.
Instead of letting employers assume the worst, take control of the situation. Simply remove precise months from your work experience section, and only display the years you were employed.
Additionally, if you really want to de-emphasize your employment gaps, try using a functional resume format. Functional resumes focus primarily on your relevant skills, instead of the jobs you’ve held and when you held them.
15. Use a professional email address
Your email is how nearly all employers are going to reach out to you, so it needs to be professional.
If you’re sending your resume by email, stick with some variation of your name, or something that seems official for your email address.
16. List relevant social media accounts
Including social media accounts on your resume is a great way to provide a more complete picture of your professional background.
These days, you should always add your LinkedIn to your resume.
If you work in social media or photography, linking to your Twitter or Instagram is also acceptable. However, make sure the content of your social media account is relevant to the job you want before putting it on your resume.
For example, Facebook and Snapchat don’t belong on your resume because there are very few situations where what you post on these apps would be of interest to employers.
17. Keep personal details to yourself
You’d be surprised by how many job applicants list random personal details on their resumes.
While employment discrimination is illegal, it still happens all the time. Including personal information about yourself makes it easier for companies to discriminate against you.
Keep information like this off your resume:
- Date of birth
- Political leanings
- Vaccination status
18. Adjust your resume for each job (if necessary)
Most job seekers think that once they’ve made their resume, that’s it! They can now apply to every job with the same resume.
While using a general resume is a good way to save time, if you really want to edge out other job applicants you need to tailor your resume.
Every job has different requirements, even within the same industry. If you want to maximize your chance of landing a position, your resume needs to address those unique requirements.
For every job you apply to, adjust your resume to target the specific skills, experience, and interests that employer is looking for.
As an example, take a look at these two social media manager job ads:
Notice that while both these job ads are for a social media manager position, the first one is looking for a candidate with community management and analytics experience, while the second ad puts more emphasis on content management.
Even within the same industry, job requirements can have big variations. To make sure you show employers you’re qualified, you should always tailor your resume to the specific position you want.
19. Don’t write “references available upon request”
In the past, it was a common practice to write “references available upon request” on your resume.
However, if employers like your application and want your references they’ll just ask you for them.
With that in mind, it’s a waste of space to include references on your resume or write “references available upon request.”
20. Use a template to help guide you
If you’ve ever tried to design and format your own resume, you know that it requires a ton of time and effort — energy that would be better spent finding and applying for jobs.
Unless you specifically want to show off your graphic design skills, there’s no reason to make your own resume from scratch.
Instead, download one of the many free resume templates available online (Google Docs even has resume templates), and fill it out with your information. You’ll end up with a great looking resume that’s perfectly formatted, and save time in the process.
21. Proofread – and then proofread again
Even the most confident writer isn’t immune to typos. Once you’ve finished writing, double-check, and then triple-check your resume for small errors.
Ideally, ask a friend to proofread it too to provide a second set of eyes.
If there are mistakes on your resume it reflects poorly on your attention to detail, which could hurt your chances of employers inviting you in for an interview.
Resume formatting tips
Once you’re done writing your resume, make sure it looks good too.
Here are 10 resume formatting tips and tricks to help you make your resume look more professional and easier to read:
22. Keep your resume to one or two pages
While some people find it difficult to find enough content to fill one page of their resume, others have the opposite problem.
Submitting a multiple-paged resume is one of the easiest ways to guarantee that hiring managers don’t carefully read your job application.
For entry- and mid-level professionals, a one-page resume is the ideal resume length. However, a two-page resume is fine if you have more than 10 years of relevant work experience and want to showcase all of your qualifications.
23. Order resume sections by strength
There’s no single way to set up your resume. If one section of your resume highlights your selling points better than the other sections, don’t be afraid to list it above the other parts of your resume so that employers notice it quickly.
For example, if you have plenty of professional experience and it’s your best selling point, place that above your education. On the other hand, if you’re a recent graduate with only internship experience, put your education at the top.
24. Use the reverse-chronological format
Most HR departments favor the reverse chronological resume format, which lists your experience from most recent to oldest.
Simply put, your newest work experience is (likely) the most relevant, and will leave the greatest impression on the hiring manager.
In exceptional cases (like if you’re changing careers or have large gaps in your work experience), however, the functional resume format is best for writing a skills-based resume.
