12 Résumé Writing Tips That Will Land You That Job

Author : michelle

Updated : June 9th, 2019

Your résumé is what gives a prospective employer the first impression. It can be your ticket into the company. If your résumé looks just like any other one that the recruiter comes across on a daily basis, it is likely that it will be ignored. Give your résumé a few customizations and avoid some mistakes. This will help your résumé not only stand out but also give a lasting impression.

Do’s and Don’ts of Résumé Writing

If you are looking to start a career or someone who plans to switch jobs, these 12 steps will make your résumé catch the recruiter’s attention:

1. Spelling and Grammatical Mistakes

Spelling, grammatical or punctuation errors on a résumé are the worst. Not paying attention to your commas, periods, and spellings could send out a message that you lack attention to detail.

Some of the most common mistakes that people make in their résumés are the usage of inconsistent tenses, subject-verb agreement, poor use of apostrophes, and misspelled homophones.

Also, when it comes to numbers, use digits and not words. Words not only take longer to read but also occupy more space. Digits are easy to spot and also tend to catch the recruiter’s attention while they’re skimming through your résumé.

Ps – Run a Grammarly check on your resume to ensure that there aren’t any grammatical errors.

2. Exaggerating

Do not exaggerate. Ever. If you have contributed a major part in a particular project, don’t say that you lead the project. There have been instances where the candidate has been almost selected and then rejected due to exaggerating.

Once such instance is, the candidate that the HR wanted to hire has listed a Bachelor’s degree on her résumé. When they ran a background check, it was discovered that she had never actually received her degree certificate. Even though she had completed all of the credits she was denied the degree due to outstanding library fines. Instead, if the candidate had written something like, “completed all 130 credits towards a Bachelor’s degree in <course name>”, that would have matched the check done by the employer, and she would have got the job.

3. Customization

Always customize your résumé for each company that you are applying for. It might be tempting to just make one generic résumé and send it out to all the companies that you’re applying to, but that’s not going to help. What you need is a customized résumé to fit different roles that you’re applying to. Make sure that your résumé has the keywords and key qualities that are required for the particular position.

These days most résumés are reviewed electronically before a human sees them. So if your résumé doesn’t have the keywords that match the job, it may not pass the electronic screening. If you’re really interested in getting the job, you would definitely be willing to put in the effort to customize your résumé and change the highlights for each role.

You could also go a step further and give it an outstanding creative bend. If there’s too much information that is important and can’t be eliminated, make it an infographic so it’s easy on the eyes.

4. Stuffing Keywords and Cramming Information

While it is important for your résumé to have the keywords for the job so it passes the electronic screening, remember that the one who’s actually going to call you and hire you is a real human being. Don’t stuff your résumé with keywords, let it be easy to read and understand. Speaking about it being easy to read, use a font that’s easy on the eye and a size that won’t make the HR strain their eyes. A résumé in small font could irritate the HR and make them view your profile from a more critical angle.

5. Discard the Objective, Replace it with a Professional Summary

If your résumé still has an objective like “find an entry-level position in sales” at the top, scrap it right away. Some recruiters say that the biggest mistake that a candidate can make while applying for a job is to write an objective. Instead of telling the recruiter that you want a job, show them why you’d be apt for the role. Write a professional summary that resonates who you are as a professional and the skill sets that you have to offer. Think of the professional summary as an introduction to yourself that gives a brief insight into your professional life. It should catch the recruiter’s interest and entice him/her to read your whole résumé.

However, some recruiters say that an objective is required when you are making a huge career change. Say you’re making a shift from marketing to PR, then you could give a clear explanation that you’re transitioning roles and have the necessary transferable skills.

6. Beware of Giving Yourself a Title

Sometimes you tend to perform the responsibilities of another designation even though you don’t have the title. In such situations, you need to be careful and not go ahead and claim for yourself a designation that hasn’t been formally given to you. There was an incident where the HR came across the profile of a candidate who did not list a title but whose responsibilities corresponded to those of a director of development. During the background check, it was discovered that the director had left and she had taken over the role but without the title. She took the right move by leaving out the title. Had she mentioned the title, when the background check was run, there would’ve been a mismatch with the title.

While you’re being wary of not giving yourself a title, be careful not to undermine yourself due to the lack of a title. Use smart ways to grab the recruiter’s attention with your responsibilities and accomplishments that you earned, but make sure that you’re speaking the truth and not going overboard. The candidate could have used a powerful line like, “development team of one, in charge of $250k fundraising target”.

