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10 Tips to Enhance Your Resume
Resumes are an important tool in any job search, and they can make or break you as a candidate. This may seem like a lot of pressure, but getting the right format for a resume is easier than it seems at first. Use this advice to make your resume better than it’s ever been before.
Use Concrete Success Measurements
Don’t just say that you did something; give some stats that show how much you succeeded. The right way to do this will vary depending on your career. If you’re in sales, for example, you can say “negotiated $10.2 million in contracts” rather than just saying “negotiated numerous important contracts.”
Show, Don’t Tell
Don’t use subjective statements like “great communicator.” Instead, give examples of why that’s true. You can say something like “counseled patients from a variety of different backgrounds” or something similar to show how you use your skills.
Keep It Short
Resumes aren’t places for complete sentences. Make all your descriptions short and to the point so the reader can scan through and get a good idea of what you’ve done. Use the smallest number of words possible to make your point.
Format It Right
It’s a good idea to structure your resume in discrete sections and use bullet points or other formatting tricks to keep it organized. The goal is, again, to make it scannable and do the hiring manager a favor by avoiding taking up too much time.
Work From the Job Description
It’s essential to tailor your resume for each individual job description. You’ll want to emphasize different aspects of your skill set and experience based on what each individual employer is asking for.
Include the Right Keywords
As part of working from the job description, include some of the language used in the job description. Keywords, especially those used to describe specific qualifications and job responsibilities, are often the first step in screening resumes. Whether it’s a computer or a person doing the screening, they’ll probably do a quick search to see if you’ve included the right keywords.
Put Education in Its Proper Place
How important is your education to the position you’re applying for? If the employer specifically asks that applicants have a specific type of degree, you should emphasize that more than less-relevant information, like an objective statement or skills the job post didn’t ask for. If education isn’t mentioned in the post at all, you may want to leave it out so you can have space to include more relevant information.
Use Creativity Judiciously
Your resume can be more than just a list of what you can do; it can also show off how well you understand the industry. If you’re applying for a job at a buttoned-up law firm, keep your fonts and formatting simple and clean. If you’re applying for a job at a fun tech startup, you can get a little more creative with colors and graphics, but don’t waste space with this formatting.
Optimize for Mobile
A one-column design can make it easier for prospective managers to read your resume on their cellphones. You never know how and when they’re going to look at it, so it makes sense to make your resume as readable on different devices as possible.
You don’t need to include every single job you’ve ever had on your resume. Only include what’s most relevant for where you are right now. If you’re concerned that doing this will make it look like you have employment gaps, you can use a header like “selected experience” or “relevant experience” to clarify.
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How to Write a Resume in 2023: A Step-by-Step Guide
Whether you are looking for your first job or making a mid-career transition, knowing how to craft a resume that highlights your strengths and achievements is invaluable. This resume guide will show you, step-by-step, how to write a resume that will get you noticed by potential employers. Let’s get started!
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Are you struggling to write a resume that catches the attention of employers? You’re not alone. Millions of people every year submit resumes that don’t get them the jobs they want.
Your resume is the most important tool in your job-seeking arsenal. A good resume can help you get your foot in the door, while a bad resume will likely keep you from even being considered.
This resume guide will teach you, step-by-step, how to make a resume that will help you stand out from the crowd. We’ll provide tips on how to format your resume, what information to include, and how to tailor your resume for different jobs using the right keywords.
Table of Contents
Step 1. Choose a resume format
The right resume format can help highlight your strengths and downplay your weaknesses. It can also make it easier for recruiters to scan your resume and identify the key information they are looking for.
There are three standard resume formats to choose from.
This is the most popular resume format, especially for job seekers with lots of relevant experience. This format lists your work history in reverse chronological order, with your most recent jobs listed first. It’s ideal for:
- Job seekers with a lot of professional work experience.
- People with no employment gaps.
- Those who want to showcase their career progression over time.
- Familiar to recruiters.
- Highlights career advancements.
- Emphasizes relevant job experience.
- Shows gaps in employment.
- Doesn’t emphasize skills & abilities.
- Job seekers with highly relevant work.
Functional Resume (also known as a Skills-Based Resume)
The functional resume is organized around your transferable skills and abilities rather than your work history. It helps you downplay your lack of experience in a particular field. While it is helpful for certain situations, it’s not always the best. Recruiters sometimes don’t like the functional resume format because it can make it seem like you’re trying to conceal something. So be wary of that.
Under each skill you list, try to add bullet points that provide specific examples of times when you’ve used that skill. This format is ideal for:
- Recent graduates
- Entry-level job seekers
- Career changers
- Those with gaps in their employment history
- Focuses on your skills and abilities.
- Minimizes work experience.
- Not preferred by recruiters.
- Leaves out work experience.
- Jobs seekers with no relevant work experience.
Hybrid Resume (also known as a Combination Resume)
A hybrid resume can be a great way to showcase both your work history and your skills. For many job seekers, it’s the best resume format . With this format, you would begin with a brief overview of your skills and accomplishments, followed by a chronological listing of your employment history. This format is ideal for:
- Mid level job seekers with some experience in their field.
- Career changers who need to highlight transferable skills.
- People reentering the workforce.
- Puts equal emphasis on skills and experience.
- Provides a lot of space for resume keywords.
- Combines best elements of chronological and functional formats.
- Cannot hide resume gaps.
- Most job seekers.
Step 2. Add your contact information and personal details
This is one of the most important sections of your resume. If hiring managers can’t contact you, it doesn’t matter how great the rest of your resume is. So you need to make sure that your contact info is accurate and up-to-date.
The following information should appear at the top of your resume:
- Phone number
- Location (City, State, Zip Code)
- Email Address
- LinkedIn profile URL
Here’s an example:
It might seem obvious, but job seekers sometimes forget a key piece of contact information in this section. Double check to make sure it’s as easy as possible for recruiters to contact you for a job interview.
- Include your full name, including your middle initial if you have one. This will help ensure that you’re easily found in online searches.
- If you have an unusual name or a name that could be easily mispronounced, consider including a phonetic spelling to avoid confusion.
- You don’t need to include your full address but do add your city, state, and zip code. Recruiters often search for local candidates first.
- Include a link to your professional website or online portfolio, if you have one.
- Create a strong LinkedIn profile and be sure to include the URL on your resume (make sure it’s up to date).
- Never include a work phone number, only a personal number.
- Don’t include more than one phone number or email address. This will only confuse hiring managers.
- Unless required, don’t include your date of birth. Employers may unknowingly discriminate against older job seekers. It can also make it easier for identity thieves to commit fraud.
- Don’t use a quirky or unprofessional email address. Instead create a new professional sounding address just for your job search. Research has shown that formal email addresses perform better on resumes than informal ones.
- Unless required, a headshot is unnecessary. How you look isn’t important, and a photo takes up valuable space on your resume.
- If you use an outdated email service like Hotmail or AOL, consider creating a free Gmail account for your job search.
Step 3. Write a standout resume headline
One way to make sure your resume stands out is to write a catchy headline . This is a concise, one-line description of who you are as a candidate.
A well-written headline can grab a recruiter’s attention and encourage them to take a more detailed look at your resume. It can also highlight your most relevant skills and experience, making it easier for recruiters to see why you would be a good fit for the role.
You should place your headline near the top of your resume, so it’s one of the first things that a hiring manager or recruiter sees.
Resume headlines are most beneficial for people who have a lot of relevant experience, but anyone can use them.
If you don’t have any experience or are applying for an entry-level job , you can use your resume headline to show off your soft skills, your proficiency with tools, or your winning personal attributes.
When writing your headline, it’s crucial to include the job title that appears at the top of the description of the job you’re applying for. This is the most impactful keyword of all, and the headline is a good place to put it, especially if you haven’t held the exact position before.
Read the full guide : How to Write a Resume Headline That Stands Out
- Always tailor your headline to each job you apply for.
- Use title case (capitalize the first letter of each word) and use a bold or slightly larger font so the headline stands out visually.
- Position yourself as an expert in your field. This can help to set you apart from other candidates who may not be as confident in their abilities.
- Use numbers and statistics to back up your claims. The applicant in the example above uses “5 years experience” to highlight their expertise.
- Use attention-grabbing action verbs . The example above uses the verb “leading,” which quickly tells employers what the applicant has accomplished.
- Be specific. Generic phrases such as “hard worker” or “team player” are nice, but they don’t really tell employers anything. If you can, include a specific accomplishment or skill that makes you stand out from the rest.
- Don’t make your headline too long or it will lose the reader’s attention. Keep your headline under ten words to make sure it packs a punch.
- Avoid using jargon. Stick to language that can be easily understood by everyone.
- Don’t be too salesy. A resume headline is not the place to make a hard sell; instead, focus on giving a snapshot of your skills and experience.
- Steer clear of clichés. With so many resumes to sift through, recruiters will appreciate a fresh, original headline that cuts to the chase.
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Step 4. Add your resume summary statement or resume objective
Most recruiters only spend between six and eight seconds looking at a resume before they make a decision about a job candidate, according to a study by Ladders .
This means you need to make a strong first impression! You can do this by adding a resume summary statement underneath your resume headline.
A summary statement is a brief paragraph or a set of bullet points that summarizes your professional qualifications.
Your summary statement should expand on your resume headline and provide evidence of your skills, achievements, and experience.
Read the full guide : How to Write a Resume Summary Statement
- Keep it brief – no more than a few sentences or bullet points.
- Look for patterns in your work history – anything that you can point to and say “this is what I do, and I’m good at it.”
- Focus only on your most relevant skills and experience.
- Use numbers and specifics to show that you are a results-oriented individual who is able to produce tangible outcomes.
- Incorporate keywords from the job description whenever possible.
- Tailor your summary statement to each job you apply for.
- Don’t make bold claims that cannot be backed up.
- Don’t just list your job duties; instead focus on your accomplishments .
- Don’t include personal information unrelated to the job.
- Avoid using personal pronouns (I, me, or my).
Resume summaries are ideal for job seekers who have plenty of relevant work experience and accomplishments that can be tied to actual numbers.
If you don’t have much job experience or are changing careers, you could write a resume objective statement instead.
Your resume objective basically explains what the object of your resume is. It is a short statement that communicates your reason for wanting to work in a new field. It should include:
- The job title or field you are interested in.
- Any transferable skills that make you a good fit for the position.
- Relevant accomplishments that demonstrate how you would excel in the new role.
- Your career goals and how the position you are applying for can help you achieve them.
For example, if you are a recent college graduate seeking a position in marketing, your resume objective might state: “To secure a position in marketing where I can utilize my creativity and analytical skills to contribute to the company’s success.”
Read the full guide : Resume Objective Statements: Examples, How-To, and FAQ
Step 5. Add keywords and skills that are ATS-friendly
Before you move on to the next step, it’s important to determine what keywords and skills you need to have on your resume.
Why? Because when you submit your resume, it most likely won’t go to a live human being – it will go straight into a computer database.
Employers receive hundreds and even thousands of resumes for every job opening. They don’t have time to look at all of them.
To solve this problem, many employers now use applicant tracking systems (ATS) to automatically collect, review, and sort resumes. In fact, 99 percent of Fortune 500 companies now use ATS to help them manage the hiring process.
Having the right keywords on your resume is important because hiring managers use keywords to search through their ATS database for the best job candidates.
These keywords are usually job titles or specific skills. If your resume doesn’t contain the keywords hiring managers are searching for, it will sit in the database, unseen.
This is why it’s crucial to include keywords on your resume that are relevant to the job you are applying for. But how do you know which keywords to use?
Just look at the job description. Take note of the skills and keywords that appear the most . Then add these skills and keywords to your resume when appropriate.
To get the best results, tailor each and every resume you create to the specific job you’re applying for — your resume is not a one-size-fits-all document!
Read the full guide : Top 500 ATS Resume Keywords: Examples for Your Job Search
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Step 6. detail your work experience.
Now it’s time to get to the heart of your resume – the “work experience” section . This is the section employers will spend the most time looking at when they consider your resume.
If you get this part right, you’ll be well on your way to creating a strong resume that will land you plenty of job interviews!
The first things a recruiter looks at on your resume are the job titles you’ve held and the companies you’ve worked with. Make this information easy to find by listing each job in reverse-chronological order (latest job first).
Each job should have its own subheading that includes the following information:
- Company name and location – Include the full name of the company you worked for followed by the city and state of its location.
- Job title – Be as specific as possible to ensure that employers know exactly what your role was within the company.
- Start and end dates – Include the month and year for each position. If you only list the year, it may appear as though you are omitting information.
- Achievements and responsibilities – These can be listed using bullet points. Include hard numbers and metrics wherever possible.
Our research has found that this sequence offers maximum applicant tracking system (ATS) compatibility. Here’s an example:
Tip #1: Highlight achievements as well as responsibilities
One of the biggest mistakes people make when writing a resume is only listing their job responsibilities . These are tasks that you’re expected to perform as part of your job. They can include things like:
- Answering customer questions and complaints
- Scheduling and coordinating appointments
- Taking inventory and ordering supplies
- Maintaining records and filing paperwork
- Training new employees
Listing your job responsibilities gives a potential employer an idea of what you did day-to-day, but it doesn’t reveal how well you did it .
That’s why it’s important to highlight your specific accomplishments in prior roles.
For example, if you increased sales, reduced costs, or implemented new processes or technologies, be sure to mention these accomplishments.
Instead of writing “managed a team of 12 people,” write “managed a team of 12 people, consistently meeting or exceeding quarterly targets.”
This not only demonstrates that you are an asset to any organization, but it gives employers confidence that you’re capable of handling the job.
Here’s an example of a resume that does a good job of listing both responsibilities and accomplishments:
Not every career lends itself to easily-quantifiable achievements. For example, someone who works in a warehouse might have responsibilities that include stocking shelves, unloading trucks, and packaging items for shipment.
While these responsibilities might not seem like much, they’re actually essential for keeping the warehouse running smoothly. The ability to work efficiently and effectively is a valuable skill in any field.
So, next time you’re feeling like you don’t have anything to list as an accomplishment, take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Chances are, you’ve achieved more than you realize!
Read the full guide : 6 Steps to Writing Your Resume Work Experience
Tip #2: Use action verbs
Action verbs are key when it comes to writing an engaging and compelling resume. They help paint a clearer picture of your qualifications and increase the overall impact of your resume.
Instead of simply stating that you were “responsible for” a certain task or project, explain how you took charge and made it happen. For example, you could say that you “spearheaded” a new initiative or “coordinated” a complex team effort.
By using powerful verbs, you’ll not only make your resume more interesting to read, but you’ll also demonstrate the kind of can-do attitude that employers are looking for.
Read the full guide : 400+ Resume Action Words (Plus 100 Power Verbs Recruiters Love to See)
Tip #3: Use active voice, not passive
Always try to use an active voice instead of a passive voice when writing your resume.
In an active voice, the subject of the sentence is doing the verb. For example, “The cashier counted the money.” In a passive voice, the subject is being acted upon by the verb. For example, “The money was counted by the cashier.”
Active voice is preferred over passive voice because it’s more direct, concise, easier to read, and it makes you sound more confident and authoritative.
When used with an action verb, an active voice can subconsciously influence a recruiter into thinking that the applicant is competent and capable. For example, “managed a team of 12” is more powerful than “was responsible for a team of 12.”
Read the full guide : Resume Words: Keywords, Adjectives, Skills, and Power Verbs
Tip #4: Use numbers
One of the best ways to make your resume stand out is to use numbers . In fact, job seekers who use numbers in their resumes increase their hireability by 40%, according to a study by TalentWorks .
Whenever possible, quantify your achievements with numbers that illustrate the scope of your work. For example, instead of saying “created marketing campaigns,” you could write “created 10 successful marketing campaigns that generated a 20% increase in leads.”
By using numbers, you give hiring managers a better sense of your value, making it more likely that you’ll land the job you want.
Here are some more examples of using numbers (with action verbs underlined):
- Saved $7 million while introducing nationwide transport service for medical patients.
- Generated a utility income increase of 45% within 2 months by designing and deploying an enhanced bill back process.
- Achieved 150% sales growth by leading a multifunctional team to define, refine, and roll-out a cross-channel, ten-year brand strategy.
Finally, If you have gaps in your employment history, be prepared to explain them in a cover letter or during an interview.
However, don’t let a few months or years off work deter you from applying for a position – focus on highlighting your skills and strengths, and let your work experience speak for itself.
Read the full guide : Wordsmithing Your Resume: Tenses, Plurals, and Optimized Keywords
- Use a traditional section heading like “Work Experience” instead of a more creative option like “Where I’ve Been,” which will confuse the ATS.
- When writing dates, use the mm/yyyy format, which can be easily parsed by an ATS.
- Use past tense when talking about jobs in the past, and present tense when describing the work you are currently doing.
- Leave out personal pronouns (I) and get right to the action.
- Tailor each and every resume to the specific job you’re applying for.
- Consider tracking your job achievements on a spreadsheet so you can easily include them on your resume later.
- Don’t list more than 10-15 years of work experience unless it’s highly relevant.
- Don’t list every single task you worked on; include only the most relevant.
- Don’t use the same, tired words (“responsible for…”); instead use action verbs written in an active voice.
- Don’t lie or exaggerate about your duties and accomplishments.
Step 7. Showcase your skills
When writing your resume, be sure to include a skills section . This is the perfect place to mention all the skills and know-how that make you the ideal candidate for the job.
Pay particular attention to the skills that are listed in the job description of the position you are applying for. As we’ve seen, including these keywords on your resume greatly increases the chance that your resume will be seen by an actual hiring manager, leading to a job interview.
There are two types of skills you can include in your skills section: hard skills and soft skills .
Hard skills are the specific skills and knowledge that you need to perform a certain task or job. They are usually quantifiable and easy to measure. Examples of hard skills include:
- Computer programming
- Data analysis
- Graphic design
- Web development
Soft skills, on the other hand, are interpersonal skills that help you interact with others. They are more difficult to quantify but are just as important in the workplace. Examples of soft skills include:
- Problem solving
- Time management
- Self management
- Critical thinking
Soft skills are important because they’re transferable . This means they can be applied to any number of settings and can help you succeed in any type of job.
Also, unlike hard skills , which can become outdated quickly, soft skills are always in demand. As the world changes and technology advances, soft skills will become even more important.
Here’s an example of a skills section for a mechanical engineer that includes both hard and soft skills:
Read the full guide : Top Resume Skills and How to List Them
Step 8. Add your education and certifications
You need to include your education somewhere on your resume, but where it appears depends on your individual circumstances.
If you are just starting out in your career, it’s generally a good idea to include your education section near the top of your resume. Recent grads can include relevant coursework, societies, organizations, and extracurriculars that strengthen their candidacy.
However, if you are a few years into your career, your education can appear at the bottom of your resume. This is because your work experience will be more relevant to potential employers at this point in your career.
Unless you’re applying to a job that puts extra emphasis on education (like academia, law, or medicine), most job seekers can get away with providing only the following information on their resume:
- Name of school
- School location
- Year graduated
Read the full guide : How to Format Your Resume Education Section: Tips and Examples
If you have earned any professional certifications that are relevant to the job you are applying for, then you should definitely include them on your resume.
You can list your certifications right under your education information. Be sure to include the name of the certification, the issuing authority, and the date of certification. If the certification is still valid, you can also mention that.
If you have earned multiple certifications, then you can list them in order of importance, with the most relevant ones appearing first.
Here’s an example of what the education section looks like on a pharmacist’s resume:
Read the full guide : 8 Free Certifications to Add to Your Resume
- List your educational achievements in reverse chronological order, with your most recent qualifications first.
- Include any relevant coursework, skills training, licenses, and certifications.
- If you’re still pursuing your education, you can list your expected graduation date.
- Include extracurricular activities, but only if they’re relevant.
- If you studied abroad, include information about the program and what you did there.
- Don’t mention your high school if you have a university degree.
- Don’t disclose your GPA unless you graduated recently and had a very impressive academic career (3.5 GPA plus).
- Don’t lie about your education!
Step 9. Additional resume sections (optional)
Your resume is your opportunity to shine. It’s your chance to show potential employers who you are and what you’re capable of.
One way to really stand out is to include additional information that showcases your skills and accomplishments. If applicable, consider adding the following resume sections:
In today’s global economy, knowing foreign languages can give you a competitive edge over other candidates. Many businesses are looking for employees who can communicate with customers and clients in their native language.
On your resume, list the languages you speak in order of proficiency, starting with your strongest language. Also, specify whether you are fluent, proficient, or conversational in each language. For example:
- Fluent in Spanish and English
- Proficient in French and conversational in German
- Conversational in Japanese
Hobbies and interests
Many people believe that hobbies should remain separate from their professional lives. However, including information about your hobbies on a resume can actually give employers a better sense of who you are as a person.
