How to Polish Your Resume

Like it or not, you are bound to need a resume at some point in the future. Whether you are applying for a clerkship, your first job, or a position on a committee, that one piece of paper can be key.

You may be the most interesting person in the world, but if your resume is not properly assembled, nobody will know. Try a few of these tips to polish your resume.

Put contact info up top

Make sure your contact info is obvious and easy to find. Up top is a great place.  You might be surprised how many people forget to list their address, e-mail, or phone number.

Watch your length

For law students, I keep hearing that rule is one page. That should not be difficult, no matter how awesome you are.

For previous jobs, 2-3 lines should be plenty. If the job is interesting or you want to highlight something, use 3 lines. If you worked at Starbucks (I was barista), you might want to eliminate it, or limit it to 1-2 lines. In other words, emphasize the interesting and use less space for self-explanatory items.

Format, format, format

I give my resume a solid “middle of the pack” for format. It does not look like slop, but it could be more dynamic and interesting. At a minimum, your resume needs to be polished and professionalism looking.

If jobs and titles do not line up, figure out how to align your tab stops. Typos are not an option. E-mail your resume to someone else and have them proof it.

Choose a font other than Times New Roman. I would avoid Wing Dings and Symbol, but other than those two, using something different can help your resume stand out. That said, try not to get too crazy.

Lastly, make sure you look at a PDF of your resume before sending it anywhere. Some documents do not convert well. For example, your one-page resume might turn into two pages. Tab stops may get screwy.

There is nothing worse than emailing a PDF and then later discovering your resume looked like crap (I know a former Barista who did that).



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  • Great advice! It’s also applicable to online resumes and LinkedIn profiles.

    Another item to consider would be margins. When printing from a PDF, if the margins are too narrow, it will either shrink your entire resume to fit within the print area or it will leave out any text outside the print margins.

  • David Wiles

    Most employers are looking for a resume in PDF format, so it can be emailed, and easily printed. You can get a PDF Resume at that will be stored for life, and you can make as many modifications as needed. This is really a great tool for anyone looking to write a resume.

    • You can also simply save a document as a PDF, or print it to PDF format.