Resume Cheat Sheet

Resume Cheat Sheet: 5 Tips For A Winning Resume


Who has time to write a resume? We know you have a busy life – and sometimes there’s just not enough time in the day to scan through articles to get the information you need.

That’s why we created the Resume Cheat Sheet! We pulled the best tips, tricks, and advice from our archives and put them all in one place just for you.

Resume Cheat Sheet

Here are five solid resume tips from our experts:

1. Amp Up Your Work Experience

There’s no law that requires your experience to be contained in a section called “Work History.” What about “Sales Achievements and Performance” or “Relevant Technical Leadership Roles?”

Why not try “Operations Management Career” if your focus is a new role in manufacturing production or within a call center?

This technique is especially effective if you’re trying to direct attention toward a specific part of your experience, helping to connect disparate parts of your career to the role you’re targeting.

(Original Article: “How To Write Compelling Resume Section Headings“)

2. Customization is Critical

Remember, you always want to tweak your resume when you apply for a job. No two positions are exactly alike, and each employer is going to have different standards and requirements that are very important to them. Key in on those requirements, and be sure to incorporate them into your resume.

You’ll know what these requirements are by reviewing the job advertisement and noting special keywords throughout; or, in most cases, the employer will state required skills or preferred qualifications. You’re a perfect match when you meet all of the required and preferred qualifications.

(Original article: “4 Ways To Make Your Resume A Perfect Match For A Job Opening“)

3. White Space is Important

Most resumes have at least a half inch margin, but a full inch is preferable. If your margins are smaller, you risk losing content if the document is printed by the hiring manager. Plus, a resume that lacks a one inch margin is harder for the reader to peruse and may look cluttered or chaotic – two qualities that are not often sought by employers.

(Original Article: “Top 6 Tips For Resume Formatting“)

4. Use Numbers and Symbols

Numbers and symbols quickly jump out at employers so use them whenever you can. Resumes have their own special rules and I always show all numbers as digits as they catch the eye. Percentages are always best as they show the impact of your efforts.

For example, saying “Increased sales $750K over prior year” is nice but to some companies that is petty cash and your company might not like your giving out their private information; better to say “Increased sales 43% over prior year.” Simply avoid words that don’t define, such as “many,” “few” and “several.”

(Original Article: “4 Ways To Turn Resume Fluff Into Marketable Facts“)

5. Determine the Right Keywords

There are simple ways to figure out what keywords should go on your resume.

  1. Review the Job Posting - The job posting typically tells you the title or position, specific experiences, skills and education desired or required of a candidate. Highlight all these keywords and work them into your resume in context.
  2. Job Description - Conduct searches on career or job board websites for job descriptions of the position you are applying for. You will notice common keywords coming from each of the job descriptions that you can also use in context for your resume.
  3. Company/Organization Website - Review its website. You will notice there are field or industry specific terms that are commonly used that should also be applied to your resume in context.

If you are applying for a job as an experienced professional in the same field, your resume may very likely already contain a few of the appropriate keywords. Your relevant experience and the professional lingo you have come to know has helped you apply it to your resume when describing your previous work experiences, but make sure you take the opportunity to optimize every section of your resume with keywords.

(Original Article: “Optimizing Your Resume With Keywords“)

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Ariella Coombs

Ariella is the Content Manager for CAREEREALISM. She graduated from the University of New Hampshire with a B.A. in journalism. Follow her @AriellaCoombs or find her on Google+.


  1. I am concern with the discrepancy between content herewith: 4 Things To Leave Off Your Resume #3 suggests having 1/2″ margins. Resume Cheat Sheet: 5 Important Tips For A Winning Resume #3 White Space Is Important, suggests 1″ margin on my resume.
    I can only think conflicting statements denotes competing contentions of no great significance.

    • Yes exactly… have a minimum of 1/2 inch margins. i.e., have larger margins. Anything smaller than 1/2 inch, and your resume will look way too cluttered! Instead, Ariella suggests a minimum 1-inch margin. No conflict in statement.

      • Try Optimal resume! It is a wonderful program which allows you to create, save and access both resumes and cover letters from any computer. We use it at the Missouri Career Center:

  2. Some good tips and advice here. If you want to stand out and try a new approach to the traditional resume here’s a new tool just out on test from the UK – we call it iam Profile – The Modern CV. Please have a look and tell us what you think.

  3. Customization and determination of right key words is important. However, what one must also remember at all times is to ‘keep it real’!
    Just researching and editing the resume with the details, that will highlight the resume is going to be futile; if one has actually not had that experience and/or is not qualified in that specific work area/skill.

    Reality check is a must.

    And i recommend, after we have followed the above mentioned five steps, we add the sixth step of reviewing the edits and ensuring that the resume is realistic. I mean, who would want to have a resume with details, that they cannot support/reason, if called for an interview!

    • Also, NEVER send a resume without a cover letter. Most resumes will be placed in the recycle bin if a cover letter is not included. I have a BS in Mass Communications/Journalism and teach resume and cover letter writing classes locally. Many of my clients have returned to say that the very first time they sent a cover letter out, they were hired! Good luck!

      • Please, if you can take me through lessons on resume writing and cover letters. I am much grateful for you advice.

  4. I enjoy your wonderful postings and information you share.In this cheat sheet ,I could not help but find that point #5(Limit sentences with ‘I”) contradicts #1(What would the best candidate do?) -If we are to limit the “I”,could you please suggest where I can find alternate sentences , possibly for entry level jobs too.I do coach clients looking for customer service , cashier and clerical positions.
    Thank you for keeping me current and updated.

    • Using I in a resume is not recommended. Use of adverbs and adjectives is the best way to explain your previous position(s).

      Instead of “I was responsible for volunteer activities at the care center, etc.”

      Use: “Trained and coordinated a volunteer staff of 100 individuals.”

  5. Ariella,

    I’ve read many, many “X Ways to Improve Your Resume” articles. Almost invariably, they advise you on things that a fifth grader applying for a paper route would know. Sage, earth-shattering advice like “Check your spelling”, “Make your introduction compelling,” and “Use action words”.

    This is the best article I’ve ever read on resumes. From tip 1 to tip 5.3, this article taught new practices or put heavy emphasis on something knew but wan’t sure how important it was (I would customize somewhat, but I’ll put a lot more emphasis on it now).

    An example is #3. I already knew white-space to be important, but am always tempted to narrow the margins, and have at times; but with ” … may look cluttered or chaotic – two qualities that are not often sought by employers.”

    Put it in a new light and I’ll resist the TMI temptation.

    #1, #4, and all three of #5 are completely new to me and I will adopt these practices.

    Kudos and many thanks on a great article that outperformed, instead of under-performed, its title. I’ll be sharing this with family and friends.

  6. Thanks for the tips, Ariella! I agree that customization is a critical part of creating a resume. Not only will it help a job seeker stand out from the competition, but it will also allow them to familiarize themselves with the necessary qualifications of a position. Too many job seekers are applying for positions that they just aren’t qualified for because they aren’t reading what the position calls for in terms of skills and qualifications.

  7. Be careful when creating unique resume sections headings – they may not be compatible with Applicant Tracking Systems who read the info on your resume as data. (How to Write Compelling Resume Section Headings)

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