The Ultimate Resume Survival Guide: Resume Overview

Finding a job is tough. Writing a resume is hard work. I know. I’ve been both unemployed and working in the recruiting field dealing with resumes every day. I’ve compiled the best tips and advice I can think of to create a master survival guide for writing a resume.

Helpful Links: 6 Things I Learned From Being unemployed

Resume Overview

What is it about this resume that stands out to you? Why do you think this is a good resume?



  1.  The resume utilizes white space. Making the resume look more open and less squished makes it easier to read. Trying to read a giant paragraph of a resume is daunting and most hiring managers won’t even bother with it if they can’t easily skim over it.
  2. Consistent formatting. You’d be surprised at how many resumes I’ve come across in my day job where it’s just two different resumes pasted together. You need to stick with one font, be consistent with your dates and abbreviations, keep the same amount of spaces between headings, etc.
  3. It’s to the point but not sparse. The descriptions of what they did at each job are specific enough that it tells exactly what they did, but isn’t fluffy that it takes up so much space nor does it lack detail to make it too basic.
  4. It’s clean. I’ve come across resumes where there are tons of borders, page colors, tables, frames, etc. There is no need for a resume to be that flashy unless that’s the field you’re going into (eg. graphic design). Keeping it clean makes it so the hiring manager can quickly look over what you’re capable of and if you’re the type of candidate they’re looking for.

Helpful Link: 5 Things to Remember When Job Searching

General Rules

  • Stick with a basic font: There’s no need for fancy fonts in a resume. Making sure it’s easily readable should  be your #1 priority. So using standard fonts such as Arial or Times New Roman are always a good option.
  • Don’t use font too small or too big: Same concept. If the font is too small, it will be hard to read. If it’s too big it can spill over onto multiple pages when it can easily be contained in fewer. Sticking with a basic 10pt font and 11pt font for headings works wonders.
  • Don’t use frames, tables, or text boxes: Sure, some of them make it easier to format your resume, but if you’re sending a word document in to a hiring manager, it just looks ugly. As for sending in a resume through a system, some programs can’t read things inside these objects, rendering your entire resume mute.

** I would only suggest using these objects if you’re then saving the word doc as a PDF. Table lines don’t show up there. But ALWAYS have a word doc handy.

  • Don’t add unnecessary categories: Have a 2-3 page resume already? I don’t think your volunteer work would be necessary, unless it absolutely pertains to the job you’re applying to. Resumes do NOT need references, hobbies, personal information (such as birth date, age) and even GPAs from your degree.

Helpful Link: 8 Things to Remember When Creating Your Resume

Resume Categories

Summary: This is where you give a brief summary of your overall skills. Think of it like that summary section on your LinkedIn page. It’s a short, sweet, and simple way for employers and hiring managers to see if you’re the right candidate. It’s a great way to highlight qualities, skills, or information that might not fit anywhere else.

Skills: This works wonders if you’re in a tech field, engineering field, or are knowledgeable on many different programs, software, hardware, or specific skills required for your field. Highlighting them in a skills section makes it easy to see if you’re qualified for the position you’re applying to. For a hiring manager, being able to glance over your skills to see if you have what they want is a huge help.

Jobs/Positions: This is where the meat of your resume should be. If you’re lacking on actual employment, don’t worry, there are ways to expand what you have with wording. Your descriptions should preferably be in bullet point form. Again, it’s back to the paragraph concept. It’s a lot easier to read bullet points than paragraph.

Projects/Volunteer Work/Extras: After your job experience should come your volunteer work, projects or anything else that you feel is necessary but isn’t a top priority. Think of this as the “extra curricular activities” section of your resume. It’s great that you’re on the board for your local fishing club, but it’s not quite as important as your employment.

**The only reason I would suggest making projects a separate entity and moving it above your job experience is if you’re in a field where project work is highly regarded, like engineering or IT.

Education: This is self explanatory. Adding your education can sometimes make or break your potential as an interviewee. If you’re applying to a position that requires a bachelors degree, you better make sure to add that. One thing I would suggest is if you have a higher degree such as a bachelors, master’s or beyond, there is no need to add your high school diploma. It’s automatically assumed you have the lower degree.


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