Your resume may only be a single page, but it’s a potential minefield when it comes to your career. Here are the dos and don'ts for resume writing.

Your resume may only be a single page, but it’s a potential minefield when it comes to your career. On one hand, you want enough information so the employer sees what a stellar candidate you are. On the other, you don’t want to step into any pitfalls that will give the hiring manager reason to exclude you.

Here are the dos and don’ts for writing each section of your resume:


DO tell an employer about your skills and experience that are relevant to the position. Customize your resume for each position you’d like to pursue. A cookie-cutter approach to looking for work is less likely to be successful.

DON’T list every short-term job you’ve held. If you’ve worked at a number of temporary positions, it may look as though you have trouble holding a job. The exception is writing about a temporary job or internship that’s relevant to the position you’re applying for.

Contact information

DO include your home phone number and main email address. Depending on how much privacy you have to take calls and pick up messages from a prospective employer at work, you may also want to include your cell number.

DON’T list your business phone number or email account on your resume. Your current employer may be monitoring your phone calls and email correspondence. Unless you want to be put in an awkward position or fired, you should keep all the details of your job search private.

If your cell phone was issued by your employer, you should consider it company property and make job search-related calls from your home or a personal device.

Social media

DO include a link to your LinkedIn profile if it will present you in professional manner. Go over it carefully before you share this information with a prospective employer. You’ll want to make sure that anything you’re writing will complement your resume.

DON’T share your personal Facebook or other social network links if they may contain anything you wouldn’t feel comfortable seeing on a billboard in the middle of your city. Something you or a friend posted as a private joke may not seem very amusing to a hiring manager and could cost you a job offer. Err on the side of keeping your private life private.

Employment gaps

DO deal with any lengthy gaps in your employment history directly. If you took a year off from work to travel, for example, include that so that the employer can fill in this blank easily.

DON’T leave a blank space on the resume without an explanation. The employer may wonder if you have something to hide.

Related skills

DO tell a potential employer if you have international experience, especially if you’re applying to a company with offices in other countries. If you’ve completed a study abroad semester as part of your university program, make sure this information is clearly highlighted.

DON’T tell an employer something the company doesn’t need to know. This includes information about your country of origin, culture, race or nationality. You also don’t need to reveal your citizenship status.


DO include volunteer experience on your resume. A recruiter may not necessarily consider a candidate with paid experience more desirable than a person who gave his or her time for free. As long as your volunteer experience fits with the job you’re trying to land, include it in your resume.

DON’T list volunteer time if it would be a stretch to see how it would fit with the position. If you aren’t sure you should add it to your resume, ask a trusted friend, an instructor or a career counselor for guidance. If they can’t immediately see the connection, an employer won’t be able to grasp it, either.

Follow these dos and don’ts to write a well-polished resume that shines. You’ll find it easier to get invited for an interview, which is your chance to demonstrate how you can benefit the company. That will be your opportunity to sell yourself to the employer.

Leslie Anglesey is an educator at University of Southern California and an editor for writing services. If you have any questions, connect with her at Google+ or drop a line at les.anglesey (at) gmail (dot) com.


  1. Interview Success

    Great points! You should also include numbers or tangible information that clearly show results. This is how an employer can see where your strengths lie, as well as what you can do for them in the future.

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    […] Your resume may only be a single page, but it’s a potential minefield when it comes to your career. Here are the dos and don'ts for resume writing.  […]

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  7. Cynthia Funkhouser

    Great tips! Personally, if the resume has room, my opinion is that a brief mention of nonrelated volunteer experience can help establish the applicant as a person of solid values.

    • mrohde

      It may also alienate the employer. For example if your volunteer work is for a Pro-Life/Pro-Choice organization and the hiring manager is the opposite it may put you in a negative light. There are strong views on the topic and may be something you want to avoid unless it is strongly related to the job.
      Volunteer positions are a tricky subject because it does volunteer something about your personal life and you really need to understand how important that will be with your employer.

      • Cynthia Funkhouser

        Definitely leave off anything political, but many companies encourage involvement in volunteering and philanthropy. Personally, I wouldn’t want to work for anyone who was opposed to any form of altruism. If that is political, so be it. 🙂


    Resumes are about quality, not quantity. You may think that it’s safer to err on the side of including more, but if you load your resume with unnecessary fluff, it could guarantee your place in the reject pile.

  9. I know what I'm talking about

    You mentioned leaving citizenship status off – I *absolutely* disagree. If you have “a foreign-sounding name”, put “I have the right to work in the United States” on th your resume at the bottom ( if you’re a green card holder, have a visa already, or are a citizen)

  10. dank

    This should go without saying…but DON’T lie on your resume either. I have a co”worker” (I use that term loosely cause she doesn’t actually work) who’s looking for other work and she put done way more responsibilities on her description in her current role than she actually does. She told me that it “get her more replies.” I told her it would get her fired when they ask her to do one of those things listed and she’s unable.

    Kinda hoping that both happen.

  11. Mike Peduto

    Leave off Real Estate Agent… or even Real Estate License… Often alarms potential employers to someone who might be working in Real Estate (Face-to-face or via Telephone) from the job

  12. Jacki Whitford

    You are incorrect about race and citizenship status. When you apply for a job online every single job I have applied for requests your citizenship status, race, sex, veteran?, disabled? etc. While race and gender should not matter, it does matter if you cannot work on a government contract or get a clearance. If you are a veteran, you move to the top of the consideration list. If you are disabled, they have to make sure you can do the work if it includes bending and lifting. If you don’t believe me, go apply for a job on corporate web sites – especially those that have military or government contracts.

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  14. PJ

    Stating “I am eligible to work in the United States for any employer” is fine, and is not the same as revealing your citizenship status, which you dont have to do, and its illegal for employers to ask since citizenshiip status is a protected class.

  15. ild1227

    Times have changed. There was a time where many things they pick apart today just didn’t matter. No wonder so many truly talented individuals are left in the dust! With a pre-law degree, I have a huge problem with online applications that ask ethnicity, sex, date of birth and social security number. These questions should NEVER be asked. Social Security numbers were not designed and created for identifying an individual either. Point: do you know you do not have to give your social security number when you go to the doctors? They do not have a legal right to ask for it. So, as far as I am concerned, it is illegal to ask for any discriminatory information – either online or when interviewing for a position. They ask for statistical purposes so they can put this information in governmental reports. In the long run, we are still identified as an ethnicity, number, age and sex!

  16. cryssie

    I disagree with leaving the email off. I’m deaf, and email is my best option for people to contact me.

  17. Eliz

    The main thing is not to be confused with avtobiografieey resume, resume should be concise and informative.

  18. John

    You mentioned leaving that is great

  19. sammyyy

    nice article and this will definitely help the new comers to improve their resumes and get a good job.

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  21. Leona

    A good resume is a lucky ticket to your future career. Thanks for the article! I wish everoone good luck in finding a job!

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  24. Judy

    I like that you mentioned Employment gaps. Most people forget to include what they were doing on the years or months not included in the resume making employers suspicious.

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    Resume are very important and must be made effectively so that it can be able to have a good view for those people whom you are going to apply. It’s also one of the most common requirement that you should do.

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    You have need to modify your resume every time when you going to apply on a specific job. Every company needs different skills and all companies are not working with same business module.

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