Be specific. Generalizations can become meaningless.

Your resume is your chance to highlight your skills but you only have limited space (one page or two, doesn’t matter). What can happen is that job candidates sum up their skills SO generally that, in effect, they’re meaningless… “Excellent interpersonal skills”, “excellent communication skills”, “detail oriented.” Nearly everyone writes at least one of those on the resume but where’s the proof? And how to prove that you’re more detail oriented than the others? Prove it by giving examples! The resume with specified accomplishments has more chance of standing out from the competition and getting you in front of the company interviewer than a generic cookie cutter version.  
  •  “Excellent computer skills” becomes e.g. “the Department’s go-to person for PowerPoint
    presentations/Excel pivot tables”.
  • “Strong work ethic” becomes e.g. “always willing to work the extra time to meet the monthly deadlines”.
  • “Detail oriented” becomes e.g. “was asked by the CEO to organize a Christmas party for 140 Lithuanian crop dusters”.
  • “Excellent writing skills” becomes e.g. “wrote Training Manual for Cold-Calling for Sales Staff”.

Interests/activities/hobbies on a resume?

Should you write interests/activities/hobbies on a resume?  
Not if you don’t feel comfortable doing it. However, it does add to the picture of who you are and can increase the likelihood of securing an interview.
Interested in sports? It can mean you want to be fit, or that you like to win, or you enjoy playing in a team, or you do it because you like the socializing afterwards. Maybe it got you a scholarship at college. All of this is good, so why not write that you like baseball/tennis/water polo/running/synchronized swimming?
All other interests are relevant, too. Charity work, church activities, hanging out with your family and friends, reading, music, crochet…all good. I had a candidate say, “I go sailing for the socializing afterwards. Is that a terrible thing to admit?” Absolutely not. Another candidate was a pharmacist with an entrepreneurial streak. He had been the Under-16 National Greek Ski-ing Champion. So THAT was an early clue, right there on his resume, that he would perhaps be a driven personality who wanted to succeed. As indeed he did.
Hobbies round out the picture of who you are. You may have interests that are similar to your job e.g. you’re a staff accountant who teaches mathematics to under-privileged children. You may have an interest totally dissimilar to your job e.g. you’re a trader who grows orchids in your spare time. All of it makes you YOU. Who you are can be just as important to a company as your being able to do mailmerge.

Lay-out of a resume

One page? Two pages? European-style 6-pager with a photo?
  • One or two pages is fine. The days of the one v two page arguments are long gone. US resumes are never more than 2 pages. Well, occasional exceptions. Academic resumes are a special case, too). European-type c.v.s are just not the norm here, and tend to freak out HR Departments. And freaking out HR Depts is not the point of sending resumes.
  • Do not add a photograph. Not relevant, and possibly illegal for potential employers to use the information. Don’t do it.
  • Do not write age, marital status, number of children on your resume. See reasons in point above…Don’t do it.
  • Bullet points versus prose to describe responsibilities? Up to the mid-‘90s, it could be either but this is 2012 and prose looks old-fashioned. Bullet points just look crisper and make the highlights easier to read.
  • Education at beginning or end of resume? Up to you…Mind you, if you have less than a 4-year degree, I’d recommend leaving it to the end. There’s nothing wrong with NOT having a 4-year degree, of course, but common sense perhaps says it’s not the first thing you want potential employers to notice.
  • Don’t use exotic fonts. Some of them look like old-fashioned typewriter fonts (e.g. Monotype Corsiva isn’t even given as a choice in Outlook). Although you want your resume not to be too cookie-cutter you want it to stand out in an up-to-date professional way.