How to Make a Resume
How to write a resume that shows you’re the best person for the job, within a page or two? We’ve got all the resume examples and tips you need.
How to write a resume that shows you’re the best person for the job, within a page or two? We’ve got all the resume examples and tips you need.
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A resume is a written record of your job history, skills and qualifications which is one to two pages long. A resume does the following:
So, now that we’ve gone over what this document is about, the question becomes: how to make a resume? Follow our guide below for all the answers. And remember, our Resume Builder provides all the resume templates and step-by-step guidance you need to write a resume.
Need insights on writing a CV? Check out our How to Write a CV page.
Want to know how to make a resume that targets what the employer wants? The sure-fire answer: understand what the employer is looking for by taking a close look at the job description.
A job ad will include specific skills and experiences that are needed for the job. Plan to cover as many of these skills and experiences as you can in your resume. For example:
Office Manager: Detail-oriented applicant with more than five years of experience needed.
Just from this brief sentence alone, you already can narrow down what the employer is looking for: skills such as attention to detail (“detail-oriented”), and proof that you have more than five years of experience in office administration.
As another example, here’s a more detailed job description for a teacher position:
What we’re doing is finding keywords – the words that spell out exactly what the job needs. Keywords will be the life-blood of your resume, and they’ll also help your resume pass applicant tracking systems (ATS) that employers often use to scan resumes before they reach human eyes. Employers will add keywords to ATS, and if your resume has the right keywords, you’ll be assured a thumbs-up, and move on to a hiring manager’s desk.
So just by reading the job description, you should already have ideas about what to feature in your resume. Now let’s move on to how to feature it.
According to Motley Fool, 40% of hiring managers spend less than 60 seconds reviewing each resume they receive, and 25% spend less than 30 seconds. In other words, make the words in your resume count.Build my resume
Every resume will have at least these sections:
We’ll get into these sections in more detail below. But before you make a resume, you’ll need to decide which information will be the focus. That will depend on your resume format.
Employers are most familiar with this resume format. The chronological resume focuses on career achievements, and thus has a robust work experience section. It’s ideal for candidates who have more than nine years of experience in the same field.
Also known as the skills-based resume, this format emphasizes your skills rather than your employment history, with multiple sections outlining your best abilities and qualifications. This format is best if you have little to no experience, or are switching careers and can highlight transferable skills.
As the name suggests, this resume format (also known as a hybrid resume) focuses on both your work history (from the chronological resume) and top skills (from the functional resume). It’s also a good option for career changers, as well as mid-level professionals with three to eight years of experience.
Visit our resume formats page for more tips on how to choose the format that’s best for you.
Once you’ve settled on your resume format, it’s time to tackle your resume layout. You could do this from scratch, but to save time and ensure you have a resume that looks its best, use resume templates and resume examples.
A resume template can give you a polished design to work from, while resume examples for specific job titles can give you inspiration on skills and work experiences you can feature in your resume for a similar profession.
For instance, a technical resume example might feature this set of skills:
It might also give this as a job history example:
Even if these qualifications and experiences don’t exactly match your own background, they provide a useful window into what employers are looking for, and how these credentials should be presented in your own resume.
Follow these basic rules of thumb for formatting your resume layout:
For more pointers on how to get your resume template looking as good as it can be, visit our resume design section.
Now that you’ve selected a resume template or resume example to work, it’s time to write your resume.
At the top of your resume is your resume header, which contains your contact information: your name, phone number, address, and a professional email address where you can be reached). Yes, we mean “professional” — a Motley Fool survey shows that 35 percent of employers have a problem with an unprofessional email address, so don’t use a silly address here.
Next comes your resume summary. As this is the first text a recruiter will read on your resume, it’s important that you make it count. In a few brief sentences, describe who you are through your top skills and experiences. If you’re short on professional experience, you can use an resume objective, which also focuses on important skills while including a statement about your career and job goals (e.g., “Trained caregiver seeking opportunities to serve the senior community”).
“Medical assistant well-versed in basic patient work-up and examinations. Five years’ experience with managing patient flow, maintaining electronic medical records, and providing efficient, compassionate care.”
“Energetic graphic designer seeking a position at a company that focuses on high-quality creative for client marketing initiatives. Certified in Adobe Creative Suite, with experience creating relevant, powerful designs for brand management.”
