Resume Tips: Content

This is the third part of a series of short articles designed to assist you with creating or polishing your resume.


While using proper formatting is very important, your resume won’t get you anywhere if there are problems with its contents.

Here are some tips based on the mistakes we see most frequently:

  • Do not use position-specific abbreviations and jargon: You may have submitted over 150 ZBD’s to the Grand Poobah every day, but we don’t know what the heck any of that means. Think of ways to describe your duties so that anyone can understand what they are.
  • Do not list your reasons for leaving positions: This is information you can provide during your interview. Placing it on your resume could actually work against you and prevent you from getting that interview in the first place.
  • Do not list unnecessary personal information: Such as your social security number, height, age, weight, religious beliefs, etc. Do not put photos of yourself on your resume.
  • Avoid “impressive” language: Using excessively flowery wording garbles your meaning and sounds stilted and off-putting rather than intelligent and professional. Saying you “interfaced with customers” makes you sound like you’re a robot. Saying you “assisted customers” is actually much more accurate and clear, even if it’s not as fancy.

    Stay away from the thesaurus. Think about the kind of language you hear in commercials and ads—it’s always simple and direct. And what is your resume if not a commercial about you?

  • Be honest: Do not falsify your resume. While it’s important that you make yourself sound like a great candidate, putting a positive spin on information and outright fabricating it are two entirely different things.

    Employers really do check things like job titles and responsibilities, degree information, and dates and places of employment. Lying will come back to haunt you.

  • Keep it serious: Don’t try to be funny. Present the information on your resume in a serious and straightforward fashion. It can be very difficult to interpret tone in text. The joke that you think sounds playful or charming may come off as flippant. Trust that your personality will shine through once your great resume has snagged you an interview.
  • Stick to the important stuff: Even though it’s commonly done, it really isn’t necessary to include information about your hobbies, information about references, or even the words “references available on request.” Employers assume it’s a given that you have reference info that you can provide, and that you will give it to them at your interview.

    Generally, employers don’t read the information you place in the hobbies and interests section of a resume, so why not save yourself a little time and leave it out? If you feel that you have a hobby that specifically relates to the position you’re applying for, your cover letter is a great place to mention that.

  • Don’t go overboard: If you’ve got a couple great reference letters, it’s okay to include them with your resume submission (although you can also choose to provide them at your interview instead). Don’t overdo it, though! Keep your resume submissions to a few pages. Don’t include things like certificates, old performance reviews, diplomas, etc. Try not to include more than two reference letters. Aim for short and sweet.

Other Resources

If you require assistance creating your resume, there are people who offer professional resume building services. Typically, they will charge you a fee to consult with you, examine your skills and work history, and construct an appropriate resume. You should be able to find local resume building services using a phone book or search engine.

For free assistance, Worksource offers resume tips on their website. Additionally, representatives at your local Worksource office should be able to direct you to similar resources.

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