Expert Resume Tips To Help Land Your Dream Job

Kellie Hanna, CPRW
By Kellie Hanna, CPRW, Career Advice Expert Last Updated: April 11, 2024
40 Professional Resume Templates

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If your resume hasn’t been refreshed in a while, figuring out the starting point can be daunting. Determining which experiences and accomplishments to showcase for your targeted jobs, understanding the current resume tips and trends, and deciding on the right resume length—be it a concise one-pager or a detailed two-page document—requires careful consideration.

Follow these resume tips to design, organize and write a professional resume effectively, regardless of your job title, industry and career level.  

Resume preparation and strategy tips

Review resume examples for your industry or job title

By looking at resume examples tailored to your industry or job title, you can better understand what recruiters or hiring managers are searching for and get a good idea of what your competitors are doing well so you can craft a uniquely impressive resume. 

Customize your resume for the job

To increase your chances of getting an interview, you must tailor your resume for the position you’re applying for. By aligning your resume to the job description and company culture, you show recruiters you’re the best fit. Start by reading the job description carefully, then identify the key skills and experience the employer seeks. Then, match your relevant qualifications to the job’s requirements and adjust the language and tone of your resume to reflect the company’s values and industry standards. Also, customize according to the country, by learning, for example, how to write a Canadian resume.

Craft multiple versions of your resume

Create multiple versions of your resume to highlight specific skills and experience relevant to each job. Here’s a little-known resume tip: Resume Builders can easily customize each section of your resume, helping you streamline the process of creating different versions of your resume and ensure consistent formatting across all versions. 

Be relevant

Don’t include work experiences or skills irrelevant to the job you’re applying to. Irrelevant information can clutter your resume and remove your key qualifications. When you include relevant information that matches your job description, you’ll be more likely to get an interview and land the job you want.

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Resume formatting tips

Choose the best format for your resume

Choosing the right resume format for your resume is important because it will help you present your skills and experience in the best way possible. The best resume format for you depends on the industry you’re applying for and the job requirements you’re looking for. The three most widely used resume formats are: 

  • Chronological: This format highlights your work history and career progression in reverse chronological order, making it ideal for candidates with a consistent or progressive work history.
  • Functional: The functional resume highlights your skills and qualifications and best suits students and job seekers applying for their first job or changing careers.
  • Combination: The combination resume combines elements from both chronological and functional resume formats, making it easier for recruiters to identify your key strengths. Use this format if you have more than 10 years of experience or are applying for a higher position. 

Format your resume correctly

Proper formatting is one of the best tips for a resume because:

  • A well-structured resume makes it easy for applicant tracking systems (ATS) to find you.  
  • A well-formatted resume is visually appealing and easier for recruiters and hiring managers to read. looks better and is easier to read. 
  • A neatly organized resume demonstrates your attention to detail — a valuable skill for most potential employers. 
  • A clear and organized resume shows competence and professionalism, creating a great first impression and increasing your chance of getting a job interview. 

Here are some good tips for resume formatting:

  • Set margins to one inch on all sides. 
  • Use standard resume fonts, like Times New Roman, Calibri, Arial or Helvetica.
  • Stick to a font size between 14-16 for your section headers and 10-12 everywhere else in your resume. 
  • Use either single or 1.5 line spacing.

Keep your resume to one or two pages maximum

Eye tracking studies show that recruiters spend seven seconds looking at a resume — that’s not a lot of time, so having a succinct resume is crucial to your success. A shorter resume is more likely to grab their attention quickly and highlight your most relevant skills and experiences while demonstrating your ability to prioritize information and keep your information relevant. 

Download your document in the required format

Downloading your resume in the required file format is crucial for ensuring compatibility with various applicant tracking systems — often programmed to parse specific programs efficiently — increasing your chances of recruiters and hiring managers noticing you. Using the required file format also shows that you pay attention to the details and follow directions, which are key traits for most jobs. 

In cases where the job description does not specify the potential employer’s preferred resume file format, choose a widely accepted file format such as Word document, which is generally compatible with most ATS systems and considered standard in the recruitment industry. Reach out to the recruiter or potential employer if you’re unsure which file format to submit your resume. 

