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23 Practical Resume Tips to Help You Get Hired (Plus a Resume Example)

A resume file folder.

Resume Tips

I’m just going to say this outright: resume tips are not going to get you hired. That is, resume tips won’t get you hired, but they will help get you hired.

The first step to landing a job is having a great resume, and having a great resume requires a lot of thought and effort put into every little detail. Tips are great for nailing down all of the details, and implementing many resume tips can add up to an overall better resume.

To help you put these tips into practice, the resume example below has been designed using the same tips offered in this article. Use this article and the resume example to guide you in creating a document that will land on the hiring manager’s desk instead of in the trash.

The Resume Tips

1. Choose the right format

There are four main types of resumes: chronological, functional, combination, and targeted. If you have a lot of experience in your field, you should use a chronological resume, but if your career path has been irregular or erratic, you should go with a functional resume. A combination resume lists both your experience and your skills, and the targeted resume is geared toward specific job requirements. You’ll want to choose the one that’s best for your background before you even begin writing your resume.

2. Make sure the style suits your background

Similarly, your resume should fit your background. There are a number of styles you can choose from, but three of the most common are classic, creative, and modern. A classic resume is best suited for professional jobs, as it provides a clean and simple format with information that is easy to find. A creative resume will help demonstrate your visual capabilities in an original and expressive way. Finally, a modern resume shows that you are up to date with current trends by providing a neat and refreshing document that avoids the outdated look of traditional resumes.

3. Know your audience

In any kind of writing, the best way to ensure you will write well is to know your audience. You should have a very good idea of what your potential employers do, how you can help them do what they do, and what you can get from doing something with them. Once you know these points, you’ll be able to begin writing your resume.

4. Look over your contact information

Write down your contact information at the top of the resume, where it will be easy for hiring managers to spot. Make sure you look it over several times. It’s a good idea to have somebody else look it over, too, because the last thing you want is to have written down the wrong information or to have left anything out.

5. List your experience, achievements, education, and skills

This is obvious, but outlining your resume in major sections will provide a clean document that is easy to follow and understand while providing all of the necessary information. You’ll need to include contact information, key skills, awards and achievements, education, employment, volunteering, and anything else that may be relevant for your prospective employer to know.

6. Only include what’s relevant

On that note, you should include only relevant information in your resume. If it doesn’t apply to the job at hand, that’s okay, but if it also doesn’t share any of the same skill sets, objectives, roles, responsibilities, or environment, you may not wish to include it on your resume. Conversely, if you don’t have a lot to include, be smart about how you use your time so you can include volunteer work or online courses that are relevant where nothing else is.

7. Use action verbs to describe your past roles

Action verbs draw the attention of your reader. However, avoid being too repetitive in your word choices. For creative jobs, you may wish to include verbs like brainstormed or designed. Similarly, if you are applying to a job with a leadership role, you’ll want to include words like established or improved.

8. Take keywords from the job description

If you’re struggling to come up with action verbs, you may want to take a look at the job description. Employers often, consciously or not, include action verbs that best suit the prospective employee’s skill sets. Since they know what they’re looking for, you can use these verbs to your advantage to come across as the perfect candidate.

9. Maintain a consistent tense

It’s important that you maintain a consistent tense in your action statements. You’ll use past tense for any jobs from the past and the present tense for anything you are still in the process of completing. Make sure you don’t switch tenses from bullet point to bullet point; doing so isn’t just wrong, it also gets confusing very quickly!

10. Avoid personal pronouns

Rather than using personal pronouns to describe your experiences, use strong, direct action statements to show potential employers what you have accomplished throughout your career and to give your main accomplishments the most attention.

11. Keep away from buzzwords

Stay away from overused descriptors like hardworking or team player. You can be hardworking and a team player, but instead of using watered-down, blanket terms, describe the accomplishments you’ve achieved through your dedication and ability to work with others.

12. Limit yourself to short and straightforward statements

Keep everything as brief as possible without losing context or necessary information. Include your core responsibilities in a detailed and concrete way. This will help you avoid generic statements (and the aforementioned personal pronouns and buzzwords). You should also try to remove any words that serve as filler, like unnecessary adjectives.

13. Only include what you can prove

For example, only list tangible skills or attributes, and avoid listing personal skills like adaptable or organized. Though these qualities are important, they are less impactful than tangible occupational skills because personal skills are much more difficult to prove.

Never lie on your resume.

14. Don’t lie

Never lie, exaggerate, or otherwise stretch the truth on a resume. Even if lying gets you to the interview stage, if employers discover that someone they have hired has lied about his or her academic or professional history, they will very likely terminate the employee immediately.

15. Choose or design a visually appropriate resume

An applicant may have impressive credentials and an extensive professional history, but without proper resume formatting, these credentials may be buried in an impenetrable block of text. You have worked hard to compile your resume’s content, so take care to ensure that you use proper formatting to grab a potential employer’s attention quickly.

16. Let the content speak for itself

Since your achievements and skills are the focus of your resume, you shouldn’t let its format consume the actual content. It is easy to get carried away with visuals, whether they’re colors, objects or fonts. However, your resume should be legible and professional rather than flashy or distracting.

17. Allow white space

Incorporating white space in a resume can be difficult; after all, you have a lot of information to include in a limited area. How can you make sure your resume is balanced? Use the quadrant test. Divide your resume into four equal sections, and make sure the text is evenly distributed in each section.

18. Customize your resume for every job

It’s a good idea to edit and revise your resume for every position you apply to, unless the resume will be submitted to several similar organizations with the same job requirements. This may seem tedious, but the more effort you put into creating your resume, the more you will gain from the entire job-seeking process.

19. Have references ready

You typically don’t have to provide your references on your resume, but you should prepare a list of references and their contact information so that they are available upon request. Ask the appropriate parties, and be sure that you notify your references when you are applying for a position so they can expect to be contacted in the near future.

20. Make sure nothing is missing

Ensure that all of the required sections are present, especially any information that is asked for in the job description or by the employer. In addition, make sure your name and contact information are there so the hiring manager can find you! When applying online, make sure you’ve completed all elements of the online application form, as the failure to do so demonstrates an inability to follow instructions.

21. Optimize your resume for applicant tracking systems

Applicant tracking systems automatically scan hundreds of applications for information related to job postings, including keywords, employment history, past employers, and educational background. So embed your resume with terms or phrases that represent the qualifications that are required for a position.

22. Think clean and simple

Look over your resume once it’s filled out. Are your name and contact information easy to find? Do the headings stand out from the body of the text? Is everything uniform? Is the formatting consistent? Have you used your white space efficiently? Are your statements short? Is everything legible? Are all of the fonts and visuals appropriate? Revise and make sure everything is clean and simple, from formatting to the actual content.

23. Have your resume professionally edited and proofread

It’s one thing to look over your resume for typos and errors; it’s another entirely to have a professional editor edit your resume. An editor doesn’t just catch spelling and grammar problems. He or she will also ensure that your biggest strengths are highlighted, everything is relevant, your resume is tailored specifically for the job at hand, the formatting is consistent, etc.

The Resume Example

The numbers in this resume example (the subject of which is Fight Club‘s own Tyler Durden, to keep it interesting) correspond with the above tips to show you how they can be implemented in your own resume.

Resume Example
Click to enlarge.


A resume on the hiring manager’s desk means your foot is in the door. After looking at the resume example and implementing these practical resume tips, you have a document that’s ready to land you a job!

How to Write a Resume

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