Writing A Winning Resume

The subject of good resume writing has never become obsolete, and in today's tough job market, it is smart to get the process down to an exact science.

Computers and the Internet have made it a lot easier for the erstwhile job-seeker to craft and distribute a resume.

However, easier doesn't always mean better. In fact, resumes have gotten longer - in some cases, three pages and beyond.

Do PR people have more responsibilities? Or, are word processing programs making it easier, faster and cheaper to write and distribute lengthy resumes? Or, are long-resume writers likely to be long-winded in person?

Good press releases

Follow the basic principles of journalism - who, what, when, where and why. That means, short, substantive sentences that actually convey facts.

The two-page rule still applies.

"Chronological" resumes (titles, company names, job descriptions listed in date order) are the preferred format for most job-seekers and hiring managers. However, people with many years of experience sometimes opt for the more abbreviated "functional" version. In today's knowledge era, we have found the functional resume to be somewhat outdated. Give headhunters and our clients all the relevant details regarding your professional career. Be totally transparent on your resume. Lest you forget, PR managers are writers too - it's hard to obscure the facts on your resume and think that they don't notice.

Arial and Times Roman are the recommended fonts. Exotic fonts are distracting and hard to read. Be font consistent throughout.

Keep bolding, italicizing and underscoring to a minimum. They are generally reserved for sub-headings which include company names, titles and dates. Use underscores for references to publication titles, quotations and such.

Use one-inch margins top and bottom, and at least half-inch margins left and right. It's better to have more white space than too many words.

Job and/or career objectives are okay when career direction is not obvious from reading the resume. Career summaries and highlights are also OK.

Avoid the "cutesy" approach. No gifts (like a chunk of Brie with a note inscribed to "The Big Cheese"), stunts (balloon/flower deliveries), teasers (telegrams delivered, saying on it: "I have a great idea for a campaign. Hire me today and I'll tell you what it is").

Resumes on tapes, CDs, disks and high-content rag pages are a nice touch, but expensive to produce and distribute. Keep it simple.

Word processing template resumes are certainly acceptable and useful at keeping the writer within basic format guidelines.


Keep to one page.

Don't start your letter by saying "If you are looking for a person with, etc. etc. "Well, look no further." Chances are our clients will definitely look further.

As your high school typing teacher warned you - don't sound too chummy when writing a business letter. Maintain professionalism at all times.

And remember, just about all correspondence software has a spell-checker and, in some cases, a grammar-checker. Use them.

If you're sending your letter and resume via fax or the U.S. mail, be sure to sign it. It's a nice personal touch in an otherwise impersonal, digital world. When sending an e-mail letter, close the letter with your name typed out.

Thank-you notes

Nothing in the computerized world can replace a handwritten thank-you note. It's polite, it's personalized, it's professional. Given the overabundance of e-mails that everyone, least of all employers receive, an e-mailed thank-you note can get lost, deleted or overlooked. By sending yours the old-fashioned way, you'll be remembered for your good manners in addition to all you'll bring to their table, should you be hired.

Job-seekers don't need to spend a fortune; a box of simple letterhead and envelopes from the local stationery store will do just fine. Keep your envelopes stamped in advance - this way it's harder to procrastinate about not having gone to the post office! Unless an interview was a complete disaster or you're definitely not interested in the job, taking this extra measure can help a great deal.


In the sender's info area of your e-mail message, your name and the word "resume" in the subject is sufficient.

If possible, send both your letter and resume in the body of the email and also send them as an attachment.

Avoid email "priority" indicators. They are an alarmist tactic and should only be used in an emergency or when conveying classified information.

The beginning of a job search is a good time to change that "really cool" e-mail address to a more professional-sounding identifier. We've received materials from people with e-mail addresses with the words dudes, studs, vixens, gals, buddies, chicks, love machines and the like.

Unless you're auditioning for the next Bond movie or ghost-writing the next Jackie Collins book, leave the personal stuff on a second, personal e-mail address.

For obvious reasons, home or private e-mail addresses are always preferable to that of your employer.

Requesting a "return receipt" is OK; still, follow up within a decent interval.

When in doubt, use a PC platform. Macs are fine, but can display some quirks when being read by a PC.

After putting the finishing touches on your letter and resume, send it to a friend to make sure it can be read and doesn't have any viruses. Have a trusted associate double-proofread it to ensure it reads smoothly.

Lastly, computer address books are very handy. But it is easy to click on the wrong name and send your resume to THAT person - thus risking some serious embarrassment, or worse.

There you have it. When it comes to letter and resume writing, remember the old adage, "The more things change..."