For example, if you enjoy hiking, it shows that you are physically active and have a sense of adventure. If you enjoy cooking, it shows that you are creative and have a keen interest in food.
When listing your hobbies, make sure to keep it short and sweet. You don’t need to go into great detail about every single hobby you have. Just mention a few that you think are relevant and leave it at that.
If you have been published in any capacity, it is generally a good idea to include this information on your resume, especially if it’s relevant to the job you’re applying to. Most employers love to see that you can communicate effectively in writing.
If you’re not sure where to start, list any published articles, blog posts, books, or even whitepapers that you have written. Be sure to include the title, publisher, and date. For example:
“The Impact of Social Media on Businesses.” The Journal of Business, December 2021.
If you have won any awards that are relevant to the job you’re applying to, you should absolutely include them on your resume. Awards will impress potential employers and help you to stand out from the competition.
Be sure to list the name of the award, the date you received it, and a brief description of the award. For example:
“Top Salesperson” (January 2020) – Awarded to the salesperson with the highest sales numbers for the month.
If you have any volunteer experience, don’t forget to add it to your resume!
According to a LinkedIn survey , 20% of employers say they have hired a candidate because of their volunteer experience. The survey also showed that job seekers who volunteer are 27% more likely to be hired than non-volunteers.
When adding your volunteer experience to your resume, list the name of the organization, the dates of your service, and a brief description of your duties and responsibilities. For example:
Woodstock Food Bank, Jan 2019-present
- Led a team of 10 volunteers in sorting and distributing donated items to local families in need.
- Organized monthly food drives that collected an average of 500 lbs of food per month.
Many professionals use their skills outside of the office. In fact, 57 million workers participate in the gig economy in the US.
Adding your side projects to your resume can be a great way to demonstrate your commitment to lifelong learning and professional development.
Examples of personal projects include designing websites, creating a YouTube channel, coding apps, writing a book, running an ecommerce store, consulting, or starting any kind of new business.
When choosing personal projects to include on your resume, be sure to select those that are most relevant to the position you are applying for.
Does your resume pass the test?
Tailor your resume and optimize for applicant tracking systems with Jobscan.
Step 10. Format your resume so it can be easily read by an ATS
Formatting your resume correctly is absolutely vital if you want to get more job interviews.
Why? Because your resume most likely will go straight into a computer database (ATS) after you submit it. If your resume can’t be read by the ATS due to formatting issues, then all your hard work will be for nothing .
So pay close attention to these formatting do’s and don’ts!
Read the full guide : The Best Fonts for Your Resume
- Use language that is simple and easy to understand. Jargon or difficult language will only confuse the ATS.
- Use a common font such as Times New Roman, Arial, or Helvetica for optimal readability.
- Use a font size that is easy to read. The recommended size is 11-12 pt for regular text, and 14-16 pt for section titles.
- Make sure that the margins on all sides of your resume are 1 inch so that it doesn’t look too crowded.
- Use a Word document when you are creating your resume. This will ensure that it looks good and is easy for the ATS to read.
- Make sure to proofread your resume for mistakes before you send it off.
- Don’t use tables and columns to organize your resume. This can cause important information to get lost when an ATS scans your resume.
- Don’t use unnecessary graphics or embellishments that might be difficult for an ATS to understand.
- Don’t use special characters or symbols that an ATS might misinterpret.
- Don’t make your resume longer than one page, unless absolutely necessary.
Step 11. Add a cover letter
When you submit your resume, you’ll most likely also have to submit a cover letter .
Think of a cover letter as a quick preview of your skills and experience. The goal is to make the hiring manager interested in you so they will want to learn more.
The best cover letters are usually one page long so the message is clear and easy to understand.
How to Write a Cover Letter
- Contact Information – Include your full name, address (including zip code), and phone number with area code. Your contact information should be in the upper left corner of your cover letter.
- Greeting – Ideally, you should find out the name of the hiring manager and greet them directly. You can usually find the hiring manager’s name by searching the company website or even calling the company and asking which hiring manager is assigned to this particular position.
- Opening – Think of your opening sentence as your chance to grab the hiring manager’s attention and get them excited to learn more about you. What can you do that nobody else can?
- Body – You need to sell yourself in this section. The best way to do this is by providing examples of your measurable accomplishments. These are powerful because they show tangible proof of your abilities. Only include the most relevant and positive information about yourself in your cover letter.
- Closing – This section is used to thank the hiring manager for their time and to point out any attachments (website, portfolio, samples). Be professional and don’t sound too eager, or you might sound desperate.
- Use Keywords – If you can, use some of the same keywords from the job description in your cover letter. This will show employers that you have read through the job description carefully and that you understand what they are looking for in a candidate.
A great cover letter can make all the difference when applying to a job. It allows employers to see beyond your resume and get an idea of who you are as a person—and if you would be a good fit for their company culture.
By following these tips, you can write a great cover letter that will improve your chances of getting an interview!
And last but not least…
Remember to thoroughly proofread your resume and cover letter!
Proofreading is one of the most important things you can do before sending off your application. A single typo or mistake can make you look unprofessional and could cost you the job.
If you don’t think your proofreading skills are good enough, ask a friend or family member to help you out. You can also use a free online proofreading tool like Grammarly .
Remember, sending your resume off without carefully proofreading it could spell disaster. So be sure to take the time to update your resume and review it for typos and errors. It could make all the difference in whether or not you get a job interview.
Read the full guide : 7 Steps for Choosing and Using Job References
Explore more resume resources
- How to Find a Job
- Building a Career Network
- Volunteer Work
Creating Your Résumé
- Creating Your Cover Letter
- Job Interview Tips
- Planning for College
- College Planning Timeline
- Taking College Entrance Exams
- Testing Tips
- Choosing a College
- The College Application Process
- Campus Visit Tips
- Writing a College Essay
- College Interview Tips
- Paying for College
- Paying for Two-year Colleges & Trade Schools
- Financial Aid Application
- What to Bring to College
- Campus Life: What to Expect
- Types of Military Service
- Enlisting in the Military
- Becoming an Officer
- College Assistance
- Common Military Questions
- Preparing for Basic Training
- Military Benefits
- Military Life
- Glossary: Military Jargon
Creating your résumé is the first step to getting a job. Learn exactly what goes into this important document and start your career search off on the right foot by creating your own résumé.
Jump to Section
- Step-by-step résumé breakdown
- Submitting your résumé
- Saving your résumé as a PDF
- Printing your résumé
Step-by-Step Résumé Breakdown
A résumé is a one-page summary of your work and school experiences. Employers match your résumé against their job openings to evaluate if you'd be a good fit. As such, it's important to make your résumé a good representation of yourself. Here's how, step by step:
1. Decide Which Type of Résumé You Want.
There are three types of résumés: chronological, functional and combination. You might want to consider more than one format of résumé if you're applying for multiple jobs.
- Chronological is the most traditional format and lists experiences according to the order in which they took place. These résumés generally appeal to older readers and may be best suited for a conservative field.
- Functional is a type of résumé that lists your experiences according to skill. This is the format to use if you're changing career direction (and lack direct work experience). Because it displays your skills first, your work experience, or lack thereof, is not the main focus.
- Combination combines the best aspects of the chronological and functional styles. Be careful with length for this format; the résumé can quickly get long.
2. Create a Header.
A header should include your name, phone number and email address. You can also include your mailing address, but leave it out if you plan to post your résumé online.
- Use a phone number that you plan to answer and change your voicemail to a more professional message if necessary.
- Make sure your email address is professional. If your current email address, for example, is [email protected] or [email protected], it's time to set up a new email, such as [email protected] or [email protected]
3. Write a Summary.
In one or two sentences, summarize your work experience and relevant skills. Keep this strong and simple.
- The summary can be useful to explain why you're applying for a role that is a departure from your career path.
- You don't have to include a summary, especially if your experience speaks for itself and is relevant to the jobs you're applying for.
4. List Your Experiences or Skills.
For chronological/combination résumés, list your experiences.
Starting with your most recent or current job, list your previous work experiences.
- This section shows where you have worked and when. It also states specific accomplishments for each position or job.
- This is where content can make your résumé run over a page, so be selective (if necessary) about what you include.
- Pick experiences that seem most relevant to the position you seek. For inspiration, think of your full-time or part-time work, summer jobs, occasional jobs, internships, fieldwork and special projects.
- Don't worry whether your experiences are "good enough." Employers admire people who have worked hard in a variety of positions.
- Always start each achievement with an accomplishment verb, like accelerated, achieved, expanded, influenced, solved, maintained, generated, effected, advised, controlled, trained or utilized.
- Don't worry if there are gaps in the timeline, but keep everything in chronological order, with most recent jobs at the top.
Southwestern Writing Center, Peer Writing Tutor, Yuma, AZ
April 2014–Present - Tutored students in writing for all disciplines. - Critiqued peers' writing.
Camp Granite Falls, Area Director, Mountainville, TN June 2013–September 2017 - Directed staff of four while supervising 20 campers. - Taught crafts, sports and cooking.
For Functional/Combination Résumés, List Your Skills
The "skills" section of your résumé is a place where you can show your strengths and individuality. Start by stating each skill. Then back it up with a two- to three-line explanation of how you learned that skill or why you believe you have it. Make these entries short, clear and to the point.
- List skills that are most relevant to the job you seek. Think about what the employer is looking for in relation to what you've done and who you are as a person.
- Don't forget to list computer programs you've had experience with; proficiency can be seen as added value.
Self-Motivated: Proactively organized volunteers to assist with distribution at the community food ban k.
Bookkeeping: Maintained accurate, detailed inventory reports at school library and subsequently won Top Librarian Assistant award three months straight for Brown County.
5. List Your Activities.
List activities in which you have participated and include what your specific role was in each.
- This is the place to note membership or leadership positions in clubs, organizations of any kind, athletic teams, community organizations and so on.
- If you've had an interesting job unrelated to the field you're pursuing—such as reading to blind children or teaching English as a second language (ESL)—add it here. Employers are always looking for people with diverse backgrounds to work for them.
Track Team: Team Captain, Senior Year. Fall 2016–Spring 2017.
Drama Club: "Crazy for You" and "West Side Story." Fall 2017 and 2018.
6. List Your Education.
- List the schools you've attended, starting with the most recent one. Include details such as GPA, class rank or special awards.
- Add any other educational experiences, such as training programs, community college or summer courses, seminars and so on.
Oldham County High School, Oldham, PA. 3.8 GPA. Anticipated Graduation: June 2019.
Bellville Adult Education, Bellville, NY. Introduction to Web Design. September 2017.
7. List Any Awards You've Won and When You Won Them.
When you've been recognized by someone else, you should let potential employers know about it. But you shouldn't worry if you haven't received any awards; just skip this section.
Richmond County National Essay Contest, Honorable Mention, May 2006.
Honor Roll, South Satchewan High School, Junior and Senior Years, 2008–2010.
8. List Your Personal Interests.
- This section shows you're a well-rounded person who people would want to know and work with.
- Employers often use this section at the start of an interview to break the ice.
- Casual interests are better not to list (e.g., napping, watching reality TV, gossiping). This is really about highlighting hobbies that have helped you grow as a person.
- This résumé step is considered optional. If you're having trouble coming up with interests, or feel your résumé is already too long, feel free to leave it off.
Ceramics, camping, reading, soccer, automotive repair, carpentry
Submitting Your Résumé
When it comes to applying for a job, there are several ways you can share your résumé with an employer. Make sure you're aware of these dos and don'ts to ensure your hard work is represented clearly.
Saving Your Résumé as a PDF
Most employers prefer to receive résumés in the Portable Document Format (PDF). To create yours, look for the "Save as PDF" or "Print to PDF" option in your word processor. Review the file carefully to make sure your formatting is preserved.
Emailing a Résumé
When emailing a résumé, you will likely be asked to send it as an attachment. Review the job listing carefully to see if there is a preferred format; most likely, employers will ask for a PDF.
Posting a Résumé
When submitting your résumé to a human resources website, review the upload instructions; the PDF is the most common format here as well.
Another consideration when submitting your résumé online is using job-specific keywords. Employers often search résumé banks for special words or requirements specific to a job description. Including keywords in the summary, experience, skills and awards sections of your résumé will increase your chances of being flagged as a potential match. You should also use such keywords in the title and brief description of yourself that most job sites request.
Keywords tend to be nouns that are industry-specific qualifications, skills or terms. Some keyword examples include degrees or certifications, job titles, computer lingo, industry jargon, product names, company names and professional organizations.
And lastly, if you're posting your résumé or portfolio to a job website, be sure to conceal your contact information by activating the privacy settings offered on most job sites or by providing only an email address. Posting personal information on the web could attract unwanted attention.
Printing Your Résumé
It's a good idea to have printed copies of your résumé on hand when you go on interviews. Start with a well-formatted document and make sure it has been proofread. You also want to make sure it's the same version that you submitted as part of your application. Use high-quality paper rather than regular copy paper; it will make a much better impression. Make sure your printer has fresh ink and then print a test run to check for any errors or inconsistencies.
Take a look at different samples to see which works best for you.
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- Resume Help
How to Make a Resume: Step-by-Step Writing Guide for 2023
How to write a resume that will get you the job you're looking for? This step-by-step guide will show you the best resume examples, and you can write a resume in a few easy steps.
As seen in:
Landing an interview is a race against the clock—dozens of job seekers have already written their resumes and applied for *your* dream job.
How to beat them and land that position?
Let's get started with our step-by-step guide on how to make a perfect resume.
Want to save time and have your resume ready in 5 minutes? Try our resume builder. It’s fast and easy to use. Plus, you’ll get ready-made content to add with one click. See 20+ resume templates and create your resume here .
Create your resume now
Sample resume made with our builder— See more resume examples here .
To start with, watch our video to get the basics of writing a resume right:
Our guide serves to write a resume for any job. However, for maximum efficiency, making a resume for your specific situation is ideal. Check out a few of our guides, they may also apply to you:
- Resume With No Experience
- Entry-Level Resume
- Student Resume
- College Student Resume
- Internship Resume
- College Application Resume
- Teen Resume
- Resume for a Part-Time Job
- Resume With Employment Gaps
- Career Change Resume
- Military to Civilian Resume
- Federal Resume
- Canadian Resume
- Specific Resume Examples for 500+ Jobs
In case you wondered! What the US and Canada call a resume, most of the rest of the world calls a curriculum vitae (CV) . South Africa, India, New Zealand, and Australia tend to use the terms resume and CV interchangeably. For more, you can learn the differences between a resume and a CV .
If you're an international reader, switch over to:
- How to Write a CV for a Job in 7 Easy Steps: (15+ Examples)
- Biodata Format for a Job in India
Making a resume for the first time? Not sure how to ace each of the points listed above? No worries. Click any of those links to read our tips about that particular step and get examples of how to do it right.
How To Make A Resume
- Choose the Right Resume Format
- Add Your Contact Information and Personal Details
- Start With a Heading Statement (Resume Summary or Resume Objective)
- List Your Relevant Work Experience & Key Achievements
- Reference Your Education Correctly
- Put Relevant Skills That Fit the Job Ad
- Include Additional Important Resume Sections
- Complement Your Resume With a Cover Letter
- Proofread, Save & Email Your Resume the Right Way
1. Choose the Right Resume Format
You can't just start writing a resume by putting your info together in some easy resume template all willy-nilly.
Instead, first select from the standard resume formats:
Pros: Traditional resume style, familiar to potential employers.
Cons: Very common, not the most creative resume design format.
Pros: Great for experienced pros and career changers for highlighting transferable skills.
Cons: Uncommon type, not as familiar, not recommended for entry-level jobseekers.
Functional format (skills-based)
Pros: Entry-level job hunters can emphasize skills over lack of experience.
Cons: HR managers may think you're hiding something.
To learn more about the best resume format to use for your particular situation, check out:
- The common resume format examples .
- Chronological resume , i.e., the classic resume layout.
- The combination resume template , or a chrono-functional resume.
- The functional resume template focusing on skills.
- Good resume designs to ease your choice .
Also, take a look at our list of free resume templates .
Most job applicants will likely want to choose the reverse-chronological resume template :
The chronological resume is a traditional resume format that emphasizes your duties, experience, and work history. As the standard format, it tends to be the easiest to read and scan. You'll list your most recent positions first, and go back through past jobs in reverse-chronological order from there.
Pro Tip: There are several studies that theorize relationships between resume cues and the applicant's personality and hireability, further impacting hiring judgments through resumes. Be careful which info you choose to include!
2. Add Your Contact Information and Personal Details
A career diplomat knows what information should be disclosed, and which is better held back.
Likewise, there are basic items that you must include in the contact information section, but you should also know what not to put on a resume :
Contact Information to Include in a Resume:
- Name: First name, last name (middle name optional).
- Phone Number: Personal cell phone is preferred over the home phone number.
- Email Address: Today's preferred means of communication.
- LinkedIn URL: Include your LinkedIn profile (hiring managers will spy on you anyway).
Contact Information to Leave Out:
- Date of Birth: Adding your birthdate could lead to ageism. Add only if required, such as for jobs serving alcohol, for example.
- Second Email or Phone Number: A second email address, mailing address, or phone number will just confuse them (and you).
- Photo/Headshot: In the United States, resume images and profile photos are usually not recommended.
Contact Information That Is Optional:
- Home address: Leave your address off your resume , unless it’s required.
- Resume title
- Personal website
Personal websites and social media are now okay to list on a resume header :
Marketing-specific advice? Perhaps. But employers will look you up online anyway, so keep that in mind.
To be sure you get the personal details on your resume right, have a glance at our resume contact information guide.
Pro Tip: Give them a professional email address, not your old high school handle ([email protected]…) or an outdated email provider (…@hotmail.com). Studies have proven that a formal email address is much more hirable than an informal one.
3. Start With a Heading Statement (Resume Summary or Resume Objective)
You know how most Tinder users have little patience? And it takes a witty statement, or a provocative image to get a person not to swipe left on you?
Well, the employer flips through resumes just as fast. In less than 7 seconds, as our HR statistics report shows, hiring managers scan your resume and make an initial decision. That means your resume summary statement/resume objective statement is likely to have the most eye time since it's at the top of the page.
You've got to compose a statement that paints an attractive image of your candidacy. After all, what is the purpose of a resume but to give the best impression of your clout as a candidate? Only question is—which one should you choose?
Here's how to write a resume profile that makes the recruiter swipe right:
What Is a Resume Summary Statement
Got enough relevant experience ? Choose the resume summary statement that will condense your position-related skills and qualifications.
Let's take a look at how to write a professional summary (or not), with right and wrong examples for clarity:
Difference? Wrong focuses on everyday duties, not accomplishments. Right gives evidence of IT consultant resume skills, achievements, and experience.
Pro Tip: The “right” resume summary above also mentioned the company by name. This is a great way to make sure that your resume feels personalized, rather than just sent to every company out there.
See more resume summary examples .
What Is a Resume Objective Statement
Choose the resume objective statement if you have no work experience at all or at least none related to the position you're applying for (entry-level applicants, career changers, students, etc.). You'll make the case that though you don't have experience with this position, you do have experience relevant to it, and transferable skills from other areas.
Let's look at another set of good/bad examples on writing an objective for a resume:
In the Right one, we used some transferable skills from the previous company and some proud resume achievements… with numbers. Remember: numbers speak louder than words! The Wrong one doesn't show enough to hold the hiring manager's attention.
Feel free to explore some more resume objective examples —and for experienced candidates, it's worth considering a summary of qualifications , too.
Pro Tip: If you noticed, both “wrong” examples above used the first-person. Avoid this on your resume.
When making a resume in our builder, drag & drop bullet points, skills, and auto-fill the boring stuff. Spell check? Check . Start building a professional resume template here for free .
When you’re done, Zety’s resume builder will score your resume and tell you exactly how to make it better.
4. List Your Relevant Work Experience & Key Achievements
If you think of your resume as a fancy meal, the resume experience section is the main course. It includes the most important things to put on a resume , like your work history and past achievements.
Let's go through the various job history components of the perfect resume experience section now.
How to Format the Resume Work Experience Section
The recommended way to format your employment history in the job experience section is this:
- Job Title: This should go at the very top of each entry of work history so that it's easy for potential employers to scan and find. Make it bold and/or increase the font size by 1pt or 2pts from the rest of the entry.
- Company, City, State: On the second line, include the previous employer's company name, and the city and state of the location you worked at.
- Dates Employed: Thirdly, put the timeframe of your employment there. You can add the year or both the month and the year, but there's no need to put exact days.
- Key Responsibilities: Don't just list every single task you did in your job history. Focus on the few duties most relevant to the new job.
