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Improving Your Resume

If you aren’t receiving invitations to interview - you need to revise and improve your resume. It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to make that assumption. You have to attract an employers attention. Here are some examples of how to do this. Resumes are reviewed by a glance over lasting usually no more than 30 seconds. Focus on skills and areas of expertise and your accomplishments.

Always Target Your Audience

Write your resume with this one particular job in mind. Perhaps you may wish to create a resume for each job title you may be considering as your next career move. Do not include information pertinent to management when applying for a position which is non management, etc. Let them know clearly you can fill the hole in their organization with the necessary requirements.

Use Appropriate Font Size and Color

Type resumes in 12 or 14 font size and always in black or if you must be different, perhaps blue ink. Resumes are serious business. Utilizing fancy fonts and colors will not get you the desired effect. Stick to conservative.

Never Use Colored Paper

Print resumes on white or off white traditional resume paper. If your paper has a watermark which is visible when held up to the light, even better. My personal favorite is white linen. Once again—when in doubt stick to conservative even when applying for positions in graphic arts.

Make Your Resume Appealing to See

Use a non-electronic resume for interviewing purposes. Print with a laser printer if possible for a nice, sharp image. Leave lots of white space, center items, use bullets and underlining as well as italicizing and CAPITALS to bring attention to pivotal points.


Avoid using fancy borders and colors with the exception of the title listing. Placing a border around the title of the position you are applying for eliminates the need for any other type of objective statement and makes your desires quite clear.

Focus on the Employer's Need to Know

Don’t waste precious time talking about things you feel the need to explain. Keep focused on the employers need to know. Emphasize the skills and areas of expertise they are seeking.

Save Your Money

Don’t overnight a resume in order to impress an employer. The secretary normally receives all mail and will take it out of the package and hand it over with resumes submitted the regular way. Lots of times, she will stockpile them for a day or two before viewing any for elimination purposes. Hand delivery is a different matter. Whenever possible hand delivering a resume with a handwritten note placed upon the file folder you have prepared to make their job easier to keep your resume handy is a great idea. The note should say, hand delivered to you by ________. I will telephone to follow up on Thursday. Sign it.

Always List Accomplishments

Listing accomplishments in lieu of a boring dissertation of every unrelated job description is a wonderful way to get attention. Even if you’re applying for a position which is different from those you’ve held in the past showing promotions, and accomplishments will show you to be the person to compete with in every aspect of your past. Who wouldn’t wish to hire the person who achieves what he sets out to do?


Check your work. Verify all words are spelled correctly. Review each sentence for errors. There is no need to write complete sentences throughout the resume. Keeping ideas and statements brief and to the point is always best. Don’t make anyone have to read between the lines to find qualifications necessary to do the job. The resume you submit must be flawless. It is a sample of the quality of your work.

Personal Information

Years ago it used to be considered proper to include information pertaining to marital status, religion, children, weight, height, health, etc. These items are no longer expected and in most cases answer questions which are not appropriate to the interview process as they may lead an employer to discriminate against a candidate site unseen.

Don't Make Excuses

A resume is the place for you to advertise what makes you the best candidate to fill the position. It is not the place to describe why you left a position or why the position left you. Never list illnesses, surgery, leaves of absences, etc.

Use Action Words

Making use of action words adds prestige and power to your resume. These words, usually verbs make a perspective employer wish to meet you in person—these are words they like to affiliate themselves and their departments with. Some examples may be: Designed Developed, Managed, Created, Developed, Improved, etc.

Don't Use Abbreviations

Don’t use abbreviations—spell out names of companies, schools, cities, etc. Don’t use even the most popular acronyms either. Don’t make an employer look up information—they don’t have the time and in a lot of cases the inclination.

Keep It Simple

Don’t fill your resume with useless information or information unrelated to the position being filled. An employer will not read every word especially when the resume is cramped full of jargon or statements which focus on your need to tell rather than the job at hand. Think of your audience at all times. This is your time to sell yourself to a particular position.

Don't List References

Your references are personal to you. Never send information pertaining to contact information for your references unless asked for them. Don’t state “References Available Upon Request” either. Employers know you will submit references when requested. Keep unnecessary information off of the resume.

Related Experience

Experience does not need to be listed from latest to earliest in every case. If you had experience in a particular field earlier in your career and are returning to that career, you can lead off with “Related Experience” which would also be the most applicable experience to the hiring manager.

-Donalyn Leskosek Spisak

Donalyn Leskosek Spisak—Resume & Portfolio Writing Expert; author of “How to Write Your Professional Portfolio”, “Keeping Track of Interviews” & Job Searching-What you Need to Know”, Owner of Recruitshop and its two websites &, trainer and motivational speaker. For information 724.446.7287