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Resume Tips

Get helpful hints and tips from a career expert on creating a professional resume.

3 Little Resume Things

by Kevin Donlin

It's the little things that can add up to create a resume that opens doors for you ... or slams them in your face.

Let's shoot for that first option, OK?

Here are three "little things" to watch out for in your resume to make sure you're putting your best foot forward, sticking that foot in the door and generating job interviews!

Be consistent

In your use of punctuation, abbreviations, job titles, etc., it's important to set a pattern and follow it consistently as you write your resume.

For example, you should either abbreviate all state names the same way (MN, CA or Minn., Calif.), or write them all out in full. Don't alternate between the two.

Failure to be consistent will distract readers and ruin the impression you're trying to make.

Exercise restraint

When it comes to choosing the fonts, bullet points and other design elements in your resume, less is usually more.

Don't overwhelm readers with a half dozen fonts, heavy italics, all capital letters or pink paper -- all of which I've actually seen.

Unless you're applying for a position as a rodeo clown or cake decorator, keep your creativity in check. Focus much more on high-quality wording than mind-blowing design.

Limit the length

There are other resume writers who say a three-page resume is OK, but because I've offered my clients an unconditional money-back guarantee since 1996, I have to go with what works.

So I insist on two pages as the maximum length for 99.9% of all resumes.

Note: curriculum vitae, used in Europe and by some professionals in North America, can run up to five pages, but I'm talking about resumes here. The only people who will read your five-page resume all the way through are you and your mother.

As a seasoned recruiting professional once told me: "The goal isn't to hit them over the head with everything you've ever done. The goal is to get a job interview."

I pay close attention to these three things -- consistent writing style, restrained layout and a two-page maximum length -- in the dozens of resumes I write every month. When it comes to the most important resume in the world -- yours -- you should, too.

Best of luck to you!

Kevin Donlin owns and operates Guaranteed Resumes. Since 1995, he has provided resumes, cover letters and online job-search assistance to clients. This article and hundreds like it on topics ranging from networking to resume writing to finding internships also appear in The Last Job Search Guide You'll Ever Need, a self-help job guide.