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You are asking for an opportunity when applying online or submitting your resume.  Therefore, your resume should act as the initial introduction showing you are an outstanding candidate for the position.  Are you sending the correct message? Or, does your resume send a different message? Does it reflect a nonchalant approach of “throwing your hat in the ring” to see if something sticks without really trying?  If this is the case, you’ll be rejected or have no response.  You’re goal is to impress and to be effective.  Your resume can definitely help or hurt you.  Since you want to get past the initial screening, here we list the best tips on what to do and what to avoid when designing a resume for a fantastic impression.

DO –

Make your resume compelling.   You must provide the reader with reasons to contact you.   Let the reader know why you can do the job exceptionally well.  Construct your resume to be accomplishment oriented.

Target your resume for the opportunity. 

  • Apply for positions you are qualified for and ones where you have the necessary skills. 
  • Highlight your experience and accomplishments and make sure they coordinate with the position you are applying for and match what the hiring agents are seeking.
  • Use searchable keywords aligned with the position description.  If you stray too much from the common words describing the position, your resume will not trigger keyword searches in an applicant tracking system.

Make your resume completely error-free.

  • Check each line, each word, punctuation, and spacing for errors.
  • Check for those pesky words that have the same sound, but different spelling and meaning. They will pass a spell check test and still be incorrectly used words.
  • Make sure you use the correct verb tense.

Format the resume for an Applicant Tracking System, and make it aesthetically pleasing.  For your resume to have the best view through most applicant tracking systems follow these rules:

  • Do not use image headers.
  • Do not include any sidebars to your resume.
  • Use MS Word with standard font.
  • Set the font to 11 pt or larger to keep it very readable.


Do not copy and paste from LinkedIn.  Do not copy from a template or regenerate what is already on your LinkedIn profile.  Being lazy isn’t the impression you want to give.

Don’t provide a long resume.  Yes, there are exceptions for some science research, legal, medical or academic related careers.  However, for most professionals a resume can be limited to 1 to 2 pages while summarizing 10 to 15 years of a career.  Leave out any unnecessary information.  Keep your resume geared toward for the job you want by listing the experience you’ve gained that will be of value for the targeted position.   Also, avoid sharing too much information.  Some things you’ve been involved with may be highly interesting, but the resume isn’t always the best place to list them if they do not show value towards your prospective job.  Save those things for an interesting and timely conversation if it comes up.

Don’t submit a sloppy resume.  Don’t submit anything sloppy to those involved with hiring.  This includes your resume, cover letter, and any documents pertaining to your patents, research, publications, and presentations.

These suggestions seem like basic rules for making a resume, but many candidates do not follow guidelines according to recent hiring managers.  It’s bewildering how this is the case today with all the help and resources available, but qualified and wonderful candidates are passed up because of unattractive or unimpressive resumes.  Don’t let your resume be one of them!

Visit our website for more resources on continuing on your job search and for our available positions.  Or, if you are a hiring manager ready to build a successful team in your organization, please give us a call at 415-893-1020 or email us at

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