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How to Write a Resume
The process of writing a resume for your job search can certainly be daunting if you’ve never done it before or you’ve never had any help doing so. Most of us aren’t professional resume writers, but hiring managers will expect a solid resume out of you regardless. We are here to help you make a better resume to show hiring managers that you are the right candidate for the job. On this page, you will find step-by-step guidance for writing a professional resume, get industry-related examples for reference and expertly-written tips for building the strongest resume.
What Is a Resume?
A resume is a written record of your job history, skills and other information to help potential employers decide whether you are qualified for the job you are applying to. A resume is typically one to two pages long. Recruiters often review resumes for dozens of job applicants for each open position. A resume is an important part of convincing a hiring manager or recruiter that you are the right person for the job.
- Introduce employers to who you are as a job candidate. Highlight what makes you stand out from other applicants.
- Explain your most relevant skills and experiences. Be sure to match your skills and experiences to the requirements in the job description.
- Give evidence that shows you’re the right person for the job. Make a good impression to show that you can perform the role’s tasks and contribute to the company’s success.
How to Make a Resume
A resume will have a significant amount of information, often displayed in simple, concise phrases and bullet points rather than full sentences. Here is the information you should put on your resume:
- Pick the right resume format. There are three main resume formats: chronological, functional and combination.
- Resume contact information, including phone number and email address, as well as links to professional profiles such as LinkedIn.
- A summary statement, containing 2-3 sentences showcasing your background and top qualifications.
- List of your relevant skills. This includes hard skills and soft skills.
- Details on past work experience, including internships, if relevant.
- Certifications, especially in your industry and those required to perform the job.
- Education section, including your school, major, graduation date and honors. Only include your high school diploma if you have no college experience.
Unless you’re applying for a job that requires more experience, you should limit your resume to a single page. Hiring managers will typically look at your resume for less than 10 seconds before deciding if you’re a good fit or not, so you need to make your document easy to scan.
5 Tips for Writing Your Resume
Here are five things you can do to improve your resume overall.
1. Check the Job Description
2. Look at resume examples
3. Personalize each resume to each job application
4. Know when to trim your resume
5. Change things up if you’re not getting any bites
The description of the job is typically going to include some hints regarding what the recruiter is looking for. You should be describing yourself the way the job description talks about the ideal applicant, if the description says they’re looking for a “detail-oriented, knowledgeable applicant with more than five years of experience,” you need to highlight that you are detail-oriented, have a lot of knowledge of the industry and have been in the industry for at least five years.
Resume examples for your industry can help you understand what people typically want to see in a resume. Look at your industry’s resume examples to ensure you’re meeting all the criteria for your specific industry and your ideal job title.
You should never be submitting exactly the same resume to more than one job application. It’s important to make small changes to personalize the resume to the job application. This way, you’ll be able to capture all the keywords and requirements for each job application. You’re presenting yourself exactly the way the company wants to see an applicant — every time.
Your resume should typically only be a single page resume. Two-page resumes are less common and run the risk of not getting across all your information to the hiring manager. If you’ve worked at more than two or three places, you don’t need to list every single job you’ve ever had. You just need to list the most relevant work experience to showcase that you have the right technical skills and know how to do the job.
One of the most important tips for writing a resume is that you shouldn’t keep doing something that isn’t working. If you’re not getting any responses and you’ve submitted to dozens of jobs, chances are there’s something you can do to improve your resume. If you’re not getting results, make sure you’ve changed your resume a little bit by changing up the skills section and highlighting your professional experience, before submitting more.
Before submitting your resume, always take the time to take a second look at your resume. Make adjustments as you see fit.
- 1. Confirm that your contact information is up-to-date. Is your email address professional sounding?
- 2. Ensure that your resume summary or resume objective highlights your best accomplishments.
- 3. Feature hard and soft skills that match the required skills for the job.
- 4. Does your work experience contain the most relevant jobs, internships or volunteer work?
- 5. Only mention your high school diploma if you lack college experience.
- 6. Keep your resume to a single page in length.
- 7. Be sure fonts are consistent throughout. Bold section headings.
- 8. Check margins to allow for adequate spacing and white space.
- 9. Proofread your resume for typos and grammatical errors.
- 10. Download your resume in the file type specified in the job posting. If not specified, a PDF works well.
Featured Resume Examples
There is no need to write a resume from scratch. Check out these resume examples to help you create your own resume. We have 50,000 resume examples in about every industry and job title. Resume examples provide inspiration and resume wording ideas to help you impress prospective employers in your field.
Feature the following resume examples:
- Student resume
- Customer Service Resume
- Graphic Designer Resume
- Internship Resume
- Project Manager Resume
- Administrative Assistant Resume
The Three Resume Formats
When writing your resume, it’s important to pick the right format for your information. Some resume formats work better for specific situations than others, which means you may end up using different formats for different jobs. Here’s an overview of the three formats. For more details, visit our resume formats page. These are the three types of resumes out there.