7. Show, Don’t Tell

Resume writing tips
You need to show results on your resume

If you claim that you know something in your résumé, follow it up with an example of when you used it. For example, you say that you have stated management as one of your skills/responsibilities, go on to specify the size of the team, scope of the project, and the size of the budget (if it had a budget). Or if you have listed HTML programming, list the job at which you used it substantively. You don’t need to give a paragraph long description. Save the long description for the interview. A one-line description that conveys the specifics of the project should do. And if you can’t think of an example to substantiate your skill, it might be best to leave it out. The hiring manager would prefer skills that have evidence.

8. Include Personal Accomplishments & Volunteer Work

If you have done something cool in your personal life that could imply that you have a certain technical or soft skill, put it on your résumé. Winning a chess championship could imply that you are good at strategizing. If you like adventure sports and participate in them from time-to-time or participate in debates, you can add that as well. Certain personal accomplishments indicate rare qualities and skills that are sought after by hiring managers.

When it comes to non-work experience like volunteering, you can include it in your résumé if it has taken up a significant amount of your time or has nurtured certain skills that are suitable for the job role. You can also include side projects, temp gigs, or pro bono work so that your résumé adds can have personality.

9. Add Social Media Links

Most people send out their résumé as a standalone document. Add your professional social media links to it. You could add your LinkedIn profile, blog, or personal website’s URL. The best part about adding the link to your LinkedIn profile is that the recruiter can check the skills that you have listed and also see who has endorsed which ones. Plus, there’s no upper limit on stating your professional experience on LinkedIn, unlike your résumé. Personal websites and blogs also give the hiring manager deeper insights into you. Adding social media links could also give an impression of being transparent.

10. Use Powerful Verbs & Avoid Negative Words

resume writing tips
The choice of words used in your resume matter

Words like ‘handled’, ‘led’, ‘managed’ have been used way too often in résumés that they seem to have lost their power. When describing your work, switch to powerful verbs like ‘administered’, ‘charted’, ‘initiated’, ‘maximized’ and ‘consolidated’. They make you look competent and confident as well.

Also, be careful not to use words that have negative tones even if you’re using them to describe a positive situation. Using phrases like “solved a floor-wide communication problem” or “met aggressive targets” could make the recruiter view you with a dim perspective. You could rephrase the previous lines into something like “proposed solution to make communication on the floor easier and quicker” or “delivered ambitious sales volume”.

11. Highlight & Personality

While you’re busy enhancing your résumé and making it look good and enticing for the recruiter to read, don’t lose focus on the content. Unless you’re a designer, then you really need to focus on the design as your résumé itself would portray your design skills.

Ensure that you highlight the right information. Highlighting for the sake of highlighting won’t make your most important/relevant achievements stand out. Also don’t highlight too much, make sure that the design is easy on the reader’s eyes and can be read easily.

Though it is quite inviting to add multiple roles at one company, you mustn’t do it. Highlighting the different roles at one company tells a lot about whether you were promoted at that company or if you were comfortable with transitioning your role. You need to make your qualities and skills stand out without compromising on the appeal of your résumé.

12. Delete the Extras

Omit anything unnecessary. Extra words, school achievements (not if you’re a fresher), irrelevant non-work experiences, and anything that doesn’t really need to be put there. Excess of random information or redundant information dilutes the impact of the important points in the recruiter’s mind.

Also, be careful to not mention volunteering work with controversial groups or organizations. For example, you volunteered to fundraise for a politician, it might be best to leave it out. If you volunteered for a Democrat but the interviewer is Republican, it might create unnecessary dislike or an opinion that isn’t very favorable. Another point to keep in mind is that although it is illegal to discriminate against a candidate because of their age, gender, marital status, religion, race, color, or national origin, it doesn’t mean that such things don’t happen subconsciously. Avoid leaving traces of such details on your résumé.

When updating your résumé or writing a new one, make sure to keep these points in mind. Once you’re done editing it and adding the final touches, read through it with a fresh mind. Check whether you’ve missed out on any of the above points. You can also go through our article on helpful interview tips to help you prepare for that interview call.  

If you’d like additional tips, you can interact with people in similar situations or experts in this field on our Community Forums. You can also clarify queries regarding unemployment insurance.

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  1. I applied for unemployment on 8-1 and was approved. I received my letter of eligibility and debit card about a week ago. I did not file my intitial bi weekly claim because I missed the deadline by 1 day (didn’t realize they would be closed on Saturday). When I logged on it said I would have to reopen a claim because mine had been closed. I filled out the online form to deactivate the claim. My question is this: will I have another waiting week? And will unemployment have to contact my employer all over again to verify my wages and go through the entire process all over again or will they just reopen the claim with a new date window to file?

