Tips for Effective Resume Writing

Special tips and techniques to use and phrases not to use when writing your resume.

In these tough economic times, you will want to make sure that your resume will give you the best chance to be called in for an interview. Some items in this article may seem like common sense, but that is why they are often overlooked.

What to Avoid

During the first initial scan of a resume, the employer is looking for anything that will eliminate you from being further considered. If you have more than one typo the reviewer may think you have shoddy work habits and don’t care about their particular position. In this case, your resume is at risk for being eliminated.

If you have been sending out a lot of resumes, but not receiving any phone calls for interviews, there is probably a good reason for it. The most common cause is that there is something wrong with your resume. The question becomes one of determining what is disqualifying you from making the desired impact you are trying to make on prospective employers. It is a good idea to show your resume to friends and family that can help review it for you. After several rewrites, you may become desensitized to any errors or clumsy wording, no matter how slight.

Review your resume thoroughly. Are there any “mispelled” (correct spelling –misspelled) words? Is your format easy to follow? Can the most important information be found easily?

Here is a short list of things you need to review:

1. not enough verifiable information

2. typos and spelling errors

3. too much information

4. resume is not targeted – don’t send out the same resume for two entirely different jobs

5. inappropriate information – like your favorite football team

6. too many details

7. grammatical errors – avoid overly complicated sentence structures. The reviewer will be reading dozens, if not hundreds of resumes, make it easy to read.

8. credentials do not match the job opening – See item #4

Overused Phrases

There are also a lot of over-used phrases that show up on resumes. Write your resume in such a way that you avoid this vague language.

Vague resume phrases lead nowhere, as you can see below:

• Communication skills.

• Team player.

• Organizational skills.

• Interpersonal skills.

• Driven.

• Detail oriented.

• Results oriented.

• Self-motivated.

• Problem solver.

• Highly motivated.

• Track record of success.

• Go-to person.

• Think Outside the Box.

• Excellent (Fill in the Blank) Skills – Would you really say that you have average skills?


As you can see, there are many things that can land your resume in the "no" pile. Make sure that your resume avoids these mistakes and you will be much more likely to make a positive impression on the employer.

Phrases like this do not paint a picture of your accomplishments or skills. They only offer a miniscule amount of information about an ambiguous concept. In other words, they have little value, it would be better to but some details into each concept. Instead of Results Oriented, state that during your employment, sales increased 10% per year, or complaints were reduced each quarter. This will give the potential employer a point to bring up at the interview, so be prepared to explain how you did what you stated in your resume.

Special Tips

1. Try not to think simply in terms of duties and responsibilities. You must also demonstrate accomplishments from your job history.

2. Be consistent in your use of tense. (prepared, designed, created).

3. Make sure your resume that is bold and stands out, but not so much that it scares the human resource manager.

4. Print your resume on high-quality paper.

5. Do not use "I" statements.

6. Use active language.

7. The overall appearance of your resume is important. Align margins neatly and allow some room for white space.

One of the ways to be bold and honest is to state not only what you have done for previous employers, but also how you accomplished your goals, if you had to overcome obstacles to achieve those goals and specifically how those goals helped the organization for which you worked. Specifically – state how you saved the company money, improved efficiencies, or increased revenue. You may also want to state what your future goals are and then be prepared to tell the interviewer how their position will fit into your long-term goals. They don’t want to hire you for 6 months, and you probably won’t like that either.

Attention-getting resumes are ones that grab the reader's attention and hold it to the end of the last page. What you have to determine is which words and phrases will capture the employer's attention.


1 comment

Add a comment

0 answers +0 votes
Post comment Cancel
Ngozi Nwabineli
This comment has 0 votes  by
Posted on Jan 12, 2010