20 Best Resume Writing Tips and Tricks 2021 (with Free Checklist)

20 Best Resume Writing Tips and Tricks 2021 (with Free Checklist)

Knowing the best ways to write a resume with efficiency and legibility goes a long way. These simple tips and tricks can be the driving factor towards successfully landing a job interview.

Written by Ed Moss • Last updated on Apr 11, 2021

Competition in the job market is tougher than ever.

Having the proper skills and know-how for crafting the ideal resume will give you a leg up on the competition.

In this article, we’ve listed 20 resume tips with helpful insights, tricks, and advice for putting together an effective resume that stands out to employers.

Here they are at a glance.

  1. Keep your resume specific
  2. Use bullet points
  3. Have a professional email address
  4. Include both hard and soft skills
  5. Tailor your resume to the job description
  6. Choose a simple and readable font
  7. Make sure it's always relevant
  8. Include achievements when appropriate
  9. Use an active voice
  10. Use a two-column layout
  11. Provide quantifiable descriptions
  12. Always tailor your resume to the job
  13. Double-check contact information
  14. Make sure you’re using the right resume format
  15. Know when to provide references
  16. Use strong action verbs
  17. Showcase your job promotions
  18. List relevant education and certifications
  19. Create your resume with a template
  20. Review professional resume examples

Keep reading to see recommended examples and usage for each one of these resume tips.

Beautiful resume templates to land your dream job

Free resume writing checklist

Writing a resume has a lot of different elements that you always need to keep in mind.

However, it might be hard to keep track of it all.

That's why we made this handy checklist that will help you write a more perfect resume.

free resume writing checklist

Feel free to download the resume checklist by right-clicking on the image and clicking Save.

Now you can always have this to refer back to — but let's keep reading to see how start incorporating some of these resume tips.

1. Keep your resume specific

Flowy and intricate writing has a proper time and place…and on your resume is not it. Save it for your memoirs.

When writing out the sections and headings on your resume, it's crucial to keep your wording simple and concise.

Most hiring managers won't read through every single resume they receive. That means, you'll want to keep your resume pretty concise, which makes it easier for recruiters to skim through and find the most important details quickly. 

While you don’t want the language you choose to make your resume sound too boring, the key is to stick to simple sentences with clear explanations. 

For example, when writing job descriptions, be as specific as possible without writing complex sentences. 

☹️ Incorrect: 

• In this position I was responsible for a multitude of important tasks, from training new staff and completing onboarding paperwork to assisting with administrative work and bookkeeping.

The issue with this description is that the sentence is too long and complex, plus it covers too many responsibilities.

To correct this, focus in one particular action or achievement and include the additional achievements in later sentences or bullet points. 

☺️ Correct:

• Trained and on-boarded over 30+ employees on company policy and conduct-code.
• Assisted with handling administrative work and bookkeeping every quarter.

See? That's much easier to parse now.

2. Use bullet points

Bullet points go hand-in-hand with being specific.

Plus, they give your resume a clean and organized appearance that is much easier to read through quickly.

Remember, the goal is to get the recruiters attention.

You want to make it easy as possible for someone to read your resume.

Using bullet points is mostly recommended when listing out your work experience history.

To do that, summarize your main responsibilities and achievements at the job in a bulleted list. 

For example, rather than writing a job description as one long paragraph, break it up into specific bullet points that focus on your biggest or most relevant accomplishments.

☹️ Incorrect: 

Shift Lead, Mellow Mushroom
January 01, 2018 – June 30, 2020

As the shift lead at this restaurant, I was responsible for opening and closing the restaurant, end-of-the-night bookkeeping, and customer complaint resolutions. 

☺️ Correct:

Shift Lead, Mellow Mushroom
January 01, 2018 – June 30, 2020

• Led the opening and closing crews through essential morning and nighttime tasks
• Completed end-of-shift bookkeeping and created daily sales reports
• Resolved customer complaints with efficiency and professionalism 

Notice how this is much easier to read.

3. Have a professional email address

All of us at one time or another have had a funky email address with some random combination of words, nicknames, and numbers.