  2. Lost my job in 10/2018 due to plant closure, collected vacation and severance pay. Opened a claim in 1/2019. Got an on the job training job through career link in 5/2019 worked one week and became very sick and was off for two weeks VA could not find anything wrong but gave me medication for the symptoms and an excuse to return to work, prior to returning got a call from my recruiter at career link telling me the position was filled so i did not return. Reopened my claim, a few weeks later got a letter informing me the employer had appealed and said i did not return, had a hearing and the employer did not show but i lost and got a 2500.00 over payment. Got a temp job through an agency but have only worked 4 days in two weeks. Reopened my claim and was told i need to earn 2604.00 from current employer before it can be opened, did i do something wrong? Still applying for work but am days away from losing everything, need income to pay bills. PLEASE HELP

    1. Rodney,

      Your eligibility to claim UI benefits depends on multiple factors including monetary eligibility. If you’ve been officially told about the shortage of earnings, there’s nothing much one can do. If you’re still confident of winning the appeal, please make a strong case.

      1. I live in KY but my base wages were from earnings in GA when I lived there. I’ve exhausted my benefits in KY. Am I able to now file through GA since my earnings through 10/18 came from there?

        1. Dee,

          As much as I am aware, Unemployment Insurance is a one time cycle. Please call the Unemployment Office in GA for more.

  3. The hours at work have been cut due to lack of business for every department.
    So all full-time positions are now part-time.
    How do I file for partial unemployment?
    The only options I see (in Texas) are for full unemployment.

    1. Eric,

      You should be able to claim partial UI benefits. Please consider applying online until full hours are restored.

    1. William,

      If everything goes well, it should not take more than 7-10 business days (waiting week). Please call the Claims Center for more.

  4. I was employed by a VA company for 5 years, my contract ended yesterday (07/31/19), however, I worked remotely for those 5 years and live in FL, which state do I apply to for my unemployment benefits?

    1. Oscar,

      Please check with your employer if they remitted UI taxes into the system. Contract workers are generally not eligible.

        1. Oscar,

          In that case, please go ahead and apply if your employer remitted UI taxes into the system.

    2. You apply in Virginia…however, I worked seasonally and they used a ‘quarter’ that was empty, so even though my employer paid in, I only got a 1/3 of what I should have received. Figured that out later :/ They will also question WHY you aren’t able and available to work IN Virginia. They froze my account for about a month.

  5. I worked 37 years with the same company in Texas. On July 2nd of 2018, I was let go due to workforce reduction. I signed up for benefits several months later and now have drawn my 26 weeks of benefit. Is there any program currently open in Texas or federally that will extend additional money while job seeking?

    1. Lonnie,

      The E.U.C(Emergency Unemployment Compensation) remains expired. There is no extension available. Please inquire further with the labor authorities in your state by calling them.

  6. I have been an employee of my company for 34 yrs. My position is being eliminated but I have been offered another position for less money. It is a much more physical job that I am not sure I can perform well. I am 75. If I try to fulfill the position and cannot do it, will I still be able to get benefits if I quit? They want me to try it for a couple of weeks to see if I am strong enough and if I can afford the cut in pay.

    1. Lynda,

      I suggest you call the Unemployment Office to find out about eligibility before making a decision on continuation.

      1. I recently lost my job..i was late for work and they took me off the schedule..never told me i was fired..didnt ask for uniforms back. Another cook was andd has been late for work and he didnt get taken off the schedule.can i still get unemployment?

        1. Kandie,

          Please note UI benefits are only offered to claimants who lose employment due to no fault of their own. You can call the Unemployment Office for clarification.

  7. Are there any training benefits or programs that will pay for an advanced degree, such as a PhD which is needed to become more employable?

    1. There are multiple training programs administered by the Labor Department in each state. For more info, please call visit the official website of the Unemployment Office.

  8. I’m about to exhaust my Unemployment benefits. I was laid off from my first job and
    found employment then I lost my job and became unemployed again. I applied for benefits and have have almost exhausted my benefits but have not found employment. Can I file for an extension?

    1. Deanna,

      The E.U.C(Emergency Unemployment Compensation) remains expired. There is no extension available. Please inquire further with the labor authorities in your state by calling them.

