45 Resume Writing Tips That Will Get You Hired In 2022

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resume writing tips
Irene McConnell
11 min read

April 15, 2022

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It’s 2022, and you’re ready to take your career to the next level. You’ve decided that it’s time to update your resume and start applying for jobs that are a step up from where you are now. But you’re not sure where to start. Don’t worry – we can support you during your job search with this comprehensive set of resume writing tips.

Instead of systematically implementing each tip in the order that they’ve been published, I recommend that you think of this article as an a la carte menu of resume advice.

Scan through it, grab out resume writing tips that resonate with you and use them to fix your resume. By the time you implement these resume tips, your resume will look, feel and read a lot better.

get a spectacular resume

By the way, if you want to save days (maybe weeks) of tinkering with your resume, consider using a good online resume builder or hiring a professional resume writer. Here are your best options:

Clean Up Your Work History.

First and foremost, you need to ensure that your work history is free of generic mumbo-jumbo:

  • Cull cliches ruthlessly.
  • Remove everything from your work history the commercially meaningful stuff: your role mandate, strategic priorities and scope.
  • Replace non-­specific generalisms with specific details, facts, figures and examples.
  • Describe how you met your targets, contributed to organisational objectives and applied strong commercial acumen to add value.

For example, instead of saying “worked to achieve positive commercial outcomes”, explain what “positive outcomes” really meant in that context by communicating what you did (leading with an action verb), and why you did it (demonstrating the positive impact your actions had):

“Allocated human, financial, and manufacturing assets [What] to increase factory output and profitability, enabling the business to meet sales demand, improve customer satisfaction, and capture increased market share from key competitors [Why].”

Or…

“Forged cross-functional partnerships with senior client stakeholders [What] to identify business requirements and ensure the project plan aligned with organisational priorities [Why]“.

Instead of using phrases like “responsible for,” try to use more specific language that accurately describes your role and responsibilities.

For example, instead of saying “responsible for managing a team of customer service representatives,” you could say “led a team of customer service representatives and successfully resolved customer complaints.”

Quantify Your Achievements.

Recruiters already know what accountants, general managers and sales executives do in their day-to-day work, so your resume does not need to contain a laundry list of your duties.

What a professional resume needs to do is demonstrate scope – and that requires hard numbers. Prospective employers want to know:

  • Size of your budget and your P&L accountability.
  • Exact number of your direct and dotted-line reports.
  • Insight into reporting structures, organisational size and hierarchy.

They need these to piece together a picture of you as a candidate.

Use numbers – and be as specific as possible. Consider this achievement for a Director of Sales for a large online e-commerce retailer:

“Achieved 110% of annual sales target in 2016.”

Does this impress you? Do you want to hire this person on the spot? Here’s what I’m thinking:

  • Who cares? Wasn’t 2016 a good year for online retail, anyway?
  • How did this brand perform that year compared with its main competitors?
  • How did they perform the year before, under the previous Sales Director?

In other words, this method of phasing achievements raises more questions than answers.

professional resume writing

To make your achievements stand out, I suggest using a method called ARTA (Achieved Result By Taking Action).

Taking the above example and rewriting it to have more impact using the ARTA method, we get:

“Delivered 110% to 2016 sales target [Achieved Result] by developing a new-to-company strategy to target the underdeveloped Gen Y market [by Taking Action]“.

PRO RESUME TIP: I’ve published a detailed guide that will help you write outstanding resume achievements. You’ll find it here.

Create A Power Summary For Each Role.

Let me share with you a secret trick used by top resume writers to increase the impact of your role descriptions. Above your responsibilities and achievements, add a Power Summary of each role, which includes:

  • A high-level overview of the role.
  • The mandate.
  • The main target.

For example:

professional resume sections

Target A Specific Role.

One resume per role type. Don’t break this rule. Ever.

Your resume should be tailored to the specific job you are applying for. Don’t try to create a one-size-fits-all resume that covers several role types.

Don’t Rip Off The Job Description.

Borrowing sentences from the position description is a terrible idea.

Most job descriptions are tactical in their scope and task-driven in their language – because they are typically written by junior staff who don’t have a mature understanding of how roles contribute to an organisation’s strategic priorities.

If you embrace the job description as a departure point for your resume, you’ll imbue it with the same characteristics, thus pitching yourself at a lower level of seniority.

In other words, you’ll sell yourself short.

This will almost certainly mean less money, less responsibility and a less impressive career trajectory.

Rather than harvesting job descriptions for useful resume content, I suggest that you use this guide and other guides on this website to learn how to write your resume from scratch.

Include Your Recent Roles.

Make sure that your resume is up-to-date. Include any relevant experiences or accomplishments that you have achieved since you last updated your resume.

If you have moved jobs or changed industries, update your resume accordingly.

Include A Professional Email Address.