But we're no longer teenagers. It's time for a more professional approach.

If your email falls into the category of silliness, it could be off-putting to potential employers.

When including contact information on your resume, ditch the childhood or university email address in exchange for a more professional one.

We'd also recommend using Gmail if you can. It's the most widely used email address.

How to create a professional email address?

When creating a professional email address, generally you will want to avoid numbers. This makes it harder to distinguish and remember.

Instead, try including your name if possible (or initials). Another option is to include keywords having to do with your work, which is great if your name is unavailable.

For instance, let’s say a man named Patrick Smith is applying for a writing position. Here are examples of good and bad email addresses he could use on his resume:

☹️ Incorrect (feels too playful):

patrickrocks24@gmail.com 

☹️ Also incorrect (not personalized):

kentuckydoglover2365@gmail.com 

☺️ Correct (using a name):

patricksmith@gmail.com

☺️ Also correct (incorporating a job function):

patrickwrites@gmail.com 

The correct examples present you with much more maturity and professionalism.

See the following resume example of a 3D animator, notice how simple and professional the email looks:

3D Animator

4. Include both hard and soft skills

For those unfamiliar, hard skills are skills that are teachable and quantifiable, while soft skills have more to do with personality traits and people skills. 

It is important to show both hard and soft skills on a resume. Keep in mind that because hard skills are easily quantifiable, they can be written plainly.

Comparatively for soft skills, such as communication, will need to be shown through other means, such as highlighting changes to a teamwork dynamic you initiated. 

Examples of Hard Skills:

  • Computer Programming
  • Adobe Creative Suite
  • Data Entry
  • Microsoft Office
  • Google Suite
  • Math Skills
  • Copywriting
  • CRM Software
  • Lead Generation

Examples of Soft Skills:

  • Communication
  • Leadership
  • Time Management
  • Detail-Oriented
  • Presentation Skills
  • Network Skills
  • Planning
  • Organization
  • Decision-Making
  • Adaptability

If you need more help in this section, we've listed over 100+ skills for you to choose from.

5. Tailor your resume to the job description

Job descriptions actually contain a good amount of information that can be useful to you when crafting your resume.

Within a job description will be keywords that reflect the company’s values and the characteristics they are looking for in a candidate. 

Locating those keywords and finding ways to repeat them in your resume is a good way to show hiring managers that you are attentive to detail and took note of what they were specifically looking for.

This also greatly increases your chances of passing an ATS (Applicant Tracking System) screening.

Quick Tip: When searching for keywords within job descriptions, a good place to start looking is in the section that details what the employer is looking for in an ideal candidate. 

For instance, if a job description states they are looking for a “natural leader,” proof of your leadership skills and experience would be smart to include.

Curious for more insights on this topic? Take a look at our article on how to tailor your resume to job descriptions.

6. Choose a simple and readable font

Nowadays, there are so many fonts to choose. It's almost too easy (and risky!) for candidates to go a little wild with their font selections.

However, choosing an inappropriate font can actually kill your chances of receiving a callback or invite to an interview. Not fun anymore is it?

The font you use on your resume should be simple and easy to read. Avoid using any intricate embellishments or unusual design elements.

Additionally, the font you select should be kept consistent throughout so don't use a variety of fonts for a single resume. 

The exception to the rule is your resume heading. You can try using a louder heading font to draw attention to your name and summary.

5 good fonts to use on a resume:

  • Times New Roman
  • Arial
  • Helvetica
  • Cambria
  • Garamond

Types of fonts to avoid on a resume:

  • Cursive fonts
  • Large, chunky texts that fill up a lot of space
  • Fonts with symbols or images

We wrote up a well-detailed guide on choosing readable fonts that you can read here.

7. Make sure it's always relevant

Whether you’re writing about your work experience, education, or any other section, you have to prioritize relevancy

For instance, if you are applying for a job as a paramedic, you would want to place greater emphasis on relevant experiences such as prior jobs as a "first responder" or other medically-related positions.

