What Makes a Good Resume?
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Writing a successful resume.

This article is part of WOSU's, public media in Columbus, Ohio, American Graduate: Getting To Work initiative.

By Marti Smith, Goodwill Columbus

Marti Smith is a Career Consultant with Goodwill Columbus. She’s also the organization’s in-house resume expert. We asked her for the top tips to writing a successful resume.

To learn more about Goodwill Columbus’s programs, listen to Rivet, Episode 5: The Certificate.


  • Key information should be seen first
  • Industry specific skills tend to carry more weight than soft skills, but both can be effective
  • Explain three or more of your key attributes that relate directly to the job description in your Summary of Skills or Accomplishments
  • Choose a format: chronological, functional, or combination
  • Those with five years of experience rarely require more than one page for a resume


  • Double check your punctuation, capitalization
  • Proofread, proofread, proofread!
  • Check for consistency in line spacing – perfect formatting show the reader you’re detail oriented


  • Trust your instincts and don’t be afraid to be creative in ways that you can to inject power and sizzle into your writing
  • Don’t be redundant and repeat things in both you resume and cover letter
  • Clearly communicate what you’re trying to say to the reader – the message is what is important!


  • Again, be consistent with your formatting – inconsistency confuses the reader
  • If you’re printing this resume, don’t skimp and use cheap paper – be sure your characters, lines and images contrast well with the paper


  • Check to make sure your ideas flow in a logical order
  • See if your word choice communicates your marketability
  • While proofreading, make sure that your resume is:
    • Inviting, attractive, appealing, and professional
    • Making smart use of white space
    • Consistently formatted
    • Using language that matches the job description
    • Grammatically sound
    • Prioritizing top skills
    • Presenting your key information in an accessible way


Rivet is a project developed with support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and is part of the national initiative American Graduate: Getting to work. To listen to their podcast series dedicated to alternative career pathways, visit the Rivet website.