Your contact section should contain an email address that looks like it belongs to a mature adult. Think johnanderson101@gmail, not tallandhandsome101@gmail.com

PRO RESUME TIP: For extra impact, register a personal domain and use it to set up your email address (e.g. john@johnwatson.com.au)

Check The Dates.

Are the dates correct? You’ll be surprised at how many people submit job applications that contain incorrect employment dates.

The last thing you want is for this mistake to be picked up by a recruiter or a hiring manager during your job interview.

Kill The Objective.

A modern professional resume should not contain an Objective Statement. In case you’re wondering, this is the culprit that I’m talking about:

professional resume career objective

It was common practice to place these self-indulgent and meaningless ramblings at the very top of resumes. This train, however, has well and truly left the station – c. 2005.

While good recruiters and hiring managers should ultimately care about your career objectives, they are a lot more preoccupied with ensuring that you’re capable of solving a certain set of commercial problems at the initial stage of the recruitment process.

To help them see you as a fit, replace the Objective Statement with a Professional Summary that contains a couple of succinct and snappy paragraphs that clearly communicate how you, as a person in that role, can solve an organisation’s challenges.

Here’s my tongue-in-cheek take on what the Professional Summary on Elon Musk’s professional resume may look like:professional resume example

Proofread Your Resume.

Don’t forget to check for mistakes! This is a critical step that many job seekers overlook.

Spell-check, spell-check, spell-check, then spell-check again.

Every hiring manager has a horror story of a candidate who was about to be invited to interview for a plum gig but got disqualified because of typos in their resume.

Check for any spelling or grammatical errors using your own eyes, then enlist the help of another human. They’ll pick up mistakes that your eyes have missed.

Finally, run your resume through an AI-powered language checker like Grammarly.

Get The Length Right.

Certain (largely unspoken) protocols govern your resume’s length:

  • Graduates should have a one-page resume.
  • Entry- and mid-level professionals should aim for a one- to two-page resume.
  • Middle managers and executives should have a three- to four-page resume.

Address Your Employment Gaps.

If you’ve taken time off work to see the world, have a family, or any other reason, that’s great. An employment gap isn’t necessarily a problem, but an unexplained gap certainly is.

Be transparent about breaks. This includes gaps caused by events outside of your control like company restructures and redundancies.

Don’t Send The Hiring Manager To Sleep.

I understand the desire to include your entire work history on your resume. After all, you want to look experienced.

However, top professional resume writers usually take the opposite approach.

I suggest that you showcase your greatest hits, detailing between 3 and 6 of the most recent and relevant roles from the last 15 years of your working history.

In most cases, this will result in a resume that snugly fits into (the expected) 3-5 pages:

sections in a professional resume

PRO RESUME TIP: Note how the professional resume in the above example is structured using the Russian Doll approach, with most recent roles allocated more real estate than those further back in time.

Use The Reverse Chronological Resume Format.

In most situations, you should stick to the reverse-chronological resume format. This is the most popular style, and your hiring manager is likely to feel very familiar with it.

It’s also the most effective format for presenting the most relevant experience of professionals with 3-20 years of experience. If you’re reading this article, you probably fall within this group.

Other resume formats include Functional / Skills-Based and Combination; these are typically used by graduates with no career history to speak of, or by folks with extremely complicated backgrounds.

Improve The Visual Appeal.

Make sure that your resume is easy on the eye. Use white space to break up text sections and use bullet points to highlight critical information.

Avoid over-crowding. If your resume “feels” too dense, it probably is. Hiring managers will appreciate you splitting content across additional pages to make the resume easier to skim and read.

Delete The Buzzwords.

If it’s generic and meaningless, it does not belong on your resume. Replace all buzzwords with precise, commercially relevant phrases.

Words To Avoid:What To Say Instead:
Team playerShow the results that your team has achieved.
DynamicProvide insight into how you motivate yourself to keep going even when times are tough.
Hard workerProvide results of your hard work.
Problem solverGive an example of a problem that you’ve solved.
Extensive experienceProvide insight into each role that you’ve held.
Self-starterShow how you took initiative and how it paid off.

Delete Your Photograph.

In certain parts of the world, including a photo on your resume is normal practice – but it’s not in Australia.

Unless a job description specifically asks you to include a photograph, do not include one on your resume.

Don’t Overshare The Private Stuff.

Don’t include any personal information on your resume. This includes things like your age, marital status, or political affiliation.

Personal information has no place on a resume, and including it could potentially hurt your chances of getting hired.

Use Verb Tense Consistently.

It’s easy to start switching tenses in your resume without realising it. Read through your resume and ensure that it stays consistent.

The only exception to this rule is your present job, which you can frame in the present tense (e.g., “I drive the execution of…”). All of your previous roles must be in the past tense.

Honesty Is The Best Policy.

Don’t lie. Be honest about your qualifications and experiences.

Suppose you’re caught lying on your resume. You’ll lose your credibility and destroy all chances of getting hired – not just for a particular role, but for any future roles with the recruiter or organisation that catches you out.

