How to write a resume

An effective resume gets you an interview, not a job.

An employer will usually spend less than 30 seconds reviewing your resume, so the content of your resume must be clear, concise and targeted to the type of job for which you are applying.

If your resume has a typo or grammatical error, it will probably jump off the page to an employer, and this is a way to weed you out of a candidate pool. Your resume may be the only chance you get to make an impression, so make it a good one.

Writing a resume is more than just putting your education and work history on paper. It is a piece of advertising. It should look and read like an effective advertising copy or a good press release. It will grab the attention and motivate the reader to take action.

Effective resumes

  • Immediately impress the reader
  • Are visually appealing and easy to read
  • Are concise; indicate your career goals
  • Focus on the employer’s needs
  • Communicate your job-related abilities and skills – not job duties
  • Stress your productivity in terms of your potential for solving employers’ problems
  • Communicate that you are a responsible and motivated person who gets things done

General resume guidelines

The following are guidelines for your resume. Remember, the function of your resume is to obtain a job interview. Use your common sense and imagination to highlight your education and experience in a well-focused resume.


A one-page resume is sufficient for the recent graduate. If you have extensive RELEVANT experience, two pages is reasonable. Feature the most important information on the first page.


Layout determines whether a resume is read. Make sure the resume is well organized and concise. Avoid dense text that is difficult to read. Use high-quality white or off-white paper. Laser-print your resume and have it professionally copied.


Target your resume to a particular position and audience. Present information in descending order of importance – prominently feature your strengths. Include information in your resume that you wish to elaborate on in an interview. Accentuate the positive and use action verbs to describe your experience.

Spelling and grammar check

Keep the correct verb tense. Use past tense for previous jobs and present tense for current jobs. Don’t use personal pronouns like “I”, “me”, “my”, “we”, “our”. Instead write your resume in “first person implied” rather than first person.

  • Don’t use first person: “I presented my findings to key stakeholders…”
  • Do use first person implied: “Presented findings to key stakeholders…”