However, don't try to list your work experience out of chronological order too drastically — it can risk making your resume too long. See our guide on how long your resume length should be, but in summary, try to keep it to a single page with only relevant information.

How can we make your resume more relevant?

Let's say you were applying to an HR Manager job that lists in the description that it is "looking for someone with administrative and computer skills".

You have two prior job experiences that you held simultaneously – 1) office manager and 2) server.

You wouldn't want to write a summary about your serving experience.

Those skills are not really transferable nor directly relevant to the job being applied to.

Instead, focusing your resume summary and skills as an office manager is much more effective, since those skills are more relevant to the position. 

However, if you have other experiences that are somewhat more relevant, then it would be best to list those instead and leave your server position out entirely.

8. Include achievements when appropriate 

When submitting a resume to a hiring manager, remember that they'll potentially be receiving hundreds of resumes that may all look and sound similar. 

How are you going to stand out from the crowd?

One effective way is to show achievements in your work history.

Including achievements or accomplishments on your resume is a great way to show not only that you have relevant work experience, but that you also have the talent and potential for growth in that specific field. 

Quick tip: When including achievements on your resume, try to first include them under the specific job descriptions within your work experience before making a dedicated accomplishments section. This will make your work experience section more compelling and attention-grabbing. 

To learn more about how to show accomplishments on your resume, check out our guide on listing achievements.

9. Use an active voice

An "active voice" and "passive voice" are the two main types of perspectives you can write in that affect the tone of your work.

When you write a resume, you should use the active voice. It's more commanding and ultimately ends up helping you focus on your talents and accomplishments.

Here is an example of the same statement on a resume written in passive voice vs. active voice:

  • Passive Voice: The company’s revenue grew by 40 percent over time through my efforts.
  • Active Active: Increased company revenue by 40 percent.

You can pair your active voice with strong action verbs to make for a more impactful statement.

10. Use a two-column layout

Making your resume eye-catching is crucial.

But not only should it be attention-grabbing, it should also contain elements that make it appear more visually organized and easy to read through quickly.

A hiring manager should be able to effortlessly find the information they are looking for without spending too much time on it.

Two column-layouts are great for this because you get to see more at a glance.

Take a look at this two-column resume example for a security guard, you're able to see work experience, resume summary, skill, education and hobbies effectively at a glance.

3D Animator

11. Provide quantifiable descriptions

When listing out objectives that you accomplished in previous jobs, being specific is highly important as mentioned earlier.

Most hiring managers don’t want to be told what you are capable of doing. They want to be shown examples of that through numbers or statistics. 

Whenever possible, use exact numbers (25,00,000), percents (24%), monetary values ($5,214) and other quantities to describe your achievements within a previous job. 

How can you quantify your experience?

First, you'll want to know how much you've helped improve certain initiatives. But, what are some ways you can find that out?

Let's say you helped to reduce operational costs at a company.

You can ask questions like:

  • How much we did we decrease _______ from [x%]?
  • How much we did we increase _______ from [x%]?
  • How much time we did we save doing ______?
  • How much money did we spend acquiring ______?

Once you find that out, here's what it looks like when actually quantifying those operational reductions:

☹️ Incorrect: 

Decreased operational costs while serving in this position.

☺️ Correct:

Decreased operational costs by 15 percent by adopting and implementing a new point-of-sales system.

That feels a lot better.

We wrote up a guide on listing your work experience to write the most effective job descriptions.

12. Always tailor your resume to the job

Like we mentioned above, a hiring manager is going to to be looking through A LOT of resumes.

This might mean they'll see many of the same, cookie-cutter formatted documents that contain basically the same information.

You can stand out by taking the extra time to edit your resume to be tailored specifically for the job your are applying to.

You can do this by using similar keywords from the job descriptions on your resume.

Hiring managers are likely to take notice of this since it'll feel way more relevant to the role.

Need to know more about how to tailor a resume for a specific job? See our 4-step guide on tailoring your resume to any job.

13. Double-check contact information

There’s nothing that will ruin your chances of landing a job or interview more than providing incorrect contact information. Like an e-mail address typo or incorrect phone-number.