Showcase Relevant Skills.

Your key skills should be prominently displayed in a dedicated skills section, either using bullet points or a table.

Its purpose is to give prospective employers an at-a-glance view of the hard and soft skills that qualify you for the role.

Hard Skills vs Soft Skills: What’s the Difference?

Hard skills are the technical, specific abilities that you learn through education and training. Some examples of hard skills include:

  • Typing speed
  • Foreign language fluency
  • Computer programming
  • Advanced mathematical abilities

Soft skills, on the other hand, are harder to quantify. Dictionary.com defines soft skills as “personal attributes that enable someone to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people.” Common examples of soft skills that your hiring manager will be looking for include:

  • Communication
  • Teamwork
  • Problem-solving
  • Critical thinking
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Work ethic
  • Professionalism

Set The Right Font Size.

Use a font size between ten and twelve points for the body of your resume, and larger sizes for headings. If in doubt:

  • Size 12 font for the body
  • Size 14 font for subheadings

Don’t use more than two font sizes throughout your document to prevent clutter.

Choose An Attractive And Readable Font.

Don’t choose a decorative or overly-fancy font. Your best bet is to stick with tried-and-true fonts like:

  • Verdana
  • Helvetica
  • Calibri
  • Myriad Pro

These are all attractive and highly readable fonts that will make your resume look its best.

Use Bold And Italics For Emphasis.

You can improve readability and highlight relevant skills using bold and italics.

Do not overuse this technique, though. If there are too many elements in bold or italics, the emphasis will be lost, and you’ll end up with a resume that looks like a fruit salad.

Include URLs To Your Social Media Profiles or Blog.

Add the URL of your professional website or blog, if it’s relevant to your overall value proposition. Include any relevant social media handles, too.

The key word there is “relevant”.

A social media feed of your bird watching photos isn’t important in the context of a job application as an Electrical Engineer.

Realistically speaking, most professionals will only include a link to their LinkedIn profile, but a creative resume could also include links to Instagram, Youtube, and Behance.

Defeat The Resume Bots.

Over 50% of resumes never get seen by a human recruiter or a hiring manager because they get filtered out by an Applicant Tracking System (ATS).

These systems assess your suitability for a specific role by scanning your resume for relevant keywords and key phrases.

Some Applicant Tracking Systems are more advanced than others and employ Natural Language Processing (NLP) instead of simple keyword scans to understand your background.

Don’t Overuse Resume Templates.

At no stage should your resume contain blocks of text from an existing resume template that you’ve downloaded from the internet.

A resume template should only be used to ensure that your resume’s layout looks professional, modern and clean. The text needs to be unique and targeted, not recycled from a resume template.

Click here to download our complimentary, Word-friendly resume templates for you to download and use, designed for the Australian job market.

It’s Not A Crutch.

Remember that your resume is just one piece of the job search puzzle. Don’t forget to:

  • have a matching cover letter
  • ensure that your LinkedIn profile is on point
  • be well prepared for job interviews

Speaking Of Cover Letters…

Do you need a cover letter? The internet is full of conflicting tips on this topic, but I always recommend including one.

It’s true that some hiring managers throw cover letters away without ever reading them, but it’s also true that others view them as essential.

You need to submit a job application that gives you the highest probability of success. Including a cover letter when it’s not needed won’t disqualify you from a job, but not including one when it is certainly will.

Hence my tip is always to include one.

What should your cover letter contain? Think of it as a condensed, more punchy version of your resume. It needs to:

  • Introduce you (and leave an impression) – Say hello and explain why you’re interested in a specific role. Showcasing culture fit and knowledge of the target company is critical here.
  • Summarise Your Value – Highlight your top 3-5 most suitable and impressive achievements. Ensure that they’re relevant to the role you’re applying for.
  • Say Thanks – Wrap up and express your gratitude.

Present Your Education Well.

By presenting your educational background properly, you can set your resume up for success.

The placement, size, and content of your education details will depend on your seniority.

  • Program Name (e.g., “Master of Business Management”)
  • University Name (e.g., “University of New South Wales”)
  • Years Attended. (e.g., “2010-2013”)

There’s no need to include minor details like your GPA and subjects. If the hiring manager is interested in these, they’ll ask about them in your interview.

Include “References Available Upon Request”.

There’s no need to add references to your resume, but you should mention that they’re just an email away.

Prep your chosen referees.

Give them a call well in advance and make sure they’re willing to discuss your skills and abilities with a potential employer.

Be Careful With Hobbies And Interests.

Your level of seniority will determine the need for including hobbies and interests on your resume.

  • Graduates and entry-level folks should include them
  • Management and executive types should exclude them

Need More Resume Writing Tips?

You can create a professional resume that delivers a powerful, undiluted message to hiring managers and recruiters by following the resume writing tips above.

For more advanced resume tips, consider checking out my advanced resume writing guides:

All the best in your job search!

– Irene

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