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.


  1. Focus on translating your military experience into civilian employment terminology.

  2. Do first things first in making your resume represent the unique you.

  3. Develop a plan of actiong relevant to your overall job search.


  1. Select an appropriate resume format that best communicates your goals, skills, experience, and probable future performance.

  2. Include all essential information categories in the proper order.

  3. Sequence the categories according to the principle "What's most important to both you and the employer should always appear first."

  4. Avoid including extraneous information that is unrelated to your objective or to the needs of employers.


  1. Put all essential contact information at the very top of your resume as the header.

  2. Include your complete contact information.


  1. Include a job or career objective relevant to your skills, employer's needs, and the remaining elements of your resume.

  2. An objective should be neither too general nor too specific.

  3. Relate all other resume elements to your objective, emphasizing skills, outcomes, benefits, and probable future value to the employer.


  1. You may want to include a "Summary of Qualifications section immediately following your "Objective."


  1. Elaborate your work experience in detail with particular emphasis on your skills, abilities, and achievements.

  2. Keep each "Experience" section short and to the point.

  3. Work experience should be presented in the language of skills and accomplishments rather than as a listing of formal duties and responsibilities.

  4. When writing a conventional resume, incorporate action verbs and use the active voice when describing your experience.

  5. Use keywords appropriate for resume-scanning technology.

  6. Avoid using the personal pronoun "I."

  7. Use numbers and percentages whenever possible to demonstrate your performance on previous jobs.

  8. Include quotes relevant to your performance.

  9. Eliminate any negative references, including reasons for leaving.

  10. Do not include names of supervisors.

  11. If you choose a chronological resume, begin with your most recent job and work backwards in reverse chronological order.

  12. Be consistent in how you handle each description or summary.

  13. For each job or skill, put the most important information first.

  14. Be sure to account for major time gaps.

  15. If you are an obvious job hopper, you may want to choose a functional or combination resume rather than a chronological resume.


  1. 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.


  1. State complete information on your formal education, including any highlights that emphasize your special skills, abilities, and motivation.

  2. Recent graduates with little relevant work experience should emphasize their educational background more than their work experience.

  3. It's not necessary to include all education degrees or diplomas on your resume.

  4. Include special training relevant to your objective and skills.


  1. Include professional affiliations relevant to your objective and skills.


  1. It's okay to include any special skills not covered in other sections of your resume.


  1. Include any awards or special recognition that demonstrate your skills and abilities.


  1. Consider including a personal statement on your resume.


  1. Never include salary information on your resume.


  1. Never include names, adddresses, and phone numbers of references on your resume.


  1. 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.


  1. Use an appropriate language to express your productivity and your understanding of the employer's needs.

  2. Incorporate a crisp, succinct, expressive, and direct language.

  3. Incorporate numerous keywords throughout each section of your resume.


  1. Use appropriate highlighting and emphasizing techniques.

  2. Follow the "less is more" rule when deciding on format and type style.

  3. Do not include special borders, graphics, or photos unless you are applying for a job in graphic arts or desktop publishing.


  1. Keep sentences and sections short and succinct.

  2. Limit your resume to one or two pages.


  1. Carefully proofread and produce two or three drafts of your resume before producing the final copies.

  2. Choose white, off-white, ivory, or light gray 20 to 50 lb. bond paper with 100% cotton fiber ("rag content")

  3. Produce your resume on 8½" x 11" paper.

  4. Print only on one side of the paper.

  5. Use a good quality printer and an appropriate typeface.


  1. It's best to target your resume on specific employers rather than broadcast it to hundreds of names and addresses.

  2. The best way to broadcast your resume is to include it in a variety of resume databases.

  3. Learn to properly send your resume by email.

  4. Be prepared to complete online profile forms in lieu of a resume.

  5. Be careful in creating online and video resumes.

  6. Your resume should always be accompanied by a cover letter.

  7. Never enclose letters of recommendation, transcripts, or other information with your resume unless requested to do so.

  8. Address your resume to a specific person.

  9. Don't limit the distribution of your resume only to vacancy announcements.

  10. Enclose your resume and letter in a matching No. 10 business envelope or in a 9" x 12" envelope.

  11. Type the envelop or mailing label rather than handwrite the address.

  12. Send your correspondence by first-class or priority mail or special next-day services, and use stamps.

  13. Never fax or email your resume unless asked to do so by your recipient.


  1. Follow up your resume within seven days of sending it.

  2. The best follow-up to a resume and letter is a phone call.

  3. 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.