Resume writing tips

Use a resume template

A quality resume template will give your resume a professional, eye-catching design to present your qualifications. A good resume tip for choosing a resume template is to consider your industry and job title. Look for a clean, easy-to-read, well-organized resume structure that effectively highlights your relevant hard and soft skills, work history, and education. A professionally designed resume template will save you time and make your resume look polished and professional, increasing your chances of being noticed by prospective employers.

Write in the third person

Writing in the third person means writing as if you are talking about someone else, like “Created brand guidelines for 10 clients” instead of “I created brand guidelines for 10 clients.” We advise writing your resume in the third person because it provides an air of professionalism that most employers find appealing. Writing about our accomplishments and skills in the third person lets hiring managers focus on your professional expertise objectively. and it allows you to be more succinct.

Focus on your achievements

One of our best tips for writing a resume is to display your professional accomplishments instead of listing your job duties for each job. Potential employers will look for evidence of your  strengths, so showcase your work accomplishments on your resume to distinguish yourself from other qualified job candidates. Highlighting your work accomplishments demonstrates your impact on previous employers and shows hiring managers your capabilities. 

Here are some examples of resume accomplishments for each section of a registered nurse’s resume:

  • Resume summary: “Dedicated and experienced Registered Nurse with over 5 years of clinical experience in a fast-paced hospital setting. Successfully implemented a new patient care protocol that resulted in a 20% decrease in patient readmission rates. Skilled in providing compassionate and evidence-based patient care while maintaining high professionalism and efficiency. Proficient in managing a diverse caseload and collaborating with interdisciplinary teams to ensure optimal patient outcomes.”
  • Work history section: 
    • Administered medications to an average of 30 patients per shift, ensuring accurate dosages and timely delivery
    • Collaborated with a multidisciplinary team to develop and implement care plans for 50+ patients, resulting in a 15% decrease in hospital readmission rates.
    • Conducted assessments and provided direct patient care for a caseload of 40+ individuals, achieving a patient satisfaction rating of 95%.
  • Skills section: 
    • Patient Assessment: Conducted thorough assessments on 20+ patients daily, leading to accurate diagnoses and timely interventions.
    • Medication Administration: Administered medications to 30+ patients per shift with a 100% accuracy rate.
    • Care Planning: Developed and implemented individualized care plans for 50+ patients, improving patient outcomes and satisfaction.
  • Education section:
    • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), XYZ University
    • Graduated with a GPA of 3.8, ranking in the top 5% of the graduating class.
    • Completed 500+ clinical hours in various healthcare settings, including hospitals and community clinics.
    • Conducted a research project on patient outcomes, resulting in a 20-page thesis and presentation to faculty members.         

Be ATS-friendly

According to a recent study, 90% of Fortune 500 companies use ATS programs to screen resumes before they get to a hiring manager, so making your resume ATS-friendly is a must. Employers use ATS software to screen and filter resumes based on keywords and formatting parameters. To ensure your resume makes it past the first screening stage, it’s important to ensure it’s ATS-friendly. 

Here are eight good resume tips for an ATS-friendly resume:

  • Use a resume template to ensure your resume is formatted flawlessly. 
  • Add keywords from the job requirements to every section of your resume. 
  • Choose from the three standard resume formats: chronological, combination, or functional.
  • Don’t use graphics, charts, graphics, or a headshot on your resume because ATS software won’t be able to read them. 
  • Use clear headings in each section of your resume. 
  • Unless otherwise indicated in the job description, save your resume as a .doc, .docx, or .txt file — Most ATS programs can not read PDF files.
  • Use a professional resume scanner to check and score your resume

Use action words to describe your qualifications

Resume action words can greatly impact how recruiters and hiring managers view your professional skills, work experience and educational background. Action verbs portray a sense of success and initiative, creating a vivid image of your abilities and accomplishments. 

For example, instead of passive language like “responsible for” or “involved in,” use power verbs like “achieved,” “implemented,” and “spearheaded” to show your proactive attitude towards work. 

Use numbers to demonstrate results

Numbers can significantly enhance your resume’s effectiveness by highlighting your achievements in a quantifiable manner. Including revenue growth percentages, project completion times, or sales targets met can provide concrete evidence of your contributions in previous jobs and demonstrate your impact and value to potential employers.

By including specific numbers and metrics on your resume, you make your accomplishments more tangible and enhance the credibility of your achievements. Quantifying your impact shows that you are results-oriented and have a track record of delivering tangible outcomes. Whether through highlighting percentage increases, time saved, or targets exceeded, leveraging numbers effectively can help you stand out in a competitive job market and increase your chances of landing interviews.

