How to Write a Modern Resume

by Doug Zanes | Last Updated: August 26, 2015

The Old and the New Dos and Don’ts of Resume Writing

There is a lot of information out there on how to create the perfect resume. That is to say nothing on the template, formatting and style of the resume itself…

One pager?

How big is the font supposed to be? The font? Is Times Roman out of touch?

We created this resource not to compete with the hundreds of other DIY resume builders but rather we came upon a list we thought combined all the old and new Dos and Don’ts (thanks to Inc Magazine and a few other success articles)

Take a look at these practical tips and see what needs polishing up on your resume… It may just help you rise to the top of the pile:

  1. Don’t Make it Too Long

Believe it or not, no job recruiter wants (nor has time) to read a 10-page mini-biography about your life. Increase the chances that your resume will get read by making it concise and no longer than it needs to be. It does not have to be one page but it definitely should not be 40. Remember to tailor the resume to the place of application – one size does NOT fit all and so not all of the information on your resume will be relevant per job.

  1. Keep the Formatting Clean

A resume is not the place to get all creative with crazy fonts and formatting. Keep it clean and neat with dates, company names, and job titles clearly noted with responsibilities and accomplishments shown underneath.

  1. TYPOS?!?!

You only have one chance to make a first impression,

and nothing makes a bad impression faster than sending out a resume riddled with typos and mistakes. If editing isn’t your thing, then give your resume to a trusted colleague or friend to review before you send it out.

  1. Keep it Consistent

Recruiters are kind of like detectives–they can easily spot inconsistencies between the information (such as previous jobs) provided in your resume and on LinkedIn and other social media sites. Make sure that your job information is consistent throughout your resume and online sites.

  1. The Truth Will Set You Free…And Get You A Job

The ease of reference and background checking through social media and other online resources makes getting away with exaggerated or false information nearly impossible. Avoid the temptation to exaggerate or make false claims on your resume–it’s not worth it.

  1. Remove the word Responsible

Responsible for budgeting. Responsible for managing clients. Responsible, responsible, responsible. This tells the recruiter nothing. What you want to write instead is, “Managed the budget. Maintained client relationships.” Use more active language to describe and bring to life your duties.

  1. Add in Some Numbers

How many clients? How big was the budget? You were in sales? What were your numbers? (Keep in mind, you don’t want to reveal business secrets here, but percentages are generally good.) How many data records did you migrate to a new system? Numbers tell people what you did. There’s a huge difference between “managed $10,000 annual budget” and “managed $2.5 million budget.”

  1. Ditch the Objective

It doesn’t add to your list of skills, and no one ever writes,“Obtain employment at a mediocre company that will crush my soul.” No, every objective is some version of, “Obtain a position in a company where I can reach my potential.” Just delete it. It gives you more room for your achievements.

  1. Put Your Titles in Normal English.

If you work for one of those companies that come up with creative titles, you do have to list your official title on your résumé. Otherwise, when recruiters and hiring managers do reference checks, you won’t pass. But after your “Bringer of Joy” title add (Office Manager) so they have a clue what you did.

  1. The Same Goes For Your Accomplishments… In English!

Every field has its jargon. Some of this is not easily interpreted by laypeople. Now, in theory, the recruiters should speak the jargon for the job they are recruiting for, but sometimes they just don’t. If a recruiter can’t understand what you did, you won’t get passed on to the hiring manager.

  1. Focus On Time

“Successfully managed the migration from System A to System B.”…. What an accomplishment. How long did it take? Now, of course, if this is something that takes normal companies two weeks to accomplish and under your leadership it took six months, you might want to leave off the dates, but otherwise put them in when it makes sense.

  1. Do the Math… Yes More Numbers

You might think it’s silly to write “Engagement Manager, January 2012 to January 2015 (3 years)” because, of course, the recruiter could easily figure out how long you had the position. But numbers jump off the page and immediately identify you as someone with solid, long-term experience.

  1. Common Phrasing

Vocabulary building is great, but if you trained people in SAP, use the words trained and SAP, not “brought other employees to a knowledge and understanding of a popular enterprise software.” Plenty of people try to make their work seem fancier or more important by using convoluted phrases to describe what they did. Recruiters use keywords when searching through applicant tracking systems. These aren’t mysterious words–they are what you’d expect. So, have your résumé full of expected phrases.








Doug Zanes: Founding Attorney Raised in Douglas, Arizona, and went to college at Arizona State University and graduated from law school at St. Mary’s University School of Law in Texas. Doug began practicing law in Phoenix Arizona in 1997.
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