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How to Write a Resume: Do's and Don'ts

A good resume is brief and concise, typed neatly in block form with no errors. It must be easy to read. When preparing your resume, cover the following points:

1. Limit yourself to one page only. As a rule, two page resumes are acceptable when you have over ten years of experience. Employers prefer to read only one page.

2. Put your resume on a floppy disc and print it on the best letter quality printer available. Have an offset printer make copies or use a good, clean duplicating or photocopying machine. Do not mimeograph your resume!

3. Type or print it on 8" X 11" plain white bond paper in block form. Avoid erasable bond - it smudges. Use 1 inch margins on both sides and 1/2 to 1 inch margins on the top and bottom of the page. Double space between each section of the resume.

4. Spelling must be accurate. Use your dictionary or your spell check.

5. Use clear and concise statements describing your experiences. Use proper grammar and punctuation.

6. Use a heading at the beginning of each section. Set it off by typing it in all caps or underlining the heading.

7. Under the headings "Education" & "Experience," the most recent should be listed first.

8. Have someone review your resume before you type it in final form.

9. When describing your experiences use action verbs that will stand out and tell the employer that you have really done something.

Resume Do's and Don'ts


  • Make a good first impression - appearance counts.
  • Include only honest information you can prove.
  • Avoid unexplained time gaps between positions.
  • Be positive about what you say about yourself.
  • Be clear, consistent and concise.


  • List reasons for leaving other jobs.
  • Include names of references.
  • Include marital status, name of spouse or number of children.
  • Include salary requirements.
  • Include a photograph.
  • Use negative words or apologies.
  • Include health conditions.


  • An effective resume should back up its objective statement (if one is used).


  • Create good spacing to develop a pleasing effect including margins at least one inch wide on the top, bottom, and sides of the resume.
  • Use bold type, underlining, and CAPITALIZATION'S to highlight information.
  • Use a font size of 10-12 points and popular, non decorative fonts including Times, Helvetica, and Universe.
  • The resume should be neat. Never make handwritten corrections on your resume.
  • Produce on a computer using a letter quality or laser printer.
  • Once you have produced your "galley print" (a clean black on white, flawless copy), have your copies professionally Xeroxed.
  • Use 8 " x 11" paper of good bond quality (20 to 25 lbs.) and 25-100% cotton content.
  • Chose white or off-white only!



  • If possible confine to one page. However in some fields it is okay to have two pages, but never more than two pages. Put name and page number on second page. Check with a CDC counselor if you are unsure of the appropriate length.
  • Paragraphs should be no longer than ten to twelve lines.



  • Use only current resumes. Make sure information such as phone number and address are current.
  • Tell the employer what you can do! Highlight content or transferable skills.
  • Quantify and address why your work was important. Show results, achievements, and accomplishments.
  • If a career objective is used it should be specific and give focus to the resume.
  • Do not list personal information (marital status, religion, ethnicity,etc.), photos or references on the resume.

Writing Style

  • Check for grammar, spelling, and typing errors.
  • Write in a telegraphic style (concise phrases). Complete sentences are not necessary.
  • Write objectively - no I's, me's my's, etc. Use action verbs!
  • State present position in present tense and past positions in past tense.
  • Avoid abbreviations when possible.


  • Place most important material at the beginning of the resume.
  • For each job experience description, place most important duties first.
  • Be consisted with format throughout the resume.

Bottom Line

  • Does the resume tell a story, but not the whole story? If you were an employer, would you be interested in inviting this candidate in for an interview?

Resume Writing Tips:

How to Write a Cover Letter

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