Résumés can be tricky documents to get right. Follow these guidelines, and you’ll be well on your way to a winning resume.

  • Proofread, proofread, proofread! Nothing looks worse on a résumé for a tech writing position than a grammatical mistake or a typo. Look over it forwards and backwards. Have a friend proofread it. Have a professor proofread it. And then proofread it five more times.
  • Tailor it. Pay close attention to your audience. If you’re applying for a high-tech position, highlight your experiences with technology. What classes have you taken that would better qualify you for the position? Do you really need to include that babysitting job from six years ago? Tell them what’s going to matter to them.
  • Never underestimate yourself. Know another language? Add it to your résumé. Familiar with a programming language? HTML? Random software applications? Add them, too. Just make sure to clearly indicate your level of expertise with the skills you add to your résumé. And be ready to talk about anything you include on your résumé.
  • Be concise. Concision is arguably a technical writer’s most important skill. What better way to display your concision skills than to actually be concise? Remember that a résumé is a quick overview of your experience and skills. Save the details for the cover letter. Remove words that aren’t absolutely necessary; just don’t overdo it. A recruiter should still be able to get a clear sense of your experience and abilities from your résumé.
  • Show. Don’t tell. Try to be as specific as possible without sacrificing concision. Don’t just say you work well in teams; show that you work well in teams using a specific example.
  • Make it pretty. Neat formatting goes a long way in making a good impression on a recruiter. The more scannable and easier your résumé is to read, the better you look. The example below illustrates how a simple list format can improve the readability of a resume.
    Top: Original; Bottom: Organized using a List

    The top example shows the original. The bottom example shows reorganization using a list.