If you’re searching for a job, you’ve probably spent a lot of time asking yourself or possibly a career counselor a lot of questions about your resume.

Questions like…

“How long should my resume be?”

“Which type of resume will work best for me?”


“ What if I don’t have any relevant work experience?”

In this article I’m going to guide you through what makes an effective and ineffective resume and give you my top 7 tips on how to write an effective resume.

Let’s start by exploring what makes a resume effective?

What is an effective resume?

An effective resume is one that gets you callbacks and interviews. It’s that simple. There are a million different types of resumes from chronological; which is the most common resume style and shows your work history to functional; which focuses on your skills and experience.

Neither style of resume is more effective, but they work better for different candidates. For example if you have a long and impressive work history that will impress a recruiter or hiring manager, then a chronological style is better suited for you. If however you have gaps in your work history or you’re just starting out then a functional resume would work better.

You can also use what’s known as a hybrid resume where you blend the functional with the chronological. The functional resume allows you to display your work history but also gives you space to explain your skills and experiences. The functional resume is by far the most versatile type of resume and is a good choice if you’re not sure which type to use or this is your first resume out of school.

Whatever type of resume you decide to go with, if you are not getting callbacks and interviews your resume could probably use some tweaking.

Why is it important?

An easy way to understand the tremendous importance of an effective resume is to think of your resume as your first impression with a potential employer.
A study released by The Ladders a job search organization revealed that recruiters and employers spend an average of just six seconds looking at each resume. Even more disturbing for those who are resume challenged, is the advent of resume scanning where a machine literally scans the resumes looking for a few important keywords and discarding every resume lacking the magic words.

I hope you can see how important having a great resume is now!

Before we get into the 7 tips on how to write an effective resume, let’s first look at the 3 most common mistakes that are made on resumes according to recruiters.


Here are some other relevant articles on how to build your cover letter & resume:


The 3 Most Common Resume Mistakes:

1. Typos. The first and most obvious mistake is typos and grammar mistakes. You must make sure that your resume is typo free and uses correct grammar all the way through. If spelling and grammar are not your strong suit, you can use spellcheck and then give it to a friend whose writing you trust to proof read it.

2. Lying. The second most common mistake that is made on resumes is lying or exaggerating. Lies range from those exaggerating education, to outright creations of jobs and positions. It is best to be 100% honest on your resume, as in the long run it will be easier to find a job with your real qualifications than find a job after getting fired for lying on your resume.

3. Overly elaborate formatting. We’ll talk about the importance of correctly formatting your resume when I get into my 7 tips on how to write an effective resume, but for now understand that it is important not to get overly elaborate or creative with your resume formatting. It’s good to stand out; it’s bad to look like you have no idea what you are doing.

Now that you understand what creates an effective resume and why it’s so important as well as the 3 most common resume mistakes, let’s move on to the 7 tips for writing an effective resume.

They are:

7 Tips on How To Write An Effective Resume:

1. Format your resume correctly!
2. Customize your resume for the position
3. Don’t use more than 2 pages
4. Don’t use an objective statement
5. Use the right keywords
6. Put the most important/recent information first
7. Describe your achievements

Format Your Resume Correctly!

The most important thing when it comes to creating an effective resume is formatting! Resumes that are well formatted get more attention and end up leading to more callbacks and interviews! Thinking of your resume like an advertisement to a potential employer can help you to understand exactly what needs to be included and emphasized.

The most important things to keep in mind when formatting your resume are to keep it simple and easy to understand. You don’t want to overcomplicate things or be too creative and end up with a resume that is difficult to read or understand.

Start by using simple fonts like Times New Roman, or other serif or sans serif fonts such as Georgia, Goudy Old Style, Arial, or Tahoma. Also be sure to have a consistent font throughout. You don’t want to use multiple different fonts as that can be confusing and look unprofessional.

You want to emphasize your name in the beginning of your resume and your headings throughout. You can do this by making your name and the headings bold, or italicizing them, or using an underline. Be sure to just use one enhancement and to use the same enhancement throughout the entire resume in order to look consistent and professional.

While you can be creative and customize the formatting a little bit, you still want to make sure that you start with your contact information. Be sure to list your full legal name, address, phone number and email address. You should make sure that your contact information is centered on the page and that you bold and capitalize your name.

After your contact information you want to give what’s known as a value statement. This statement is going to explain why you are applying for the given position and what values, strengths and benefits you provide for the company. Think of the value statement as the answer to the question “why should we hire you?”

Under your value statement you want to take the time to list your keywords and specific skills that you have relative to the job. We’ll talk more about this later in this post.

