Top 12 Resume Tips on How to Write a Resume

Top 12 Resume Tips on How to Write a Resume

As a Human Resource Manager and Recruiter myself for over 15 years, resume spammers are easy to spot, and often resumes that fall into this category will end up in a folder that never gets reviewed.

So how do you avoid making this mistake and actually get your resume seen by the Human Resource Director or Hiring Manager? Here are some quick resume tips to get you started, written by an actual Hiring Professional that works with thousands of companies across the country:

How to Write a Resume – Resume Tip #1: 

Look Carefully at Job Descriptions and Job Ads

Learning how to investigate the key words that employers provide in their job ads and job descriptions can be a powerful tool on how to write your resume. For this resume tip, I did a brief search online and found the following excerpt from a job ad:

Human Resources Representative

Will serve as liaison between different departments as it relates to human resources. This person will be responsible for knowing and communicating company procedures and benefits information to employees. Other responsibilities will include but are not limited to: employee relations, processing new hire paperwork, benefits administration, training, and recruiting/hiring employees, as well as, assisting in the development and administration of human resources policies and procedures.

This job ad, while small, is very precise and lists keywords and phrases that can help you on writing a resume that matches what the company is looking for. One warning though: Do not be tempted to embellish your resume with skills that are not accurate to your actual work history. However, if the keywords and descriptions in the job ad are related to your past or present duties, use the very key words the employer is using to prepare a better resume and write a resume that will stand out to them as you apply for this job.

One special note to ad on this resume tip: Keep in mind that not all Human Resource professionals, Hiring Managers and Business Owners are good at writing job ads and job descriptions. While it is helpful to use them as a means to help you in writing your own resume, be sure to truly read the ad to make sure that it even makes sense to use what is there.

Want to see a quick video on this first resume writing tip?

How to Write a Resume – Resume Tip #2:

Pay Attention to Employer Needs that are Hidden

While the list of skills and qualifications are prevalent in the advertisement of a job ad, it is important to remember the hidden message within the advertisement. For example, think about some of the keywords used and think about what is involved with that keyword. If an employer is saying they need someone with skills in employee relations, this employer will need someone who can deal effectively with other employees in a variety of ways. Since the market is such that there are many candidates competing for the same position, it is important that you identify and anticipate the full range of needs each employer faces and write in your resume about how you can address these needs (a great way to write a cover letter is by addressing such needs and how you can resolve them based on your experience and skill sets). This resume tip is a critical part of your research process to avoid being viewed as a resume spammer, something that is covered in the next tip on how to write a resume.

How to Write a Resume – Resume Tip #3:

Sell Your Benefits and Skills

Most of the sample resumes I have seen from candidates provide a list of duties that each person has been responsible for without really explaining the benefit of those skills to the employer. For example, a sales manager sample resume might state that they have trained employees over the course of a year. This statement lacks an explanation of how this training benefits an employer’s bottom line. The real benefit is that the employee can effectively train and develop new hires, saving the employer time and money in seeing the success of new hires. A better statement for this person’s resume might be:


    • Achieved top production volume by training and developing new hires with a high degree of accuracy and efficiency.


    • Cut training expenses by over $8,000 annually by eliminating the need for extra training time after the initial 3 week program set by management.


  • Increased sales volume of new hires by 22% after the first three weeks of training compared to last year’s sales volume.

As you can tell from the samples above, they are very specific, provide actual data (explained in resume tip #4 below) and when you read it, you get a much clearer picture of what that experience has done for the candidate making it easier for the employer to apply it to their own needs.


How to Write a Resume – Resume Tip #4:

Quantify Results (When Possible)

The descriptions you provide of your skills and abilities will determine how many interviews you are contacted for, as well as the level of salary offers you may receive. This is a common mistake I have seen in the 1000s of resumes I have reviewed over the years. I have included an example below to explain:

Maintained records for new applicants for open positions in the organization
Reviewed, managed, and screened over 3,000 applicants working directly with Hiring Managers to provide quality candidates for open positions.

Based on these two descriptions, which one do you feel is the stronger description?

