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Structure & Formatting: Key Resume Tips to Help You Land the Job

A resume is a promotional tool—a platform for promoting yourself to people that offering a job you want. It's the first step to better jobs and better compensation. Unfortunately, hiring managers can reject your credentials for any reason they choose, from not having a chronological resume to simply not liking the font you used. Don't give them one. Before you sit down, make sure you know exactly what you're doing. Use this list of resume tips to build a document that will get you noticed for all the right reasons.

Ho Lin Profile
By Ho Lin 3 minute read

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Most resumes should be constructed in this order:


  • Contact information
  • Objective or summary
  • Employment history
  • Education

While you can restructure this list to suit the unique needs of your job, this is the basic format and the key components of a chronological resume. Be sure to list your employment history in reverse chronological order.

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A resume should be built in a professional, business manner.

You would never submit a presentation or financial model with errors; don’t do so with your resume. Your spelling has to be impeccable and your grammar official. Stay away from the laziness that Internet lingo has inflicted on us. There are exceptions to every rule, of course, but no career counselor would advise you take that chance when you’re submitting your resume and have no idea who on the other end will see it.

Read each statement carefully and remove any words or phrases that don't add to the message.

For instance, in that last sentence, we could remove the word “carefully” and still convey the same meaning. The idea is to give the hiring manager as much information as possible without taking up too much of their time. They’re busy enough going through potentially hundreds of resumes. Being concise shows you understand that.

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Speaking of being concise, don't include irrelevant information.

If your hobby is building CPUs and you’re applying for IT, by all means include it. But the fact you love to garden, go to the movies and read won’t impress a hiring manager, even if it’s your uncle. We are hearing more and more about candidates who falsified their credentials and got the job. But we’re hearing more and more about this because they’re getting caught. Be honest about your work history, education, skills and other facts. Your reputation is on the line and if you’re caught you could damage it irreparably.

Always, always, always tailor your resume to the position.

Every job, every company, every hiring manager is different. There is nothing more disappointing than an “any job” resume. Uninspired candidates send out these generic resumes and then wonder why they get no responses. Build a chronological resume, and use the job description to adjust your resume accordingly, taking keywords, phrases, skill requests, etc., to promote why you’re perfect for their operations.

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Resumes shouldn't be simply cold facts about your background.

Hiring managers are looking for results-driven candidates. Whenever possible, list accomplishments and achievements. From cutting department costs to promotions and tripling product sales, now’s the time to boast.

We would also add that if you are printing your resume, use a quality stock of paper, either 24 or 28 pound, and stick to white or off-white.

Starting with these resume tips will put any candidate on the road to crafting an exceptional overview of your experience. Never forget, after the cover letter, the resume will be your introduction. Decide what impression you want to leave and craft your resume accordingly.

Create a resume that employers love.

Ho Lin Profile

Ho Lin is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and editor with two decades of experience in content strategy, creation, and development. He holds a Master’s degree in Creative Writing from Johns Hopkins University and his background includes experience aiding military veterans as they transition to civilian careers.

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