August 16, 2012

Writing Guidelines for a Successful Resume

There are few things more frustrating and unnerving than writing your first resume for a "real world" job after you've graduated from college. Like so many other new graduates throughout the country, you may not know much about writing a successful resume and doing so probably feels both awkward and hopeless at times. With an ever-challenging economy, the job market couldn't be much more frustrating for recent graduates looking for a career and resume-writing couldn't be much more grueling. Your resume is the first impression an employer gets of you. For this reason, you need to create something that is telling of your value and memorable. Use these writing tips to craft a stronger and more attention-grabbing resume.

Be Concise
Conciseness is one of the most important rules to resume writing. You want to get immediately to your point. Work to capture an employer's attention by quickly and efficiently communicating a smart idea. Keeping things brief is always a good idea. Of course, you want to make sure that you write enough about yourself, your experience, and your education to really communicate your worth. However, strive to keep things tight and to the point. Opening your resume with a highly condensed summary of your background, skills, and professional attributes can be a wise choice. If written concisely and carefully, this can be very effective in summarizing your value and focusing your resume as a whole. Also, consider writing a concise and clear mission statement for your resume. This statement should be tailored to the specific position you are applying to and the specific company you are interviewing with.

Think Active
Always use strong and active language in your resume. Just as school teachers asked for powerful verbs and active voice, you should keep these writing guidelines for your resumes as well. Active words help to awaken a resume (which can often be generally boring and dull). Try to avoid using personal pronouns. Discuss what you accomplished with your educational and professional experience, rather than what you did. Employers don't necessarily want to hear what you did each day, that want to know how well you did it and what you got from it. Listing responsibilities and duties should usually be avoided. Think action. What did you gain from your experience? What can that experience offer?

Editing and proofreading are some of the most important steps in resume-writing. Even the strongest, most concise, and best written resume will fail if there are various errors and typos. Read through your resume over and over again. Search for typos, misspellings, and grammatical errors. These types of small mistakes are easy to make, but overlooking them can communicate carelessness and irresponsibility to a potential employer. Get several different people to look over your resume. Having a fresh set of eyes look over your writing can illuminate many things that you might have overlooked. Don't let a small slip up be the reason an employer stops reading your resume. Proofread, proofread, proofread!
This guest post is provided by Mariana Ashley, who writes about educational issues and first-time employment for She can be reached by email at