The Dos and Don’ts of Resume Writing

Writing a compelling resume is a crucial part of any job search. A well-written resume presents you and your accomplishments in the best light and can be the difference between getting an interview and being passed by for the job. 

There are plenty of articles and useful resources out there to help you write the best resume possible (including Don’t Dread Monday’s own Resume and LinkedIn program), but I wanted to list some basic (and important) dos and don’ts of resume writing. Try to keep these in mind as you tackle your resume.


  • Do focus on your accomplishments, skills, abilities, knowledge, and results.
  • Do write a clear and concise summary.
  • Do keep the length of your resume short and practical; no more than two pages.
  • Do use short phrases, not long and complex sentences.
  • Do write in the active voice and avoid using personal pronouns (I, me, my, etc.)
  • Do use strong action verbs and words.
  • Do use a visually appealing format.
  • Do be consistent in grammar, punctuation, format, and style.
  • Do use bullets, boldface, capitalization, etc. to create visual interest.
  • Do edit and proofread multiple times, and get others to help you.
  • Do show verifiable accomplishments in terms of numbers, percentages, or dollars. Use facts and figures.
  • Do devote more space to your most recent positions and less space to your earlier positions.
  • Do use reverse chronological order in listing employers and educational degrees (most recent first).
  • Do be accurate.
  • Do keep in mind the reader of your resume. Keep your resume interesting, easy to read, and scannable.


  • Don’t include any misrepresentations.
  • Don’t use oddly sized or brightly colored paper.
  • Don’t attach a photograph.
  • Don’t clutter up the space or use small font sizes that are difficult to read.
  • Don’t include references or the statement “references available upon request.” If they want or need references, they will ask you for them.
  • Don’t include personal data about age, health, marital status, height, or weight.
  • Don’t use fancy binders or folders.
  • Don’t mention salary information.
  • Don’t use months. Instead, use years, especially if you have more than five years of work experience.
  • Don’t use abbreviations, acronyms, or buzzwords where any misunderstanding may result.
  • Don’t include anything not considered essential.

These guidelines, tried and true, should give you scaffolding to build your resume around. They don’t provide all the answers—that will require time, effort, and even help from a career coach—but they can definitely help.

As always, call us at 800.680.7768 or contact us via our website for any comments or questions you may have. We want to hear from you.

Until next time.