17 Resume Writing Tips to Help You Get the Interview

Companies can get hundreds of resumes for a single job opening. In order to get past the hiring manager and land an interview, you need a resume that stands out from the rest. These 17 tips for resume writing can help elevate your document, and get your foot in the door for a job.

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1. Focus on Your Skills

When writing your resume, start by brainstorming what to include under your headings: education, work history, volunteer work, certifications, awards, recognitions, etc. As you discuss each employment opportunity, don’t just talk about your job description. Instead, list your skills and achievements. Consider how your past has prepared you for the position for which you’re applying.

2. Quantify Your Achievements

When listing your achievements, you can prove your past successes with numbers. Use percentages, dollar amounts, and other data to quantify your achievements. For example, rather than saying you raised money for non-profit organizations, say that you raised over $500,000 for a particular non-profit organization. Of course, be honest about the achievements that you’ve made.

3. Avoid First-Person Pronouns

Another thing to remember when listing your achievements is that you should avoid using the word “I”. You don’t need to say, I conducted research and presented the findings to the board of directors. Drop the personal pronouns. Instead, you should simply say, Conducted research and presented the findings to the board of directors.

4. Rethink Your Objective Statement

The objective statement is usually one to two sentences in length. It’s used to discuss your goals for employment and how you have the skills needed for the job. In the past, an objective statement was a resume staple. However, they aren’t as common anymore. Before you choose to use an objective statement, think about why you want to include it. Some of the most common reasons to include one are when:

  • You seem unqualified for a position.
  • You’re changing careers.

5. Refrain from Cliché Phrases

To stand out from other applicants, don’t use cliché phrases in your resume writing. Hiring managers see these phrases so often that the words start to lose meaning over time. Some of these phrases include:

  • Great communication skills
  • Hardworking
  • Results driven

Think outside of the box. What skills do you have that would make you stand out from others? Why should you be chosen for the job over someone else? Think about your responses to these questions as you list your skills and achievements.

6. Review Verb Tenses

One thing that people often get hung up on with resume writing is the verb tenses. Should you use past-tense or present-tense verbs to list your accomplishments?

As a general rule of thumb, use past-tense verbs when discussing past jobs—delivered, managed, organized, and analyzed. Since you completed these actions in the past, it makes sense that you should have the verbs follow suit.

So, for your present position, use present-tense verbs—delivers, manages, organizes, and analyzes. You’ll also notice that these are all action verbs. Choose strong verbs to clearly discuss your achievements.

7. Tailor Your Resume to the Job Description

After creating your resume, you can’t just send it out for every job listing you come across. Instead, take a few moments to tailor your resume to each job to which you apply. Why is this important? Because most companies use software to sift through the stacks of resumes they get to find the ones that are worth taking a closer look at. To get selected, you need to use keywords from the job description.

For example, if the job calls for someone who is familiar with Agile or Scrum, you better make sure that these are clearly listed on your resume. Or, if the job calls for someone who can supervise employees, make sure that you use the verb “supervise” as you discuss past supervisory positions.

8. Research the Company

Not only should you analyze the job posting, you also need to research the company. Do some reconnaissance to find out as much as you can about your potential future employer. Check for keywords, terms, and topics that the company is associated with or interesting in exploring further.

Also, look for clues as to the company culture. If the company seems more laid back, you might want to consider echoing this in your resume and cover letter.

Try to learn as much as you can about the hiring manager, and the person making the hiring decisions. Based on what you learn, try to tailor your resume in a way that will make your name stick out to them.

9. Be Selective

You don’t have to include your entire employment history or educational background on your resume. Select things that apply to the job for which you’re applying. If you’re applying for an accounting position, you probably don’t need to discuss your summer as a nanny. Or, if you’re applying for a position as a marketing specialist, you probably don’t need to include your position as an ice cream scooper in high school. Make sure that you’re showing the items on your resume that are most fitting for the job that you want.

10. Don’t Include References

Don’t provide a list of references on your resume. The space should be used to tell the hiring manager about yourself. If they want to talk to references, they’re going to ask. This also means that you shouldn’t include the phrase “References Upon Request”. Most companies assume that they can contact you for references, so you don’t need to waste space stating this.

11. Choose a Logical Layout

Consider your career path and work history. Then, think about the job description. Does it make sense for you to present your work history in chronological order? If not, consider presenting your work history in order of relevance for the job description. Choose the layout that best highlights your experience that is applicable to the job.

12. Format It in a Visually Appealing Way

To choose the layout of your resume, peruse online templates. The layout should make your resume easy to scan, and easy on the eyes. Consider utilizing bold section headings, bold job titles, and bullet points.

If you work in a creative industry, show your artistry through your resume. With a splash of color or unique design, your resume will grab the hiring manager’s attention.

13. Condense Your Resume to One Page

Unless you’re applying to be an executive, partner, or similar position, keep your resume to one page. While scanning through resumes, chances are that no one will turn over the resume or flip to the second page. By keeping everything on the same page, you can be assured that the hiring manager will see the most important information about you.

14. Make Every Word Count

Since you need to keep your resume to one page, you need to be selective about the words that you use. When resume writing, make every word count. Some ways to do this include:

  • Condensing “in order to” to simply “to”.
  • Changing “whether or not” to “whether”.
  • Removing “that” from sentences if it’s not needed.

15. Keep the Font Readable

Your font should be no smaller than 10 points, but it should be no larger than 12 points. Choose a font that’s easy to read, such as:

  • Arial
  • Helvetica
  • Times New Roman
  • Garamond
  • Trebuchet MS
  • Georgia

Whatever you choose, the font should be consistent throughout the entire resume.

16. Check the File Name

If you’re going to email your resume, make sure that the file name is clear. It should be labeled as a resume and include your first and last name.

Also, save the file as a PDF. By doing this, you can be assured that the resume will maintain the same format that you see on your computer when the hiring manager gets it.

17. Edit for Grammar and Spelling

One of the most important things to remember about resume writing is editing. Don’t send your resume to anyone until you’ve spent time reviewing your grammar and spelling. Read through the resume several times. Then, send it to a friend or two. Have them read through it, and provide constructive feedback to help you improve your resume and keep it error-free.

Resume Writing: Final Thoughts

Whether you’re on the job hunt or just open to new opportunities, keep your resume updated. Using these tips for resume writing can help you get an interview, so you can sell yourself in person and hopefully land the job of your dreams. Good luck!

P.S. Become a better writer. Find out more here.


  • Jamie Goodwin

    Jamie graduated from Brigham Young University- Idaho with a degree in English Education. She spent several years teaching and tutoring students at the elementary, high school, and college level. She currently works as a contract writer and curriculum developer for online education courses. In her free time, she enjoys running and spending time with her boys!

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