Your resume is your introduction, your calling card, not a manuscript detailing your life's history. Ideally, it should be a single page -- concise, informative and easy to read.
DO: Start with your name and contact information. Always include a phone number and an e-mail address. Keep it professional. "Annie's_Granny" and "VodkaKing" don't exactly sound professional. If you don't have one for your job search, create a free Gmail account using your name.
DON'T: Don't include personal information. There should be no mention of your marital status or family situation. Leave off your love of cats, unless you're applying for an animal-related position.
DO: Instead of an objective, use a summary statement just below your contact information. So many job seekers mistakenly skip this step. This three- to four-sentence section sums up for the reader who you are, the skills and abilities you bring to the table and the type of employment you seek. Tweak this to fit each job you're applying for.
DON'T: Don't use the word "responsible." Saying that you were "responsible" for bringing in new business only says that you were told to do it -- not that you were successful at it. Instead, try to quantify or qualify your role. "Tripled billings in a year" or "doubled the customer base" may be options. Your resume is about accomplishments -- not just what you did, but how well you did it. That's what will differentiate you from other people with similar experience.
DO: Send a focused resume. Not all jobs are created alike, so the resumes you submit shouldn't be either. If you're applying for a job in fashion retail, your summary statement should include your interest in fashion. If you're applying for a job at an electronics store, your summary should be amended to include your knowledge of cutting-edge technology. Small adjustments like these will change the way a recruiter reads your resume.
DON'T: Don't include every job you've ever had. Go back 10 to 15 years if you're an experienced professional. The older the job, the less information you need to include.
Keywords and Special Skills on Your Resume
DO: Key words count -- big-time. Print the job description you're interested in, then highlight the key words and phrases. If you're qualified, make sure some of the same key words and phrases appear on your resume. Many employers use sophisticated programs to sort through online resume submissions. They're looking for the resume key words that match their job description. The more key word matches they see, the greater your chances of getting noticed.
DON'T: Don't ignore special skills, associations you belong to, awards and languages you speak fluently. Be honest about your level of proficiency. Don't say you're bilingual if you only know a sentence here and there of a second language.