Resumes are our thing.

At DBI Staffing, our team collectively formats about 30 resumes a day, at least. By format, what I really mean is we merely put the resume on our letterhead and clean up the bullets, but after it’s done–it looks like a new resume all together!

Candidates frequently call and ask what they can do to improve their resume. Since its very difficult to help over the phone, I’ve compiled a few tips that might help even the most disastrous writers discover their hidden-resume-writing talents.

What sounds more intriguing:
A) Responsible for going to the store and completing the purchase of products.
B) Executed product purchases at the store.
Although example B is shorter, it just sounds better and more interesting–straight to the point, right? That’s because example B uses an active verb.

People always forget the power of active verbs, and, unfortunately, verbs in general. If you were responsible for something, find a strong active verb to express it. Try to make it a priority to begin every bullet with an active verb. Utilized A, B, and C to do D. Completed X major project. Etc. None of this “responsible for” junk… yawn.

If you’re presently in a position, it should be present tense. If your position was in the past, it should be in past tense. Sounds easy enough, right?

Tenses are probably one of the biggest issues we are faced with, mostly because it is very time consuming to fix every one. We also see a lot of -ing’s, which generally turns a bullet from short and simple to long and passive–no good.

For those of you who slept through English class, keep the following in mind:
Past positions: bullets end with an -ED because the position is over; the job is in your past. Executed, supported, managed.
Current position: bullets are happening NOW, in the present. Facilitate, assist, utilize.

Consistency is another issue we see regularly. If one position is formatted one way, why change it for your second position? Keep the style the same throughout… same bullets, same format, same margins, etc. Otherwise, you might end up with a circus-act of a resume that is so overwhelming the reader will have a hard time even looking at it. Yikes!

This is my best advice to you. Keep it simple. Your resume is not a good time to let your creative flag fly. We aren’t in art class–there is no need for your resume to be 11 different colors, 6 different fonts, and decorated with lines and clip art. You’re looking for a job in the professional world–don’t forget. Keep it simple!

It’s important to get straight to the point of what your readers want to see. As a refresher, we want to see:
Position company, location                                   Dates there

  • Bullet
  • Bullet
  • Bullet

Ah, the power of simplicity.

I just don’t know how else to say it. We all have spell check. We all know those squiggly red lines under misspelled words. To our clients, spelling errors are the ultimate deal-breaker–even if you are the ideal candidate for the job. It takes minimal effort to proofread, people, and I highly recommend it!


In the end, your goal is to present yourself in the best light possible and the best way to do that is to let your resume speak for itself. Chances are, your experience makes you qualified for the role you’re interested in, but your reader might get so overwhelmed by inconsistent formatting, tons of -ing and passive verbs, “responsible for’s,” colorful font, lines, and glaring spelling errors, that they bypass your resume all together — straight to the virtual “no” pile. If it takes us more than 5 minutes to slap it on DBI letterhead and get it out to our client, that’s probably a bad sign.

Don’t write yourself out of a job before they even qualify your experience!