Proof-reading your resume is a crucial step that can be easy to skip. But it might save the day if there's any critical errors on your resume.

Quick Tip: After double-checking your personal contact information, it's also a good idea to check the rest of your resume for any grammatical errors. Online tools like Grammarly can be very helpful for finding and correcting mistakes you may have missed!

14. Make sure you’re using the right resume format

Most job applicants use the standard resume format, also known as reverse-chronological format.

It's the most common and often what recruiters expect to see.

However, there are actually additional formats that serve different purposes.

For instance, a standard resume may not be best suited for someone with large employment gaps, making a different format more preferable.

Knowing what formatting options you have is key to ensuring you are using the right one for your own needs.

Overall, are the 3 main resume formats:

1) Reverse-Chronological

This usually the most standard resume format, as it focuses primarily on your work experience. Jobs should be listed with the most recent companies first followed chronologically by other relevant past work experiences.

2) Functional

A functional resume is focused on skills rather than experience. It is a great format for people who are recently graduated with minimal work experience or for those who have large gaps in their employment history.

3) Hybrid (Combination)

For job applicants who may have some work experience but not enough to fill an entire resume, the hybrid format combines elements of both the reverse-chronological and the functional resumes for this very purpose.

There is also a fourth resume format – the Curriculum Vitae, or CV. This is specifically intended as a long-form resume for use by professionals in the fields of academia and science.

Not sure if you’re using the right resume format? Take a look at our guide on choosing the best resume format.

15. Know when to provide references

The general rule-of-thumb is to not provide references unless specially asked to do so.

Most companies have their own hiring methods, but typically reference stages come much later in the process, and way after your resume is reviewed.

So including references ultimately ends up wasting space on your resume that could've been better used for showcasing accomplishments or skills instead.

Quick Tip: If an employer does request references, be sure to know how to format them properly. We recommend creating an entirely separate page dedicated to your references to conserve space on the first page.

16. Use strong action verbs

One of the best ways to ensure you are using an active voice, as mentioned above, in your job descriptions is to utilize action verbs at the start of your sentences. 

Action verbs are also known as dynamic verbs and are used to describe physical or mental actions.

For resume purposes, this can include words like “increased”, “coordinated”, “implemented,” or an array of other verbs that describe an achievement or activity.

For example, let’s say you increased your department’s sales by 25 percent.

You would want to start that description with an action verb in order to place the emphasis on what you specifically accomplished. 

☹️ Incorrect: 

• My department’s sales were increased by 25 percent thanks to my help.

☺️ Correct:

Increased departmental sales by a 25 percent margin.

Check out our list of 350 action verbs for your resume to brainstorm more action verbs for your own resume. 

3D Animator

17. Showcase your job promotions

If you worked for a business or company for a long period of time and earned promotions over the course of your employment, this is essential information to provide in a resume. 

Showcasing promotions on your resume lets hiring managers know that you have a strong work ethic and ability for growth that has been previously recognized by former employers. 

When showing promotions on a resume, you should include them within your work experience section.

There are two main ways to list a promotion on a resume:

1) Stacking job promotions

If you held multiple positions in the same company, but the highest position is the most relevant and important, you can stack the different positions within the same job description and describe only the highest and most recent position.

☹️ Incorrect: 

Art Director, Tiny Bee Agency
New York, NY • March 2015 – Present

• Promoted to current position of Art Director in 2017.

☺️ Correct:

Art Director, Tiny Bee Agency • June 2017 – Present • New York, NY
Associate Art Director
, Tiny Bee Agency • March 2015 – 2017 • New York, NY

2) Separate Entries

If you held multiple positions that involved different responsibilities and demonstrate multiple talents, it can be beneficial to separate these positions into individual entries. 

☹️ Incorrect: 

Art Director and Marketing Manager, Tiny Bee Agency
New York, NY• March 2015 – Present

☺️ Correct:

Art Director, Tiny Bee Agency
New York, NY • June 2017 – Present
• Description
• Description
• Description

Marketing Manager
, Tiny Bee Agency
New York, NY • March 2015 – 2017
• Description
• Description
• Description

18. List relevant education and certifications

Education and certifications shows hiring managers your academic credentials that you earned through degree programs, trade school, or other types of training. 

