How to Write a Compelling Resume

There are a number of things that can help you write an incredible resume. If you’re looking to create the perfect resume, here are some tips.

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Resume Example
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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’re here to help you write a better, more effective resume. Read on to learn how to use resume templates and resume formats to create a resume that a hiring manager will appreciate, rather than one that the hiring manager will want to skip.
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What Is a Resume?

In a nutshell, a resume is a written record of your job history, skills and other information to help potential employers decide whether they want to hire you, and is typically one to two pages long. Recruiters often go through dozens of job seekers every time a position opens up, and they need an easy way to determine which job seekers fit the bill. A resume is an important part of making your case for being the right person for the job.

What Information Do You Need To Put On 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:

● Contact information, including phone number and email address, as well as links to professional profiles such as LinkedIn
● A summary statement, showcasing your background and top qualifications
● List of your relevant skills
● Details on past work experience, including internships (if relevant)
● Certifications, especially in your industry
● Education section, only including high school 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
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 5+ 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.

2. Look at resume examples
Resume examples for your industry can help you understand what people typically want to see in a resume. Look at the resume examples in your industry to make sure you’re meeting all the criteria for your specific industry and your ideal job title.

3. Personalize each resume to each job application
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.

4. Know when to trim your resume
Your resume should typically only be a single page long. 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, for example, 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.

5. Change things up if you’re not getting any bites
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, changing up the skills section and highlighting your professional experience, before submitting more.

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 much 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.

Connecting Your Resume and Your Cover Letter

Whenever you apply for a job in today’s job environment, it’s important to also write and submit a cover letter. It’s a good idea to keep your resume in mind when you’re writing your cover letter and vice versa. A cover letter is essentially a more personal elaboration on your resume in which you give more information about who you are and why you believe you’re a good fit for the job opportunity.

To connect your resume and your cover letter, you need to make sure each piece complements the other. Your cover letter shouldn’t just rehash all the information in your resume; it should give more context on your career highlights and provide extra insights on why you would be a good option for a company, essentially expanding on your work experience and skills. A good resume-cover letter pairing should also have complementary fonts, colors, headers and footers. Just use our cover letter builder to create a letter that matches your resume’s look.

FAQ: Writing a Resume

Q: Do I need a different resume for every job application?

You don’t need to rewrite your resume from scratch for every job application, but it’s important to remember that every job description is a little bit different, and that means they’re looking for slightly different skills and experiences. You need your resume to match the job, not just the job title, and that requires tweaking things a little bit.

The best approach is to create a foundational resume, then update it a bit whenever applying to a new job. 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?

The skills you should put on your resume will depend on the company you’re hoping to work for. A one-page resume doesn’t have a lot of space for a ton of skills, so focus on prime abilities, work experience and qualifications that match the job. Focus on hard skills the job description specifically mentions, as well as soft skills that are important to the specific industry you’re applying to. If you want a better understanding of the types of skills you need to put on your resume, it’s a good idea to look at different resume examples from your industry. Before you make a list of your own skills, it’s important to look at other resumes from the industry so you have a better understanding of how you can optimize your own.

Q: How do I optimize a resume for applicant tracking systems?

Applicant tracking systems, also called ATS, are software that does a lot of work for hiring managers. Essentially, ATS reviews resumes, looking for keywords related to the job and grading resumes for the hiring manager. That means that they can reject your resume before they even get to human eyes.

There are many ways to optimize your resume for ATS. One of the best things to do is just to make sure that all the right information is in the resume. Scan the job description and make sure the skills and experiences you list in your resume address what the job needs. It’s also deeply important that you weed out any typos from your resume. Typos can completely take you out of the running with an ATS. You should also make sure your resume has a straightforward layout that can be easily read, which means no weird fonts or flamboyant graphics.

Q: How long should a resume be?

A resume should typically not be longer than a single page. A hiring manager will want to be able to take a quick look at a resume, make a snap decision, and act on that decision, so a longer resume may end up playing against you. Try to stick to just a single-page resume; if you have enough experience that you need more than that to describe all of your previous jobs and accomplishments, two pages is the absolute limit.

Q: How do I know what resumes should be like in my industry?

If you want to make sure you’re responding to a job ad appropriately, it’s good practice to look at resume examples from within your industry. Our resume examples cover hundreds of jobs and career fields, and will help you understand what hard skills and soft skills you need to mention, how to best present your skills and qualifications, and anything else you should know for creating your own resume.

The resume format and approach you’re aiming for will be different depending on your industry. Just look at our resume samples to get a general idea of what to look for and what to put in your own resume.

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