- Key Achievements : Often overlooked, but super important. Employers know what you did, but they need to know how well you did them.
- Keywords: It is important to sprinkle resume keywords throughout the experience section (we'll talk more about this shortly).
If adding more than one job history entry to your resume or CV experience section, start with the most recent position and go back in reverse-chronological order from there. Use five or six bullet points to make your case for each entry's responsibilities and achievements.
Also, your experience section resume bullet points should go near the top, just under your heading statement. However, if you have little or no professional experience, put your education section above your work history.
Got a promotion you want to show off, or more than one job title within the same company? Don't worry, our guide on how to show promotions and multiple positions will show you how.
The work experience section of your resume where you describe your past jobs is the most crucial component of your whole job application. Make sure you get it right: Work Experience on a Resume: Job Description Bullets that *Kill* [100+]
Tailoring Your Resume Work Experience
Robots are taking over. As hiring practices continue to modernize, larger companies are turning to applicant tracking systems (ATS) to give them a hand. ATS software automates the early stages of the recruitment process. How? They look for keywords and assign a score per candidate.
So, tailoring your resume is an absolute must, and your experience section is where you'll do most of it. To create an ATS-friendly resume , go back to the job description and look for resume keywords related to your responsibilities. If you see duties you've performed, include them in your resume job description bullet points .
Tailoring your resume also involves knowing how long a resume should be . There are pros and cons for a one-page resume and the two-page resume but avoid anything longer.
Also, don't use the same, tired words (“responsible for…”) in your resume job experience area. Instead, choose power words and action verbs which will keep them interested. Use present tense to describe your current job and past tense to talk about previous experience.
Finally, don't use passive voice, as it feels evasive and unclear. Instead, choose active voice when writing a resume, as it's concise and to the point:
How Much Work Experience to Include on a Resume?
In principle, a resume should go back no more than 10-15 years . But the more experience you have, the less you should worry about the length of your resume. Don't go trying to cram everything into a 1-page resume template if you're a highly-experienced candidate.
Senior-level applicants , such as executives and managers, should list up to 15 years of relevant work experience with powerful action verbs to introduce each bullet point.
Mid-level jobseekers should include detailed job descriptions of relevant positions and a brief mention of any other positions.
Entry-level candidates should list and describe all paid work, particularly calling out responsibilities and achievements that are most relevant.
First-time job hunters with no work experience can still include other history, such as a student organization role, internship, or volunteer experience, to fill out their experience section.
As you learn how to write a resume, remember the best resume templates will highlight your experience and eligibility. Don't hide it with the wrong order, a dull resume layout, or a template free of character. With dozens of good resume examples, templates, and styles, Zety is the best resume builder online .
Make a resume in no time with our resume builder app and 20+ great templates.
Experienced a spell of unemployment? Don't worry! Check out our guide: How to Explain Gaps in Your Resume .
5. Reference Your Education Correctly
Many people treat the education section as an afterthought, but you shouldn't. It's an essential part of your resume structure .
How to List Your Education on a Resume:
- Place your highest degree first .
- List any other degrees in reverse-chronological order.
- Skip the high school info if you finished a university.
- Mention completed credits if your education is unfinished ( some college on a resume is better than none).
- Add any relevant coursework , list honors on your job application , or mention the awards you received (e.g., making the Dean's List ).
- Finish with relevant extracurricular activities .
Simple, huh? Here's a brief look at how to list education on a resume:
As for mentioning your GPA on a resume , it’s only a good idea if you graduated recently and your GPA was high enough to impress employers: at least 3.5. Otherwise, just leave it off your application.
Want to know how to create a resume education section if you have a GED or didn't graduate? Not sure about the proper resume education format? Check out our article on how to put education on a resume .
Pro Tip: Don't lie in your resume or CV education section. A credit short of a diploma is not a diploma. Also, don't round your GPA up. Anyway, many business degrees don't necessarily improve job prospects.
6. Put Relevant Skills That Fit the Job Ad
Your skills are crucial to making your resume relevant to the position (and attractive to employers). A good resume uses the job ad as reference and includes resume keywords to show you're a good fit for the job.
What Are Hard Skills vs. Soft Skills
Hard skills are specific abilities and know-how (e.g., Photoshop, using a cash register).
Soft skills are self-developed, life-learned attributes (e.g., social skills, adaptability).
Combined, these make up a skill set, which is a job seeker's range of skills and abilities.
Pro Tip: Don't list irrelevant skills! An IT resume doesn't need to disclose your veterinary skills, and a resume for a chef shouldn't include your ability to use Photoshop.
What Skills to Put on a Resume?
Remember that job description you had handy from earlier? Read it again, paying attention to any specific skills that it mentions. If you have any of them, great: those are the keywords to put on your resume! Not only will that make your resume more ATS-friendly, you’ll also prove to recruiters that you’re the right fit for the job.
In case you’d like more guidance, here is a list of some common skills to put on a resume :
- Communication skills —These can include social skills, non-verbal communication, listening skills , and interpersonal skills .
- Technical skills —Knowledge required to perform specific tasks, like computer skills or clerical skills.
- Job-specific skills—Particular prowess the company specifically requires.
- Leadership skills and management skills —Ability to be a good manager, leader, and supervisor.
- Critical thinking skills —Ability to make your own, thought-based decisions and take initiative. Includes analytical skills , decision-making skills , and problem-solving skills .
- Organizational skills —A knack for planning, organizing, and seeing initiatives through.
- Transferable skills —for career changers, these are abilities you learned that can be carried over to your new position.
Pro Tip: Don't just google “skills for a [industry] resume” and throw in the results. Take time to tailor your resume skills list to the job posting, as we mentioned earlier.
How to List Skills on a Resume?
There are several ways to include a list of skills on a resume. For most, a simple skills section that includes 5-6 key abilities and your proficiency level is enough:
For specific job titles and technical skills, you may want to list your particular knowledge per item, to give them specific detail into the areas of the skill you excel at:
Pro Tip: Not every skill is worth mentioning on a resume! Saying you can use Microsoft Word is like bragging about being able to use a fork.
7. Include Additional Important Resume Sections
Here's the thing—everyone's job resumes include those sections above. But what should a resume include to make it personalized?
Make your resume unique by including extra resume information . Additional sections on your resume can showcase just about anything about you, from your proud commendations to languages in which you're fluent and more.
Here's how to make your resume stand out with extra sections:
Hobbies and Interests
You might not think that your love of baseball and being the Little League assistant coach would be of interest to a potential employer. However, listing your hobbies and interests subtly proves your ability to work well in a team, and the coaching can verify your leadership and management expertise.
Volunteering boosts employability, studies find . For most job seekers, listing any volunteer experience as one of your additional resume sections is a great way to show your commitment and values. It also lets them know that you don't only care about the money. For entry-level or first-time applicants who have no experience, volunteer work makes an excellent stand-in .
Listing internships on your resume is only OK if you're fresh out of school, had one or two other jobs, or you haven't been on the market for longer than 4–5 years.
Certifications and Awards
Got any certifications, licenses to show off on your resume ? If they are relevant to the job and industry, include them!
Placed first in a chili cook-off at the state fair? If you're looking to be a cook, it will definitely help. Likewise, a food safety certification or food handler's license that you already have would surely be in your favor.
Speak another language? Impressive! Listing language skills on a resume only extends your usefulness as an employee, particularly in international corporations or localities where there is a large population speaking that second language. List the language, international variation (Latin American Spanish, for example), and your language fluency levels.
You can include projects as a separate section if you've done a bunch, or simply mention one or two below each job description.
Have articles written for a blog, newspaper, or scientific journal? Mention those publications on a resume . If your published material isn't online, create a short bibliography of the works you'd like them to acknowledge.
Also, if you've built graphic designs or other creative creations, or if your list of publications or projects is too long to go on a resume, consider building an online portfolio to document everything. Link to it from the contact section, in this case.
8. Complement Your Resume With a Cover Letter
You need to submit a cover letter , most definitely. Your cover letter or job application letter lets you expand upon things that you need to keep brief on your resume. Also, it allows you to speak easily in normal sentences !
Sound like an overkill? Think again. Most employers think a resume is not enough to make a decision. Follow our guide on how to make a cover letter (or a cover letter with no experience or cover letter for an internship ), and you'll knock this out quickly and painlessly.
Plus, a great cover letter that matches your resume will give you an advantage over other candidates. You can write it in our cover letter builder here. Here's what it may look like:
See more cover letter templates and start writing.
9. Proofread, Save, and Email Your Resume the Right Way
You're almost there, but don't send it off just yet. Here are some resume best practices to keep in mind, so you can rest assured that you wrote the perfect resume :
Proofread & Double-Check
Double-check your CV or resume draft before sending it out. Scan your resume and cover letter (and email!) with a tool like Grammarly . Then, ask a friend or family member to triple-check. Better safe than sorry!
Pro Tip: Have a look at our guides on resume tips and resume mistakes to avoid , for more.
As for the question of how to spell resume? It's still a bone of contention, but we think “resume” without the accents is the best choice.
Check Your Online Presence
Remember when we discussed social media and LinkedIn back in the contact section?
Before a recruiter or hiring manager gets the chance to look you and your employment history up, you better have your online presence sanitized ! That means removing any offensive posts and making private things private. While you're at it, tweak your LinkedIn profile so that it's up-to-date and complete.
Pro Tip: Don't send your email to the catch-all public email address for the entire company, unless the job listing specifically asks you to do so. Find the personal email address of the HR manager, instead, if you can.
Save Your Resume
Word Doc or PDF? See what the job ad says. Resumes in PDF usually work best, because they preserve the structure and formatting on all devices. However, if the company’s asking the candidates to send resumes in Microsoft Word .doc format, creating your resume in Word and sending it as required is a better idea.
How to name your resume file ? Easy: include your name, job title, and the word resume , separated with hyphens or underscores.
What about references? You definitely shouldn't include them on a resume, but you can include a reference page with a resume .
Pro Tip: When emailing your resume, check the job description to see if they ask applicants to send emails with something specific in the subject line of the email. If not, go with the position title, posting any job reference number, if required, your name, and include the word “resume.”
Make It Legible
This entire document you're making is completely useless if the employer can't actually read it. Make it easy for them to scan by keeping these points in mind.
What Should a Resume Look Like—Formatting:
- Choose the best resume font —a standard font that will render correctly on most machines, like Cambria, Calibri, Arial, Times New Roman, or Helvetica. No cursive!
- Go for single line spacing, and 11pt or 12pt font size for the regular text. Increase to 14pt—16pt font size for section titles. Avoid making your resume margins too small , and make them equal on all sides.
- Use bold text to draw attention to particular words or phrases, and italics for supporting text. Avoid underlining, as it just makes the resume feel cluttered (and URLs already use it).
- Complement the standard font of your text by alternating serif for sans-serif (or vice versa) in any section headings. For example, you can pair the Arial font (sans-serif) or Calibri font (sans-serif) with the Times New Roman font (serif).
- Go for the best resume paper you can afford if you're printing your resume. It'll add an extra professional touch.
Consistency on your resume draft is crucial, just like your consistency as their future employee. For example, format your dates any way you'd like (31 Dec, December 31, 12-2020, etc.), but follow the same throughout.
If you find an icon to introduce a particular resume section , find resume icons for each section or skip them altogether. Don't use the wrong verb tenses or go back and forth between tenses. If it was a past job that you no longer work at, use the past tense. If you're listing a current position, use the present tense. Whatever you do, keep them consistent throughout.
Email Your Resume the Right Way
When you send a resume to a catch-all email address such as [email protected] , your resume and cover letter are entering a sea of similar emails from other job seekers fighting for the same position as you.
Find the name of the person who will be reading your resume and personalize your email with that information. Sending a resume is much more compelling when you use Dear Susan instead of To Whom It May Concern .
That was super-detailed, we know. So here are a few general resume tips for making a resume:
- Stay relevant —Every single item on your resume should prove you are the best possible candidate.
- Tailor —Make one resume specifically for one specific job and company to apply to. Name the company and pick skills that relate to the open position.
- Choose the right stuff —Use active voice, write a heading statement for your situation, and don't include unnecessary details.
- Be consistent —Follow the same formatting, styles, colors, and conventions throughout your resume.
- Double-check —Don't send your resume off before you are certain there are no typos and errors. Ask a friend for help or do go through a resume critique .
- Build a resume online —Use Zety's easy resume helper to write your cover letter and resume in no time. More than twenty resume examples and templates are there to help guide you. And, with the tips and advice it gives along the way, you know you'll have a great resume that gets the dream job! We think it's the best resume builder out there.
Have any questions on how to write a resume? Not sure how to make the perfect resume work experience section or how to build a resume list of skills or achievements? Get at us in the comments below, and we'll answer your questions. Thanks for reading, and good luck with your résumé preparation!
Frequently Asked Questions about How to Make a Resume for a Job
What is a resume.
A resume, also referred to as a résumé or a CV, is a document summarizing a person’s professional and academic background, relevant skills, and accomplishments. It’s usually used to introduce yourself and present your qualifications to a prospective employer when applying for a job.
Do you need a specific type? Zety’s prepared hundreds of resume examples , from an entry-level resume to a software engineer resume to a video resume . Visit our page to find your own.
How to make a resume for a job?
First, read the job ad carefully to pick up keywords for your resume that you’ll target to pass the Applicant Tracking Software test. Next, create resume sections necessary to present yourself, your qualifications, and your strengths . The sections are:
- Personal details
- Professional summary or objective
- Employment history
- Other, such as awards, certificates and licenses, or languages
Depending on the industry and experience, you’ll have to think about which additional sections work best . But you definitely can’t write a resume without the other five. You can spare yourself the worry by using our resume maker .
How to write a resume for the first time?
Write your first resume with transferable skills in the skills and resume objective sections. In the work history part, add accomplishments examples that prove your qualities of a valuable employee, such as curiosity, eagerness to learn and assist, and developed communication skills . Internships and volunteering placements fit there perfectly. And most importantly—put your academic achievements right below the objective to highlight your educational advancement.
How to make a good resume that will impress recruiters?
An impressive resume is a resume that reads well and looks so, too . So before you get down to writing the nitty-gritty details of your professional and academic achievements, take care of the resume formatting and layout.
Only then move on to adding the biggest successes under each section: resume profile , experience, education, and skills. But—additional parts make the strongest impression, so don’t forget to include awards, certifications or licenses, or extracurricular activities to your resume . Say you’re an achiever, not a doer.
What is the format of a resume?
The chronological format is the most popular resume format suitable for every job applicant —an entry-level position, a specialist, or an executive. By choosing it, you decide to show off your career progression.
Functional format , or skills-based resume, presents you in the best light when changing careers. It concentrates on your skillset and leaves work history in the back seat.
Combination format , aka a hybrid, is a well-blended mixture of the chronological and functional formats. It’s the most complex one to write as it includes a skills summary and an extended experience section, which is apt for senior positions.
How to make a resume in Word?
You can spare yourself the trouble and use a pre-made Word resume template . But if you have quite some experience with text formatting (and plenty of time), start making your resume in Word . Create a clean layout, choose a font that reads well, and limit the number of graphic elements on the page not to overwhelm the ATS . Then, add the main and additional resume sections in an order suitable for the resume format . Save it in a Word or PDF file at the end, keeping in mind the instructions from the recruiter.
Or, if you need a top-notch resume that takes just minutes to make and looks better than any Word resume, pick one of Zety’s resume templates , add your info, and land that job.
What does a good resume look like in 2023?
In 2023, you need to make even a stronger impression than in the previous years. Use a modern resume template and include the most important sections: personal information, summary or objective, employment history, education, and skills . Add your best achievements under each section and quantify them. Show your future employer that you’ve had an impact and will continue to bring results.
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General Cover Letter That Isn't Generic (Sample for Any Job)
How to write a general cover letter? Copy our sample generic cover letter template, adjust and use it to land an interview. Read more!
What Does the Best Resume Look Like in 2023
Not sure what your resume should look like to impress recruiters and land you that dream interview? You’ve come to the right place to find out. See for yourself.
How to Make Your Resume Stand Out: Real Examples for 2023
You feel your resume isn’t good enough to beat the competition. And you’re not alone. See these transformations of Zety readers’ resumes and learn how to fix yours.
How to Make a Resume in 2023 | Beginner's Guide
For most job-seekers, a good resume is what stands between a dream job and Choice D. Get your resume right, and you’ll be getting replies from every other company you apply to.
If your resume game is weak, though, you’ll end up sitting around for weeks, maybe even months, before you even get a single response.
So you’re probably wondering how you can write a resume that leads to HR managers inviting you to interviews daily.
Well, you’ve come to the right place!
In this guide, we’re going to teach you everything you need to know about how to make a resume, including:
- Pick the Right Resume Format & Layout
- Mention Your Personal Details & Contact Information
- Use a Resume Summary or Objective
- List Your Work Experience & Achievements
- Mention Your Top Soft & Hard Skills
- Include Additional Resume Sections (Languages, Hobbies, etc.)
- Tailor Your Information For the Job Ad
- Craft a Convincing Cover Letter
- Proofread Your Resume and Cover Letter
So, let’s dive right in!
New to resume-making? Give our resumes 101 video a watch before diving into the article!
How to Make a Resume (The Right Way!)
Before we go into detail about how you should make a resume, here’s a summary of the most important steps and tips to keep in mind:
- Choose a resume format carefully. In 99% of the cases, we recommend the chronological format.
- Add the right contact details. Leave your headshot out and make sure to include your job title , a professional email address, and relevant links (e.g. your LinkedIn profile, online portfolio, website, etc.).
- Write an impactful resume summary. Unless you’re an entry-level professional, always go for a resume summary (also known as a career summary). Done right, it’s your chance to get hiring managers to go through the rest of your resume in detail.
- Pay attention to your work experience section. Take your work experience section from OK-ish to exceptional by tailoring it to the job ad, making your achievements quantifiable, and using action verbs and power words.
- Add the right skills for the job. Keep this important section relevant by only including soft and hard skills that are required for the position. Deeper into the article, we’ll show you just how to do that!
- Keep your education short and to the point. Your most recent and highest degree is more than enough for a strong education section. We recommend making a more detailed education section only if you’re a recent graduate with barely any work experience.
- Take advantage of optional resume sections . Optional sections like languages, hobbies, certifications, independent projects, and the sorts, can be what sets you apart from other candidates with similar skills and experience.
- Don’t forget about the cover letter. Cover letters do matter in 2023 so you should definitely include one. To make the most out of your cover letter, check out this detailed guide on how to write a cover letter .
To get the most out of our tips, you can head over to the resume builder and start building your resume on the go as you read this guide.
#1. Pick the Right Resume Format
Before you start filling in your resume, you’ve got to make sure it will look good.
After all, recruiters first notice how your resume looks, rather than what it contains. So, this is your best chance to make a great first impression.
This includes picking the right resume format and doing the layout .
So, first things first - how should you format your resume?
There are three types of resume formats out there:
- Reverse chronological resume format. This is the most popular resume format among recruiters and, as such, the right format for most job-seekers.
- Functional resume format . This format focuses more on skills rather than work experience and is useful if you’re just getting started with your career and have little-to-no experience in the field.
- Combination resume format . The combination resume is a great choice for experienced job-seekers with a very diverse skill set. It’s useful if you’re applying for a role that requires expertise in 3-4 different fields and you want to show all that in your resume. Say, for example, you’re applying for a senior management role, and the requirements are expertise in Management, Sales, and Software Development.
So, which one do you go for?
As we already mentioned, in 99% of cases, you’d want to stick to the reverse-chronological resume format . It’s the most popular format, and most HR managers are used to it. Hence, in this guide, we’re going to focus on teaching you how to make a reverse-chronological resume.
Fix Your Resume Layout
With formatting out of the way, let’s discuss your resume’s layout . After all, the layout is the first thing a job recruiter notices about your resume.
Does it look organized or cluttered? Is it too short or too long? Is it boring and easy to ignore, or is it reader-friendly and attention-grabbing?
Here are some of the best practices when it comes to your resume layout:
- One page in length . You should only go for 2 pages if you really , really believe that it’ll add significant value. HR managers in big firms get around 1,000+ resumes per month. They’re not going to spend their valuable time reading your life story!
- Clear section headings. Pick a heading (H2, for example) and use it for all the section headers.
- Ample white space , especially around the margins. Without the right amount of white space, your resume will end up looking overcrowded with information
- Easy-to-read font. We’d recommend sticking to what stands out, but not too much. Do: Ubuntu, Roboto, Overpass, etc. Don’t ( ever ): Comic Sans
- Readable font size . As a rule of thumb, go for 11-12 pt for normal text and 14-16 pt for section titles.
- PDF file type. Always save your resume as a PDF file. Although Word is a popular alternative , it has a good chance of messing up your resume formatting.
