Best Resume Guidelines to Follow

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Learning about some basic resume guidelines can ensure that you create a quality document that properly showcases your qualifications. It is important to create a resume that reflects the experience and skills you have gained. Follow these guidelines to write a resume that hiring managers will notice.

What are resume guidelines?

Resume guidelines are rules to follow when creating a professional resume. They inform you of what to include on your resume and what you can leave out. Resume guidelines provide you with a structure to format your resume and outline what to do in terms of layout and design.

Why are resume guidelines important?

Resume guidelines provide you with general rules that ensure you have a quality resume to present to hiring managers. Your resume is used to determine if you meet the qualifications of the job you’re applying for, so it’s important to submit an accurate representation of your abilities. They also ensure the resume you’re submitting is professional, organized, and presentable overall.

Top resume guidelines

Here are some common resume guidelines to consider.


Your resume should be one page to ensure recruiters get the best representation of your relevant qualifications. If you’re applying for a senior role, you can consider two pages. Simplify your resume by only including only your most relevant qualifications rather than your entire work history.


Review the tenses you use in your resume. If you’re detailing your prior job responsibilities, use the past tense. If it’s a job you currently have, use the present tense.

Font and size

Your resume needs to be legible for hiring managers to read and understand your qualifications. Select fonts that are easy to read, such as Times New Roman or Arial, and use 10-point to 12-point sizing. Your name, contact information, and section headings can be a larger font to make it easier to read.


Regardless of the order of your resume sections, you need a uniform and consistent layout. Each section should have the same format and style. If you make your Experience heading bold, make sure the rest of your headings are also bold.

File type

Hiring managers typically want your resume submitted as a PDF rather than a Word document. A PDF ensures they have the same file type as you, which avoids any font, styling, or color changes when it reaches their inbox. Refer to the job posting in case hiring managers specify a file type.

File name

The file name should reflect your name and the document description. Rather than having a file name with random numbers and letters, save it as your name, such as Melanie_Jordan_Resume.pdf. Hiring managers look through hundreds of resumes each day, so using a logical file name can help them find yours more easily.


Include the location of your previous jobs along with the months and years you worked there. This gives employers an idea of how much experience you have in different roles. Also, provide context regarding your specific achievements in a role. If applicable, include numbers and percentages that help quantify your success.


Avoid adding references since recruiters usually ask for them later in the hiring process. Use that space to detail more of your accomplishments and responsibilities. There is no need to add the statement References available upon request at the bottom of your resume.


If you’re applying for a creative role, such as those in art or design, display your artistic abilities on your resume. Consider adding an image or design that reflects your style. You should also include a link to your portfolio or website so hiring managers can review your work.

If you’re applying for a corporate position or for a job in finance, business, or a similar field, use a traditional black and white resume. It’s acceptable to make your header gray, navy blue, or dark green if you want your resume to be more visually appealing.


Make sure every previous job and skill you list is relevant to the position. Not only does it trim down your resume, but it also helps hiring managers to get an accurate depiction of your current abilities.


One way to let hiring managers know you meet the qualifications is to use specific keywords mentioned in the job posting. As you list your skills or previous job responsibilities, use these same keywords in the job description.


Your resume needs to have an experience section that lists your job titles, company names, employment dates, and a list of responsibilities. This section is typically the largest part of any resume. Make sure the experience you include is relevant to the job you’re applying for.

Education, certification, and licenses

Include any of your educational degrees, such as a high school diploma or a bachelor’s degree. If you have a bachelor’s degree or higher, exclude your high school information. If you have relevant certifications or licenses, list those too. For example, if you’re applying to a nursing position, list your nursing license number and the year you obtained it.


Highlight the relevant skills you have for the job. Include your skills and abilities throughout your job responsibilities, resume summary, and in their own separate skills section.

Miscellaneous items

Depending on your experience, include additional sections to your resume as needed. This can include a section for your volunteer work, awards, or the languages you speak.

Pronoun usage

Avoid using first-person pronouns such as I or me. Be direct with the language to save valuable space on your resume. For example, instead of I created an availability sheet for my team members to use, try, Created availability sheet for team members, reducing miscommunication.


Your resume should have a structured and organized format. Create clearly defined sections so hiring managers can scan them and find the information they need quickly.

Contact information

Include your contact information at the top of your resume. You should add your full name, city, state, phone number, and email address. If you have a professional networking profile or website, include the link.


Use short statements that represent your qualifications without added information. This helps you condense your resume to one page and make it easier to understand.


Before submitting your resume, proofread it for grammar and spelling errors. Make sure all dates, company names, job titles, and tenses are correct.

Resume guideline tips

Here are some helpful resume tips:

  • Customize for every role you apply for. If you’re submitting your resume to a few companies, look at their specific job qualifications. Even if you’re applying for two roles with the same title, companies may have a different set of responsibilities or qualifications. Adjust your resume accordingly.
  • Review your resume periodically. If it’s been a while since you’ve edited your resume, review it to ensure it accurately represents where you are in your career.
  • Proofread more than once. After you’ve re-read your resume, come back to it later and read it again. Consider having a trusted friend, family member, or career counselor review it for clarity and typos.

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