This post is about resume dos and don'ts.

As an HR and career expert, I have encountered countless applicant resumes that either catapulted their careers or ended up in the trash. I have also written about the dos and don'ts of resume writing, the importance of cover letter, and career tips on popular websites, including UpJourney and Her Campus.

Without further ado, let's get started. 


What is a Resume, Exactly?

A resume is an important document that could change your career and life forever. People bring this with them when applying for jobs.

Resumes are often interchanged with Curriculum Vitae (CV). While the two are often used for job applications, resumes usually emphasize skills and application in a non-profit, public sector, or industry. Resumes are also no longer than 2 pages.

On the other hand, CVs emphasize academic accomplishments. Those who are applying for academic, grants, or fellowship positions use CVs for their application.

Hiring managers often look at applicants' resumes to see if they qualify for the job position. That is why applicants should take time crafting their resumes to secure an interview and, better yet, land the job.

What are the Do's and Don'ts of Writing a Resume?

Resumes provide a recruiter's first impression of an applicant. So if you want to stand out and get the job, you should know the dos and don'ts of resume writing.


As a job seeker, you should take resume writing seriously. You can hire a professional resume writer who specializes in resume writing services.

Nonetheless, make sure to do these so you will ace your job interview and get your dream job:

1. List down work history and education background chronologically, starting with the most current.

Start with the most recent work experience, and your first job goes last. Whether you are still working in another company or your first job is a summer job in a local diner, it doesn't matter. The more important thing is the valuable professional experience you have gained at work through the years.

2. Proofread your work.

Typos are a no-no. Imagine applying for a job that requires attention to detail, only to find glaring errors in spelling or grammar on your precious resume.

3. Start your description of work experience with action words.

The work experience description should be in the present tense if you are still working in your current company. (ex. "Plans and creates engaging content for clients").

Recruiters prefer if you quantify your accomplishments. Use numbers or percentages to describe what you do/did in your job. (ex. "Increased monthly sales of *product or service* by 30%"). Limit your description up to 4 important points.

4. Focus on achievements, if any.

Make sure to highlight your achievements, if there are any, whether at work or during university days. These are plus points to your application.

5. Condense it into one page.

Condensing your resume into one page as much as possible lets recruiters see your best qualifications more quickly. The shorter your resume, the easier it is to read. It lets you select and highlight the best qualifications to land the job.

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Meanwhile, never make these common resume writing mistakes. As much as you want to make your resume attractive, recruiters focus on the content more than the design/aesthetic appeal:

1. Making it very long (3 or more pages)

Recruiters are busy people, just like all of us. They want resumes that are straight-to-the-point and focus on the relevant skills they are looking for in the applicants.

2. Full of typos and grammatical errors

Typos and grammatical errors are a no-no. It will make your resume unprofessional and also be detrimental to your application. For example, when a company is looking for someone with attention to detail - wouldn't it look embarrassing?

3. Using fancy and colorful fonts

Using Comic Sans font won't make a good resume. Remember, your resume should also reflect who you are as a professional/career person.

4. Using too much technical jargon and idiomatic expressions

Recruiters may not always be impressed with using technical jargon. They won't need that. Make sure to keep your resume as reader-friendly as possible.

5. Badmouthing a former employer/company

Never, ever badmouth your former company, no matter how bad your experience was working with them. Stay professional despite of animosities in your personal or professional life.

How to Properly Write a Resume

It is important to know the dos and don'ts of resume writing. How you create your resume will impact your application. It doesn't have to have fancy fonts or put your best photo. It's all about what you include on your resume that will make you stand out.

1. Select a format to use.

There are 3 popular formats used in resumes, namely:

  • Reverse-Chronological - This is the most widely-used resume format. It lists your work experiences and skills in that order.
  • Functional - This is also known as the skills-based resume. It focuses more on your skills than work experience.
  • Combination/Hybrid - This is a combination of the above mentioned two.

If you have years of experience, the reverse-chronological format is the best option.

Meanwhile, the functional format is the best choice if you want to highlight specific skills that can attract potential employers (ex., Leadership, Time Management, Customer Service, Photoshop background, etc.).

With the combination format, you can highlight work experience and skills using less space.

2. Make sure to include your contact information.

This includes your email and home address, mobile number, and social accounts (Facebook, LinkedIn, Skype, etc.) Some hiring managers stalk a bit on the applicants' social accounts like Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn to get to know more about the applicants as individuals and as professionals.

3. Make a bulleted list of soft skills and technical skills.

Soft skills are behaviors and personal traits that help candidates. It is also known as interpersonal, non-technical, or personal skills. Examples of soft skills are:

  • Creativity
  • Teamwork
  • Critical thinking
  • Organization
  • Adaptability
  • Effective communication

On the other hand, hard skills are also known as technical skills. These are skills you gained through years of work experience and training. These include examples such as:

  • SEO/SEM marketing
  • Data mining
  • Adobe software suites
  • Programming
  • Bookkeeping

Whatever position you are applying for, highlight all your technical and soft skills that will catch your potential employer's eye.

4. Write down tasks and job experiences relevant to your applied position.

Show them what you've got and why you deserve that spot. List down relevant experience and tasks that can be helpful with your application.

5. Add a brief educational background.

A functional resume should include your educational background. Hiring managers would often look for basic but important pieces of information in your education section, such as:

  • Name and location of the school
  • Degree(s) obtained, if applicable
  • Field of study
  • Year graduated
  • GPA (if it's not higher than 3.4, you may not include this)
  • Academic achievement, honors, extracurricular activities, etc. obtained during your education

6. List any certificates and training relevant to the position you are applying for.

Professional certifications and training are those provided by your university, private companies (ex. Microsoft 365 Certified), and professional associations (ex. Certified Digital Marketer).

Listing certificates and trainings are proofs that you are a deserving applicant and gain more attention from recruiters.

Frequently Asked Questions

There is no doubt how a resume can make or break your job application. That is why you should be aware of the dos and don'ts of a resume. 

Meanwhile, here are other FAQs about resume writing that you can use on your next job application.

Does a resume need to "look good," or is that a misconception?

Unless you are applying for a graphic design or a creative position, you must make your resume "look good." Otherwise, a clean, simple resume layout will do.

Will a typo sway a hiring manager's opinion?

Proofreading your resume is important, especially if you are applying for a writing or editorial position. A resume full of typos and grammatical errors means you lack attention to detail which is crucial in most job positions.

Is it okay to omit jobs from a resume?

There is no need to include all of your past jobs on your resume. Better to highlight jobs that demonstrate your skills and experience and will help with your applied position.

How many jobs on a resume are too many?

You can list as many jobs on your resume as long as they are helpful and relevant to the position you are applying for.

More Interesting Articles To Explore

By now, you already know the basic resume dos and dont's. Learn more career advice and how to impress potential employers and always be your best professional self every time. Here are related articles you can check out in relation to that:

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  4. Want to work but hate dealing with office coworkers? Here are jobs for people who hate people.


If you want to stand out and get the job, know the resume dos and dont's. It is an important document that could forever change your career and life.

A hiring manager often looks at applicants' resumes to see if they qualify for the job position. That is why applicants should take time crafting their resumes to land their dream job.