Your resume should always have a short and concise education section that summarizes your academic background and degrees.

Here's the information you should include within the education section of your resume:

  • The name of the school — "e.g. Georgia Institute of Technology"
  • The location of the school
  • Your degree (high-school diploma, GED, associate’s degree, bachelor’s degree, etc.)
  • Graduation year (if applicable)
  • Major field or department of study (if applicable)
  • Minor field or department of study (if applicable and relevant)
  • GPA (If you're a student or graduates who held lower GPAs, this bit of information may be good to omit unless specifically requested by the employer)

As for certifications, these should only be included if they are relevant to the job.

Depending on how many relevant certifications you have, you can choose whether or not you have enough for their own dedicated section on your resume. See our guide on listing certifications correctly on your resume.

19. Create your resume with a template

If you're new to creating resumes or not quite sure how to structure your existing resume to be more effective, using an online template is a great way to ensure your resume looks good and contains all the required details.

Check out our own resume templates available for editing and download here on Easy Resume.

You can choose from the following types of templates that we have available:

  1. CV Templates
  2. Downloadable Resume Templates
  3. Printable Resume Templates
  4. PDF Resume Templates
  5. ATS-Friendly Resume Templates
  6. One-Column Resume Templates
  7. Two-Column Resume Templates
  8. Fresher Resume Templates
  9. Executive Resume Templates
  10. Academic Resume Templates
  11. Clean Resume Templates
  12. Basic Resume Templates
  13. Photo Resume Templates
  14. Unique Resume Templates
  15. Traditional Resume Templates
  16. Elegant Resume Templates
  17. Reverse Chronological Resume Templates
  18. Combination Resume Templates
  19. Functional Resume Templates
  20. One Page Resume Templates
  21. Minimalist Resume Templates
  22. Simple Resume Templates
  23. Modern Resume Templates
  24. Creative Resume Templates
  25. Professional Resume Templates

20. Review professional resume examples

Resumes will differ depending on what field or industry the job being applied to resides in. Taking the time to review examples of resumes made by professionals within your own industry or niche is essential for figuring out how to tailor your resume and make it stand out to the hiring manager. 

Here at Easy Resume, we offer a variety of free resume samples to look through.

From 3D animators and accountants to civil engineers and content writers – we’ve got you covered.

Take a look at a few of our resume examples:

  1. Chef Resume Example
  2. Barista Resume Example
  3. Graphic Designer Resume Example
  4. Mechanical Engineer Resume Example
  5. Medical Assistant Resume Example
  6. Account Manager Resume Example
  7. Software Engineer Resume Example
  8. IT Specialist Resume Example
  9. Elementary School Teacher Resume Example
  10. Marketing Manager Resume Example
  11. Physician Assistant Resume Example
  12. Clinic Coordinator Resume Example
  13. Office Manager Resume Example
  14. Financial Advisor Resume Example
  15. Event Planner Resume Example

Final takeaways 

Your resume can be your golden ticket that gets your foot in the door at the job of your dreams. Using the tips discussed here will greatly help you in optimizing your document to be noticed by more hiring managers and land you a spot in the crucial interview process.

Our main takeaways for you are as follows:

  • Always be mindful of the relevancy of the information you are sharing.
  • Use conciseness and structural elements, such as bullet points and headings, to give your resume visual organization and an easy-to-read flow.
  • Always double-check your resume to confirm you have provided the right information.
  • Active voice and action verbs will make your resume read with more confidence

Get to writing your perfect resume today, and don’t be shy of checking out our free resources for a bit of help along the way!

Ed Moss is an author for Easy Resume

Ed is a co-founder of Easy Resume. His background in scaling teams at tech startups over the last decade has given him extensive experience and knowledge around how to hire top talent and build successful teams. He enjoys mentoring, coaching, and helping others reach their career goals. When he's not writing about career-related advice, he's playing with his dog, Lilo, or going on long hikes in upstate New York.

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