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Resume Writing Tips: Easy Do's and Don'ts

Award-winning writer Kathy Widenhouse has helped hundreds of nonprofits and writers produce successful content and has gained 600K+ views for her writing tutorials. She is the author of 9 books. See more of Kathy’s content here.

These resume writing tips are simple and easy to follow. 

Resume Writing Tips: easy do's and don'ts with Word Wise at Nonprofit Copywriter #WritingTips #amwriting

And that’s terrific news for most of us!

You don’t have to be a Pulitzer prize-winning writer to put together a well-organized, professional-looking resume.

But you do need to use clear English and you do need to avoid a few pitfalls.

Take a peek at these.

(And please add your own Do’s and Don’ts at the bottom of the page so that other readers can benefit from your experience!)

Create a resume with the Reusable Resume Builder.

Resume Writing Tips: Do This

Formatting your resume

  • Do select the resume format appropriate to your skills and experience.
  • Do print your resume on quality white or ivory paper.
  • Do use a standard font, such as Times New Roman or Arial.
  • Do be prepared to format your resume for electronic submission.

Writing your resume

  • Do state a job target or objective. (Here are tips for writing a resume objective.)
  • Do use active, descriptive verbs when describing your job history. (Verb tips here.)
  • Do quantify your skills and experience with numbers, facts and statistics.
  • Do write concisely – eliminate verbiage.
  • Do proofread your resume.  Clean writing indicates professionalism.
  • Do present a professional appearance in every element of your resume.
  • Do be honest.

Writing your cover letter

  • Do write a quality cover letter to accompany your resume.
  • Do address your cover letter to a specific person (“Dear Dr. Smith.”)

Resume Writing: Don't Do This

Formatting your resume

  • Don’t print your resume on colored or patterned paper.
  • Don’t use unusual fonts or borders.

Writing your resume

  • Don’t include personal information, such as date of birth, family/marriage status, religious/political preference, and hobbies -- unless those details are relevant to the position you’re seeking.
  • Don’t list your previous job titles without explanation of your duties.
  • Don’t list references by name.
  • Don’t mention salary requirements.
  • Don’t be careless with typos and errors – they indicate sloppiness.
  • Don’t stretch the truth.

Writing your cover letter

  • Don’t send a resume without a cover letter. (Cover letter writing tips.)
  • Don’t address your cover letter to a generic title or position (“Dear Personnel Director.”)
  • Don’t include a photograph.

Use a Worksheet to Gather Information

Organize your information with this Resume Worksheet as you build a winning resume.

More Tips for Writing Resumes

Create your resume with this Reusable Resume Builder ...

Basics on writing resumes ...

Reusable resume worksheet to build your resume ...

Parts of a resume: a primer ...

Tips for writing resume objective ...

3 main resume writing formats ...

Quiz: which resume writing format should you use?

Writing a good cover letter: a step-by-step writing guide ...

Cover Letter Writing Tip: get the reader to take one step ...

More resume writing tips on our Pinterest board...

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