  9. After reading your article it’s still not clear to me about requirements surrounding moving to another state and completing/continuing to collect. I have 8 weeks eligibility left, I am moving from MA to FL. The end of your article says: “Since it’s all virtual (online), you may still consider the option of continuing your claims from the base state even if you move to a different one until completion. As a responsible claimant, it’s your duty to inform the base state about your movement to ensure there are no hassles in the near future.”

    So it sounds like even once I am in new state I am eligible to continue to collect from my base state. I can just continue to do my required weekly job search and reporting to and filing in my base state (I do it via phone call-in). No need to complicate things by doing some crazy state transfer of benefits. Benefits also done via direct bank deposit and no need to change anything. Do I even need to tell my base state I am now living in a new state? Why? Thank you.

    1. Paul,

      For the ease of understanding, each state has its specific rules and laws with regard to administering Unemployment Benefits. It might be an obligation for a claimant to inform about the movement. For clarification, please call the Unemployment Office and speak to a representative.

  10. I was recently fired from my work 25-June-2019/due to me not meeting their “standards/ expectations” i submitted my UE claim on 28-June and have not received any pay as of today, 19-July. The status is currently “adjudication in progress,” my question is, should i be worried this will be denied? I read the FAQ on the UE webpage and it said only a couple applications require the adjudication process. How long does this process usually take to get the final answer of whether I’m denied or approved? The website stated it susuallt takes ~25 days for the adjudication process, does this mean once that’s done then i still have to wait another 2-6 weeks for final processing after? THANK YOU SOO MUCH to whomever is able to provide me with some answers/ input.

    ** this is my first time ever being fired or having to file for unemployment so i really have nooooo idea what is standard or normal or whatever. I feel like an idiot with my simple questions but it would bring me so much relief having them answered, truly

    1. Talia,

      I can understand your reason for the anxiety. Adjudication is a fact-finding process where both the claimant and the employer will get an opportunity to present their case. During this process, make sure to produce supporting documents that amplify your stance. For all you know, the adjudication can be a lengthy process.

      Best Wishes!

  11. I was permanently severanced from my job due to a Co. Reorg & received my last severance pay last week. I called UE & was told that I should now do my application online since I will no longer be getting funds & still without a job & that this coming Sunday regardless of knowing if I will or will not get benefits yet that I should still file a weekly claim in case of UE back pay.
    So my question is, do I still have to report 4 jobs applied to within this week, even if I do not know if I will be approved/denied for benefits until possibly next week anyway?

    1. Lynda,

      You should continue to report the job applications as long as you’ve been asked to do so. There will be a “Waiting Period” and the first payment will take about 7-10 days after which they’ll flow much quicker. Please call the Claims Center for clarification.

  12. I tried to transfer from one state to another. When I left Montana I was told there would be no problem transferring. When I arrived in North Carolina I had trouble reaching the area manager by phone. When he finally called me back he said to meet him for lunch to discuss when and where I would be working. He did not show up for lunch. Then he never returned any of my calls. I went PA to visit a friend a few weeks later and tried there. I met with the hiring manager and was told there should not be a problem doing the transfer since I was still in the system. I called the store a few times and they said it was still pending. Then I was terminated without even a phone call. Am I eligible for unemployment and if so do I file in Montana or North Carolina. I still have a Montana drivers license but I am living in NC.

    1. Stacey,

      As long as you were unemployed involuntarily, you should be able to claim UI benefits. Please consider applying.

  13. I have worked for 32+ years and recently have become unable to work due to health reasons, so I have had to resign from my job. I have contacted SS and will be able to apply for disability but it will take awhile to process. Can I apply for unemployment benefits? I live in WV.

    1. Sandra,

      UI benefits are only extended to claimants who lose their employment due to involuntary reasons. Please reach out to the Unemployment Office for more.

  14. I had to quit my job at Walmart in Fairmont West Virginia and moved back to my home state ky, I’ve got a son with drug problems and 3 older sisters that are not doing so well in health cause of their age. I didn’t understand about the transfer part they had at Walmart that I could put a date when I could start back because of my car problems I thought when I left I had to go in like in s few days, I’ve applied here at Walmart in Winchester ky 40391 two times already plus dollar store, speedway, truck stop, bp, a few other places it’s been going on 7 months without a job I live with my son and its getting harder on him paying rent and utilities and food, not to mention our personal hygiene stuff I really need help I have no income coming in to help him and his wife out I get foodstamps and Medicaid I was praying I could qualify for unemployment PLEASE HELP!!!

    1. Vicky,

      I can understand your situation. Unfortunately, UI benefits are only extended to claimants who lose employment due to involuntary reasons. Please call the Unemployment Office for further clarification.

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