Basic Resume Rules

I’ve looked at several thousand resumes over the years, and there are a few things worth sharing about what I feel makes a good resume: keep it short, just give me the facts, and anything you put on the resume is fair game to ask deep technical questions at any point in the interview process.

Yes, it’s the year 2019

… but not everyone will get an electronic copy of your resume.

Be sure that your resume still prints okay on a plain black-and-white printer – don’t just preview it in black-and-white mode!

Print an actual copy on a black-and-white printer to check that the format looks okay, the font isn’t too small, and that you’ve spelled out your URLs instead of relying on links.

Have another human preview the printed copy

If they squint to read it, your font is too small.


If you’re going to add dates, put dates on almost everything. For example, if you add month/year dates to previous jobs, also add month/year dates to your education as well.

If you’re going to bold your school’s name, also bold employers’ names, and your project names.

Date Formatting

I personally like 3-letter months and a year, like “Aug 2019”

Try to put those dates on the right margin; if you stop bullet text from wrapping underneath the dates, it will help the dates appear isolated on that margin, making it much easier for readers to build a timeline of your experience.

Quantify As Much As Possible

If you have quantifiable information like “I saved the company $XXX over three years” or “Led a team of XX developers” or “Reduced system load by 83% in two months” you definitely need to list that on your resume. Be sure you can back your claims with data, or have someone else verify your numbers on a reference call.

This is obviously much harder on an entry-level resume, of course, but for prior professional experience it can show the additional value you’re bringing to a company besides your technical skills.

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

… except on a resume. Leave your profile photo off the resume. It’s taking up valuable space and could subject you to bias.

One Page Per Decade While I always recommend summarizing your career onto a single page resume, I generally recommend that you only add another page to your resume if you have more than ten years of relevant work experience in the field. In the case where you have lots of work experience in non-technical areas, you can certainly add those on page two, but keep your technical work on page one. My reasoning, from experience: if someone submits a multi-page resume and I only grab one page off the printer assuming it was a one-page resume, I need your most relevant technical experience on page one.