One more thing you need to consider in terms of resume layout is whether you’re going for a traditional-looking resume template or something a bit more modern :
If you’re pursuing a career in a more traditional industry - legal , banking , finance , etc. - you might want to stick to the first.
If you’re applying to a tech company, though, where imagination and innovation are valued, you can go for a more creative template .
Want to Save Time? Use a (Free) Resume Template
Anyone who’s ever tried creating a resume from scratch knows how boring the formatting can be.
Before you can even start filling in the contents, you need to tweak the margins, adjust font sizes, make sure everything fits into one page WHILE also looking good, and so on.
Want to skip past that AND create a very compelling resume?
Try one of our free resume templates. They’re pre-formatted, so all you have to do is fill in the contents.
They’re also created in collaboration with recruiters from around the globe, ensuring that the templates are visually appealing and ATS-friendly!
See for yourself how it compares to a resume created in a text editor:
#2. Add Your Contact Information
Now that we’ve got all the formatting out of the way, let’s talk about what’s really important: your resume content .
The first thing you want to do when filling out the contents of your resume is to add your contact information .
This is a straightforward, yet critical section.
Even if you get everything else right, you’re not going to go far if the HR manager can’t get in touch with you because you misspelled your email, right?
So, double-check, and even triple-check your contact information section and make sure everything is correct and up-to-date.
- First Name / Last Name.
- Phone Number.
- Email Address.
- Location - are you located in the area, or will the company have to sponsor relocation?
- Profesional Title - Your professional title. It can be your position, word-for-word, or your desired job. Think “Digital Marketing Specialist” or “Junior Data Scientist.”
- LinkedIn URL - If you have an up-to-date profile that can add value to your application, make sure to include the link.
- Relevant Social Media - Do you have a published portfolio online? For developers, this would be your GitHub, for a designer Behance or Dribble. For a writer, it could be your personal blog.
- Website / Blog - Do you have an online presence? Maybe a blog that positions you as an expert in your field? If you do, make sure to mention it!
- Date of Birth (unless specifically required in the job ad) - The HR manager doesn’t need to know how old you are. It’s not important for their decision-making, and at worst, it might lead to discrimination based on age.
- Unprofessional Email Address - Do: [email protected] Don’t: [email protected]
- Headshot in USA, UK or Ireland. Consider including one in Europe & Asia, but always check the regulations for each specific country or industry.
All clear? Good! Now, let’s examine what a successful example of the contact section looks like:
#3. Write a Resume Headline (Summary or Objective)
It's no secret that recruiters spend less than ten seconds on a resume on average.
When you receive hundreds, if not thousands, of applications daily, it's physically impossible to spend too much time on each.
So, in order for the hiring manager to go through the resumes effectively (without spending an entire day), they scan through the resume real quick, and if it catches their interest, they get into it in more detail.
And the first thing that the hiring manager looks at is the resume headline .
Depending on your professional standing, a resume headline can be either a resume summary or a resume objective .
Both are placed at the top of your resume, right below or next to the contact information section. For example:
Now, you might be wondering whether you should use a resume summary or an objective, and how to write one effectively.
Well, that brings us to our next section:
What’s a Resume Summary & When to Use it
A resume summary is a 2-3 sentence summary of your career. You should use a resume summary in basically any situation, unless you’re a recent university graduate or switching careers (in that case, you use a resume objective. More on that later!).
In your resume summary, you need to mention:
- Your job and years of experience. E.g.: Customer support representative with 5+ years of experience in the IT industry.
- 1 or 2 top achievements (or core responsibilities). E.g.: Specialized in technical support, customer care, and user retention.
- Desired goal (generally, passion for working at a specific company). E.g.: Looking for new opportunities as a support lead for a SaaS company.
Here’s an example of a well-written resume summary:
What’s a Resume Objective & When to Use it
A resume objective is, in a nutshell, the goal of your resume. It communicates your motivation for getting into a new field. As with a resume summary, a resume objective should be around 2-3 sentences.
As we’ve mentioned before, a resume objective is the go-to for anyone who either has no work experience or is going through a career change .
So, here’s what that would look like if you’re a student :
- Hard-working recent graduate with a B.A. in Graphic Design from New York State University seeking new opportunities. 3+ years of practical experience working with Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop, creating illustrations & designing UX / UI. Looking to grow as a designer, as well as perfect my art, at the XYZ Design Studio.
Or, on the other hand, if you’re going through a career change:
- IT project manager with 5+ years of experience in software development. Managed a team of developers to create products for several industries, such as FinTech and HR tech. Looking to leverage my experience in managing outsourced products as a Product Owner at XYZ.
#4. Prioritize Your Work Experience
The most important part of your resume is your work experience.
This is where you really get to sell yourself, displaying your past accomplishments and responsibilities.
If you manage to master this section alone, you’ll know 80%+ of all there is to know about how to make a resume.
There are plenty of best practices for writing your work experience. Before we dive into all the nits and grits, though, let’s start with the basics...
How to List Work Experience in a Resume
The standard format for your work experience is as follows:
- Job Title/Position - Your job title goes on top of each work experience entry. When the HR manager scans your resume, you want them to know, at a glance, that you have relevant work experience for the job.
- Company Name / Location / Description - Then, you mention the name of the relevant employer, as well as the location of the office you work/have worked in. In some cases, you may also want to briefly describe the company, if the organization is not a famous household name.
- Dates Employed - The timeframe of your employment in each company. Not sure about the exact dates you worked somewhere? Don’t worry - you don’t have to be accurate by the day, as long as it’s close. The standard format expected by recruiters and employers is mm/yyyy (this is especially important when your job application will be parsed by an Applicant Tracking System).
- Achievements and Responsibilities - This is the core of each work experience entry. Depending on your field, you want to list either your achievements or responsibilities. We’ll get more into the hows and whys of this in a bit.
Here’s a real-life example:
As you can see, the work experience listings should be mentioned in reverse-chronological order - starting with the most recent job and going all the way back into the past.
Now that you know how to list your experience, we’re going to talk about how to write about your experience in such a way that you stand out from the competition.
Are you a student with no work experience? We’ve got you covered. Check out our guide to writing a resume with no experience here.
List Achievements When Possible
One of the most common resume mistakes is listing only responsibilities in your work experience section.
Here’s the thing - in most cases, the hiring manager knows exactly what your responsibilities were. Let’s say you’re a sales manager, for example. Your responsibilities would be:
- Reach out to potential clients over the phone or email.
- Maintain relationships with existing company clients and upsell relevant products.
- Tracking and reporting on leads in CRM.
- Coincidently, this is exactly the same list of responsibilities for every sales manager. 90% of all other resumes probably mention just about the same thing.
So, to stand out, you want to focus on mentioning achievements in your resume instead. Or in simple terms, how exactly you helped the company grow, reach quarterly quotas, and so on.
- Exceeded sales team KPIs by 30%+ for 3 months straight.
- Generated over $24,000 in sales in 1 month.
- Generated leads through cold-calling
- Managed existing company clients
Keep in mind, though, that in some fields, there aren’t that many achievements you can mention. Let’s say you work in a warehouse. Your day-to-day responsibilities probably involve:
- Loading, unloading and setting up equipment on a daily basis.
- Package finished product and get it ready for shipping.
- Assist in opening and closing the warehouse.
In such fields, it’s pretty hard to distinguish yourself, so it’s totally OK to stick to responsibilities instead.
Tailor Your Resume to the Job
Tailoring is what sets an amazing resume apart from the “ OK ” one.
Hiring managers don’t want to know every single job you’ve worked, or every single skill that you possess.
They specifically want to know about your jobs, experiences, or skills that are somehow related to the role you’re applying for .
For example, if you’re applying for a job doing Google Ads , you don’t really need to talk about your SEO internship from 8 years ago.
By focusing your resume on whatever is important for a given role, you’re a LOT more likely to stand out and catch the hiring manager’s attention!
So, let’s cover a simple example of how to do this. Let’s say that after reading the following job ad for the position of a digital marketer, you discover that the most critical requirements for the job are:
- 5+ years of experience in online marketing
- Social media marketing experience, with good knowledge of Facebook advertising
- B.A. in Marketing or Business Administration
- Experience managing a 20,000 USD monthly advertising budget on Facebook
Now, to tailor your resume to these requirements, simply mention each in your resume, as long as you have the relevant achievements and qualifications!
For example, you can use:
- Your resume summary to mention your years of experience,
- Your achievements in previous jobs to prove you’ve got social media marketing experience
- Your education section to let the hiring manager know you have the degree they’re looking for
Include the Right Amount of Work Experience
If you’ve got over a decade’s worth of work experience, you’re probably confused about how much of it you mention in your resume. After all, If you had to list everything you’ve ever done, you’d end up writing a mini-novella.
Or, on the other hand, if you’re a newcomer to the job market, you probably don’t have any experience and are wondering what you could even mention.
Here’s how much information you’d mention in your resume depending on your level of experience:
- Job hunters with no experience - If you don’t have any experience, it might be a bit hard to fill in your work experience section. You can either keep it empty and focus on all the other sections, or fill it up with work experience in student organizations, non-profits, etc.
- Entry-level candidates - List all the work you’ve done up to today. While some of it won’t be relevant, it will still show the hiring manager that you do have practical work experience.
- Mid-level professionals - ONLY mention work experience relevant to the position you’re applying for.
- Senior professionals - List up to 15 years of relevant work experience MAX. If your recent experience is as a CEO, no one cares about how you started your career as a junior marketing specialist.
Consider Applicant Tracking System (ATS) Software
Did you know that over 70% of resumes don’t even make it to the hiring manager ?
Most companies these days use applicant tracking software to evaluate hundreds of resumes instantaneously and filter out the ones that don’t fit certain criteria. For example, if the resume doesn’t mention a specific skill, or if the resume is not formatted the right way.
Fortunately, there are some easy ways to make your resume ATS-friendly :
- Check the job description for resume keywords. Tailoring your resume to the job also helps a lot with beating the ATS software. So, scan the job description carefully for hints and, whenever you find keywords related to your responsibilities and achievements, make sure to include them in your work experience section.
- Don’t make your resume longer than two pages. Sometimes, for whatever reason, employers set a limit on how long a resume should be. Meaning, if your resume is longer than one page, it might get automatically disqualified.
- Always use an active voice when describing your achievements. Passive voice is vague and unclear. Make sure to use active voice as much as possible when adding bullet points under your job entries (e.g. “managed a team of ten people” instead of “a team of ten people was managed by me”).
- Take advantage of action verbs and power words . Instead of starting each of your sentences with “was responsible for,” make your work experience impactful by taking advantage of words that can grab attention (e.g. spearheaded or facilitated).
Want to make sure your resume formatting passes the ATS test? Choose one of our ATS-friendly resume templates and you’ll be good to go!
#5. List Your Education
The next section we’re going to cover is your education . Let’s start with the basics - how to format the education section & what to mention there. Then, we’ll move on to tips & tricks that’ll help you stand out…
- Program Name. E.g.: “B.A. in Business Administration”
- University Name. E.g.: “New York State University”
- Years Attended. E.g.: “08/2008 - 06/2012”
- (Optional) GPA. E.g.: “3.9 GPA”
- (Optional) Honors. E.g.: Cum Laude, Magna Cum Laude, Summa Cum Laude.
- (Optional) Academic achievements. Any interesting papers you’ve written, courses you’ve excelled in, etc.
- (Optional) Minor. “Minor in Psychology”
Here's an example:
- If you don’t have any work experience, mention your education section first.
- Mention your latest educational entry on top.
- If you have a university degree, don’t mention your high school at all.
- ONLY mention GPA if you had a very impressive academic career (3.5 GPA plus).
#6. Emphasize Your Know-How with the Skills Section
Another must-have section in your resume is the skills section. Here, you want to mention all your know-how that makes you the perfect candidate for the job.
There are two types of skills you can include when writing your resume:
- Hard Skills (Measurable abilities). This can be anything from coding in Python to knowing how to cook Thai cuisine.
- Soft Skills (Personal skills). These are a mix of social skills, communication skills , personal traits, career attributes, and so on. Leadership, critical thinking, time management , and organization , just to name a few.
A good resume should cover both.
How to List Skills in Your Resume
Regarding how to list skills on your resume, there are three essential steps to follow:
Step #1 - List Hard Skills with Experience Levels. For each hard skill you list, you want to mention your proficiency level:
Here’s how you can categorize your hard skills:
- Beginner - You have some experience with the skill, whether it’s from some entry-level practice or classroom education.
- Intermediate - You’ve used the skill in a work environment with a good level of understanding.
- Advanced - You’re the go-to person for the skill in your office. You can coach other employees, and understand the skill on a high level.
- Expert - You’ve applied this skill in more than a handful of different projects & organizations. You’re the go-to person for advice about the skill, not just in your office, but even amongst some of the best professionals in your field.
Make sure to NEVER lie about your skill levels. Otherwise, it’s going to be pretty awkward both for you and your employer.
Step #2 - Tailor Your Skills to the Job. You might have some awesome skills, but probably not all of them will come handy for the job. For example, it’s awesome that you know how to cook, but would you really need it at your new job as an accountant? Exactly!
To tailor your skills to the job, take a look at the job ad and list 2-3 essential skills required for the job.
- University Degree
- Tech-savvy, with some background in CMS systems such as WordPress
- Thrives in a stressful environment & manages to juggle multiple tasks and deadlines
- Organizational and time management skills
- Excellent communication skills
- Self-reliant, with the ability to manage their own work
- Can-do attitude and an outside-the-box thinker
- Proficient in Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, Keynote and Pages
- Basic understanding of Office software - Word, Excel, Powerpoint, and Outlook
As you can see, the must-have skills here are Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, Keynote and Pages. A good-to-have is WordPress. You can also mention Word, Excel, Powerpoint, and Outlook, but it’s pretty much assumed that you know how to use them, as they’re required for most office jobs.
If you’re qualified, make sure to mention all relevant skills with respective proficiency levels in your “Hard Skills” section.
Step #3 - Include Some Transferable Skills . These are the type of skills that are useful for almost any job out there. They are both soft skills (leadership, teamwork, critical thinking, etc.) and hard skills (Excel, Powerpoint, Photoshop, writing, etc.). Whatever job you’re applying to, chances are, these skills will in one way or another come in handy, so feel free to include them, even if they’re not specifically required for the position.
Not sure which skills to mention for your field? It might be one of these 100+ essential skills to put on any resume!
#7. Include Other Important Resume Sections
The sections we’ve covered so far are must-haves for any resume. They’re the bread-and-butter for any job application, and if you get them right, you’ll land any job you apply to.
The following optional sections, though, can also give your resume a boost!
Are you bi-lingual? Or better, multi-lingual? You should ALWAYS mention that on your resume!
Even if the position doesn’t require you to know the specific language, it can still come in handy at some point. At the end of the day, it’s always better to know more languages than less.
To list languages in your resume , simply write them down and assign them the appropriate level:
- Proficient (Enough knowledge to pass by in a professional environment)
As a given, you should never lie about your language skills. You never know, your interviewer might turn out to be fluent in the language, or even be a native speaker!
Hobbies & Interests
Want to add some spice to your resume? The hobbies and interests section , while not a game-changer, can help show who YOU are as an individual. Who knows, maybe you and your interviewee have some hobbies in common!
If you end up with some extra space in your resume, don’t hesitate to show off your personality with a hobbies/interests section.
If you’re the type of person who uses your free time helping others, while expecting nothing in return, chances are that you’re the type of employee who’s in it for more than just the money. It leaves the impression that you’re a devoted, loyal employee.
Several studies show that you can boost your chances of getting hired simply by listing your volunteering experience . This holds especially true if you’re a student with next to no work experience.
Certifications & Awards
Do you have any awards that make you stand out in your field? How about certifications from industry experts?
Whichever the case is, as long as it’s relevant for the position you’re applying for, feel free to add it to your resume.
Let’s say, for example, you’re a Microsoft Cloud Engineer. Assuming you specialize in Microsoft Technologies, you’d definitely want to include all essential certifications, such as the Azure Solutions Architect Expert one.
Are you a freelance writer? Maybe a distinguished academic?
If you have any published works (online, or in an academic journal), you might want to include them in your resume. Make sure to include a URL, so the HR manager knows where to check your work!
Working on side projects can really show off your passion for your field. Whether they’re university class projects or part-time entrepreneurial endeavors, they’re both equally relevant.
Let’s say, for example, you worked on a mock software product as part of a competition in university. You went through every step of product creation, from ideation to creating a marketing strategy.
You can mention the project in your resume and stand a better chance at landing that business internship!
Or on the other hand, maybe you manage an Etsy store, selling hand-made arts & crafts to customers online. Mention all of it!
Hiring managers love employees who do cool work in their free time.
Perfecting Your Resume - FREE Checklist
Already done with your resume? Interested in seeing how it holds up? Go through our checklist for perfecting your resume and see where you stand!
If you ☑’d all the points? Congrats! You’ve mastered all there is to know about how to write a resume, and you’re good-to-go to move on with your job search! If you missed some points, though, just go through your resume one more time and perfect it as much as possible.
Wondering how to write a CV instead of a resume? Check out our step-by-step guide on how to write a CV (31+ examples included)!
5+ Effective Resume Examples for Different Jobs
Knowing how to write a resume is one thing, actually creating a resume that stands out is something else entirely. Without inspiration, even top career experts might stumble on a roadblock or two.
Check out the following effective resume examples for different job positions to get a better sense of what a good resume looks like...
#1. Architect Resume Example
#2. Data Analyst Resume Example
#3. Web Developer Resume Example
#4. Remote Job Resume Example
#5. Sales Associate Resume Example
#6. Receptionist Resume Example
Want to see more examples? Check out our compilation of 80+ resume examples for different fields.
- Administrative Assistant Resume
- Bartender Resume
- DevOps Engineer Resume
- Executive Assistant Resume
- Flight Attendant Resume
- Graphic Designer Resume
- Paralegal Resume
- Pharmacist Resume
- Recruiter Resume
- Supervisor Resume
5+ Resume Templates for Different Industries
#1. traditional resume template.
Good for traditional industries like finance, banking, manufacturing, etc.
#2. Modern Resume Template
Good for both contemporary and forward-looking industries, including entrepreneurship, Medical Technology, engineering , etc.
#3. Creative Resume Template
Good for creative industries, including arts, design, architecture, and the sorts.
#4. Minimalistic Resume Template
Good for experienced professionals in basically any industry who want to let their achievements do the talking.
#5. IT Resume Template
Good for any IT-related profession.
#6. Tech Resume Template
Good for the tech industry and everything it encompasses.
Next Steps After Your Resume
Now that we’ve covered everything you need to know about how to create a resume, let’s talk about cover letters and interviews.
After all, your resume is only the first step in your job search. To really land that job you deserve, you also need to craft a killer cover letter, and ace that upcoming interview.
How to Write a Convincing Cover Letter
Every job application consists of 2 parts - the resume and the cover letter. Now that we’ve covered the first, let’s briefly explain the latter.
Most job-seekers flinch when they hear that they have to write a cover letter. What do you even mention in a cover letter, anyway? If you were good at writing cover letters, you’d be applying for a writing job!
In reality, though, writing a cover letter is pretty simple, if you know its purpose.
You should think of a cover letter as a direct message to the hiring manager. You get to briefly explain why you’re such an awesome fit for the position. When we put it that way, it doesn’t sound as hard, does it?
Here’s a format you could follow:
- Start by introducing yourself (and leave an impression) - As a start, give a brief run-down on your work experience and mention why you’re interested in working for the company you’re applying for. You can also mention 1-2 of your top professional achievements to leave a good first impression.
- Explain how you’d excel at the job - Identify the top three requirements in the job ad. Then, dedicate one paragraph to explaining how you fulfill each requirement. So for example, if the requirement is “Facebook Advertising Experience,” mention how you have done Facebook ads in the past and how you’ve excelled at it.
- Conclude by expressing gratitude - Thank the hiring manager for reading your cover letter and make a call to action. For example, “If you’d like to know more about my experience with Project XYZ, I’d love to chat!”
All clear? Just in case, you can also check out a real-life example below:
Does writing a cover letter still seem a bit complicated? Doesn't have to be. Our guides on cover letter tips and common cover letter mistakes will take your cover letter to the next level.
How to Ace Your Next Interview
You’ve perfected both your resume & cover letter. Now, it’s time for the next (and final) step - the dreaded job interview.
Whether you’re an extrovert or an introvert, you probably hate the interviewing process. After all, sitting there while someone’s prodding into your past experiences and judging the hell out of you isn’t the most fun experience.
Did you know, though, that most interviewers ask the same questions? Yep - all you have to do is learn how to answer some of the most common interview questions, and you’ll be an interview away from landing your dream job!