As you can see, the samples here don’t look too different. The major difference is that the job candidate who writes the resume summary can point to important professional experiences that apply to the job, while the job seeker who writes the objective focuses more on what she’s looking for, and the skills she brings to the table.
Think of your resume summary or resume objective as an “elevator pitch” in which you only have a few seconds to explain who you are as a job seeker and your strength.
Your resume skills section will normally feature a mixture of 8-10 hard skills and soft skills relevant to the job. Hard skills are abilities you’ve learned through experience or training, such as financial analysis, or how to operate specific equipment. Soft skills are intangible traits that define how you approach work or interact with others, such as attention to detail, problem-solving skills or flexibility.
List your skills using bullet points. Depending on your resume format, you may have a single section dedicated to your skills, or several skill sections under different categories (e.g., “Organizational Skills” or “Soft Skills”).
Here’s an example of a “general” skills section you might see in a chronological or combination resume for a sales resume:
Note that this candidate includes both hard skills (client acquisition, CRM management, proficiency in Zendesk) and soft skills (strategic thinking, attention to detail).
In a functional resume, skills play a heavier role, with separate sections highlighting specific skills. Take this teacher resume sample, for example:
In this example, the job candidate groups three critical skills (lesson planning, communication and organization) under the title “Professional Skills” and gives examples of how she utilizes these skills.
Need suggestions for skills that employers value? Check out our resume skills pages, which focus on specific skill categories that are in high demand.
Analyze the job ad and pinpoint the skills required for the job, then match them up with your own skill set. Sometimes you can figure out skills based on the nature of the job; for example, a position that involves managing a team of 20 people indicates that you need to feature leadership skills when you write your resume. As always, look for keywords in the job ad that tell you what skills to put in your resume.Build my resume
Instead of just listing every responsibility from past jobs in your work experience section, focus on major achievements. If you can include a number or quantifiable metric, all the better.
Here’s an example of how to write a resume work history section bullet point that incorporates this advice:
“Led new process that led to 15% increased profits from the previous quarter.”
Anyone can say they’re good at something. It’s much better to show how good you are at it. Did you handle employee records at work?
Don’t just state “Managed employee records,” write “Managed employee records for a 500-person office.” Instead of stating “Oversaw processes that increased on-time deliveries,” write “Oversaw processes that increased on-time deliveries by 10 percent.” Numbers can set you apart from other job seekers.
Use action words when describing your job history
Take a look at these two phrases:
“Was responsible for product management.”
“Led product management.”
See the difference between them? Describing your job history and accomplishments with action verbs like “led” or “managed” energizes your resume, and tells employers you’re in charge of your career. A TLNT study shows that using action words in your resume increases your chances of getting noticed by employers by 140 percent.
Here’s just a few prime action words you can use for your resume. For more suggestions, visit our Action Words page.
Your work experience section is presented in reverse-chronological order, meaning that your latest or current job is at the top. For each job title, provide the company name, your dates of employment and three to five bullet points that describe your job highlights, as in this example:
Take a look at these two phrases:
Lead Barista, Morrissey’s | Jan 2021 – Present
Remember, focus on showing how you’ve performed above expectations or contributed to company success in previous jobs.
This is also a good section to show off key skills. For example, if the job you’re applying for lists “collaboration” as a needed skill, you could write “Collaborated with interdepartmental teams to create monthly sales report presentations” in your work history section.
For more on how to get your work accomplishments to shine, see our page on resume job descriptions.
The education section of your resume usually doesn’t require as much detail as your other sections: focus on your highest, most relevant educational credentials. If you have a bachelor’s degree, don’t include your high school diploma; if you graduated more than 10 years ago, don’t include the graduation date. There’s also no need to include your GPA.
But if you have any special academic projects or recognition for specific achievements that apply to the job, you can feature them here. For example, if you’re applying to a copywriter position and earned honors in creative writing, it’s useful to list your honors achievement here.
Burlington University, PA
Bachelor of Arts, English
Honors in Creative Writing
Magna cum laude graduate
One attribute when it comes to how to write a resume that’s often overlooked is adding extra sections.
We highly recommend creating sections for relevant certifications, awards, languages, publications and other important achievements, as long as they apply to the job at hand. For example, if one of the job requirements is knowledge of Adobe Photoshop, listing your certification in Photoshop is a major plus in your favor.
Let’s say you’re applying for a job that favors candidates with language capabilities. You could write a resume with a language section:
Extra sections are also useful if you’re short on “regular” professional experience. You can create separate sections for volunteer experience, internships, educational coursework and extracurricular activities, as long as they show you have important skills that will help you do the job well.
