Still writing your resume the way you were first taught in school? A lot of resume rules that were made up in the typewriter and early word processor era somehow still get cited well into the Internet age.

It may be time to modernize your resume. Here are some tips to help you get noticed:

    • Remember to use the relevant keywords for your industry. Many employers will be scanning resumes for key terms, or searching for them in resume databases. If you’re missing the right keywords, your resume will never even be found and the rest of these tips won’t matter.


    • Stay away from the Microsoft resume template, it has way too much white space and not enough room to effectively sell yourself. Employers may also assume that you are too lazy or unable to format your resume yourself.


    • Creatively formatted resumes are welcome as long as the formatting doesn’t distract from the content. No photos allowed.


    • In fact, get rid of any graphics. (Unless or course you are a graphic designer.)


    • Use black ink only; you don’t know the caliber of the printer the reader is going to use and anything but black may come out weak or not at all.


    • Stick with just one font for the whole document, (and it shouldn’t be Comic Sans).


    • Try for 12 point font, 11 at the smallest.


    • If you can’t get it all on two pages, because you are an experienced worker, go to three pages. Try widening your margins and header/footer first. If you have publications or speaking engagements or lots of courses title Page 3 or Page 4 Addendum.


    • Use an Objective summary statement. Some people will tell you not to bother with this, but you can bet those people don’t read through dozens of resumes in one sitting.


    • Stay away from clichés like ‘excellent communication skills’.  Demonstrate your excellent communications skills instead by writing better copy.


    • You don’t need your mailing address and postal code on the second page; your email address or phone number is fine.


    • Try to make as many bullet points as possible an Action + Result statement.


    • Always keep in mind that your resume is a marketing brochure for your personal brand.


    • Testimonials can be a welcome addition, one or two will suffice. They go on page one under the objective.


    • Keep your Interests list to three items, you don’t want to appear like you haven’t any time to work for a living. (And only list things that demonstrate your fit for the company or ability to do the job.)


    • Leave ample but not excessive amounts of white space.


    • Only list accomplishments that go back ten years, with the heaviest load within the last 6-12 months, if possible.


    • Ask someone who doesn’t know your profession perfectly to read and reread your resume before it goes out. There is no excuse for typos or grammatical and punctuation errors.


    • Don’t try to be cutesy or macho in your writing style or wording.


  • Eliminate grocery lists of skills or knowledge unless they are in bulleted columns, but never in a sentence.

Stay current and be sure to tailor each resume you send out to the position you are applying to. One-size fits all usually fits nothing at all.

Colleen Clarke, Career Specialist & Corporate Trainer

Author of Networking How to Build Relationships That Count, How
to Get a Job and Keep It

Co-author of The Power of Mentorship; The
Mastermind Group