Crash Course in Resume Writing “Rules”

Common Resume Elements and How to Present Them Correctly

The first “rule” to keep in mind when writing your resume is that your document must be written entirely in first person (you’re talking about yourself after all) with the pronouns removed. If you’re not sure if what you’ve written is in proper resume speak, test it by adding the “I” in front of the phrase:

Trains staff of 20 and administers budget of $20K.

Test: I trains staff of 20 and administers budget of $20K. INCORRECT

Correct: I train staff of 20 and administer budget of $20K.

Use the guide below once you’ve mastered this general rule to make sure you present your information correctly. Most of these errors won’t be found by a computerized spellcheck, so it’s crucial that you carefully review your resume to ensure your document is free of errors.


Incorrect Correct
Saved over $200K in production costs. Saved more than $200K in production costs. OR Saved $200K+ in production costs.
Elevated profits by $4–$5M and reduced errors by 2–3%. Elevated profits by $4M–$5M and reduced errors by 2%–3%.

Should I use the K, M, and B symbols or write out thousand, million, and billion? Do I have to use “by” before the number? Technically, any of these options are correct – however, make sure you are CONSISTENT. Pick one strategy and use it throughout your document. Don’t go back and forth.


Incorrect Correct
Master’s of Nursing Master of Science in Nursing, Master’s degree
Bachelors of Business Administration Bachelor of Business Administration
Associate’s Degree Associate’s degree
Bachelors’ of Arts Bachelor of Arts

 When in doubt, verify the title of your degree with your college/university.


Incorrect Correct
Highly-knowledgeable professional Highly knowledgeable professional
High quality services High-quality services
Poorly-performing territory Poorly performing territory
Completed on-schedule Completed on schedule ORon-schedule completion

Basic rule of thumb: if the modifier ends in –ly, do not use a hyphen.


Hyphen – Combines two words: multimillion-dollar
En Dash – Replaces the word “to”: $35K–$50K, 2007–2009
Em Dash — Works similar to parenthesis, however can be more dynamic: Recruited nearly 90 new hires—a department record—by conducting on site job fairs.


Incorrect Correct
15 years experience 15 years’ experience
15 years’ of experience 15 years of experience

Remember, years’ = years of, just as don’t = do not.

I hope you find this guide helpful as you work on your resume, and if there are other “rules” you are unsure of, please share them here with a comment or email your questions directly to

And of course:


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