Your resume gives hiring managers a snapshot of your background and shows what you could bring to their organization. Creating a solid first impression with your resume is critical: How you present yourself can determine if you move on to the interview stage. And without an interview, you don’t have a chance of landing the job.

Here are eight tips for writing a strong resume:

Create a ‘kitchen sink’ document

List out each role you’ve had, and draft bullets highlighting your job duties; focus on milestones and achievements. List out specific numbers where you can (e.g., how many people or accounts you managed; year-over-year percentage increase in new client business you brought in; and other short, relevant facts). Focus on activities that generated revenue, saved money, or developed new processes or efficiencies to improve your employer performance.

You may wind up with several pages of content, which is great. In fact, the more bullets the better! This “kitchen sink” document is not your resume. Instead, it gives you all the content you’ll need to create one. Better yet, it makes revising your resume easier each time you apply to a new role. You can simply go back to the kitchen sink document and find the bullets that directly match the job description. Once you find them, it’s a matter of cutting and pasting to create a revised, customized resume that shows the hiring manager you’re the person for the job.

Keep it simple and straightforward

Who will review your resume first? If you’re submitting online, chances are it’s a “what,” as software often screens for keywords that match the job description. That’s why customizing the resume for each opening is so important. Your resume won’t make it to the human review stage unless it’s deemed a relevant match by the software.

Once your resume passes the initial screening, its next stop is with the HR/recruiting team or the hiring manager. A generalized tip to keep in mind while writing a resume is to make it as easy as possible for anyone reading it to glean the relevant details. To do so, follow these tips:

  • Put your name, mobile phone number, home email and LinkedIn profile URL at the top.
  • Break out sections for summary, experience, education and awards/accolades; use boldface and underline text to make it easy to read.
  • Use bullets, not paragraphs, and keep as many bullets as possible to one line.
  • Spell out acronyms and eliminate any industry jargon or abbreviations; the person who reviews it first may not be a specialist in your field.
  • Keep it to one or two pages; if it’s longer than that, it needs to be trimmed.
  • Do not use a tiny point size or compact font to squeeze in content; 11- or 12-point type works well — and  keep the margins at one inch top, bottom and sides.

See the best resume format to use based on your experience level and position sought.

Start with a summary

Years ago, objective statements were a common feature of resumes. These statements were often bland and didn’t give much insight into the candidate. When writing a resume, many candidates now include a short summary section at the top instead of the objective statement. This is a great spot to highlight your most impressive qualifications and incorporate keywords as well.

Use simple language

Start bullets with short words where possible (e.g., led, reduced, raised). Keep the resume to “just the facts” and let the reader draw their own conclusions. In your summary, resist the temptation to include overused phrases (e.g., energized, self-starter, accomplished) to describe yourself. There’s nothing wrong with these qualities; the problem is they don’t offer any context. Instead of using the word “self-starter,” draft a bullet showing an example of what you did. For instance, what project did you brainstorm, propose and take from start to finish to save the company money?  

Don’t forget soft skills

Technical skills and education show your ability to do the job; soft skills show you can be an asset to the organization and interact well with people at all levels. Some of the qualities employers highly value that you may wish to highlight in your resume:

  • Writing and speaking
  • Presentation skills (e.g., presenting to executive leadership, or technical information to a nontechnical audience)
  • Problem-solving
  • Proactive attitude
  • Flexibility
  • Reliability

Taking on duties outside your job’s requirements shows initiative and contributes to the company’s success. If you mentored new employees, led a cross-functional project or managed a team in a leader’s absence, consider including these points on your resume.

Leave out the unnecessary

You have limited real estate to convey to the employer why you’re a great fit. Another generalized tip for writing a resume is to avoid wasting any precious space with unnecessary or superfluous details. Leave out:

  • The line “references available upon request” as you can provide these post-interview
  • Photos
  • Personal details
  • Hobbies and outside interests unless directly related to the role or organization
  • Salary requirements or past salary history
  • Reasons you left previous jobs

Never, ever stretch the truth

Seems like a no-brainer, right? Unfortunately, there are people who may suggest you shift the dates of your employment, add in skills or accomplishments that aren’t yours, or otherwise misrepresent your background as you write your resume. That’s bad advice; stretching the truth is lying, plain and simple. Lies are easy to uncover during a background check. And if they’re not caught at that stage, they can be grounds for dismissal at any time after getting hired.

Proof and get feedback

Spellcheck doesn’t catch everything. Being thorough and accurate while writing a resume is important, but one typo can negate hours of careful work. Proofread your resume before submitting it. If you’ve been working on it for a while, take a break and do something else before returning to proof it. A good way to catch errors is by reading the document aloud.

Also, share your resume with someone else and ask for candid feedback. Ideally, this person would work in your field or have experience hiring for a team. You’re likely to get feedback that will sharpen your resume and convey your skill set in a slightly different but more impactful way.

Check starting salaries for roles in your city, and upload your resume to be considered for jobs that match.