I am by no means an expert, but this is some universal things that should apply to most resumes:
- One page!! - Most of us (in our twenties with non-executive level jobs) only have enough professional accolades to fill one page. And that's all it should fill. Anything superfluous of 1 page immediately looks unprofessional, and having about 200 applications in my inbox makes it really easy to press the delete button on this one. If you are just out of college or not a CEO, you really need to keep it to one page. 90% of the applicants who sent in their resumes ran 2-5 pages long. Yes, 5 pages. At that point it doesn't even matter what's on the resume itself, you already lost your chance when you decided to list all your accomplishments since high school, summer jobs, or describe every job in novel form. Your resume is a valuable one page real estate. Use every inch, margin, and line spacing wisely. List only the important relevant stuff.
- Format; a little goes a long way - Every word document defaults at Times New Roman. It would show a little bit of effort if you took the time to fiddle around with the font a little to show you put a little bit of thought into the over all look. I mean the resume does need to look a little bit different to stand out, but it also needs to be appealing to the eye over all. I pretty much deleted any application that looked dull and unappealing. I mean the first 25 of them, I skimmed almost everything, but after a while I stopped caring. Same thing with the hiring managers who are going through your resumes. Don't be afraid to use an unassuming (and unisex) blue color for your name at the top. This makes your resume pop instantly. And remember that sans serif is easier on the eye on a computer screen, not to mention it looks so much better.
- Less is more - Be concise when listing your job descriptions. To save valuable resume real estate, there is no need to use complete sentences as long as the rest of the resume stays consistent with this theme. Some people think the more jobs they list the better because it shows how much experience you have. Wrong. Experience to a manager equals years. If you were at a job for a year or less, unless it was a really prestigious temporary or contract job (like interning at the running mayor's office) do not put that on your resume. Managers look to hire someone who can commit for the long haul, so if you put down a short term job, it gives them the wrong impression and can actually hurt your chances.
- Avoid fluff (aka bullsh*t) - Hiring managers can see through the euphemisms right away because they get paid to do this all day long. So if you were a sales person, do not put down "customer affairs liaison" or something so fluffed up that it isn't even clear anymore what exactly the job was. Just put down "sales associate." Thats concise and to the point.
- Hierarchy of ADHD - My friend taught me this, and after searching for my replacement, I have to say it's dead on. Managers will pay more attention to things written at the top of the resume, and then their attention wades as they get towards the middle. They usually skip over the middle entirely if you did not grab their attention at the top, and go straight to the bottom, which is usually the part where we have miscellaneous skills or something equally random and somewhat relevant. So keep the most current job at the top with about 5-6 bullets at the most, the most important or prominent duties/accolades at the top. If your job title was "library clerk," you almost don't need to make a bullet to say "Responsible for record keeping." That's a given. The jobs thereafter should only contain up to 4 bullets and only list the most important tasks, otherwise no one will take the time to read through it. Lastly, the Miscellaneous section is where you get to show a little bit of your personality. You can show your creative side by listing that you were a 'freelance graphic designer' instead of listing that your hobbies include knitting and walks on the beach.
- Desperately Seeking a Job - I had some people with PHD's and Masters applying to fill this job. Sure it requires a college education, but anything post grad is just overly qualified that managers won't even consider hiring you. But it's obvious why these people are applying for a job they are obviously overqualified for; times are really tough and sometimes it's even harder to find a good job when you are just, well, too good. So what I suggest here is to omit those details that would take you out of the running. You are not selling yourself short by doing this, you are simply catering your resume to suit exactly what they are looking for.
That's all I can think of for now, but I hope it helps. I was dumbfounded to find so many resumes that surpassed the one page limit. It was mind boggling.