Man with laptop and notepad

We review hundreds of resumes daily and are constantly asked by job seekers what improvements need to be made to rescue them from the rejection pile.

So for today’s Ask A Recruiter we’ve collected our top tips to rescue your resume from some of the most common pitfalls.


  • Resume needs to “SELL” not “TELL”.
  • If you include an objective, put it at the top and always tailor it to the current job you are applying for. It should be pointed toward conveying why you are the perfect candidate for one specific job.


  • If education is relevant to the job you are applying for don’t bury it at the bottom of the resume – e.g. an accounting designation.

Professional History

  • Use the heading “Professional History” NOT “Employment” or “Work History” – both sound lower level.
  • Use power words – For every skill, accomplishment, or job described, use the most active impressive verb you can think of (which is also accurate).
  • Begin the sentence with this verb, except when you must vary the sentence structure to avoid repetitious writing.
  • List in reverse chronological order. Don’t list jobs from more than 10 years ago – focus on most recent and relevant experience.
  • Decide which is most impressive – your job titles or the name of the organizations you worked for – Boldface the most important.

Accomplishments (Very Important!)

  • Put your Hiring Hat on! You need to show accomplishments to demonstrate why you should be hired.
  • Your accomplishments can be added in paragraph or bullet form under each of your most recent jobs
  • Write your achievements for the last 2/3 positions you have held.

Format & Sending

  • Resumes are scanned not read. You need to grasp an employer’s attention in 10 seconds.
  • Keep your resume short, 2 pages maximum.
  • Use bullet points.
  • Have several people review your resume for any spelling or grammatical errors. NO ERRORS!
  • Use same font throughout.
  • No pictures or graphics.
  • Email your resume and rename the file to an appropriate name. E.g. Mary Smith Resume
  • Triple check your contact details are correct.
  • Apply using a professional email.
  • Accompany your resume with an attention-grabbing cover letter.

Other Things to Avoid

  • Personal interests are usually irrelevant to the job goal and purpose of the resume, and they may be meaningless or an interview turn-off (“TV and Reading,” “Fundraising for the Hell’s Angels”).
  • “References available upon request” is not necessary – it is normally assumed.
  • Do not include actual names of references. You can bring a separate sheet of references to the interview, to be given to the employer upon request.
  • Read up on more things to avoid in our post about resume pet peeves.