How to Write a Standout Resume

NOVEMBER 03, 2014

According to research from TheLadders, job recruiters spend an average of 6 seconds reviewing a résumé before deciding whether a candidate is a good fit. Whether you're applying to a job, school, or organization, the following tips can help your résumé make a great impression and standout from the competition.


Length: One of the most common questions people ask about their résumé is how long it should be. Although expectations may vary based upon the position and applicant, most employers agree on 1 to 2 pages as a general rule of thumb. According to a 2013 Career Builder survey of more than 2000 hiring managers, 66% of employers said a résumé for new college graduates should be 1 page long, while 77% of employers said a résumé for seasoned workers should be at least 2 pages.


Format: A cluttered or poorly formatted résumé can be passed aside in the initial seconds it is being reviewed. When writing a résumé, it is important to use a font that is easy to read and does not distract the reader. There are numerous online templates to guide you in the right direction. Additionally, most employers prefer résumés written in reverse chronological order, meaning your current or most recent work or educational experience is listed first. 


Content: Since employers are often looking at hundreds of résumés for a small number of positions, it’s important to be thorough yet concise. Bullet points should showcase your communications skills, areas of expertise, and work experience. Additionally, your résumé should be customized for each position you are applying for, and you should avoid a bland and generic résumé. Career Builder’s research discovered that 36% of employers identified résumés that are generic and unpersonalized for the position as a common mistake that may lead to automatically dismissing a candidate. Content to avoid in a résumé includes photos, clipart, high school information, salary information, and references, unless otherwise specified.


Honesty: Although it is important sell yourself in a résumé, exaggerating or explicitly lying can have the opposite effect. According to another Career Builder study, 58% of hiring managers stated they have caught a lie on a résumé. Half of the employers (51%) said they would automatically dismiss a candidate if they caught a lie on a résumé, while 40% said it would depend on what the candidate lied about.


Grammar: Job descriptions for current employment should be written in the present tense, while previous employment should be written in the past tense. Avoid using personal pronouns (“I” and “me”) and abbreviations. Finally, avoid overwriting and using difficult words. Instead, write your résumé in your own voice.


Proofread: Typos and grammatical errors are one of the biggest yet easiest errors to fix in a résumé. A résumé that contains these errors can give the reader the impression that you are not careful or serious about the position. According to Career Builder’s data, 58% of employers identified résumés with typos to be the most common reason for automatically dismissing a candidate. Asking friends, family, or colleagues to proofread your résumé can help eliminate these easy-to-fix errors.


Utilize resources: Most colleges have a career resource or writing center that will assist students with their résumé. Additionally, students or pharmacists that are national members of the American College of Clinical Pharmacy can have their résumé reviewed year-round for free. There are also a number of great online résumé building resources, including Purdue OWL and GCF Learn Free.

Timothy O'Shea, PharmD
Timothy O'Shea, PharmD
Timothy O'Shea, PharmD, is a Clinical Pharmacist working at a large health insurance plan on the east coast. Additionally he works per diem at a retail pharmacy chain. He graduated from MCPHS University - Boston in 2015 and subsequently completed a PGY-1 Managed Care Pharmacy Residency. His professional interests include pharmacy legislation and managed care pharmacy. He can be followed on Twitter at @toshea125.
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