To help you construct a better, more powerful resume, here are ten overall considerations in regard to your resume’s content and presentation:
1. Position title and job description. Provide your title, plus a detailed explanation of your duties and accomplishments. Since job titles are often misleading or their function may vary from one company to another, your resume should tell the reader exactly what you’ve done.
2. Clarity of dates and place. Document your work history and educational credentials accurately. Don’t leave the reader guessing where and when you were employed, or when you earned your degree.
3. Explicitness. Let the reader know the nature, size and location of your past employers, and what their business is.
4. Detail. Specify some of the more technical, or involved aspects of your past work or training, especially if you’ve performed tasks of any complexity, or significance.
5. Proportion. Give appropriate attention to jobs or educational credentials according to their length, or importance to the reader. For example, if you wish to be considered for an engineering position, don’t write one paragraph describing your current engineering job, followed by three paragraphs about your summer job as a lifeguard.
6. Relevancy. Confine your information to that which is job-related or clearly demonstrates a pattern of success. Concentrate only on subject matter that addresses the needs of the employer.
7. Length. Fill up only a page or two. If you write more than two pages, it sends a signal to the reader that you can’t organize your thoughts, or you’re trying too hard to make a good impression. If your content is strong, you won’t need more than two pages.
8. Spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Create an error-free document that’s representative of an educated person. If you’re unsure about the correctness of your writing (or if English is your second language), consult a professional writer or editor.
9. Readability. Organize your thoughts in a clear, concise manner. No resume ever won a Nobel Prize for literature; however, a fragmented or long-winded resume will virtually assure you of a place at the back of the line.
10. Readability. Be sure to select a conventional type style, such as Times Roman or Arial, and choose a neutral background or stationery. If your resume takes too much effort to read, it may end up in the trash, even if you have terrific skills.
Employers prefer crisp-looking resumes that get to the point. By using the example on this page as a template, you’ll improve both the style and the substance your resume.
Add interest and clarity by using bullets, indents and varying font styles (such as bold and italic letters). Avoid using unconventional fonts or adding photos or graphics.
The general rule is: one page for early-career (entry level to 5-10 years); two pages for mid-career candidates.
Provide the reader with relevant detail about your past and present employers, such as product information, size and physical location.
Quantify your job duties, reporting relationships and achievements with actual numbers.
Job and Education Dates
Make sure the dates are clear and without gaps. If you’re a mid- to late-career candidate, you can save space by lumping early-career jobs together.
Please be accurate—and honest. Misrepresenting your degree is unethical, and could result in consequences that are embarrassing—or worse.
Finally, I suggest you write several drafts, and allow yourself time to review your work and proofread for errors. If you have a professional associate whose opinion you trust, by all means, listen to what he or she has to say. A simple critique can make the difference between an interview and a rejection.