Tips for Writing your Resume

The goal of a resume is to summarize your experiences as they relate to a specific job description. You should try to limit your resume to one page, review for spelling errors and print neatly on resume paper. For formatting ideas please see our page on formatting your resume, view the sample resumes or use Optimal Resume.

The following are a few tips to keep in mind as you write your resume:

Resume Writing Dos

  • Customize: this means tailoring your resume included detailed work and extracurricular experiences applicable to the job and industry you are targeting.
  • Be concise: use brief, succinct statements and try to keep it to one page.
  • Keep font size to 10, 11 or 12 point and set margins to no less than 0.5 inches all around.
  • Pay attention to verb tense: use the past tense when describing past positions and present tense for your current position(s).
  • Be consistent with punctuation use.
  • Use a telephone number where the employer can reach you to set up an interview. Make sure your voice mail greeting is professional.
  • Include an e-mail address: make sure that the address is professional (for instance, no “”).
  • Include your GPA if it is 3.0 or better (whether you include your GPA is ultimately up to you, but also depends on the industry to which you are applying). Consider including your GPA in your major if it is significantly higher than the cumulative GPA. If you do, be sure to label each GPA clearly.
  • Use action verbs: avoid using low-content verbs such as "do” or “did," "completed," and "helped with.”
  • Include a relevant subject line in your email to an employer — consider using the name of the position and the position number (if applicable).
  • Heed aesthetics: if you are making hard copies of your resume, print all documents on a laser printer using high quality paper.
  • Include multiple titles and responsibilities if you had multiple roles at one organization.

Resume Writing Don’ts

  • Don't lie, exaggerate or include something on your resume that you would not feel comfortable discussing in a job interview.
  • Refrain from including an "Objective" statement on your resume unless you can be specific about the position to which you are applying (ordinarily, you omit it and state your objective in your cover letter).
  • Don't use the word "I" or other first-person pronouns.
  • Stay away from Iowa Wesleyan jargon or acronyms without explaining what they mean.
  • Don't rely on spell check: this will not tell you if you've spelled the company name incorrectly. Proofread your resume carefully and have someone else proofread it as well.
  • Don't include personal information such as birth date, marital status, or excessive information about hobbies and interests.
  • Don't use dark or speckled paper that can be difficult to read once photocopied or faxed.