Knowing some exact numbers to help quantify your particular skill set or description of the duty becomes a powerful selling tool in describing your ability to handle the position the employer is seeking to fill. To see a sample video on this resume tip, please visit our resume tips video page.

How to Write a Resume – Resume Tip #5:

Use Power Words and Content that Sells

Using numbers to describe your achievements and responsibilities can greatly expand and elevate how an employer perceives your skills. Using numbers and quantifying also creates vivid images in my mind when I read them in a resume I am reviewing, whereas general statements like the example mentioned above is easy to skip over or forget. Typically the more specific you can be in describing your duties the better.

Another strategy to control that first impression an employer has about you is to use Power Words or verbs that match the level of position you want. For example, let’s say I want to use the experience I have gained to move into a management position. To strengthen the perception of my skills I need to use management type words.

Typical Verbs:
Gave work assignments to staff of entry-level recruiters.

Power Words:
Directed workflow, supervised and trained recruiting staff to better qualify candidates for hiring manager reviews, resulting in an increased interview to hire ratio by 47%

(Notice the use of power words and the quantification of the data!)

Gives you goosebumps, huh?

Top 40+ Resume Writing Websites

How to Write a Resume – Resume Tip #6:

Grab their Attention with Resume Design

Employers make snap judgments when glancing at your resume. How it is written in the first place can have an impact on this initial judgment call. I cannot tell you how often I would look at a resume sent in by an applicant and I knew within 5 seconds if I wanted to continue a further review of qualifications. Unrelated job titles or skills would cause me to make an immediate assumption that you were not qualified for the job I was looking to fill. Adding to this problem is the fact that most employers don’t have the time to read through each of your job duties to determine if you have the skills they need.

The design of your resume must highlight the most important information about your work experience, skills and education. At first glance this information forms the image that employers have of your skills and abilities. Keep your bullet point list short but rich in context using some of the other tips found here.

Be sure to use a design that is easy to scan and has the ability to highlight key points quickly.

How to Write a Resume – Resume Tip #7: 

Use Titles and Headings that Match the Job you Seek

With employers receiving hundreds of resumes for each position, you must make sure that your resume hooks an employer’s attention within a 5 to 10-second glance (mentioned previously). A great way to do this is to use job titles and skill headings that relate or even match the exact job title of the position you seek. For example, look at these before and after headings:

Recruiting / Record keeping
Computer Skills

Management of Company Recruiting
Computerized Applicant Tracking and Payroll
Departmental Administration / Confidential Record keeping

Even though my title was that of a recruiter, I actually managed the recruiting for the entire company at the level of a Director, participating in management meetings and making decisions on hiring without management approval. Use skill headings that market the true nature of your job duties to better market your skills and qualifications for the job

Another note here is the title of your position. This is a tough area to address because even though your current employer may call your position one thing, if that job title is not a common job title employers seek, use, or talk about, YOU WILL NOT STAND OUT.

Let me share a personal example on this subject. When I was a recruiter, to somehow make us appear different, or something (not really 100% sure what the purpose of this was) but they called us a “Career Development Advisor”.

I know, right? What kind of title is that anyway?

Sounds more like a School counselor or something, and it certainly was not anywhere near what I was actually doing as a recruiter, such as the cold calling, developing relationships with both candidates and hiring managers, etc. So job title is important. If I was a recruiter, then my title should be recruiter, or some other title that is more commonly known. It should also not lead one to believe I did something else.

How to Write a Resume – Resume Tip #8:

Prioritize your Skills and Content

Another big mistake that job seekers make is to list very important data in the lower sections of their job descriptions, if at all. As you compile bullet points for your resume template, you should prioritize them by importance, impressiveness and relevance to the job you want. Remember, a strong statement that uses power words and quantifies experience will affect every statement underneath it.

Not Prioritized
Maintained applications control, filing, orientation paperwork and other documents.
Managed screening functions to support the managers for a staff of over 200 Sales Professionals.

Managed screening functions to support the managers for a staff of over 200 Sales Professionals.
Maintained applications control, filing, orientation paperwork and other documents.

The order is important, so you will need to pay attention to the order you place your bullet points when you create your resume. Resume Tip #1 should help you with the decision on the order. If it important to the employer then it must be listed accordingly!

