If you’re on the job search, you’re likely pretty familiar with the job application process and its many challenges. Namely, resume writing, one of the more tricky aspects of applying for jobs. Some companies want you to present a portfolio, accompanied by a resume personalized to the specific job. Others simply want job seekers to “apply-in-one-click” with your LinkedIn profile. (It can be tempting to turn on auto-pilot and simply click away!) 

Is there really a one-size-fits-all resume? Maybe not, but you can write a resume that’s easy to tailor for each role you choose to apply for, encapsulates all of your work experience, and impresses hiring managers. Here are some tips from the Rhino team on how to write a resume. 

Five tips on formatting and writing a resume 

Take time with design

Does your resume live on Microsoft Word? We suggest rethinking simply listing your accomplishments in black and white and polishing up your resume format. To create a truly professional resume, it’s best to get inventive with graphic design. When a potential employer looks at your resume, it will be their first impression of you and a visually appealing resume can keep their attention longer. Consider these top-tier design tips:

  1. Situate your name and contact information such as your phone number and address at the top of your resume. Then section out additional information with headers in chronological order: Education Section, Experience Section or Work History, Relevant Skills, Awards and Certifications, etc. 

  2. Design (or hire someone to design) a personal logo. A standout personal logo uses colors you love, and makes your name into a memorable visual element that is sure to stick with a potential employer. 

  3. You don’t have to be a designer to get it done. Use a template from Canva or Venngage. As someone who applied to Rhino (and got the job) I can vouch for both of these awesome and easy-to-use platforms! 

  4. Colorful resumes create a lasting impression. Some of the best colors that create a sense of calm and tranquility are blue or green. Or you can select colors based on the company you’re applying for. (Rhino’s colors are royal purple, white, and black. Just a hint.)

Proofread your resume 

Spell check can’t be trusted. Typos and grammatical errors can distract hiring managers from your relevant experience. Remember to reread your resume after writing your resume and double-check it before sending it to a potential employer. It can save you some embarrassment and increase your chances of getting hired. 

A person in a white sweater proofreading their resume at the kitchen table.

Pro Tip: When writing your experience section, use action verbs to sound more credible and authoritative. Action verbs also help you think about which words you’re using more carefully to describe what you’ve done in the past. List your major accomplishments, projects, and impressive data in a bullet point list. 

Here’s an example:

  • Led a team of twelve in a four-week audit of internal recruiting processes to improve the speed of hiring with careful consideration of DEI initiatives 

Customize your resume to match the job description

We know it can be time-consuming to change your resume every time you apply for a job, but tailoring your resume to match the job description helps you impress recruiters and hiring managers. It also can help you get by with an AI-powered resume scanner. That’s right, before your resume is received by a human, it sometimes has to be approved by AI, which determines if you’re the right fit for a position based on machine learning. This type of applicant tracking system is becoming more and more common. 

When applying for a new job, see if the relevant experience, description section, and skills section listed on your resume match the job description closely. Your relevant experience should demonstrate familiarity and experience with the role’s responsibilities and expectations. 

Get detailed about projects with data to back you up

A sure-fire way of making your resume match the job posting is to be specific with your experience. Hiring managers are used to seeing impressive company names, job titles, and role responsibilities that feel copy-pasted. They’re more interested in your accomplishments, and what you’ve done to help your former employers prior to applying for a new job. 

Here’s how to write about your completed projects in your resume:

  • Include the names of big projects you worked on in your experience section, and be detailed about what you’re proud of.

  • Provide information about the project’s underlying strategy, goal, KPIs, and any other relevant details on the creation and execution of the project. 

  • Focus your leadership skills and get specific about how you contributed to the success of your team.

  • Use relevant data when detailing the outcome of the project to qualify its success 

Use the Harvard Resume Resource to get started

Before you hire a professional resume writer, consider consulting the Harvard Resume Resource, completed with a guide on how to write an effective cover letter. The Harvard Resume Resource takes you step by step, section by section through resume writing, making it easier to write a chronological resume. It’s especially useful for the recent graduate. Follow this resource closely and you’ll avoid making some of the most common mistakes when writing a resume. 

Five common mistakes when writing a resume

Picking the wrong font

To put it simply, bad font can make or break a resume, and while we might have just singled out Times New Roman, it’s for good reason. Resume designers avoid it as it seems cliche, and say it should be retired when you graduate college. A great resume is easy on the eyes with a simplistic and stylish sans-serif font like Helvetica, Arial, or DM Sans. 

Keep in mind your font choice can also be used to match your resume to the job description. Before you come for Comic Sans, it’s considered one of the best fonts for people with dyslexia, which might be something to consider if you plan on teaching or working with people with dyslexia or other learning disabilities. 

Writing a CV, instead of a resume 

A CV is well known in academia as a full history of academic credentials, meaning a CV can be as many pages as it needs to list all of your qualifications. A resume on the other hand is for all professionals, and it’s best to keep it to a page. If you really need to go front and back with it, we get it. Don’t sacrifice clarity by choosing a miniscule font size. However, try to keep your professional experience to one-two pages max. The one-page resume forces you to effectively communicate yourself and demonstrates your critical thinking skills to the reader.

Pro Tip: Keep it brief with a resume template. A good resume template will have resume sections already carved out and can help you use the most of your page space. 

Adding a headshot 

While you might think flashing your pearly whites is a plus, headshots don’t matter as much as you think they do, and they consume precious page space that you could use for a different section of your resume. Leave it off the one-pager and instead include a link to your LinkedIn profile instead. That way you can still give your potential employer some face time. 

A picture of a person handing another person their resume including a headshot
Not including all of your contact information 

The more ways the hiring manager or recruiter can contact you, the better. Be sure to include the following contact information in order to move up the hiring ladder:

  • First and last name (It doesn’t need to be your given name!)

  • Email

  • Phone number

  • Personal website to showcase your work

  • LinkedIn profile

  • City, State 

Remember, your contact information should be the first thing the resume reader should see. 

Adding irrelevant social media handles 

It’s pretty much the standard to link to your LinkedIn profile from your resume. We always recommend it as it is a solid contact method for future employers. 

If you’re including links to your Instagram or other social media sites, ask yourself, are they helping you or hindering you? 

If you’re running a side hustle via IG or sharing professional thought leadership on Twitter, then including a link to your Instagram profile and Twitter profile could be useful, especially if you work in social media marketing. Your follower count and engagement may matter! If your social media demonstrates your professional capabilities, then absolutely include it.

Otherwise, it’s safe to leave social links off of your resume, as they can be distracting from your professional experience. Find another way to express yourself, perhaps in your cover letter, or an objective statement introducing yourself on your resume. 

There you have it, everything you need to write a great resume and apply to Rhino, or any other job for that matter! At Rhino, we value the individual personalities on our team, and how each person hired adds a distinct value to our company. And every one of our team members started with an impressive resume and job application. Peruse our job listings to find your next career at Rhino.

a headshot image featuring kt heins-nagamoto
KT Heins-Nagamoto

KT Heins-Nagamoto is a senior brand writer at Rhino. They advocate for security deposit alternatives and renter rights in everything they write.