Want to learn more? Check out our complete guide to Job Interview Questions and Answers .
Frequently Asked Questions on How to Make a Resume
Do you still have some questions about making a resume? Check out the FAQ below!
1. What does a good resume look like in 2023?
For your resume to look good in 2023, make sure it’s organized and clean, and isn’t longer than one page. Furthermore, be sure to include information that adds value to your application - so, leave out the redundancies and focus on your work experience, skills that you can prove, and on listing as many achievements as possible.
If you’re using a template, choose based on your industry. Conservative industries require more traditional resume templates, but if you’re into arts, design, architecture, marketing, etc., you can go for a more creative resume template.
Last but not least - remote work is big in 2023, so if that’s what you’re seeking, then consider creating a remote job resume .
2. How do you make a resume in Word?
The best way to create a resume in Word is to use a pre-customized Microsoft Word template. To access them, you should:
- Open MS Word
- Click “ file ” from the menu bar
- Type resume templates in the search bar
That said , Word resume templates are generic , hard to personalize , and overall not very standoffish. Want a template that looks good AND is extremely easy to make? Check out ours!
3. How do I write a resume for my first job?
If you’re writing your first resume for an entry-level position, the hiring manager won’t expect you to have any work experience. However, you can make up for your lack of experience with your skills and academic achievements.
For example, you can take advantage of extracurricular activities , internships , volunteering experience, and other such experiences.
As such, for your first job, you should include a resume objective to your resume, emphasize your education, and replace your work experience section with one of the following: internships, volunteering, independent projects, etc.
4. How to make a resume on Google Docs?
The easiest way to make a resume on Google Docs is to choose one of their templates and fill it in on the go. All you have to do is go to your Google Drive’s template gallery, choose your favorite template, fill in your information, and voila - your Google Docs resume is ready to go!
That said, Google Docs templates are not the most user-friendly choice. You don’t have much flexibility with the layout and formatting is not their strong point. You tweak a section to the slightest, and the whole thing gets messed up.
If you want an easier option, check out our resume builder !
5. What kind of resume do employers prefer?
Typically, employers prefer one-page-long resumes that follow the reverse chronological format.
Hiring managers receive hundreds of resumes every day, so they don't have the time to read 3-page resumes.
Meanwhile, the reverse chronological format is the most popular because it draws attention to your most recent jobs and professional achievements, which is the #1 most important thing hiring managers look at when evaluating a resume.
6. How many jobs should you put on your resume?
You should only include relevant job positions on your resume.
This means that your work experience section should be tailored to the job you are applying for. If you’ve worked five different jobs and they can all add value to your current application, then you should include all five.
If, on the other hand, you’re applying for, say, a customer service position and some of your past jobs have
to do with customer service, your resume can probably do without them.
7. Should I put my address on my resume?
You can put your location (city, state, or country) on your resume, but you don’t need to put your entire physical address.
Putting a physical address on a resume was the norm back when companies would contact you via mail. In today’s world, everyone communicates via email, which is why adding a correct and professional email address to your contact information section is far more important than putting your physical address.
So, just include your location or – if you’re a remote worker – specify you prefer to work remotely by writing “working remotely from [location].”
8. What information should I leave out of my resume?
You shouldn’t include your birthday or your headshot on your resume.
If you have plenty of achievements to list under your work experience, then you can leave your basic work responsibilities out of your resume, as well.
In your education section, you should only include your highest and most recent degree. So, if you hold a Ph.D., you can list that and your Masters degree and leave your Bachelor’s degree and high school diploma out.
Finally, leave out any skills that are not relevant to the job you’re applying for.
And let’s wrap it all up!
If you’ve followed all of our advice until now, congrats! You’re probably an expert on how to make a resume.
To wrap it all up, let’s brush up on some of the most important lessons we’ve learned so far...
- Use the right resume builder. You don’t want to mess around with formatting for hours before even starting to work on your resume!
- Focus on achievements. Mention your achievements instead of responsibilities, so that you stand out from all the other applicants.
- Include the must-have sections. That is, resume summary, work experience, education, and skills.
- Tailor for the job. Everything listed on your resume should be relevant for the job you’re applying for.
- Perfect your cover letter. It’s as important as your resume, so make sure you pay as much attention to it!
How to Make a Resume in 2023
Forty percent of hiring managers spend less than a minute reviewing a resume . That’s why you need a strong and eye-catching document that perfectly captures your relevant skills and work experience to make the cut.
If you’re wondering,” How do I write a resume for a job application?,” “How do I make a resume successfully?,” or “How do I update my resume?,” don’t worry! We’re here to help. In this guide, we will show you how to make a good resume in just a few easy steps and detail exactly what to include in each resume section.
- How to write a resume.
- How to prepare a great resume.
- Picking the right best format.
- What to put in your resume contact information.
- How to write a resume summary or objective statement.
- What a resume work experience section should include.
- How to make a great resume skills section.
- What to put in a resume certification, licenses and training section.
- How to write resume sections for optional credentials, such as awards.
- How to build a resume free and fast with our professional Resume Builder .
Plus, we’ll provide expert resume-writing tips, professional resume examples for popular jobs in 2023, sample resumes for special circumstances, and resume templates to get you started.
Make a resume with My Perfect Resume
Our Resume builder can help you write the perfect resume. Start Now!
How to write a resume
Chances are, if you write a resume well, you’ll be booked for interviews for every job you seek. But what’s the secret? How do you make a resume that employers respond to?
Keep reading! We’ve broken down the instructions for how to create a resume, step-by-step.
STEP 1 Gather your professional information to prepare to write a great resume.
Preparation is key to writing a resume that stands out. Having your essential information ready will save you time and ensure you put your best foot forward. Here’s how to prepare a resume effectively.
Proper resume preparation means you must take the time to review your relevant qualifications and compare them to the requirements for your target job.
Then make a list of your:
- Significant accomplishments from previous jobs.
- Soft, hard and technical skills and match them to the required skills in the job ad.
- Employers’ names, dates of hire, locations, job titles and responsibilities.
- Educational credentials such as a college degree, certifications or licenses.
- Volunteer work.
- Awards and honors.
Pro tip Tailor each resume you write to the target job to make it most effective.
STEP 2 Pick the best resume format for your needs
Now that you’ve prepared your information, here’s a secret on how to create a resume that many job seekers overlook: You have to choose a suitable resume format before you can begin to write a resume.
How to choose the best resume format? There are three standard formats. Each uses the same resume sections but organizes them differently, so choose one that works best for your work experience level and your professional goals.
Chronological resume format
The chronological resume format is the most commonly used. It’s ideal for candidates who want to focus on their work experience when building a resume because this section sits front and center.
It’s perfect for people with a lot of professional work experience and no employment gaps, and those applying to jobs that put heavy emphasis on experience.
Functional resume format
The functional resume format highlights your skills and training, focusing on the abilities that can make you a great addition to the team, even if you’re applying for your first job.
This format is excellent for first-time job seekers, people changing careers or those with employment gaps.
Combination resume format
Also known as the hybrid resume, the combination resume format combines the functional and chronological resume formats. It’s ideal for mid-level job seekers who want to know how to write a resume for a job when switching to a different industry or reentering the workforce.
STEP 3 Add your contact information.
Make sure your contact information is up-to-date and easy to find. Always put it at the top, in the header.
Here’s what to include in your resume contact information:
- Phone number
- Professional email address
- City and ZIP code
- A link to your professional social media account, website or portfolio if you have them.
STEP 4 Write a resume summary or objective statement
Use a resume summary if you have work experience and you are not changing industries or jobs.
When making a resume, use a resume objective statement if you are a first-time job seeker, changing careers, returning to work after a long absence, or applying for a new job (such as a managerial role) in the same company.
Whether you use a summary or an objective, it must be compelling, concise and clear.
Pro tip We have more than 35 resume summary examples to help you write your own.
STEP 5 Make a resume work history section
Format this resume section by listing jobs in reverse-chronological order, with the current or latest position at the top and display. Here’s how to create a resume work experience section. You’ll need:
- Company name
- Company location (city and state)
- Dates of employment (month and year)
- Three-to-five bullet points with your top work achievements and duties
Your work history section should give employers a glimpse into what they can hope to gain by hiring you.
Don’t write a resume job history section as a list of duties, like “Prepared and maintained financial reports” and “Responsible for daily inventory,” because they don’t tell hiring managers anything about how well you can perform in the role.
Instead, for each job, display your work accomplishments in three-to-five bullet points and quantify them when possible. A recent study showed that job seekers who use numbers in their resumes see a 40% boost over the competition.
For example, a teacher might write: “35% of senior class improved end-of-semester test scores by 25% within three months.”
Pro Tip Use action verbs like “Spearheaded project X” or “Oversaw process Y” for impactful resume job history statements.
Resume Action Verbs
STEP 6 Create a resume skills section to highlight your strengths.
When building a resume, you must include at least one bulleted list of skills, no matter what resume format you use.
When thinking about what to put on a resume skills section, aim for an average of six to eight of your top strengths, as long as they are relevant to the job you want. If you are changing careers or applying for your first job,, focus on transferable skills like communication and critical thinking, which can apply to almost any job.
Pro Tip Here’s a secret for how to do a resume that makes an impact: Show hiring managers that you’re well-rounded by adding to your resume a mix of hard skills , such as accounting, and soft skills , such as adaptability.
These are the top-ten hard and soft skills employers want to see in 2023:
10 hard skills for resume writing
- Data analysis (data visualization, programming skills or statistics knowledge)
- Cybersecurity (risk identification and management, or computer forensics skills)
- Programming (HTML5, Java development and other programming languages)
- Marketing (SEO, email and social media marketing or Google Analytics)
- Accounting (Microsoft Excel, QuickBooks and other accounting software)
- Design (UX design, Adobe Creative Suite or photo editing)
- Writing (content writing, copywriting or creative writing)
- Cloud computing (Cloud architecture, networking or data management)
- Specialized machinery (forklift or backhoe)
- Foreign languages
10 soft skills for resume writing
- Attention to detail
- Time management
- Active listening
STEP 7 List your education accurately
When writing a resume education section, list your education credentials, even if you don’t have a degree.
Here’s what goes on a resume education section.
- If you did not attend college, display your high school diploma or GED.
- If you attended college or graduate school but did not complete a degree, then add the name(s) of the schools you attended and your courses of study.
- Add your anticipated date of graduation, if you have one. You don’t need to include the graduation year if you graduated more than 10 years ago.
If you want to know how to make a resume correctly, every resume education section must have:
- The name of your university, community college or school. Only include high school if you’re a high school student or didn’t attend university.
- Location of the school: Write the city and state.
- The month and year you graduated. If you still haven’t graduated, then write the expected graduation date.
- The type of degree you received or expect to receive and the program. For example, a Bachelor of Science in Nursing or a Bachelor of Arts in English.
Columbia University, New York, NY May 2014 Bachelor of Science in Social Work
You may also include:
- Your GPA if it is higher than 3.5 and you just graduated college, or it’s required. Otherwise, you shouldn’t add it.
- Relevant coursework. If you have not graduated or have recently graduated but don’t have work experience, then add a bulleted list of relevant coursework you’ve completed.
- Honors, scholarships and awards such as Dean’s List or Rhodes Scholarship if they were recent. Always provide the full name of the award and the year you received it.
STEP 8 Add relevant certifications, licenses and training
Some jobs, like nursing , accounting and teaching , require candidates to have certifications and licenses. Some job seekers go the extra mile and get additional training or certificates to establish their expertise in their chosen fields.
When making a resume, create a separate resume section for certifications, licenses or professional training you have completed.
Here’s how to make a good resume certifications section for any additional training.
Directly below your education section, list:
- The title of the certification, course or license
- Name of certifying agency or body
- The date you obtained each certificate
- The expiration date of your certificate (if applicable). If you have not yet finished the course, write “In Progress” with the expected date of completion.
Consider the following examples when building a resume:
Certifications on resume example:
Example of current certification:
Example of “in progress” certification:
Licenses on resume example:
Beauty Operator License (2019) Board of Barbering & Cosmetology Expires: 2024
Registered Nurse – License #000000 California Board of Registered Nursing Expires: 2023
STEP 9 Include optional resume sections if you have them
How do you make a resume that stands out? Good resume writing is more than just making sure you have all the basics. Add optional sections, like volunteer work, awards, honors and publications.
If you have published work or have received relevant awards that will help you further highlight your accomplishments, then you should include them — they can’t hurt, but they can help your resume to stand out.
Only add a separate section for awards, honors, publications or volunteer work if you cannot tie them into other resume sections.
- If the award, honor or publication is tied to your degree, you can include it as a bullet point in your education section below the university or high school name.
- You can include it in your work history section as a bullet point if it’s relevant to a specific job.
- If you have the space, create a separate section for awards, honors or publications under your education section. List them as bullet points in reverse-chronological order with the year you received or published them.
Volunteer work can add value to a resume because it shows that you are willing to help others and have passions outside of work, which are not necessarily motivated by money. These traits are attractive to employers in 2023 and can help you stand out from candidates who do not have volunteer experience.
Pro tip Be highly selective when adding resume sections for optional qualifications. You only have so much real estate on a one-to-two-page document, and everything you add must count!
Unsure how to write a simple resume with optional sections? Here’s how to create a good resume with optional qualifications:
Below your education section (or certifications section if you have one), write the name of the optional credential followed by one-to-five bullet points listing the names of the certificates followed by the dates earned or published.
Example of how to make a resume awards section:
- George Polk Award for National Reporting (2020)
- Conscience-in-Media Award (2018)
- Clio Awards (2016)
Example of how to create a resume honors section:
- Alliance Pipeline Sports Scholarship (2018-2021)
- Pi Sigma Alpha honor society member (2017-2021)
Example of how to write a resume publications section:
- “The Unidentified Bands and Atomic Hydrogen,” Astronomy & Physics, Vol. 650, March 2020.
- “Making the Sun,” Nature Astronomy, 860-862, November 2019.
- “The Duality of Black Holes,” Astronomy Now, Vol. 20, June 2019.
STEP 10 Proofread, check your formatting and save your final product.
Typos and grammatical errors are the most common resume-writing mistakes — and a deal-breaker for about 80% of hiring managers. When making a resume, reread it thoroughly to ensure that you’ve written everything perfectly — and that all your dates and company names are correct.
Pro tip Our Resume Builder has a helpful spell-checking tool that scans your document and lets you know of any mistakes.
Formatting errors are also a big turn-off for hiring managers. You can make a resume easy for them to read by following these simple formatting resume tips:
- Keep it short. A resume should only be one-page long unless you have more than 10 years of work experience and need the extra room. In that case, two pages maximum is acceptable.
- Set margins to 1 inch on all sides of your document.
- Use appropriate fonts , like Times New Roman, Arial or Helvetica.
- Stick to a font size between 11-12 on the body and 14-16 on headers.
- Choose between single or 1.5 line spacing.
- Save your resume as a PDF , plain text or DOCX and name it appropriately with “[YourName]-[Desired Job]-Resume.pdf. ” Sometimes employers specify in the job description which file type to use; always follow their directions. If they don’t specify a file format, save your resume as a PDF.
- Your resume file name matters! We recommend this formula: First Name-Last Name-Target Job Title-Resume.
And that sums up how to make a resume. When you finish downloading your document, it should look something like this:
How to make a resume free and fast
Start your resume on the right track with a professional resume template. Our expertly designed templates organize your job credentials correctly in all three standard resume formats, and they meet the latest applicant tracking system (ATS) requirements.
Download one to create a resume from scratch, or use a template with our Resume Builder to build a resume in minutes. You can also upload your existing resume and edit it with our builder! Resume writing has never been easier!
We make it easy to make a resume for work with the following:
- Job-specific phrases and skills: No matter the job you’re applying for, we provide the best words to help showcase your job qualifications.
- Step-by-step guidance: Get expert advice at every step to help you present your best self and get the job.
- Easy customization: Write a cover letter for every job application and save as many versions of it as you need.
- Multiple download formats: Save and export your resume as a PDF, DOCX or plain text.
Effective resume examples by job title and circumstance
Choose an example to guide you through creating a resume that impresses hiring managers, then use our builder to customize it for your target job.
Resume examples for popular job titles in 2023
We offer thousands of resume examples to help you learn how to make a resume for a job in almost every industry.
Here are the top 15:
- Data entry clerk
- Entertainment director
- Massage therapist
- Nursing aide
- Operations manager
- Outside-sales representative
- Payroll specialist
- Personal trainer
- Registered nurse
Resume samples for special circumstances
Example of a resume for someone with no work experience
Career change resume sample
Employment gap resume example
Expert resume-writing tips to help you land the job
How do you make a resume that gets past ATS software and wins the hearts of hiring managers? Follow these simple tips for success!
- Create a resume for every job application and customize it for your target job. The best way to do this is to use keywords or phrases in the job description and adjust your work experience, skills and summary or objective to the potential employer’s needs.
- Find time to dedicate solely to your resume. Writing a resume is pretty straightforward, but it takes time and focused effort to make a resume for each job that rises above the competition.
- Write and don’t stop to perfect your resume along the way. When you get it all down, step away for a few hours and return to it with fresh eyes to refine your resume writing.
- Include only relevant experience in your work history section and required skills that you know are relevant to the job at hand.
- Include up to 10 years of work experience for any job you target.
Create a complementary cover letter
Nice work! You’ve followed all of our advice about resume writing. You know how to write a great resume and you’ve spent a few minutes building a resume that makes you proud. Now you’re ready to send it off for your dream job.
Not so fast!
You need more than the perfect resume to get an interview. Your job application isn’t complete without a compelling cover letter accompanying your perfect resume. Cover letters are vital to job applications because they show potential employers the person behind the qualifications and provide in-depth information about your experience and career goals. And they are a great way to explain employment gaps and career changes.
Not sure where to start? Let us show you how to write a great cover letter with our professional cover letter examples ; then, choose a cover letter template and use our Cover Letter Builder to make a professional cover letter effortlessly.
How to make a resume for a job: Important takeaway
Before we officially wrap things up, let’s make sure you are completely clear on how to write a resume that will impress potential employers.
7 Key Takeaways
- Prepare for making a resume by collecting critical information, such as past and present employers’ names and addresses, your top skills and best achievements for each job.
- Select the right resume format for you.
- Customize a new resume for every job you target.
- Include keywords and phrases from the job description across your resume.
- Use a professionally designed resume template and a resume builder to build a polished resume in minutes.
- Download a resume example that matches your job title and circumstances for inspiration.
- Include a cover letter with your job application.
How to make a resume FAQ
What should a resume look like in 2023.
A good resume in 2023 should look a lot like the examples on this page. In 2023, resumes can be in any format that works for your goals, but they must look professional. That means they must be formatted correctly with clear sections, written concisely with a proper resume font , and framed inframed in in a professional template with a clean design
How do I make a resume?
The easiest and fastest way to make a resume is to use one of our professionally designed resume templates with our Resume Builder. We provide tips, advice and tools to help you build a resume that looks good, is easy to read by hiring managers and ATS software, and is properly formatted. Plus, you can download it in multiple formats and save it to tailor to your next job.
Can I update my resume in your builder?
Yes! You can update your resume in our builder easily. All you have to do is upload it and it will reformat to your new resume template automatically. After that, all it takes is a few clicks to update and save your perfect resume.
What are the basic steps to writing a resume?
The instructions for writing a resume are fairly simple:
- Prepare by gathering your information.
- Choose a format and a resume template.
- Add your contact information to the resume header.
- Write a resume summary or objective statement.
- Make a resume work experience section.
- Create a resume skills section.
- Add your education credentials.
- Include certifications, licenses and training if applicable.
- Add optional resume sections if you have any.
- Proofread, save and send it!
How to make a resume with no experience?
If you don’t have work experience and you’re not sure how to write a resume for the first time, you can still make a resume and get the job! Here’s how:
- Choose a functional resume format. This format is ideal for job seekers without work experience because it focuses on skills over job history.
- Write a resume objective under your contact information. Job applicants without experience benefit from objective statements over resume summaries because objectives explain job goals and emphasize essential skills and traits that match the job.
- Highlight your transferable skills — traits and abilities you can use in various jobs and industries. For example, strong communication skills are just as important for customer service jobs as they are for teaching.
- Lean on your non-work experience as long as it’s relevant to your desired job. Volunteer work, internships, school projects and extracurricular activities can count for work experience if they relate to the target job.
Where can I make a resume free?
You can make a resume for free right here! We’ll guide you through every step. All you have to do is upload your resume or select a template in our builder, answer a few questions, and within minutes, you’ll have a professional resume you can download for free!
How to write a resume on Google Docs?
- Sign up for a Google account.