How to Write a Resume – Resume Tip #9:

Create an Image that Matches the Salary you Want

As you write a resume, keep in mind the level of job and salary you want. For example, language used in a resume for an entry level $8 an hour position is much different than the language used for a middle manager level of $16 an hour. Be sure to create an image that presents you at the appropriate level, even if you may not have all the experience required for that level.

I had a candidate once who decided to leave the mortgage industry due to the changing market conditions and wanted to switch to the finance field. At the top he had placed the intent of the resume with the following words:

Seeking an entry-level position in the finance field.

Based on that one statement, what do you think my first impression was on what this individual was worth salary-wise? A much better statement would have been something like this:

Seeking a finance position utilizing my experience in managing client accounts and transactions of over $1.2 million monthly.

See the difference?


I was glad to hear later that this had a tremendous impact on his salary offer later on as he continued his career in this new field.

How to Write a Resume – Resume Tip #10:

Don’t SPAM your Resume – Be Unique

How often do job seekers go on the Internet and scour the web to find positions for which they qualify in varying degrees and then SPAM the same resume to each employer?

Are you guilty of this?
We all know what SPAM is (though not truly a verb like I have made it out to be here), and if all you do is send out the same resume and generic cover letter to each employer, the odds are you will not have great success in your search.
You need to personalize the initial contact in some way. If it is an online application, that is great, but if you are just simply emailing the employer, chances are they have received 200 emails already, so address them directly with the keywords and phrases that will stand out.  You may also want to consider making a unique subject line if it is an email. 
I am going to be selfish for just a moment here: If the employer does not have an online application, send them my way. I’ll even reward you for your efforts. (

I jokingly tell people about the 16 resume templates I have on file, one of which is about 12 pages long. Why? My longer resume lists every job I have ever had, describing in detail every skill and every qualification. The reason this is critical is so that at any given moment, I can tweak my sample resume, and change the necessary items based on the first few resume tips above to send a unique resume sample to each employer.

Additional Resume Tips That Have Recently Surfaced

While the original goal was to keep this to ten tips, the reality is that the market is ever changing, and technology is a big reason why this is changing. So as new technology emerges and changes the dynamics of the market, I have a few more tips to share below.

How to Write a Resume – Resume Tip #11:

Be Searchable – Do not create a resume that cannot be found

More and more companies are beginning to use online tracking systems, such as ApplicantPro, where you fill out an application online and then attach a resume.

The challenge though is that many of these tracking systems use algorithms to “scan” your resume and find keywords that may match certain searches the company will conduct from time to time for open roles. When you use a scanned version of your resume, or one that is “read-only”, chances are it may not be searchable. This means that when the employer is doing their search, they cannot even find you!

It is hard to really describe this tip here, but ultimately you want to make sure that your resume is searchable. One of the best ways to do this is to pull up your resume on the screen, and then hit CNTRL-F or COMMAND-F (for MAC users) and type in a word that is on your resume to see if the screen will locate it. This is not full proof, but is a pretty good way to check this.

Using Microsoft Word is ideal, as long as you do not make it Read Only. This is important! Do not use images or scans of your resume, as these are almost NEVER searchable.

How to Write a Resume – Resume Tip #12:

References – to include or not to include

This can be a touchy subject for some professionals but the reality is that having references ON your actual resume is not the best of ideas. In reality, the only need an employer has for references is if they have met with you, and similar to a background check, they want to extend an offer contingent upon a successful background check or reference checks. This is when it becomes appropriate to share references with them.

Most employers that have an online application now have a separate form or section for references anyway, so in that sense there should not be a need to include references on your resume.

How to Write a Resume – Resume Tips Conclusion

In conclusion, while these resume tips are great ways to get started on writing a resume, sometimes it still is helpful to speak with someone specifically about ways to improve your resume or even start with the right resume template. You will notice at the top in the menu there is a page I have dedicated to sample resume templates to help get you started in this area. I have been helping individuals for many years on how to create better resume samples,  including help on how to write a resume that contains more powerful keywords and descriptions of your duties. I do provide these services for FREE and you are welcome to contact me about these resume writing services.

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