By Jennifer Anthony, Résumé Expert
1. Start with an attractive layout. Use bold and italics to highlight key points. I do not recommend downloadable templates because they are very generic and dull. Get creative but not crazy. You can use a little touch of color if you are modest.
2. Justify the text instead of using left align. Most people are accustomed to reading justified text. This will make your résumé easy to follow.
3. Choose a common font. Times New Roman, Arial, and Verdana are some of the best fonts for a résumé. Now is not the time to experiment. Most computers do not have 600 different fonts installed so the file will not read correctly if you use your decorative fonts. Do not use cutesy graphics such as candy canes or teddy bears if you want to be taken seriously. (Yes, I have really received a résumé with teddy bears and candy canes on it.) It is NOT appropriate for business correspondence, and I guarantee your résumé will be canned if you do this.
4. Do not use the word "I" in your résumé. Start each sentence with a powerful verb. For example: • Organized annual student symposium by securing speakers and working closely with marketing department executives. • Implemented production bonus incentives and "best practices" matrix for all divisions, raising overall productivity by as much as 40 percent.
5. Write a proper cover letter for each position to which you apply. Do not ever send out a résumé without a cover letter. This is basic business etiquette. Personalize each cover letter directly to the position you are applying to. A generic cover letter will not work to your benefit. If possible, address the letter directly to a person. If you do not know the hiring manager's name, use "Hiring Manager."
6. Print your résumé and read it word-for-word. You can use the grammar and spell check function, but don't rely on it.
7. When you have a degree, list only the year that you obtained your degree. When you list your dates of attendance, many résumé scanning systems will not recognize that you obtained a degree, only that you attended college for a period.
8. Deactivate all e-mail links and Web addresses in your résumé and cover letter. To do this in Microsoft Word, highlight the link with your mouse, go to the "Insert" drop-down menu, scroll down to and click "Hyperlink", and on the lower left-hand side of this screen there should be a little button that says "Remove link." When you find it, give it a little click and voila! Alternatively, you can highlight the link with your mouse, right click on it, and scroll down to "remove link" to deactivate the link.
9. Be consistent! For example, don't list one date as 1/2005 and then list another date as 9/22/2005. List software consistently, too. MS Word and Microsoft Excel are both correct, but not consistent when used together.
10. Adhere to punctuation and capitalization rules. Use a reference manual if you do not understand standard punctuation and capitalization rules.
Jennifer Anthony is the Director of ResumeASAP, offering professional and affordable résumé writing services. If you have comments about this article, or if you are interested in learning more about professional résumé writing, please contact Jennifer Anthony by e-mail at e-mail