1. Chronological Resume
The most popular resume format is the chronological resume, also called the reverse-chronological resume. In this format, the bulk of your information centers on your work history, which you will list in reverse chronological order, starting with your most recent job and working backward.
A chronological resume is a great way to present your work history front and center. This type of resume is a good option if you want your past experiences to make the case for getting a job. It also features a skills list that allows the recruiter to see the abilities you’ve displayed in the past that will help you with this specific job.
2. Functional Resume
A functional resume is meant for people whose work experience won’t work well with the job they’re applying for or they simply lack experience altogether. The functional resume emphasizes your skills sets and training, while a more modest work experience section draws attention to relevant skills you’ve used in the past.
The functional resume emphasizes transferable skills and general soft skills. You may want to list things like volunteer work, as well as interpersonal skills and other soft skills that showcase your talents. Additionally, a resume objective statement might work better in a functional resume as opposed to a resume summary.
3. Combination (or hybrid) resume
If you’re moving into a new job field and need a professional resume that showcases transferable skills, a hybrid resume, also called a combination resume, is another good option. As the name suggests, the hybrid resume splits its focus evenly between skills and work history.
When you use a hybrid resume, you present your skills first and foremost but follow up with a substantial job history section that documents how you’ve used these skills. For employees with a few years of experience under their belts, the combination format can be a decent “middle ground” option that shows you have a good mix of qualifications and real-world experience.
Complement Your Resume with a Cover Letter
A cover letter elaborates on the information that you presented on your resume. The goal is to present a glimpse into your personality as a way to show more about who you are and why you believe you’re a good fit for the job opportunity. When you use our cover letter builder, you will instantly create a strong cover letter that will impress hiring managers and recruiters.
Your cover letter shouldn’t just rehash all the information in your resume, it should give more context about your career highlights and provide extra insights on why you are the best candidate while expanding on your work experience and skills. A good resume and cover letter pairing should have complimentary fonts, colors, headers and footers. The cover letter builder and resume builder allows you to match looks for a cohesive application.
FAQ: Writing a Resume
Q: What is a good resume?
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 that match the qualifications and requirements listed in the job posting.
Q: What font should I use for my resume?
Selecting a good font is critical to making your resume visually appealing. Select an easy to read font like Helvetica, Cambria, Calibri or Verdana and use that font consistently throughout your resume. A 12 point font size is recommended.
Q: What is the most important part of a resume?
The answer to this question will vary depending on whether you are writing a chronological resume or a functional resume. A chronological resume will place the importance on work history while a functional resume will place importance on skills. Regardless of the format, refer to the job posting to be sure that your resume is clearly showing that you meet the most important job requirements.
Q: What is the difference between a resume and a CV?
Your resume will highlight your professional skills and career experience in a one page format. A CV (curriculum vitae) is typically longer because it includes more extensive information relating to career achievements and academic training. Unless a job posting requests a CV, you will send a resume.
Q: Do I need a different resume for every job application?
The quick answer is “yes,” you do need to submit a different resume for every job application. However, you don’t need to rewrite your resume from scratch each time. You just need to focus the resume based on the requirements and qualifications listed in the job posting. Create a base resume, then update it based on the job you are applying for. Our Resume Builder allows you to do this and save as many versions of your resume as you need.
Q: What types of skills should I put on my resume?
You should include a combination of hard skills and soft skills, relevant to the job you are applying for. Focus on hard skills the job description specifically mentions, like computer programs, analytical skills and project management. Feature soft skills that are important to the specific industry like good communication, empathy, problem solving, organization and leadership. You can refer to ResumeHelp resume examples from your industry and for your job title to get a better idea about what skills are important.
Q: How do I optimize a resume for applicant tracking systems?
Applicant tracking systems, also called ATS, are software that scans incoming applications for hiring managers. The ATS is programmed to review resumes, looking for keywords related to the job posting and selects the most qualified job candidates. With that being said, the ATS can reject unqualified resumes before they even get read by the employer.
To optimize your resume for ATS, scan the job description and make sure the skills and experiences you list in your resume address what the job is requiring. For scanning purposes, be sure you have an easy to read layout with simple fonts and void of unnecessary graphics.
Q: How long should a resume be?
Resume lengths will vary but most often, a resume should not be longer than a single page. A hiring manager receives dozens of applications for each open position so time is of the essence. A one page resume allows the reader to take a quick look at a resume, make a snap decision and decide whether to continue reading the resume in detail. If you have a longer career with extensive experience, try to condense the information to no more than two pages.
Q: How do I know what resumes should be like in my industry?
The ResumeHelp experts have compiled resume examples based on industry and job title. This is a great jump start to creating your resume, especially by showing you how to present your hard skills and soft skills, job experience, certifications and education. The resume format and approach you’re aiming for will be different depending on your industry.
To stand out from the competition, look at our resume samples to get a general idea of what to feature in your own resume.