For instance, if you’re applying for a teaching position but are fresh out of school, it’s perfectly fine to create a “Teaching Activities” section where you can showcase experiences such as being a private tutor, or leading classes at summer camp:
According to a recent survey, the five most common “extra” sections job seekers add to their resumes are:
Read each statement carefully and remove any words or phrases that don’t add to your message. Your resume should aim to be a single page unless you’re applying for a more senior role and have plenty of experience to back up your qualifications.
Resumes that go beyond two pages are far less common and run the risk of losing a hiring manager’s attention, especially if you don’t include information that targets what the job wants. Focus on your most relevant work experiences and showcase the right technical skills for the job.
According to recent studies, the ideal resume length is between 475-600 words (under two pages).
For more tips on how long your resume should be, check out our page:
You should never submit the exact same resume to more than one job application. It’s important to tailor your resume so it fits each job you apply to.
Take a look at these two sample job ads:
Job A Requirements
Job B Requirements
Both of these jobs are listed as “software engineer,” and while both have some similarities (a focus on collaboration and communication), both have very different requirements.
If we were to tailor our resume to Job A, we would focus on:
On the other hand, tailoring our resume to Job B means we would concentrate on:
In putting together your resume, mention skills that are in the job posting (or are implied in the posting), and include professional experience that directly relates to the new job’s responsibilities. This way, you’ll be able to capture the unique keywords and requirements each employer has in your job application. Aim to present the abilities and experiences that fit what the company wants to see in an applicant — every time.
Using a Resume Builder can save you a lot of time in creating different versions of your resume for different jobs. Just save a new version of your resume template, update it as needed, download and use!Build my resume
Even if your resume has the right “look” and impressive credentials, all of your hard work can go to waste if the recruiter finds a typo.
Motley Fool survey found that 77% of hiring managers immediately disqualified resumes due to grammatical mistakes or typos. Reread your resume a few times before sending it in, checking for grammar and spelling (not to mention accuracy of information), and make sure all your details and facts are correct.
You can also save time with our Resume Builder, which features a handy spell-checking tool.
Let’s face it, most job seekers probably exaggerate an accomplishment or two on their resumes. Even employers know it; a survey found that only about one-third of recruiters believe candidates are “very honest” about their experiences and abilities.
But telling falsies can result in severe consequences with your employer, and serve as a black mark on your reputation moving forward, so fib at your peril.
If you’re not getting any responses to your resume submissions and you’ve submitted to dozens of jobs, look into ways to improve your resume. This could mean brushing up on skills that employers are looking for and adding them to your resume, or emphasizing certain work experiences and achievements over others.
Just remember: you want to show the potential employer why you’re the best person for that specific job, so customize each resume to fit the job. It can also help to get a second opinion from a willing reader who can give your resume a once-over and check it for flow, professionalism and grammatical errors.
So now you know how to make a resume. But a professional job application isn’t complete without a cover letter. Why? Because a cover letter allows you to provide more context about your career highlights, further insight on why you’re the best candidate, and more details about your career and personality.
We have dozens of expert articles with more tips on how to make a resume, as well as career advice to help you put your best foot forward and get yourself the dream job you want.
A resume in 2024 should:
To ensure your professional resume hits all these points, use the friendly step-by-step guidance our Resume Builder provides.
A good resume emphasizes a combination of work history, skills and education in order to show a hiring manager that you are the right fit for the job you are applying for. Remember, your resume must pass through the applicant tracking system (ATS) so be sure to include keywords (specific skills, experiences and abilities) that match the qualifications and requirements listed in the job posting.
You can write a resume from scratch using programs such as Microsoft Word, Photoshop and Illustrator. It will require more effort on your part, so an easy way to make sure you’re designing it correctly is to check out resume examples — lucky for you we have hundreds of them.
You can also save time by making a resume in our Resume Builder. We provide resume templates, clear instructions, expert job-specific suggestions and more to help you create your resume fast.
The key to making a resume with no experience is to redefine what professional experience looks like. You might not have worked at a traditional 9-5 job but maybe you gained relevant skills and experience through an internship, volunteer work, extracurricular activity or personal project.
We also highly recommend checking out the functional resume format, as it’s specifically made for entry-level job seekers. The functional format makes it easier for candidates with little to no experience to showcase their skills and abilities to recruiters.
We personalize your experience.