Top 5 Resume Do’s and Don’ts

There is a lot to consider when writing your resume. You don’t want to miss an opportunity for an interview by offering a less than stellar result.  In her blog, Hire Someone to Write Your Resume, career advice blogger and author Penelope Trunk refers to a resume as a “complicated sales document and also a piece of direct mail.” That said, here are my top 5 Resume Do’s and Don’ts…


Remember that your resume is a marketing piece, not a laundry list. Sell yourself; don’t just list what you’ve done.

Focus on transferable skills and quantifiable accomplishments. Determine the employer’s key words and incorporate them. Include soft skills, otherwise known as emotional intelligence. Use strong, active language that helps the reader picture you working for them.

Design your resume to be easy to read and scan – both with software and the eye. Remember that the typical first read allows a 10-second glance. (Some say 7 seconds is all you get!) Make it count by using white space, bullet points and bold, appealing design elements. Ensure that your resume is error free.

Target your resume to the employer. Do NOT zap your generic resume to 100 different online job postings. If you do not personalize your resume to include key words, you may be wasting your time sending it at all.

Be precise. Although the “one-page” rule no longer applies for all employers, it is important to narrow your information to include the most important material. (Typically, two pages are plenty.) Employers do not want to wade through a lot of extraneous information.


Use “I, me or my” in your resume. The first-person is implied. Don’t use the phrase “responsibilities included” or “responsible for.” These are passive ways to structure your information.

Don’t use an objective. Your objective is to get the job, so you are wasting space in the very important real estate of your resume – the top! Attract readers with a targeted “Accomplishments,” “Highlights,” or similarly named section. Don’t list “References upon request.” This is assumed.

Don’t include ANY personal information such as age, gender, religion, marital status, social security number, weight, etc. In the U.S., do not include a picture on your resume.  All of this information is inappropriate and will make you seem dated and unaware of correct resume etiquette.

Don’t rely on standard resume templates, especially from your word processing program. Don’t copy text from sample resumes posted on the web. You are unique; your resume should be distinctive.

Don’t ever lie on a resume. Present the best possible image consistent with the truth.

Keppie Careers will design and write a resume that captures your skills and accomplishments and sells you!

Read more about us at


2 Responses to “Top 5 Resume Do’s and Don’ts”

  1. 1 Derrick February 6, 2008 at 7:06 am

    I enjoy reading your blog. I do want to add some thoughts on your comment about not using objectives.

    Well crafted objectives can serve a useful purpose on resumes. Like an “accomplishments” or “highlights” section it needs to be well constructed. A precise objective that targets exactly what the employer is seeking still helps resumes stand out in a crowd. I agree that the objective section is often a waste of space, but that applies when it is unfocused and general. A general objective does little good. A targeted objective can be useful.

  2. 2 keppie February 6, 2008 at 10:42 am

    Thanks for reading and for your comment!

    Most people don’t write a great objective. Usually, using the space for a highlights or accomplishments section is a better bet. That said, one frustrating thing for job applicants is that there is no one “perfect” way to write a resume, so there certainly may be select cases when a well-written, targeted objective could be useful. When I write resumes, I avoid objectives. The trend in resumes is moving away from objectives in favor of other targeted methods for the applicant to sell him or herself.

    The important point is to use that “high priced” real estate at the top of the resume to hook the reader. You want to get the most “bang for your buck,” so choose carefully how to introduce yourself to a potential employer.

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