69 Resume Rules for Maximizing Your Effectiveness
Effective resumes follow certain key principles that should be incorporated into every stage of the resume writing, production, distribution, and follow-up process.
- Focus on translating your military experience into civilian employment terminology.
- Do first things first in making your resume represent the unique you.
- Develop a plan of actiong relevant to your overall job search.
STRUCTURE AND ORGANIZATION
- Select an appropriate resume format that best communicates your goals, skills, experience, and probable future performance.
- Include all essential information categories in the proper order.
- Sequence the categories according to the principle "What's most important to both you and the employer should always appear first."
- Avoid including extraneous information that is unrelated to your objective or to the needs of employers.
- Put all essential contact information at the very top of your resume as the header.
- Include your complete contact information.
- Include a job or career objective relevant to your skills, employer's needs, and the remaining elements of your resume.
- An objective should be neither too general nor too specific.
- Relate all other resume elements to your objective, emphasizing skills, outcomes, benefits, and probable future value to the employer.
SUMMARY OF QUALIFICATIONS
- You may want to include a "Summary of Qualifications section immediately following your "Objective."
- Elaborate your work experience in detail with particular emphasis on your skills, abilities, and achievements.
- Keep each "Experience" section short and to the point.
- Work experience should be presented in the language of skills and accomplishments rather than as a listing of formal duties and responsibilities.
- When writing a conventional resume, incorporate action verbs and use the active voice when describing your experience.
- Use keywords appropriate for resume-scanning technology.
- Avoid using the personal pronoun "I."
- Use numbers and percentages whenever possible to demonstrate your performance on previous jobs.
- Include quotes relevant to your performance.
- Eliminate any negative references, including reasons for leaving.
- Do not include names of supervisors.
- If you choose a chronological resume, begin with your most recent job and work backwards in reverse chronological order.
- Be consistent in how you handle each description or summary.
- For each job or skill, put the most important information first.
- Be sure to account for major time gaps.
- If you are an obvious job hopper, you may want to choose a functional or combination resume rather than a chronological resume.
- Include "Other Experience" only if it further strengthens your objective in reference to the employer's needs or it helps account fro employment time gaps.
EDUCATION AND TRAINING
- State complete information on your formal education, including any highlights that emphasize your special skills, abilities, and motivation.
- Recent graduates with little relevant work experience should emphasize their educational background more than their work experience.
- It's not necessary to include all education degrees or diplomas on your resume.
- Include special training relevant to your objective and skills.
- Include professional affiliations relevant to your objective and skills.
- It's okay to include any special skills not covered in other sections of your resume.
AWARDS AND SPECIAL RECOGNITION
- Include any awards or special recognition that demonstrate your skills and abilities.
INTERESTS AND ACTIVITIES
- Consider including a personal statement on your resume.
SALARY HISTORY OR EXPECTATIONS
- Never include salary information on your resume.
- Never include names, adddresses, and phone numbers of references on your resume.
- You may want to include a few other categories of information on your resume, depending on your experiecne and the relevance of such information to employers.
LANGUAGE, STYLE, AND TONE
- Use an appropriate language to express your productivity and your understanding of the employer's needs.
- Incorporate a crisp, succinct, expressive, and direct language.
- Incorporate numerous keywords throughout each section of your resume.
APPEARANCE AND VISUAL TECHNIQUES
- Use appropriate highlighting and emphasizing techniques.
- Follow the "less is more" rule when deciding on format and type style.
- Do not include special borders, graphics, or photos unless you are applying for a job in graphic arts or desktop publishing.
- Keep sentences and sections short and succinct.
- Limit your resume to one or two pages.
- Carefully proofread and produce two or three drafts of your resume before producing the final copies.
- Choose white, off-white, ivory, or light gray 20 to 50 lb. bond paper with 100% cotton fiber ("rag content")
- Produce your resume on 8½" x 11" paper.
- Print only on one side of the paper.
- Use a good quality printer and an appropriate typeface.
MARKETING AND DISTRIBUTION
- It's best to target your resume on specific employers rather than broadcast it to hundreds of names and addresses.
- The best way to broadcast your resume is to include it in a variety of resume databases.
- Learn to properly send your resume by email.
- Be prepared to complete online profile forms in lieu of a resume.
- Be careful in creating online and video resumes.
- Your resume should always be accompanied by a cover letter.
- Never enclose letters of recommendation, transcripts, or other information with your resume unless requested to do so.
- Address your resume to a specific person.
- Don't limit the distribution of your resume only to vacancy announcements.
- Enclose your resume and letter in a matching No. 10 business envelope or in a 9" x 12" envelope.
- Type the envelop or mailing label rather than handwrite the address.
- Send your correspondence by first-class or priority mail or special next-day services, and use stamps.
- Never fax or email your resume unless asked to do so by your recipient.
- Follow up your resume within seven days of sending it.
- The best follow-up to a resume and letter is a phone call.
- Follow up your follow-up with a thank-you letter.
SOURCE: Adapted from Carl S. Savino, Major, USAR (Ret.), and Ronald L. Krannich, Ph.D., Military-to-Civilian Resumes and Letters (Impact Publications) pages 33-66. Copyright 2007. All rights reserved.