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Resume Writing

April 16, 2024

The Dos and Don’ts of Resume Writing

By Dawn Dumbeck

Recently, I have discovered an unknown passion while helping college students craft their first resumes. For the last 20+ years in the staffing industry, reviewing resumes was a normal course of my business. As a result, you can imagine how many flavors of resumes I have seen; some great, some not so great. While having a resume is a given if you are in the workplace, it’s not easy to create a strong resume that represents the individual best; especially before a career has been started.

Your resume is your first impression to a potential employer.  A well-crafted resume will immediately grab attention and make a positive impact. Writing a strong resume is important for so many reasons, it’s your time to showcase your skills, experiences, and achievements relevant to the position you’re applying. It’s your personal marketing tool, to effectively communicate “you” professionally as well as your other interests.

Resume creation should start as early as your high school years, but definitely by your college or trade school timeframe. (I am a very proud mom of a Virginia Tech Hokie and have had the pleasure of helping several of his friends with their resumes.) Timing to begin this project can be key.

There are great resources available specific to the best way to craft your resume and even companies that will assist you. I thought I would share a few of my top ‘do’s & don’ts’ that apply to everyone from the college student to the most senior executive.


  • Choose a visually appealing layout that is easy to read and navigate and select a professional font. With the increasing use of mobile devices and technology for job searching, ensure that your resume is optimized for viewing on mobile screens. Use a simple, responsive design that looks good on both desktop and mobile devices.
  • Creating a summary section at the beginning of your resume can provide employers and recruiters with a snapshot of your qualifications, skills, and career objectives. This is also a space you can customize to match the job description you are applying for, highlighting your skills and experience that align you to that particular job.
  • Quantify your achievements and results to provide concrete evidence of your accomplishments. Use numbers, percentages, and metrics to demonstrate the impact you’ve made in your previous roles. This should be a must if you are responsible for individual production & driving revenue.  Share your contributions to your company & team’s success, percentages of achieving quota, and your results from your sales and production effort.  Stay away from general comments, your employer will most likely dig into this area when you interview, save them the upfront time.
  • Tailor your resume to include relevant keywords and phrases related to the job and industry you’re targeting. This can improve your chances of passing through applicant tracking systems (ATS) and getting noticed by recruiters as many of them do key word searches as they begin reviewing.
  • In addition to defining your technical skills and qualifications, emphasize soft skills such as communication, teamwork, and problem-solving. If you’re early in your career, you can also include outside of work interests; sports, clubs, organizations, and board positions. This is especially important for those entering the workforce, it allows employers to get to know you. Employers increasingly value these attributes in candidates.


  • Write the same thing over and over! Focus on including only the most relevant and recent experiences, skills, and achievements on your resume. Avoid duplicating responsibilities under each line of employment. I can’t tell you how many times I see this throughout the resume, the employer may think you took shortcuts and if your resume doesn’t matter to you, it won’t matter to them.
  • Forget to Proofread! Errors and inconsistencies can detract from the professionalism of your resume. Consider asking a friend or mentor to review it for any mistakes or areas for improvement.  I would ask people in your professional network to review, it’s helpful to have feedback from people who have some experience in this area.
  • Make a resume that is too long! Resume length is a pet peeve of mine: I look to learn about a candidate from a 1–3-page resume. There may be reasons for a resume to require more content, pushing the length.  For example – certain fields may be longer to accommodate publications, research, or extensive work history.  Recruiters often have limited time to review each resume, so a concise document can make a stronger impression. A one-page resume is typically recommended for entry-level or early-career candidates.

As I mentioned earlier, I’ve been helping college students build their first professional resume. I believe creating these best practices now, will make updating a resume an easier process in the future for them. College students are using their resume constantly, whether it’s to apply to internal opportunities within their university, applying for scholarships, club leadership positions, internships, or career fairs. Preparing a strong resume, helps them stand out from a very large crowd and positions them for success in the future. 

At every level of your career, building a strong resume should also help you reflect on your skills, experiences, and accomplishments. The resume is one of the most important steps to get your foot in the door for an interview. Transitioning from a well-crafted resume to a successful interview can require a different set of strategies (which could be another blog post entirely). Remember that your resume should be a true representation of your experiences, goals, and expertise and is a dynamic document that should be updated regularly. Try not to let it sit for years: dust it off occasionally.

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