- Choose a resume template.
- Change the name of the template and fill it in.
There are several pros and cons to each Google Docs template, so make your selection carefully.
We make it easier to build a resume in Google Docs !
- Create a resume using our Resume Builder.
- Import it into Google Docs.
- Edit and save our file.
What are three tips to writing a good resume?
Our three top tips for writing a resume for jobs you want are:
- Customize your resume for each job.
- Be concise.
- Proofread it.
How to fill out a resume template?
It’s easy to fill out a resume template in just a few simple steps:
- Choose a resume template appropriate to the job you want. Our library of professional template designs covers a wide range of industries and job titles.
- Whether you are creating a resume from scratch or editing an existing file, follow the prompts and add your information, section by section. We’ll do the formatting for you!
- Proofread your new resume.
- Save, download and send it!
What are the differences between a CV and a resume?
People often ask if a CV is the same as a resume. The short answer is no. Although CVs and resumes have similar features and purposes, they follow different rules. A CV is an in-depth, lengthy document that covers your entire professional career, while a resume is short and concise. It focuses on your most relevant job qualifications and is accepted by most employers for a wide range of industries. In the U.S., a CV is typically reserved for jobs in academia, medicine, law and science.
What if I don’t know how to write a CV?
Making a CV is as simple as making a resume! We have a CV Maker that will do the work for you — and it’s fast and easy to use. Plus, we offer a variety of ATS-friendly CV templates and provide professional CV examples to get you started.
Content strategist, career advice expert.
Kellie is the content strategist for My Perfect Resume. She has more than 20 years of experience in digital media and is passionate about helping job seekers navigate their careers. She has a B.A. in English and writing from Temple University.
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How to Write a Resume in 2023
Every job advertisement receives around 250 applications*, so if you want to be one of the handful of people that get a callback for an interview, you’ll need to do more than just pack your resume with your best skills and most impressive career achievements.
Our detailed step-by-step resume guide will teach you how to create a resume from scratch with all the necessary sections to make your unique strengths stand out.
However, if time is of the essence and you want to apply for a job ASAP, head to our Resume Builder , which writes a personalized and professional resume for you in minutes.
The 5 main sections every resume should have
The resume header should include:
- Phone number
- A professional email address
- City and state of residence
- Links to your LinkedIn profile, personal website or portfolios (if applicable)
The resume professional summary should include:
- A two-to-five sentence introduction to your resume
- Your most impressive professional accomplishments
- Your most relevant hard and soft skills
If you’re starting your career and have little experience, you might want to use a resume objective instead.
The work experience section should include:
- Your previous job titles in reverse-chronological order
- City and state for each role
- Start and end dates for each role
- Depending on the resume format you choose, a brief list of accomplishments and responsibilities
The resume skills section should include:
- 6-8 skills listed in bullet points
- A mix of hard, soft and technical skills
- Skills specific to the role you want
The education section should include:
- Type and title of your degrees or certifications
- Full name of each school you’ve attended
- Any education-related awards or distinguishing accomplishments
Our Builder makes writing a resume quick and easy!
Just pick one of our professionally-designed resume templates, fill in your contact information and tell us your desired job title and years of experience. The Resume Builder takes care of the rest!
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Choose the right resume format
Now that you have a clearer idea of the elements of a resume, you must choose the resume format that best fits your level of work experience.
Choosing the right format and how you organize your information is just as crucial as what you include in a resume.
Here’s how to choose the best resume format for you:
Who should use a chronological resume format?
- Anyone who is applying for an executive-level position.
- Job seekers who have 10+ years of experience in the same industry.
- Applicants who want to show off an impressive career progression.
Who should use a functional resume format?
- Job seekers who have little to no work experience.
- Applicants who want to emphasize skills and education over work history
- Those with gaps in their employment history.
Who should use a combination resume format?
- Applicants who want to give equal focus to their skills and experience.
- Job seekers who have five to eight years of experience.
- Those who are changing careers, applying for a promotion or returning to the workforce after a break.
Share fundamental contact information
Employers need to know who you are.
Share your essential contact information in the header section of our resume templates .
Contact information you should include:
- Name: Include your first and last name.
- Phone number: The best option is your cellphone number so recruiters can reach you easily.
- Email: Make sure it’s appropriate, simple and free of any nicknames. Unprofessional email addresses comprise 35% of the most common resume mistakes—which we discuss further down the page.
- Location: Share the city and state where you reside.
Optional contact information:
- Social media accounts: If you have a professional website, blog or portfolio and are applying for a creative role, we highly recommend you include links to those in your contact information.
- LinkedIn: We suggest you include your LinkedIn account since it makes you seem more legitimate, and it’s an opportunity to remain in the employer’s network whether you get the job or not.
- Job title: You can let employers know your current role so they can get an idea of your area of expertise.
Contact information you should leave out:
- Date of birth: You should never include your birth date since this can lead to age-based discrimination. Only jobs like bartender will require you to be at least 21 years old.
- Photo or headshot: There’s a lot of debate surrounding profile pictures on resumes. In the United States, they can pose a liability for corporations because of hiring bias. However, including a photo on your CV is standard practice in the international market.
- Full residential address: Never include your street and house number on your resume for security reasons.
Open with a strong resume summary or resume objective
Recruiters spend around 7 seconds scanning your resume , which is why you should include a brief but impactful opening statement. It should only be a few sentences long and show employers your resume matches the role.
There are two ways you can write this opener; you can opt for a resume summary or a resume objective. But what’s the difference between them, and which should you use?
What is a resume summary?
The resume summary , also called a summary statement or professional summary, is the recommended approach because it concisely summarizes characteristics that make you ideal for a specific job.
Your resume summary should include a couple of your most job-relevant skills and feature at least one career achievement. Include keywords from the job description and use action verbs; avoid phrases with “I” or “my” pronouns.
Formula to write a resume summary:
Resume summary examples
Graphic designer resume summary:
“Creative graphic designer with seven years of experience creating brand identities for over 15 clients. Experienced in logo typography and color palette creation using Adobe InDesign, Illustrator and After Effects. Created augmented reality (AR) graphics for a mobile smartphone game application which reached an audience of 2 million people.”
Accountant resume summary:
“Diligent Accountant with three years of experience working in the public and private sectors. Adept at creating detailed financial reports and establishing and maintaining budgets. Provided strategic financial planning consultations to corporate clients like Unilever and Walmart.”
In need of a stronger resume summary? Have our Resume Builder suggest a resume summary for your desired role.
What is a resume objective?
The resume objective , or career objective, communicates your goals for a job and the skills and education you have to achieve them. This statement is ideal for less experienced candidates, such as students and those relocating or changing careers.
This paragraph should consist of two or three sentences that mention job-relevant qualifications and skills that compensate for your lack of formal experience.
Formula to write a resume objective:
Strong resume objective examples
Blogger resume objective:
“Blogger with experience in fashion, beauty and lifestyle writing for personal blogs and digital publications seeking affiliate writer position at Teen Vogue to provide engaging and informative shopping advice with excellent copywriting, research and trends analysis. Possess social media management skills and basic graphic design abilities.”
Physical therapy aide resume objective:
“Physical therapy aide certified by Borough of Manhattan Community College seeking physical therapy assistant job at HD Physical Therapy Clinic to offer my PTA services in recordkeeping, equipment setup and data monetization. Self-motivated, organized and responsible PTA that works with initiative.”
Showcase your work experience milestones
Hiring managers will pay close attention to your work history section, so a big part of your success will lie in your work experience.
Your work history section is the bulk of your professional accomplishments.
You must organize this section in reverse-chronological order so employers see your most recent or current job and work your way down.
When you’re listing each job, include:
- Your job title
- Name of employer or company
- Location of company (city and state)
- Employment dates (month and year)
- Three to five bullet points describing your achievements within the job
Highlight relevant experience
You don’t need to include every single job you’ve had in your resume, but beware of creating gaps between roles!
You should include up to 10 years of career experience in your resume. Focus on the jobs that showcase a logical progression of your career.
For instance, if you’re applying for a graphic design job and spent three years babysitting during your bachelor’s degree, you shouldn’t include this role.
However, if the skills you gained in a job help you excel in the role you’re applying for, include the job in your work experience.
For example, someone who babysat for years can include this experience in their resume if they’re applying for an elementary school job.
Focus on accomplishments, not daily tasks
Your work experience should tell employers what you’ve achieved in each role; they want to see the impact you’ve had. A boring list of responsibilities isn’t going to cut it.
Instead, focus on unique achievements that show you’ve gone above and beyond your role. For example:
- “As a waitress, I consulted the restaurant’s floor and table plan reorganization.”
- “Cofounded new school garden project utilized by science classes of all grade levels.”
- “Led record digitization project for university library’s historical archive”
Use quantifiable metrics to add credibility to your resume
Numbers speak louder than words!
When writing your work history descriptions, include numbers and metrics to highlight your success . When recruiters scan your resume, dollar amounts or percentages quickly catch their eye.
Some examples of quantifiable metrics on your work history are:
- “Achieved $35,000 in total sales in the first quarter, up from $7,000 in the prior quarter.”
- “Garnered 57% increase in page visits after implementing new strategy.”
- “Managed and trained 35 waitstaff.”
Tailor your resume to the job with keywords
Prove you’re an excellent fit for the role by using resume keywords . You can find keywords by scanning the job ad for skills and qualifications.
You must use these skills and keywords precisely as they appear on the job ad since recruiters and applicant tracking systems (ATS) will scan your resume for them.
However, don’t clutter your resume with buzzwords like “team player” or “people person,” as these will look insincere, and ATS will flag duplicate content.
Look at this fictional job advertisement for a retail sales associate and highlight the keywords. Then, let’s see how you would include these keywords in your resume’s work history section.
We are hiring a dynamic and motivated sales associate for our new location in Altamonte Mall.
You will be responsible for various tasks on the sales floor, cash registers, fitting rooms and stockroom.
- Deliver outstanding customer service.
- Offer fashion styling assistance and recommendations to customers.
- Replenish the shop floor .
- Organize stockroom and keep inventory of items.
- Process cash and card payments .
- Process, restock, label and tag items delivered to the store.
- Greet customers in a friendly manner and inform them of promotions and store credit cards .
- Prior retail experience
- Leadership abilities
- Basic math skills
- Computer skills
- Knowledge of POS systems
- Attention to detail
- U.S. work authorization
Once you’ve noted all the keywords in the job ad, pick the ones that accurately describe your professional experience and skill set. Check out how to use the keywords when describing your work history:
Sales associate work history example:
Sales Associate | Urban Outfitters – Tampa, FL November 2021 – Current
- Unload, process, restock, label and tag over 300 weekly items.
- Organize stockroom and keep inventory of 2,000+ items, reducing out-of-stock items frequency by 39%.
- Replenish store floor , assist clients in locating items, and organize store floor with great attention to detail .
Cashier | AVO Boutique – Tampa, FL August 2019 – November 2021
- Operated cash registers and processed cash and card payments for 20+ daily purchases.
- Handled cash flow of over $7,000, ensuring register was balanced. Utilized computer skills to log sales onto spreadsheets for financial reports.
- Utilized Clover and Shopify POS systems and trained new employees to use them.
Sales Associate | The Gap – Tampa, FL January 2019 – August 2019
- Greeted customers in a friendly manner and informed them of daily promotions and specials.
- Replenished shop floor , located items for over 250 daily clients.
- Offered styling assistance and personalized fashion recommendations to customers in the fitting room and shop floor.
Use strong action verbs
Start sentences with strong action verbs when you begin to write your work history. For example, “Developed new social media strategy” has more impact than “Was responsible for our social accounts.”
Make sure you use different action verbs throughout your work history. If you need some inspiration, check out this list:
Highlight a variety of skills on your resume
Your skills section should include six to eight skills describing your expertise for the desired role. You should have various skills that showcase you’re a well-rounded candidate; therefore, you need hard, soft and technical skills.
What are hard skills?
Hard skills refer to the specialized knowledge you need to perform a job. You gain hard skills through education or training, so they will vary depending on the job you apply for.
10 hard skills examples
- Graphic design
- Artificial intelligence (AI)
- Project management
- Cloud computing
- SEO marketing
- Data analysis
- Computer programming
- Foreign languages
View more hard skills
What are soft skills?
Soft skills are personal abilities that help you interact professionally with your teammates and ensure you do your job as efficiently as possible. You can find these soft skills in candidates across all industries.
10 soft skills examples
- Resolving conflicts
- Active listening
- Time management
- Innovative thinking
- Fostering inclusiveness
- Stress Management
View more soft skills
What are technical skills?
Technical skills are a subcategory of hard skills, and they reference your ability to use digital tools and technology for your job’s daily tasks. These skills also vary according to role and industry.
10 technical skills examples
- Adobe tools
- Programming languages (Java, Python)
- Google Analytics
- Microsoft Excel
- Email marketing tools (Mailchimp)
- Project management tools (Trello, Monday.com)
- Microsoft Teams
- POS systems (Clover, TouchBistro)
- CAD engineering software
View more technical skills
How you present your skills on your resume will look different depending on your resume format. You can check out the FAQ on this page to learn more about how to write skills sections or reference our functional and combination resume guides.
List education that proves you’re prepared for the job
Your education section will communicate that you have the academic training to perform your job. Although some companies are dropping college-level educational requirements , the education section provides recruiters a trusted reference for your knowledge and skills. Besides, jobs in education , law , finance and health care will always require some education or licensing.
Example elements of an education section:
- Program name: B.A. in Special Needs Education
- Name of the university or institution: Ohio State University
- Location of university or institution: Columbus, OH
- Graduation or attendance dates: Class of 2013; August 2014 – December 2016
Examples of optional education information:
- Minor: Minor in Psychology
- Honors: Cum Laude, Magna Cum Laude, Summa Cum Laude, Valedictorian
- Relevant coursework: If you’re a recent graduate without formal experience in your field, add classes and seminars you’ve taken that show you have the knowledge and practical experience to succeed in the role.
Tips to make the most of your education section
- If you hold two or more degrees, list them in reverse-chronological order.
- Only include your GPA if you’ve had a consistently impressive academic record (GPA of 3.5 or more).
- If you have a university degree, omit your high school diploma.
Now let’s review a few education examples:
Example of a high school student education section
Lincoln High School Dallas, TX – June 2019 High School Diploma GPA 4.0
Example of a GED graduate education section
General Educational Development Diploma (GED) San Diego, CA – 08/2019
Pro Tip: If your degree is older than five years, consider removing the graduation date to avoid unfair hiring bias from employers determining your age.
Example of a BA graduate’s education section
University of California – San Diego San Diego, CA B.S. in Marine Biology
- Marine Mammal Biology
- Parasitology (Lab)
Example of a postgraduate law student education section
Columbia Law School San Diego, CA New York, NY – Expected graduation in June 2023 Juris Doctor
Consider including additional resume sections
You don’t have to limit your resume’s content to these sections!
Once you’ve mastered these five main resume sections, you can customize your resume with additional sections.
Instead, include as many achievements as you can in designated custom sections.
Some examples of additional resume sections are:
Certifications and licenses
Some jobs like nurse , EMT or physical therapist require a license to practice legally.
You can create a separate section to list any licenses or certifications you possess.
Even if your role doesn’t require it, you may voluntarily add licenses or certifications that show you have formal training in your field.
The way to list licenses or certifications in your resume is by including:
- Title of license or certification
- Name of certifying organization
- Date of obtainment
- Date of expiration (if applicable)
- Mention “In Progress” and expected date of completion (if applicable)
Example of licenses on a resume:
- Registered Nurse – License #000000
- Massachusetts Board of Registration in Nursing
- Expires in 2024
Example of certifications on a resume:
- RPR: Registered Professional Reporter
- National Court Reporters Association (NCRA)
- January 2018
Honors and awards
You can add an honors or awards section for any academic or professional recognition you’ve received.
“Honors” tend to relate to academic achievements, whereas “awards” refer to academic and professional accolades.
Types of honors and awards you can include on a resume
- Degree distinctions (magna cum laude, summa cum laude)
- Dean’s List
- Honor society membership
- Academic achievement honors
- Industry awards for excellent performance
- Employee distinction awards
- Individual and team sports awards
Example of an honors resume section:
- Dean’s List (2019 -2021)
- The Regents Scholarship – University System of Maryland (2019-2021)
Example of an awards resume section:
- Clio Awards (2017)
- Cannes Lions Awards (2022)
You can add a section in your resume to showcase any large-scale projects you’ve led or participated in your company or even personal side projects.
This “Projects” section benefits less experienced candidates who want to show employers they have experience in specific areas of expertise relevant to the role.
Example of a projects resume section:
- Led team of developers in creating an app that used mapping and market data to provide users with a list of the nearest gas stations with the lowest gas prices.
- Participated as software engineer in app development project for Microsoft from 2019-2022.
If you’re a writer or an academic investigator, you may want to showcase any publications you’ve written during your career.
Depending on your field of study, you will use different citing methods such as APA , MLA or Chicago .
If you’re working in academia and have a long list of publications, you might be better off with a curriculum vitae (CV) instead of a resume. If that’s the case, we can also teach you how to write a CV .
Example of a publications resume section:
- Zhang, M. (2019) Breathe in: Holistic coping mechanisms in anxious children during COVID-19 pandemic. Holistic Health, 13(3),10-12.
- Zhang, M. (2016) How acupuncture affects children ages 6-12 with ADHD and other neurodiverse conditions. Journal of Acupuncture and Meridian Studies, 17(8), 21-25.
Common Resume Errors You Must Avoid
Now that you’ve mastered how to do a resume, it’s time to clean up your resume’s content and design.
Fact-check the details and proofread
Double-check information like dates and the spelling of company or school names and ensure your contact information is accurate and up to date.
It won’t matter if you’re the most qualified candidate in the world if your resume contains spelling and grammatical errors.
Check each of your resume sections for typos and formatting errors. Read the page from top to bottom before deeming it ready for recruiters.
Resume formatting tips
- Your resume should be one page long. You can include a second page to fit all your work experience if your career exceeds ten years. The standard rule is one page for every ten years of your career, but try to keep it to a two-page maximum.
- Pick a font size between 11 and 12. Your section titles can be between a 14 and 16-point size.
- Refrain from using eccentric fonts. Stick to fonts like Arial, Calibri, Times New Roman and Georgia.
- Resume margins should be 1 inch on all sides. This allows for a balance between text and white space, making the document easy on the eyes.
- The line spacing should range between 1 and 1.15 inches to fit all your text without it looking cramped.
- The ideal file format for your resume is PDF. PDF is the most accessible file format for all computer systems and can be opened by virtually anyone. Also, identify your name in the document’s file name. For example, “tom_jones_resume.pdf.”
Resume Templates that ensure you stand out.
With dozens of options and endless ways to customize, we have Resume Templates for every role, industry, and experience level.
Resume examples and resume templates for any job or industry
A great way to make sure you’ve learned how to write a good resume is to check out some resume examples . They show you what a finished resume looks like for your job or industry.
Also, our examples are made with our professionally designed resume templates , which offer clean and visually engaging designs appropriate for any industry.
Check out this selection of resume examples for common jobs and industries:
Receptionist, registered nurse.
See all Resume Examples
Did you know our Resume Builder takes care of all these steps in minutes?
Making a resume takes a lot of steps. So, use our Resume Builder to take off running!
6 reasons why you should use our Resume Builder
Here are some features:
- Automation that makes it possible to create a resume in 15 minutes
- A selection of 35 resume templates designed by professionals
- Pre-written content suggestions for your summary, skills and work history sections
- Easy to adjust customizable formatting
- Spelling and grammar check
- Resume-writing tips
To wrap up, let’s review the major steps for writing a resume:
- Pick a resume format that works for you.
- Include at least the five main resume sections: contact information, professional summary, work history, skills and education.
- Focus on your unique career achievements.
- Tailor your skills to the job ad.
- Double check your resume for any errors and inconsistencies.
- Use an online builder to simplify and speed up the writing process.
Write a cover letter that complements your resume
A cover letter helps you sell yourself to the employer by providing more context to the career accomplishments showcased in your resume.
We already covered how important it is to tailor your resume for every job application so you can increase your chances of getting hired.
The same goes for the cover letter, another document you should continually customize to show different employers how you can fulfill the role’s specific demands.
Do you need a quick cover letter for your next job application? Our Cover Letter Builder writes full-page letters according to your desired job, matches your working style and accounts for any gaps in your work history, all in mere minutes.
Build My Cover Letter Now
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you write a resume for the first time.
When learning how to make a resume, start with a strong summary of your qualifications and emphasize the value of your skill set and industry knowledge. If you have limited work experience, move your education section above the work history and list any academic honors. Remember, you may have internships or volunteer experiences that can make up for formal experience.
