At C-Suite, we come across numerous resumes that we grade A+; they are visually attractive, they are written with detail and expertise (read: functional), and they correctly highlight the most important points of a person’s career.  Bonus points if they’re two pages or less!

The average sword fight lasted between 8-15 seconds, just long enough for an opponent to find a weak spot and strike.  Resumes endure about the same longevity, and more often than not are on the stricken side rather than the striking side.  Resumes must be visually appealing and functional if you want yours to remain on the “yes” pile.

This week, we’re giving you 12 tips to sharpen your resume:


1. Include your contact information in the header of the document, not the body.  Don’t forget to check off “Different First Page” box in Word and include an indicator on the header of the second page.  For example, “Carrie Carey Resume, page 2 of 2.”

2. Visually separate your dates.  The dates of employment, years of publications, graduation dates and awards should all align on the right hand side of the page, separate from the rest of the document, but related to the event you are referring to.

3. Bold your headers: experience, education, publications, awards, skills and anything else that is noteworthy.  These should be bolded so that a hiring manager can skim through the resume and find the category of information they are looking for easily.

4. Italicize your job titles.  Hiring managers want to know where you are and where you’ve been, so italicizing each of your positions is a good visual marker.  List only the last job title you held while at each company.  You can talk about your promotions in the interview.

5. Keep the font consistent throughout your document and make sure it’s a font that is easy to read.  Your best bet is Times New Roman.  If you insist on making font choice a differentiator for your resume, stick with Tahoma, Verdana, or Arial which are fonts that are clear, have an adequate amount of character spacing and aren’t too flashy.

6. Use 10-12pt font.  Your hiring manager should be able to easily read your resume.  At the same time, you want to ensure you are able to deliver all of the necessary information while maintaining a two-page maximum.  Try different combinations of the fonts mentioned above, and sizing, and don’t forget to check for formatting discrepancies once you’ve decided!  Often, text can shift when applying these changes.

7. Use the features in Word that are there to help streamline the formatting process such as the bulleted list and the ruler.  Many resumes have crossed this desk with inserted symbols or dashes to indicate a list, or electronic versions where the candidate has used 50 individual spaces for something they could have formatted more efficiently by sliding any of the indent markers on the toolbar or ruler over.  Your job as an administrative professional is to have a firm grasp of Microsoft Office suite.  Your resume is hard evidence that you are, in fact, proficient in those applications (or at the very least, Word).

8. Use lists to communicate responsibilities you had in that job and craft them in a way that shows your skill set.  For example: Created sales presentations using PowerPoint.  Drafted the company newsletter using Publisher. Developed models utilizing extensive knowledge of JavaScript and C++.

9. Don’t bother listing duties or functions you served in a job you had five jobs ago.  Your resume should consist of specifics relating to the last three or four jobs you had, also known as your relevant experience.  Don’t repeat job functions, rather, show how your responsibilities grew with each position and what you accomplished in each role.  Anything beyond that can be discussed in the interview.

10. Organize your resume in a way that makes sense.  The job experience should be listed first with the most recent job first.  Then any awards or distinguishing honors you have received (as long as they’re not related to your education).  Next, list your education and any honors you received while in school.  Finally, list any skills that you weren’t able to communicate in the sections mentioned above such as typing speed, or software that you are proficient in that you haven’t necessarily utilized in a work capacity such as Dreamweaver or CRM programs.


11. No more summary or mission statements.  Don’t say your references are available upon request.  You know those short paragraphs you use as an introduction to your resume?  Stop writing them.  They’re redundant.  Unless you’re completely changing careers, these don’t add anything of value to a resume.  Same goes for that bit about how you’ll provide references if asked.  Of course you’ll provide references if you’re asked.  Is NOT providing them ever an option?

12. Let your personality shine.  Because professional chemistry is critical to success as part of the administrative team, give the hiring manager something more unique to base decisions on than just your skills.  Do you volunteer your time with an organization?  Are you a regular participant of your city’s Marathon?  Choose your identifier carefully, though.  Pick something that shows the type of person you are and be sure you can relate that hobby or activity to the work.  “My experience as a NYC Marathon runner has taught me the value of discipline and perseverance.”


Bonus: NEVER send a resume in Word format unless the Hiring Manager has specifically requested it that way.  Word documents inherently look messy because they differentiate formatting and point out what the program believes to be spelling or grammatical errors, even if they’re not.  Save your resume as a PDF which I guarantee looks cleaner 100% of the time.


Happy hunting! And as always, we welcome the opportunity to assist you.

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