25. Choose a style that reflects your industry
This is one of our most important resume tips (because we see candidates mess this up all the time).
Your resume design should always be appropriate for the job you want.
For example, if you’re applying for a more casual job like those in marketing or design, use a more modern or creative resume template.
However, your resume should reflect the formality of the position you’re applying for. If you’re applying for a more traditional job like those in law or finance, stick to clean lines, dark colors, serif fonts, and simple layouts.
Here’s a quick illustration of what a more casual resume looks like compared to a formal one:
Submitting a colorful resume for a formal position comes across as unprofessional, and can hurt your chances of landing the job.
26. Stick to standard margins
We know how fun playing with your margins can be, but setting your resume margins too small or too wide makes your resume difficult to read.
Stick to a standard range of ½”–1”, setting them wider if you have less information to put on your resume, and narrower if you need to fit more on the page.
27. Use appropriate fonts
Considering everything you have to think about when making a resume, font choice feels like a minor detail.
However, many job seekers make the mistake of using strange or nontraditional fonts on their resume. The result is that their job application (no matter how qualified they are) looks unprofessional and difficult to read.
When in doubt, the best fonts for your resume are simple classics like:
- Times New Roman
28. Select appropriate resume colors
Another small but essential detail, the colors you use on your resume can have a big impact on your job application.
If you’re applying to a job in a traditional industry, like law, accounting, or real estate, consider using no color on your resume, or use a professional resume color like dark blue or green.
If you’re applying to a job in a more modern industry like graphic design, marketing, or fashion, you can safely choose from a more creative color palette. However, keep things simple and don’t overload your resume with several different colors because this can look distracting.
29. Go easy on the CAPS
PAY ATTENTION TO THIS RESUME TIP.
Now that we’ve got your attention, it’s important that you avoid over-capitalizing your resume.
All caps should only be used for your name and section headings. Capitalizing everything in your experience section wastes space and makes it look like you’re arguing with someone on an internet forum.
30. Don’t include a headshot
If you’re applying for jobs in the US or UK, don’t include a picture on your resume.
Adding a photo of yourself creates opportunities for hiring bias that most companies want to avoid, making it more likely that they’ll reject your application.
Additionally, adding a picture comes across as strange to most American hiring managers.
31. Save your resume as a PDF
If you’re making your resume in Word, you’re probably saving it in .doc format.
However, it’s worth saving your resume as a PDF file as well. PDFs retain their formatting regardless of how they’re viewed, so they’re your best bet when sending your application out electronically.
32. Give your resume file a clear name
We can’t tell you how many job applicants submit resumes that are just named “resume.pdf”.
While this won’t result in your application being rejected, vague filenames make it difficult for hiring managers to find your information when they want it.
Instead, make the job application process easier for everyone by including your full name in your resume’s filename, like this: john-smith-resume.pdf
Job search advice
Crafting a good resume is only half the battle. Next, it’s time to release it into the world and make sure you nail your job search.
These job search tips will help you check all the right boxes as you complete your applications.
33. Put your resume online
A lot of recruiters and hiring managers use the information you put online to determine whether you’re qualified for a job or not.
Get ahead of the process by uploading your resume to LinkedIn or other job search sites such as Indeed or Monster.
This way, you’re able to make sure anyone that searches you on Google sees your most marketable qualifications.
34. Pair your resume with a convincing cover letter
Cover letters aren’t just a formality in the job application process.
Including a cover letter with your resume provides hiring managers insight into how your experience matches their requirements and why you’re interested in that job specifically.
Knowing how to write a good cover letter can elevate your resume and quickly take your job application to the next level.
35. Remember to attach all documents
Most email clients won’t remind you to click “attach”, and there are few things more embarrassing than sending two emails to an employer because you forgot to include everything the first time.
Before you click “Send” on your job application, double-check the whole message, the recipients, subject line, text body, and attachments to make sure everything looks perfect.
36. Last but not least… follow up!
These days it’s expected that you’ll follow up your application with an email or phone call. Not just to confirm whether the employer received your paperwork either, but also to ask if they had any questions and express your desire to discuss the job in person.
By calling or emailing after sending your resume you’re indicating persistence, diligence, and a strong desire to be the candidate they hire.
And if you progress to the interview stage, it’s polite to send a thank you letter and reiterate your enthusiasm for the position if you felt the interview went particularly well.