How do I write a resume to pass an applicant tracking system (ATS)?
To learn how to write a resume that will pass an ATS, you’ll need a clean, easy-to-scan resume template. You’ll also need to study the ad carefully to ensure that your content mentions the most critical keywords from the job posting. Customize your resume every time you apply for a job to emphasize your most relevant skills and experience for the role.
How much work experience should I include in my resume?
The amount of work experience you should include in your resume will depend on your years of experience. You don’t need to include every single job you’ve ever had. Instead, list your most recent and relevant experience for your desired role.
Job seekers with no experience: Include any internships or apprenticeships you’ve completed during your education or training. Mention your participation in college associations (especially if you occupied a leadership position) or any special projects you completed during your final year. Make these accomplishments stand out in a functional resume .
Entry-level candidates: List all your work experiences up until now and emphasize quantifiable accomplishments.
Mid-level candidates: Provide a detailed description of any responsibilities that went beyond your job description that shows you’re prepared for a promotion.
Senior-level candidates: Showcase every role you’ve had up until the past 10 to 15 years.
How to write a functional skills section?
If you’re writing a functional resume, you will choose three core skills that best reflect your best abilities (even better if they’re keywords from the job ad). For each core skill, you will include two to three bullet points describing what accomplishments prove you excel in that respective skill.
Teacher functional skills section example:
- Taught 12 elementary Social Studies, English and Mathematics classes for grades 4 to 6, planned all classes, assigned and reviewed homework, performed weekly evaluations, and kept student records updated.
- Supervised classes of 30 students, maintained order and discipline with positive reinforcement and clearly outlined classroom rules.
- Organized parent-teacher conferences twice a year to discuss student progress and parent and teacher collaboration.
- Imparted classes through Microsoft Teams videoconference platform.
- Produced short video lessons as learning aid for live lectures and for student review as needed. This initiative helped increase GPA across all students by 15% by midterms.
- Offered monthly one-on-one sessions with students to nurture individual learning and personal growth.
- Organized a monthly classroom discussion to receive and offer feedback between students and educators, which increased student participation and fostered critical thinking, public speaking and debating skills.
- Acted as liaison between student body council and school administration in efforts to implement lunch meals that fit various dietary needs and restrictions.
How to write a summary of qualifications?
Combination resumes can have just one listed skills section, or you can pair it with a “summary of qualifications” or “summary of skills.” In the summary of qualifications, you can share more job-relevant skills and achievements that demonstrate you’re prepared for the role. Junior and mid-level job seekers can use this summary of qualifications to show employers they’re ready for the job despite having little experience.
Customer service representative summary of qualifications example:
Summary of Qualifications
- Highly skilled in customer retention by employing persuasive speaking techniques in combination with special offers and discounts.
- Record of diffusing 20+ client complaints with empathy and positive language.
- Adaptable in various customer service platforms such as chat, telephone calls and in-person interactions.
See more on our FAQ page
About the Author
Gabriela Hernandez • Career Advice Contributor
Gabriela Hernandez is one of LiveCareer's resident writers. She graduated from the University of Puerto Rico with a degree in Journalism. Throughout her career, she has tackled copywriting, blog articles, journalistic writing, academic writing, resume writing, and even prose and verse.
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Sources: Finances Online, “10 Current Resume Trends & Forecasts for 2022/2023 You Should Be Thinking About”
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Tips for Creating a Great Resume
Your resume is the key piece of your job application. Here's how to get it right.
- Employers look at resumes for an average of only six or seven seconds.
- You’ll get the best results if you send your resume between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. within the first four days of a job being posted.
- Your resume should be clear, concise and tailored to the job for which you are applying.
- This article is for job seekers who want to improve their resumes to increase their chances of getting an interview.
With the current labor shortage and low unemployment rate, job seekers are at an advantage when it comes to applying for jobs. However, that’s not to say that you don’t need a professionally written resume. Employers still want to find and hire the best employees for each open position, and resumes are the first step in that search. There are several strategies you can use to make your resume stand out and demonstrate that you are the best candidate for the job.
Importance of a resume
Your resume is the most important document you’ll submit in your job search. It’s your frontline fighter, so to speak, as it’s your first opportunity to present yourself to a potential employer. Hiring managers and recruiters look at resumes for an average of only six to seven seconds each, so it’s important that you make every second count. A strong resume can help you stand out from the crowd, but a weak resume can remove you from the running.
According to Zippia research , professionally written resumes are not only good for landing an interview, but they can also boost your earning potential by 7%.
Simple resume writing tips to help you stand out
It can be difficult to succinctly present all of your experiences and qualifications on one page, but there are many ways to spruce up your resume without going overboard. To help you land an interview, we rounded up some of the best resume writing tips.
1. Keep your resume short and direct.
The No. 1 rule of writing a resume is to keep it short and to the point. The general rule is no more than one page unless you have a very good reason for it to be longer, like an extensive career or a lot of highly applicable work experience.
An easy way to keep your resume concise is to include only recent, relevant experience. While that yearlong first job might have taught you a lot about the field, it’s not always necessary to include every detail from your entire career history.
Most experts recommend including jobs from the previous 10 or 15 years only, although this time frame may be shorter if you are new to the workforce. Including too many unrelated work experiences can make your resume appear too busy and draw attention away from your relevant qualifications. Your resume should be focused, clear and concise.
If you are an older job seeker, here are some things you can do to condense and age-proof your resume .
2. Create an original resume template.
Employers appreciate originality. While it’s helpful to refer to a professional resume template, don’t follow it rigidly. Zippia found that more than 60% of hiring managers consider a customized resume as the top strategy for job applicants to increase their chance of landing a job.
“I often pass over resumes that match Microsoft Office templates,” Claire Bissot, SPHR and director of Kainos Capital, told us. “The templates are meant to be a guide to get started, but it should be expanded on to make it your own.”
Format your resume so that it is easy to identify your qualifications. For instance, Bissot recommended, if you advanced in a company quickly, draw attention to that growth. If you excessively job-hopped, bullet those jobs without providing specifics and detail more applicable positions. This will play to your assets.
When structuring your resume, make sure the information is presented in a logical order, said Veronica Yao, owner of CareerProse and marketing communications manager at Fonolo. “A hiring manager [will] read your resume starting at the top and ending at the bottom. However, if they don’t finish reading the whole thing – and they often don’t – you still want to ensure your strongest points come across.”
3. Highlight relevant skills and experiences.
Using the same resume for every job you apply for is not a good approach. Instead, your resume should target the specific job you are applying for. Be sure to prioritize the skills, qualifications and experiences that are directly applicable to the job you are trying to land.
Choose three or four former positions or experiences that best highlight the skills required for the position for which you apply. Employers value brevity; this is not the time to list every position you have ever held. For example, if you are applying for a marketing position, you could include your former retail experience and bullet the communication, branding and interpersonal skills you learned in that position.
If you don’t have a work history that directly relates to the job you are applying for, get creative with how you present your other experiences. Draw on the skills you used and how your contributions benefited the organization or project. [Read related article: 38 In-Demand Skills to Help You Get the Job ]
4. Demonstrate results with numbers and metrics.
When you write about your previous work experience, it is always a good idea to quantify your successes with numbers. Using metrics can highlight your achievements and give the hiring manager or recruiter a clear sense of how you impacted your previous place of employment. For example, someone who previously worked as a sales representative might say that they “executed more than 50 cold calls daily, with an average 5% conversion rate.”
5. Craft a career snapshot.
More recently, career experts have urged job seekers to do away with the old “objective” statement and instead consider including a brief summary, called a “career snapshot,” at the top of their resume.
“With the career snapshot, you present a branding statement that briefly explains your unique value as well as your skills and qualifications,” said Tomer Sade, CEO of Book a Space. “This would then be followed by a few bullet points that highlight your experience and your accomplishments. Whatever you list here should be relevant to the position you’re applying to.”
“The top third of your resume is prime resume real estate,” added Lisa Rangel, an executive resume writer and CEO of Chameleon Resumes. “Create a robust summary to capture the hiring manager’s eye.”
Think of your career snapshot as an answer to the question “How would you describe your work experience in one sentence?” The summary is an opportunity to sum up your most relevant and important skills, experience, or assets right off the bat.
6. Optimize your text.
If a company uses an applicant tracking system (ATS) to collect and scan resumes, a human hiring manager may never even glance at any application that doesn’t fit the job criteria they’ve entered. Trish O’Brien, vice president of human capital operations at PSI Services, emphasized adapting your resume to the position to increase your likelihood of passing the first level.
“Make sure you’ve carefully reviewed the posting and … [used] the appropriate keywords in your resume to get past the screener,” O’Brien said. “Be truthful, but understand that the first pass on your resume is likely via an ATS.”
A helpful tip is to make sure you include keywords from the job post in your resume. You can copy and paste the job description into a word-cloud generator to identify the most frequently used terms, and make sure the terms that apply to you are used in your resume. You can also create a “core competencies” or “areas of expertise” section of your resume to list all of your hard and soft skills, and then reiterate those skills when you bullet your experience.
According to Zippia, using keywords and industry jargon can increase your likelihood of getting an interview by nearly 30%.
7. Think beyond your job duties.
Hiring managers don’t want to read a list of your job duties. They want concrete examples of your accomplishments in previous positions that show how you can make a difference in this new position.
Rangel said that specific merits are more engaging to read than just your experiences. For example, “I reduced operating expenses by 23% in six months” is far more interesting to an employer than “I have 30 years of sales experience.”
When deciding what information to keep or cut out of your resume, focus on striking abstract traits and qualifications in favor of concrete, quantifiable results.
“The best resumes highlight a job candidate’s actions and results,” said Bob Myhal, director of digital marketing at CBC Automotive Marketing. “Employers want employees who get things done and who take great joy and pride in what they do. Rather than a laundry list of your qualifications, your resume should reflect your accomplishments and enthusiasm for your career.”
You shouldn’t ignore your skills section either. Sade reminded job seekers to list any industry-relevant apps or programs they’re familiar with and to find ways to incorporate examples of their emotional intelligence (e.g., self-awareness, empathy) and soft skills (e.g., work ethic, reliability) into their job descriptions.
8. Use the right language to stand out.
Trite, lackluster descriptions of your job duties and accomplishments won’t do you any favors. Make sure you’re using strong action words, such as “achieved,” “designed,” “improved” and “established,” to describe your roles and projects, said Sade. This will make you sound confident while imparting vital information. But be cautious about depending on action verbs – make sure to include details about how you improved a process or achieved a goal .
“Words such as ‘professional,’ ‘results-driven’ and ‘detail-oriented’ provide very little helpful information,” Sade said. “It’s better to use actual job titles than these words.”
You can use a combination of action words to highlight your experience and make your resume easier to read.
Diya Obeid, founder and CEO of ATS company JobDiva, said that you should remove words like “go-getter,” “team player” and “go-to person” from your resume. These come off as fluff and take up precious space on your resume.
9. List your social media profiles.
Many hiring managers today screen candidates on social networks . Save them a step by providing your profile links on your resume. Seasoned applicants with a professional social presence would do well to include URLs for their LinkedIn profile, Twitter account and blog, if applicable.
“If, and only if, your social media accounts are filled with professional posts pertaining to your industry, listing them on your resume can be advantageous,” said Richie Frieman, author of REPLY ALL … and Other Ways to Tank Your Career . “They can show you have a strong network and are up to speed with modern-day marketing and communications practices. The hiring manager will see that you like to keep up with what’s happening and that you care about learning more.”
Your social profiles can be a powerful recruitment tool to supplement your experience and position as an expert in your field, but only if they are leveraged correctly.
If your social profiles are not professionally applicable, do not list them on your resume, and make sure they are set to private.
10. Check for errors.
Triple-check your own work, and then have someone else look over your resume to ensure it’s 100% clean. There is no room for sloppiness on your resume.
- Spelling, grammar and punctuation: A hiring manager will likely automatically dismiss your application if they spot a typo or grammatical error. “Make sure it’s error-free and easy to read,” Obeid said. “HR reps equate typos and errors with laziness. Use good English – the written word has a huge impact on the employer.”
- Formatting: “Review formatting very closely, including font, alignment and spacing,” Bissot said. “Related issues can often be perceived as a sign of lacking technical skills and/or attention to detail.”
- Headings: Yao said that candidates often submit applications addressed to the wrong employer or outline experience that’s irrelevant to the role. “Receiving a resume that’s crafted and addressed to someone else – or worse, a competitor – can be a huge turnoff and will set a negative tone even if they do choose to continue reading your application.”
Skye Schooley, Sammi Caramela, Adryan Corcione and Nicole Fallon contributed to the writing and reporting in this article. Source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.
11 Steps to Writing the Perfect Resume
Your resume is only as good as the information you provide. Make sure you're prepared with this list.
Are you struggling with writing the perfect resume? If the answer is yes, you're not alone. According to a recent TopResume study, only 24 percent of professionals described themselves as “confident in their resume-writing ability.” This means that 76 percent of professionals are insecure about their resume and resume-writing skills as a whole.
With that said, whether you're planning to use a professional resume-writing service or give it a go on your own, it's important to take some time to prepare for your resume rewrite. Your resume will only be as good as the information you or your writer has to work with. Gather the following details ahead of time to craft a powerful document that effectively tells your story and markets your qualifications to help you land your dream job.
While this section may seem obvious, there are a few factors to consider. For instance, how will you display your name? Are you planning to use a nickname, such as Bob, or will you use your full name for the job search? Whichever you choose, make sure you consistently represent your name on all your personal branding materials such as your business cards, LinkedIn profile, and online portfolio or blog.
Select one email address and one phone number to include on your resume. I recommend setting up an email address that's dedicated to your job-search activities and using your cell phone number on your resume, as this gives you the ability to control the voicemail message, who answers the phone, and when.
A Jobvite social recruiting survey found that 93 percent of recruiters will search for your online profiles before they decide to interview you. Save them some time by including the URL to your LinkedIn profile.
Related: 10 Ways to Make Your LinkedIn Profile Stand Out
In addition to your LinkedIn account, the perfect resume should include any links that are relevant to your work, such as a personal website, portfolio, or blog. If your work involves social media, you may include the links to other social media accounts such as Twitter, Instagram, and so forth.
Sample job descriptions
When you're writing the perfect resume, it should be tailored to support a specific job goal. One of the best ways to ensure your resume is properly positioned is to identify sample job descriptions that you're interested in and qualified to perform.
Search online and gather a few job postings that represent the type of position you're targeting. It doesn't matter if the location is ideal; for this purpose, you should only be concerned with the job description and its requirements.
Copy and paste the text of the description itself into a Word or Google document and then highlight or bold any requirements or desirable skills from the posting you possess. This will help you or your writer identify which of your qualifications should be showcased throughout the resume.
Technical skills and proficiencies
What technical platforms and tools are you proficient? List all that apply to your work. Be specific and as comprehensive as possible. This list can include anything from social media platforms to project management systems and computer languages. If you've worked with proprietary platforms, list those as well.
Need to brush up on a skill or tool that's routinely popping up in the job descriptions you're targeting? Check out edX , Coursera , and SkillShare for free or low-cost online courses.
Your professional experience
Start with your most recent job and work your way backward. The perfect resume should detail out all your professional positions within the past 15 years. If you served in the military or held a board position, list this experience as you would any other role in your work history. If you recently graduated from college , include your internships and any work experience that took place since you entered college.
For each role, list the following information:
- Company Name and URL
- Job Title: If your title is very specific to your organization, you can include a translation of sorts in parentheses next to your official job title.
- Start and End Dates: Include the month and year for each of these dates.
- Job Description: Think about your roles and responsibilities as they relate to your target role. This is especially important if you'd like to change careers. Include details such as how many people you managed or supervised, the territories you covered, etc.
- Achievements: Brainstorm a list of your accomplishments and major contributions that benefited the organization during your tenure. The number of achievements you provide will depend upon how long you remained in that role and how relevant it is to your current job goals. Quantify your accomplishments whenever possible; for instance, how did you help save the company money, generate revenue, improve customer satisfaction, increase productivity, and so forth?
If you have an existing resume, only include new details in this section. There's no reason to repeat anything that already appears in your current resume.
Early career history
If you've been in the workforce for over 15 years, chances are you have a few positions that got left out of the previous section. Before you get started writing the perfect resume, make a list of the job titles you held, the names of each employer, the locations where you worked, and your dates of employment for these roles. While the dates will likely not get used in your resume, it's good to have a clear record of your earlier experiences for the writer.
Have you been actively volunteering with a non-profit organization? Skills-based volunteering (SBV) is a great way to fill an employment gap or supplement your work history when you're trying to change careers. Please list any volunteer work you've done that's relevant to your current job goals in chronological order, beginning with your most recent work. If you're new to the workforce, include any campus activities or clubs in which you were active.
A perfect resume should include the name of the organization and its website URL, the positions you held, your years of involvement, and your responsibilities and contributions to the non-profit. Looking for new volunteer opportunities? Visit sites such as Catchafire and VolunteerMatch .
List any relevant professional organizations or affiliations you're a member of that aren't listed on your resume. For each group, please list its name and URL, when you became a member, and what positions you held. If you took an active role in the organization, describe your responsibilities and any notable achievements.
Interested in joining a new membership group? Check out this directory of professional associations for suggestions or research which groups your peers and managers belong to. You can often find this information on their LinkedIn profiles.
Language skills can be a great selling point on your resume. If you're multilingual, be sure to list each language you speak and your proficiency level.
Education and professional development
Create a record of all your education, beginning with your most recent degree. List the institution, its location, the name of your degree, your major and minor, your graduation year, and any honors associated with the degree, such as summa or magna cum laude. Do the same for any relevant certifications you've obtained or additional training opportunities or workshops you've attended.
Have you received positive customer testimonials or a great performance review? Include this information in your preparation materials. You or your professional resume writer may be able to work some of this information into your resume to demonstrate your hard and soft skills in the workplace.
While this may feel like a lot of work, by taking the time to examine your career now, you'll see the benefits on your future resume. A perfect resume is within reach!
Click on the following link for more resume-writing advice .
Need help with your resume? Our TopResume professional resume writers can assist you!
- How to Use Sample Job Descriptions to Enhance Your Resume
- Why Soft and Hard Skills Are So Important for Your Resume
- 5 Signs It's Time to Hire a Professional Resume Writer
7 Signs Your Resume is Making You Look Old
Why a Simple Resume Layout is a Successful Resume
8 Tips to Stand Out in a Competitive Job Market
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A resume is an essential part of any job application. Not only is it a perfect career summary but also knowing how to write a resume is your ticket to the job you want.
But you probably already knew that. Instead, you’re wondering what to put on a resume to make it stand out from the rest.
You’re in luck. This comprehensive guide will show you how to do a resume by following these steps:
- Choose the best format
- Style your resume
- Add contact info to the header
- Write a compelling professional summary
- Describe your work history
- Emphasize your most relevant skills
- List your education and credentials
- Add optional sections
- Proofread your resume and save it as a PDF
You’ve written your resume — what’s next?
If you’re ready to draft a resume now, skip this guide and go directly to the Resume Builder . You will get free writing tips and content suggestions showing you exactly what to write in a resume. Or, if you’re so inclined, consult with a professional resume writer for personalized assistance.
Create Your Resume
1. Choose the best format
Wondering how to start a resume the right way? Choose a format.
The three standard formats are:
- Chronological : This traditional format focuses on reverse-chronological work experience.
- Functional : This format, the most popular alternative to chronological, emphasizes skills and abilities.
- Combination : This format balances work history and skills equally.
The best resume format for you will depend on your career goals, work experience, skill set, and whether or not you have unique challenges like employment gaps.
But for most job seekers, the chronological resume is the way to go.
Why? Recruiters spend only seven seconds glancing at a resume before deciding whether to give it a closer look, which makes paying attention to your resume outline critical. In it, they expect to see your work history. If they don’t see it immediately, they think you’re trying to hide something. It’s as simple as that.
Here’s what to put on a resume using the reverse-chronological format:
If you’re wondering about formatting — the font size, spaces and margins — we have a comprehensive resume formatting guide just for you. After you learn how to format your resume, review our resume examples to see how the formatting principles are applied.
2. Style your resume
You can make the words on the page say so much more with an eye-catching resume template . Templates provide the design and layout to put your skills, qualifications and work experience in the best possible light.
We have many different styles to choose from.
Here’s an example of how a well-chosen template can transform your resume:
3. Add contact info to the header
The goal of a resume is to get calls from employers, so you want to make your contact info easy to find. That’s why you always place this critical information at the top of your resume, whether it’s toward the left, right or center.
Now, you don’t want to make your resume feel cluttered, so it’s important to be discerning in what you include in the header.
