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Top Ten Resume Tips: #7—Make a Great First Impression

You’re reading #7 of my Top Ten Tips for writing your resume. Read all the other tips by clicking on each link:

1. Be focused.—2. Be strategic and selective.— 3. Be succinct.— 4. Stand out from the crowd.— 5. Show results. — 6. Write it right.7. Make a great first impression.— 8. Be interesting. — 9. Be specific.— 10. Tell your story.


You want your resume to create a favorable and memorable first impression—one that causes your readers to begin reading in a positive frame of mind, expecting to learn good, valuable information. So the document has to look great—fresh, vibrant, easy to read, uncluttered.

What’s more, readers can infer a great deal from just a quick glance at your document!

  • Clarity of content implies clarity of thought.
  • Sharpness of focus indicates that you know who you are and the value you offer.
  • Conciseness signals that you know what’s important and that you respect your reader’s time.
  • Thoughtful organization conveys a logical mindset and good communication skills.
  • Correctness and consistency indicate that you give appropriate attention to detail.

Of course, the contents of your resume must reinforce those first positive messages. The visual appeal hooks readers in, and the strong, relevant content keeps them reading.

Most resumes conform to a standard structure, a reverse-chronological overview of your career history often preceded by a summary/introduction and followed by education and other credentials. So it stands to reason that visually, many resumes look alike—especially if the applicant has used a template or model.

While there’s nothing wrong with a traditional structure or format, your objective is not to blend in but to stand out! Try different fonts; different font sizes; a tasteful use of color; charts or graphs; borders and shading; and other graphics that are visually distinctive and help tell the story of your career.

Ultimately it’s the content of your resume that will earn you the opportunity to interview. But first impressions are long-lasting, so write and design your resume to build goodwill from first glance to last word.


  • Be aware of subliminal messages your document sends even before it is read.
  • Strive for a “wow” reaction through a unique design and carefully written, consistently presented content.
  • Use design and formatting techniques to give your resume a distinctive, professional edge.

BONUS TIP #11: GET HELP IF YOU NEED IT. Professional resume/profile writers are widely available for all professions, all levels, and in all fee ranges. Not only will we take an objective, employer-centric view of your career, we’re experts at uncovering the themes, threads, and success stories of your career that will sell your value.

Please email me (louise@louisekursmark.com) if you’d like a complimentary review of your resume, a few specific suggestions, and a proposal for a rewrite.

Next: #8 Be Interesting

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