For example, instead of: “Implemented a project-based learning initiative in the classroom,” you might write, “Implemented a project-based learning initiative in the classroom, resulting in a 20% increase in student engagement and a 15% improvement in overall academic performance” to give a boost to a past work achievement.

Proofread your resume more than once

This might be the most crucial of all our resume tips because one typo can eliminate your resume from running, even if you check all the necessary boxes for the job. Before hitting send, check your resume closely for grammatical errors and typos, formatting inconsistencies, and factual inaccuracies.

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High school resume tips

Crafting a great high school resume is key to your early career development. Use this high school student resume template for ideas when writing your resume:

High School Student Resume Example

Whether you’re applying for a job or college, have no work experience, or want to display part-time work, use these professional resume tips for high school students when crafting your resume: 

  1. Start with a functional resume template to emphasize your hard and soft skills. 
  2. Include resume objective instead of a professional summary to give employers or college administrators a crystal clear idea of why you’re applying for their job or school and why they should choose you. Highlight your transferable skills, such as teamwork, adaptability and problem-solving.   
  3. Review high school resume examples for ideas on how to craft a great high school resume. See our high school graduate resume templates if you recently graduated.  
  4. In your work history section, include any relevant experience from part-time or summer jobs, volunteer experiences, extracurricular activities or school projects that demonstrate your ability to do the work. 
  5. Focus on scholastic or community achievements like awards, classroom or extracurricular leadership roles, or successful projects.

College resume tips

College students often face the challenge of crafting a resume that stands out. Consider this resume template for college students:

Resume Tips for College Students Resume Example

Here are five essential resume tips for college students and recent graduates:

  1. Highlight internships part-time or summer jobs, internships, volunteer work  community service and extracurricular activities.
  2. Bring your education to the forefront by placing it just below your career objective.
  3. Describe your relevant coursework and special projects in your education section. For example, “Thesis topic: Feminist Analysis: Exploring the portrayal of female characters in ancient texts from a modern feminist perspective to provide valuable insights into gender dynamics in classical literature.”
  4. Focus on academic awards, scholarships, and classroom or internship achievements. 
  5. Consider adding a “Key Qualifications” section above your skills section to spotlight your transferable or most relevant technical skills

Older professional resume tips

Whether re-entering the workforce after retirement or looking to advance your career, being a seasoned worker has unique advantages. Experience, demonstrated reliability, and a strong work ethic are just qualities that can make you stand out. 

Here’s a resume template to get you started:

Older Worker Resume Example + Resume Tips

To make the most of your job search, consider these resume tips if you are an older worker: 

  1. Consider using the combination or hybrid resume format to showcase your depth of knowledge in your field alongside your vast skill set. 2
  2. Emphasize your adaptability and willingness to learn as key strengths in your professional summary and skills section. 
  3. Include recent training or certifications pertinent to the job you are applying for. 
  4. Emphasize your accomplishments in previous roles.
  5. Limit your work history to the last 10 to 15 years to keep your resume concise and your experience relevant. 

Career change resume tips

When transitioning to a new field, your resume becomes a crucial tool. Highlight transferable skills that are relevant to the new role. A well-written resume shows your employer why you want to change, what you can bring to the company and what that change means for you. 

 Try this career change resume template:

Career Change Resume Example and Resume Tips

Here are some good resume tips if you’re changing careers:

  1. Use an objective statement instead of a resume summary to explain your career change motivations. For example, “Transitioning professionals with a background in marketing and a passion for data analytics. Skilled in project management and adept at adapting to new industries. Seeking to leverage strong communication skills and analytical mindset in a new role in data science.”
  2. Consider using the functional resume format to emphasize your skills over chronological work history, or write a combination resume to showcase relevant work achievements with your skills. 
  3. Emphasize your transferable skills along with relevant technical skills. 
  4. Create a certification or training section under any additional training or certifications related to your new career path for added credibility. 
  5. Tailor your work history section to focus only on experiences and accomplishments that align with the requirements of the new role. 

How we reviewed this article

Since 2013, we have helped more than 15 million job seekers. We want to make your career journey accessible and manageable through our services and Career Center’s how-to guides and tips. In our commitment to bring you a transparent process, we present our Editorial Process.

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