Every resume header should include the following:
- Phone number
- Professional email address
If you’re in a creative industry, your header may also include:
- Personal website or portfolio
- Social media channels
No headers should include:
- Full address
- Date of birth
- Zodiac sign
4. Write a compelling professional summary
Writing an effective professional summary is how you start a resume that makes a great first impression. Professional summaries are three- to five-sentence career summations that are packed with action verbs and power words.
When the right words don’t immediately spring to mind, take a closer look at the job listing. What keywords does the employer use? Is there a way to rewrite your work experience to include these keywords?
Beyond keywords, your summary should include your greatest accomplishment, most relevant skills, and an accolade or award if possible. It should sit at the top of your resume, close to the header.
Here’s what a good professional summary looks like:
Passionate writer with 10+ years of experience telling stories in a wide range of formats. Work has appeared in Fortune, Dwell and National Geographic. Skilled in using Adobe Creative Suite and social media to create multimedia reports across multiple platforms. Recognized by the Poynter Institute for Excellence in Journalism.
Professional summaries are best suited to applicants who have at least one year of experience. Anyone who is new to the workforce or changing careers may want to consider the alternative — the resume objective statement.
Is a resume objective right for you?
Resume objectives are the professional summary’s no-nonsense cousin. In an objective statement, you tell the employer exactly what you intend to do.
Here’s an example of what to write in a resume objective statement:
This job seeker means business. After citing her experience level, she tells you which department she’s interested in, the skills that would transfer into the role and why she wants to work for the company
Objectives are best for candidates who are:
- New to the workforce.
- Switching career paths.
- Coming back to work after a lengthy break.
5. Describe your work history
Work history is one of the most important sections of your resume. Employers want to know you can deliver results, and here is where you show them your track record.
Start by listing your most recent employer first and move backward. Work experience that’s more than 15 years old may not be relevant anymore, so as you get further into the past, carefully weigh the benefits of adding each job. Don’t be afraid to cut a job that’s no longer pertinent or add a second page to the resume if you need more space.
The most valuable parts of your job history are the quantifiable achievements. Hiring managers prefer metrics over lists of job duties because they show the results of your work, suggesting you can do the same for them.
Writing your work history as a list of measurable accomplishments will help you stand out from the competition. Here’s an example:
When an employer reads “retention rates,” they see value in their bottom line.
Quantifiable achievements can come from various activities, such as increasing customer satisfaction or saving a company money. Accomplishments may be hard to quantify in retrospect, so keep careful track of them while you’re working. Most success can be measured in terms of time, dollar amounts, volume and percentages by putting in a bit of thought.
For some, you may be wondering how to write a resume with no experience, and we get it. We all have to start somewhere. When writing a resume without job experience, there are a few things to keep in mind:
- Use a functional resume format. This style puts skills and qualifications center stage, minimizing the focus on work history.
- Highlight other experiences. The workplace isn’t the only place you learn valuable skills. Touching on the skills you learned through volunteering or personal projects can help.
- Emphasize your education. The classroom is another forum for learning. Be sure to mention any special projects you took part in.
Customize your work experience to the job ad
To get an advantage over other job seekers in a competitive market, you need to draft a resume that’s targeted. The one-size-fits-all resume is a thing of the past.
A good rule of thumb is to match everything to the job description. But be honest! If the job calls for someone with strong math skills and yours aren’t that great, focus on your skills that match the position and tailor your achievements around those.
What may seem like a silly exercise could make all the difference. Employers use Applicant Tracking Software (ATS) that hones in on keywords and disqualifies applicants who don’t include the right ones.
They search for keywords that match the job description, so use as many of those keywords as you can — if they truly apply to you. And don’t just stick them all in your resume skills section. You’ve got to sprinkle them throughout your resume, particularly in your work experience section, so that the hiring manager can see how each keyword applies to your experience.
Here’s a targeted resume example that shows you how to update a resume work experience section with keywords pulled from a job listing:
Highlight your achievements
If you’re wondering how to do a resume that highlights your achievements, you should start by asking yourself a handful of questions.
5 questions to help you identify results-oriented achievements:
- Did I save the company money? How much? How?
- Did I create a new program, process or initiative that saved time, enhanced productivity, or increased revenue?
- Did I meet or exceed my or the company’s goals? How? How did that benefit the company?
- Did I lead a team on a special project? How many people were on the team? What was the project, and what did we accomplish?
- Did I receive a promotion in record time?
Your list of answers will help you create much stronger bullet points.
Here are four examples of well-written, quantifiable successes:
- Organized monthly volunteer projects with more than 30 volunteers per event.
- Provided award-winning in-home medical care for 10 senior citizens over the span of three years.
- Implemented a filing system that organized more than 500 past and current employee files, increasing efficiency by 100%.
- Exceeded sales goals by an average of 30% every quarter in 2020.
See how much stronger work experience sounds when you have data to back it up?
Next up, the abilities that make you uniquely talented: skills.
6. Emphasize your most relevant skills
Skills are the lifeblood of your career; Without them, making a resume would be impossible.
The key to writing a resume that employers love is to showcase the breadth and depth of your skill set. By including a variety of soft and hard skills , the employer will recognize your versatility.
Soft skills are personal attributes, innate abilities and personality traits we are born with and develop throughout our lives.
Examples of soft skills:
Hard skills are practical abilities learned in school, on the job or through training.
Examples of hard skills:
Additionally, you should name-drop specific software or technical knowledge you use in your day-to-day job, whether it be PhotoShop for graphic design or a working understanding of OSHA safety procedures.
When matching your skills to the position, comb through the job requirements. Employers often list “Required Skills,” “Essential Duties” or “Skills and Competencies,” which often mix together all types of skills.
Employers also weave soft skills throughout job descriptions, like so:
It’s perfectly acceptable to use a skill twice in your resume, such as in your job history and skills section, but you must provide context (and don’t overdo it!).
For example, look at this job requirement:
In your work history section, you could add an achievement like:
Simultaneously, you can mention “organization” in your skills section.
Another example is if the job description for a server position says they expect their employees to build rapport with guests. In that case, one way to show you can do this might be to list interpersonal skills in your resume skills section. Then, in the job history section of your resume, point out a time you were recognized for building relationships with clients, which resulted in increased sales and customer retention.
Pro tip: If you lack work experience or you’re changing careers, then lean into your transferable skills, which are attributes and abilities that you can apply to most jobs and industries. Examples include persuasion, negotiation, organization, time management and communication skills.
7. List your education and credentials
In the quest to make a good resume, education remains one of the most important stops. However, you don’t want to overload your education section with too much information; There are facts you should include and others you shouldn’t.
Your education section should include:
- The name and location of schools you’ve attended.
Any degree(s) and academic honors or awards you’ve earned.
- Relevant coursework or special projects.
Your education section should not include:
- Your GPA (unless it’s at least 3.5).
- The years you attended.
- Your graduation dates, which could introduce bias into the hiring process.
Pro tip: If you are a student, recent graduate or applying for your first job, it’s acceptable to put your educational details at the top of your resume, under your objective or summary and work history. Otherwise, place it at the bottom of your resume.
However, sometimes education isn’t a straight line. For example, there are millions of people who’ve only finished a few years of college.
In that case, if your area of study isn’t relevant to the job, don’t bother including it. But there are cases where it should be listed, particularly if your studies relate to your desired position or if the role requires some education.
How to list unfinished college on a resume:
- Mention the name and location of the university.
- List your GPA (if it’s above 3.5).
- Note the subject of your coursework.
- Cite the number of credits you completed.
- Showcase any awards accrued.
In cases where you’re still attending school, you should also include an expected date of completion: [Month] + [Year].
What about certificates? If you have professional certifications, you can create a separate section for them. While it isn’t necessary — “Education and Certifications” would do just fine — giving them their own space could call attention to how you’ve formalized your skill set.
How to list certificate of completion on resume:
- Create a heading on your resume or CV called “Certifications.”
- List the name of the certificate and year completed.
- Cite the organization that gave you the certificate.
- Write as many entries as needed.
Pro tip: Licenses and certifications can boost your resume if you don’t have much on-the-job experience because they verify that your technical skills are different from the average.
8. Add optional sections
Resumes shouldn’t be generic. Every candidate has unique abilities to bring to the table, and that may require adding a new section.
Perhaps you took continued education classes or went overseas to volunteer. Maybe you joined a professional organization or parent-student council. These are all details that belong on your resume.
Your volunteer work may count as work experience, your classes can fit in the education section; but for professional, parent or community organizations, well, you’ll need to create a new section for those.
In fact, you can create a new section for any of your outside-the-box experiences. The key is that they must be relevant to your job of interest . Recruiters don’t need to know about your Yahtzee meetups, for example.
Here’s some advice on creating new sections to highlight your experience.
How to list volunteer work on a resume:
- Full-time, consistent volunteer work belongs in your work experience and should be given the full treatment.
- Otherwise, create a dedicated section called “Volunteer Experience” or “Community Service.”
- Include the organization, location, your title (likely “volunteer”), the dates you served and one or two bullet points describing your contributions.
How to list publications on a resume:
- Create a distinct section titled “Publications.”
- Place it below your “Education” section.
- Use reverse-chronological order, beginning with your most recent publication.
- Include the year and title of each one.
- Only mention publications relevant to the job.
Quick note: It’s much more common to see publications listed on a CV. If you need to make a CV , visit our library of CV examples and choose a CV template that appeals to you.
There’s one additional section we should touch on: professional references. These days, you only need to include a line at the bottom of your resume That reads, “Professional references available upon request.” Then, create a separate page listing your references in case the employer asks for them.
How to list references on a resume:
- Use a separate page for your references list.
- Give a title to your resume references, for example: “Professional References” should work.
- Include at least three people.
- List their full names, job titles and companies.
- Add their contact information — both phone number and email address, ideally.
9. Proofread your resume and save it as a PDF
Now that you know how to write a resume for a job, get ready to proofread it. Not once, not twice — proofread your document at least three times.
A resume containing typos, inconsistencies, misspellings, improper formatting, inappropriate fonts and missing information can cost you the job — no matter how strong your qualifications are.
Easy-to-catch mistakes tell the employer you are sloppy and don’t pay attention to details.
There’s an easy way to avoid this mistake: proofread every resume you write more than once. After your first glance, walk away for a while to clear your mind (ideally for an hour) and review your document again with fresh eyes to make sure everything is in order before you send your resume to employers. Proofread it once more. Then give it to a friend to proofread it if you can.
Finally, when you’re ready to submit your resume, save it as a PDF. Always read the job listing carefully to use the employer’s preferred file type when you upload, but the industry standard is a PDF. Unlike Word documents, PDFs are very good at retaining their formatting, so your document is less likely to get mangled in translation.
Writing a resume is a huge accomplishment, and you should take a moment to pat yourself on the back. But knowing how to make a resume for a job is only part of the journey. You need to land the job!
Before you hit “send” on your job applications, complement your resume with a professional cover letter.
Pair your resume with a cover letter
Your job application is made complete with a cover letter. While they aren’t always required, cover letters remain one of the best ways to set yourself apart from the pack.
Here are three ways to make your resume and cover letter a perfect match:
Apply the same style. Your resume templates and cover letter templates should have a similar style and use the same colors. A consistent look between the two will make your application cohesive and tell employers you pay attention to details.
Be mindful of formatting. Your cover letter and resume must be formatted correctly . If you use Arial 11-pt font for your cover letter, use it for your resume, too.
Use the same header content. Again, consistency matters. If you add a link to your LinkedIn profile on your resume, then put it on your cover letter. If you write your phone number (415) 555-5555 on your resume, don’t write it as 415-555-5555 on your cover letter.
Use your resume to summarize your qualifications and your cover letter to discuss them in detail.
Your cover letter is not a repeat of your resume, so don’t use it to rehash it or talk about each job line by line. Instead, make your cover letter into a short narrative using skills and experience from your resume strategically.
For example, pick a few skills from your resume and give meaning to them in your cover letter. And, if you display awards on your resume, then use the space on your cover letter to talk about one or two of them in detail.
If you find you don’t know what to say, consider using a cover letter builder to speed up the process, or browse cover letter examples for inspiration.
Resume writing FAQ
How can i make a resume for free.
- Open the resume builder.
- Share your level of experience.
- Choose a resume style.
- Upload your existing resume (if you have one).
- Add your contact info in the header.
- Fill in your work experience.
- List your degrees and certificates.
- Type in your skills.
- Customize a professional summary.
- Download your resume as a Word doc or PDF.
How do I write a resume after a long period of unemployment?
A great tip for making a resume after a long period of unemployment is to spin your story in the best light. Use your professional summary statement to emphasize the value your unique skills can bring to the table. Don't lead with your last job, but rather, lead with the most relevant. If you have relevant training, put it above the work history resume section. Consider omitting exact dates and simply including years if you believe that would be beneficial to your profile.
How should I create a resume for a career change?
To write a resume for a career change, use a functional or hybrid format detailing your transferable skills. These formats will emphasize your most relevant skills, accomplishments and work experience. Our Resume Builder can help you decide which format to use based on your information, prior work history and the job you want.
What should a resume look like in 2023?
Employers expect to see a reverse-chronological resume , beginning with your most recent job and working backward. We recommend the vast majority of job seekers use this format because it’s popular, easy to use and passes through applicant tracking systems (ATS) without a problem.
That said, there are exceptions to the rule. If you lack professional work experience or you’re making a big career change, you may find an alternative format like the functional resume a better fit. This is a skills-based format that puts skills and qualifications in the limelight, downplaying work history.
Finally, use a modern template or creative template to give your document a fresh contemporary look.
Should I include references in my resume?
No, you shouldn’t include references in your resume. That said, you should have a separate page for your professional references at the ready, and include a line near the bottom of your resume that says, “Professional references available upon request.” Then, if the employer asks, you will be prepared to give them a polished list.
Don Sjoerdsma, CPRW
Don is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) with more than 10 years’ experience creating digital content, including four years helping job seekers develop their careers. He holds an M.S. in Journalism from Northwestern University.
Read more articles by Don Sjoerdsma, CPRW
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Read more on how to make a resume:
How to Write a Powerful Resume Summary Statement
What Is an ATS Resume? How To Build a Bot-Proof Job Application
How to Write a Resume (That’s Good!) in 7 Easy Steps
Looking for a new job is exciting, but all the legwork involved can be a grind. There are so many details to attend to — researching prospective employers, lining up professional references, practicing interviewing skills and checking the salary range for your role. It can be tempting to recycle an old resume and top it off with your newest work experience just to save yourself some time and hassle.
Resist that impulse. If you’re hoping to score an interview for that dream job, you need a freshly polished, customized document that will grab readers’ attention. While applying for different positions may not require building your resume from scratch each time, you will still need to tailor this vital document for every application. It is worth the effort, too, because it can go a long way toward underscoring your interest in a specific job and company.
If you aren’t sure how to write a resume that will stand out, you’ve come to the right place. Here are several recommendations — seven, in fact — for building a resume that can help you increase your chances of landing a job interview.
7 resume writing tips that can set you apart
Every list of resume writing tips will tell you the same thing: Start with your contact information. Your name, phone number, email address and, if applicable, links to your website and LinkedIn profile. Then, list all the jobs you’ve had.
But there’s much more to it than that. If you want hiring managers to give your resume more than a quick scan, you need to hook them from the start — and that brings us to our first tip:
Tip #1. Craft a compelling lead
The top of the page is valuable real estate for sharing your job candidate “story.”
Back in the day, resumes had an objective statement just below the contact info that explained what type of job a candidate was seeking. But today, many hiring managers and recruiters expect to see a short, snappy paragraph that’s more like a profile.
Think of these important two or three sentences as your 30-second elevator pitch: They should quickly summarize your experience and training, and highlight your relevant skills for the role you’re seeking.
Expand on your qualifications deeper in your resume — and in your cover letter , too.
When you’re in a job interview, you need to be ready to answer some form of this question: “Why do you want to work here?” See this post for insight on preparing and delivering a solid response.
Tip #2. Show your impact
The bulk of your resume should focus on your work experience. List your past jobs in chronological order, from most recent to oldest, and take a results-driven approach to describe your duties and accomplishments. That means including meaningful information about how you added value to a project or the company.
To show how you excelled in the position, use action verbs, give specific examples and add quantifiable results. Don’t simply say, “oversaw project management,” for instance. Instead, give a concise project description and highlight your specific role. For example: “Project manager for a six-person team responsible for launching a new product line on an aggressive timeline.”
Also, include concrete numbers that show your impact. For instance, were you able to help the company reduce costs? Did your work contribute directly to boosting the company’s sales growth? If you don’t have that kind of data, report the solutions your team delivered or other project outcomes. The goal is to explain how you made a difference.
Tip #3. Include your soft skills
Remember that interpersonal skills are critical to your career success. Effective writing and verbal communication, critical thinking, time management, creativity, and problem-solving abilities are all highly prized today. It’s important to add them to your resume and cover letter.
But don't just list these skills. Look for other ways to help them come through in your job application. If you take the time to write a resume and cover letter that are well-organized, free of grammatical and spelling errors (see tip #7) and tailored for the role you’re applying for, those documents will help showcase your writing skills. You can also frame your work history and accomplishments to underscore abilities such as collaboration, adaptability and leadership.
Other soft skills might be more difficult to demonstrate. Few of us can point to a TED talk or other online video or podcast to prove our verbal and presentation skills, for example. But we all have a LinkedIn profile. Ask a handful of your colleagues, former coworkers or others in your professional network to write recommendations that include some mention of your creativity, leadership qualities and other attributes.
Tip #4. Highlight your tech skills
Share your software skills and technical knowledge. As an example, job candidates for an administrative assistant position or similar role are expected to have Microsoft Office experience. Savvy candidates would list their proficiency levels with each of the suite’s applications and any training or certification programs completed.
Many jobs will require more advanced tech skills. Using the job description as a guide, discuss your expertise with the software required for the role. Again, you should list relevant certifications and training. Even better, include mention of relevant software in your work history to demonstrate professional experience.
Read this post for more tips on creating a compelling resume skills section .
Tip #5. Underscore your unique qualities and experience
This tip on how to write a resume is about highlighting talents relevant to the position or company. Foreign language fluency, for example, could give you an edge in getting an interview if the employer has international operations. Your role as an organizer for a Meetup group related to your industry can show leadership skills.
Whatever your passion, use your unique qualities and experiences to make yourself stand out. Many hiring managers like to gain a fuller picture of potential employees, so don’t be afraid to mention some outside interests. Just don’t go overboard by providing a laundry list of hobbies and personal pursuits. Always keep in mind that your resume is a professional document.
Robert Half has more recommendations for creating a stellar resume. Check out our list of resume do’s and don’ts here .
Tip #6. Increase your edge by including keywords
Many companies scan resumes and cover letters for the keywords used in their job postings. Tailor your resume for every job description you reply to — and that means sprinkling the document with some of the specific language that each posting uses.
For example, if an employer is seeking an applicant with experience “maintaining executives’ calendars,” use that same wording in your resume instead of a more casual phrase like “keeping track of schedules.”
Tip #7. Proofread your copy!
An employer sorting through a dozen or more resumes doesn’t need much reason to remove you from consideration. Meticulously proofread your resume for spelling and grammatical goofs. In addition to running a spell-check, read your document aloud slowly so you can focus on each word. Finally, ask a friend to double-check your work. One simple typo can kill your chances of landing an interview.
Our “ Resumania™ ” archive is full of real and embarrassing examples of errors that crept into job seekers’ resumes. Want to know how to write a resume? Don’t write things like this:
- “Education: Earned a diploma from a very repudiated college.
- “Experience: Academic tudor .”
- “Skills: Excel at working within a tea -oriented culture.”
- “Work history: My last employer fried me for no reason.”
- “Qualifications: I ooze mangnetism .”
- “Salary requirements: Looking for a bass salary of $40,000.”
- “ Referees available by request.”
The last word on building a resume (that’s good !)
Every job, every industry and every candidate will require some adjustments to these resume writing tips. Creative professionals, for instance, will want to include links to their portfolios in their resumes . And new college grads don’t have much work experience to highlight, they can still draw from class projects, labs and seminars to talk up their hard and soft skills.
When you consider how to write a resume that helps you advance your career goals, the takeaway is this: Employers want to hire people who can make an impact. And today, with so many professionals quitting their jobs or planning to leave one soon in search of something different, an employer wants to be sure they are recruiting a candidate who is serious about the opportunity on offer.
Write a tailored resume that shows a results-driven professional who is sincerely interested in the role and ready to add value to the organization, and you may soon find yourself preparing for a job interview.
Looking for a job? Whether you are looking for an opportunity that is on-site or remote, Robert Half’s recruiters can help! Send us your resume or call your local Robert Half recruiter today!
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