One you’ve listed your keywords you want to decide on whether to list your education or previous work experience first. If you are newly graduated it’s a good idea to lad with education whereas if you are making a career transition or getting back into the job market lead with previous work experience.

If you have any other relevant certifications or awards list them at the end. Make sure that you keep them relevant to the specific position you are applying for.
Make sure that you keep your resume to two pages if it’s online and a single page if it will be printed out. Above everything else you want to strive to keep your resume clean and functional with as much white space as possible without it looking halfway filled out.

Lastly be sure that you proof read for any typos or grammar mistakes and have a friend or mentor take a look at it as well before sending it out!

Customize Your Resume For The Position.

The second most important tip for creating an effective resume is to customize your resume for the position you are applying to.

Rather than creating and sending out a one size fits all resume that you’d use to apply for a job marketing cosmetics and a job marketing kids toys, you want to shape your resume to highlight the skills, attributes and experiences that make you a great hire for the specific position you’re applying to.

Once you have your resume formatted as I discussed in the first tip, it’s easy to spend 10-15 minutes carefully customizing your resume for each position you’re applying for. Trust me the results will be worth it!

Don’t Use More Than 2 Pages.

Back in the day when resumes were always printed out and looked at on paper, there was the one page rule, meaning that you wanted to get all your information on a single sheet of paper.

Nowadays most of the time your resume will be viewed digitally but that shouldn’t be taken as license to add everything you’ve ever done and create a monster 10-page resume. Instead make sure that your digital resume is no more than 2 pages long and try to leave as much white space as possible as I mentioned during the tip on formatting.

If you are asked to bring in a printed resume it is best to adhere to the old one page rule by reformatting your resume to fit on a single page.

Don’t Use An Objective Statement.

An objective statement is a relic of the old way of doing applications.

An objective statement basically states your objective that is obviously to get the position you’re applying for or another equivalent position with the company.

The objective statement is redundant and it takes up precious space that could be better used by experiences, accomplishments, and a value statement like I discussed in the first tip on resume formatting.

If you have an objective statement on your resume go ahead and delete it and replace it with a value statement, more keywords, or your previous work or education history.

Use The Right Keywords.

One of the most important new advances in resume writing is the use of keywords. As I mentioned earlier some jobs go so far as to have a computer scan resumes on various recruiting websites for specific keywords before considering the application.

If you’re applying for jobs you need to know what the keywords are related to your job.

Here’s 2 easy ways to figure out what the important key words are:

1. Use Linkedin. Linkedin is a great resource for developing your resume as it provides a ton of helpful examples. One of the best things about Linkedin is its dependence on keywords. You simply cannot be found on Linkedin if you don’t have the right keywords for your profession. Search for whatever jobs you’re applying for on LinkedIn and look at the keywords the first few profiles use, to add them to your resume.

2. Use Wordle. Once you have a few keywords you can use the website Wordle to create a word cloud of all of your various keywords. A keyword cloud is an image of made up of various different keywords. Being able to see the keywords visually will help you come up with different words that will make your resume even easier to find.

Once you have the keywords you want to add them to the keyword section of your resume where your skills are listed. In addition to adding the keywords to your skills section you can sprinkle them throughout your profile.

Put The Most Important/Recent Information First.

One key tip that I left out of the section on formatting is putting your most recent or important information first.

Most employers and hiring managers are used to seeing your most recent career or educational achievements. If you don’t list your information in this order you run the risk of the employer or hiring manager mistakenly thinking that there are gaps in your employment or educational experience, which could prevent you from being hired.

Whether you just graduated from college or are currently employed and looking for another job lists your most recent information first.

Describe Your Achievements.

The last tip for how to write an effective resume is to describe your achievements rather than just your jobs or degrees.

Start by defining your involvement in the achievement, use words like “created” or “oversaw” to show that you made a critical difference.

When describing your achievements be sure to describe a beginning, middle and end. The more you can use your resume to tell a story the better you will connect with hiring managers and employers. Be sure to include if you overachieved as well or exceeded expectations.

That was a lot of information, so let’s re-cap to make sure that you get everything you can out of this detailed post and these 7 tips.

First we discussed what an effective resume is and why it’s so important. An effective resume needs to get you callbacks and interviews period.

After that we talked about the 3 most common mistakes that are made on resumes, they are typos and grammar mistakes, lying and overly elaborate formatting.

Once you learned what mistakes to avoid I explained the 7 tips on how to write an effective resume, which are:

1. Format your resume correctly!
2. Customize your resume for the position
3. Don’t use more than 2 pages
4. Don’t use an objective statement
5. Use the right keywords
6. Put the most important/recent information first
7. Describe your achievements

Now you know everything you need to re-write your resume to make it more effective and start getting the job interviews you want today!


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