Tips for Writing a Resume That Will Get You the Job

The creators of theSkimm have broken down exactly how to create the perfect resume.

Design, Learning,
(Image credit: Hind Bouqartacha for Getty Images)

Think of your resume as a brag sheet and a pitch for why someone should hire you. No pressure.

Here’s what any resume guide will tell you:

Less is more. Try to fit your resume onto one page.

Put your love on top. Use reverse chronological order and put your most recent and important accomplishments on top.

Spell it out. Use spell-check.

Format is key. Save it as a PDF. Otherwise, the formatting may become wonky when your potential employer opens it.

Thanks, Captain Obvious. You’ve heard people say all of those things. Now, here are our recommendations that go a bit beyond the basics.


Do Play the Numbers Game

Remember when we told you to brag? Numbers will back it up. Not talking your salary. Talking about other numbers that showcase your value. If you generated a lot of revenue for your last company, say how much. If you wrote for a site, say how much traffic your article received. Know your calculus: It says you plus numbers equals job.

Do Use Active Verbs

Produced, built, monitored. Go for unique ones like maximized, consolidated, and administered to stand out.

Do Say Mirror, Mirror

When it comes to cover letters, you can stand out by mirroring the voice of the company in your letter. If you’re applying for a job at a law firm, keep it formal. If you’re applying for a job at a tech start-up with a laid-back culture, make your prose less stiff.


Putting an “objective” at the top of your resume is becoming obsolete.

Don't Put Your GPA on It

Unless it’s your first or second job out of college and only if it’s high. Many experts say that means 3.5 or higher. If you’ve been out of college for a while but received honors (cum laude, magna cum laude, summa cum laude), keep those on instead of your GPA.

Don't State the Obvious

Avoid personal pronouns. Anyone reading it knows it’s your resume. There is no “I” in resume. Leave off “References available upon request.” This is assumed, and it takes up valuable space. Avoid phrases like hard worker, ambitious, highly qualified, extensive experience, team player, people person, hit the ground running, think outside the box. These should be a given and won’t help convince someone to hire you.

Don't Short Yourself

Eliminate short-term jobs (that is, those that lasted less than six months) from your resume, unless they directly relate to the position you are applying for. If there are gaps in your resume, consider just putting the years you worked instead of the month and year. But if you were involved in something like an election or a community service–oriented role in between jobs, consider listing it instead of minding the gap. And including work in the hospitality or food service industry shows hustle and the ability to (literally) juggle many plates.

Excerpt from How to Skimm Your Life by theSkimm, copyright © 2019 by theSkimm. Used by permission of Ballantine Books, an imprint of Random House Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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