Your resume is a crucial document tool for your job search. A well-written resume demonstrates your communication skills. More importantly, it provides information that shows that you have the qualifications and experiences necessary for the next step in your career. Throughout your career, you might write many different types of resumes. The content will depend on your industry, career level, and the job you’re applying for.
Resume writing is a process that involves at least three distinct steps: preparation, writing, and proofreading.
- Preparation – Collect the content for your resume, research what your potential employers needs, and create a resume outline.
- Writing – Create and organize your content into sections, highlighting relevant skills, experiences, and results.
- Proofreading – Proofreading your resume before sending it out is critical to achieving the best readability, grammar, and consistency.
Table of contents
- How to write a resume: Basic 9 steps
- 1. Choose the right resume format
- 2. Include your name and contact information
- 3. Create a powerful resume headline
- 4. Add your resume summary or objective
- 5. Describe your work experience
- 6. Outline relevant skills and keywords
- 7. Include your education, certifications, and other relevant information
- 8. Tailor your resume for the job and the applicant tracking system
- 9. Proofread before submitting
- Frequently asked questions about writing a resume
- Should I write a new resume for every job I apply to?
- How many positions should I include on my resume?
- Can I just list years on my resume?
- Should I include employment gaps on my resume?
- Should I use a resume template?
Preparing to write a resume
Before you start writing a resume, you need to figure out what content you want to include, how, and why you will include it. So, don’t skip these three steps before writing your resume:
- Gather your content: The first step in the resume preparation process is to collect your content. First, sit down, brainstorm, and write down your accomplishments, experiences, activities, and skills.
- Do your research: Researching is the key to success. By researching a company before you apply, you’ll be able to tailor your resume to fit exactly what they seek in a potential candidate.
- Create an outline: Creating a rough resume outline will help you stay on track and organize your content logically.
Once you’ve gathered your content, researched the company, and created a roadmap for your resume, you’re ready to start writing.
How to Make a Resume: Basic 9 Steps
Most resumes will consist of five main sections. These are the critical determinants of whether you are a suitable candidate for a job:
- Resume headline
- Resume summary/objective
- Work experience and accomplishments
- Skills section
- Education section
- Optional sections (languages, publications, interests, etc.)
1. Choose the right resume format
Recruiters seek resumes that show relevant skills and experience that separate you from others. And to pick out only the best, they need to be able to locate this information quickly. So, maintain uniform formatting throughout your resume. This will make it easier to navigate and demonstrate your attention to detail.
- Reverse chronological resume format – In 90% of circumstances, you should use the reverse-chronological resume structure. This is the most prevalent, and most human resource managers are accustomed to it. This resume structure is suitable for candidates who have a lot of relevant experience for the position they are after.
- Functional resume format – If you lack formal job experience due to being a recent graduate student or want to change careers, the skills-based format is the best bet.
- Combination resume format – A combination resume is an effective solution for applicants with a wide range of skills. It’s handy if you’re searching for a job that demands competence in three or four disciplines, and you want to highlight these on your resume.
2. Include your name and contact information
The aim of the contact details is to identify the job applicant and offer the relevant information for the employer to contact them. When putting your contact information together, make your name a couple of sizes bigger and italicized or bold to stand out. Then, ensure that your telephone number and email address are accurate and up-to-date. Also, check that your voicemail greeting and email address are professional. A physical address is not essential on a resume, especially if you will send out the resume to multiple companies. Only consider giving a current or permanent address if it is near the company or branch. Employers sometimes like to recruit college students and recent graduates with local links to the area. Contact information should include:
- Email address (use a professional one like [email protected])
- Phone number
You can also add these optional details:
- An online portfolio or website (if relevant to the job)
- Your LinkedIn
- Your mailing address (if you want to show you’re a local)
- A resume headline (a subtitle that describes your experience)
3. Create a powerful resume headline
A well-written resume headline should pique a recruiter’s interest and entice them to read more.
Your headline is a brief but impactful addition to your resume, and it can be the first thing a hiring manager reads. It’s also another chance to mention a particular job title or keyword that the ATS could use to filter your resume. Thus, include keywords from the job description, preferably the job title. Also, keep the headline brief, aiming for less than ten words. Use a title case and a bold or bigger font to make the headline stand out.
- “Customer Service Representative with 5 Years of Call Center Experience”
- “Experienced Content Writer Specialising in SEO”
- “Award-Winning Graphics Programmer”
- “Seasoned Sales Professional With 9 Years of Experience”
4. Add your resume summary or objective
At the start of your resume, a resume introduction delivers a short overview of your experience, abilities, and credentials. Your introduction should be three to five sentences long, written in either sentences or bullet points.
Resume Objective – A resume objective presents your career goals and how they fit in with the company’s objectives. As such, they are best for applicants who have just graduated and have no professional experience or those who are changing careers.
The objective statement informs the employer of three main points:
- the sort of employment the applicant is seeking (internship or full-time)
- their availability
- the field or industry in which they are interested in and qualified for.
If possible, aim to tailor each objective statement to a particular job description. Generally, try to limit the objective to a single sentence that targets the company’s values and mission as well as your professional interests.
Resume Summary – A resume summary, on the other hand, emphasizes your most notable professional accomplishments and talents. It is thus most appropriate for individuals that have relevant experience and achievements.
“Degree-qualified board and senior-level secretary and administrative assistant with 10+ years of challenging experience at this level. I have strongly developed organization skills and became a resourceful problem solver by spending many years working to immovable deadlines.”
5. Describe your work experience
This section outlines the professional experiences in which you have used and refined your skills. The following is the usual format for your job experience:
- Job title – Your position appears at the top of each entry in your work experience. When the HR manager reviews your CV, you want them to realize that you have the necessary professional expertise.
- Company description – Next, you state the employer’s name and the address of the office where you worked. If the company is not a well-known household name, you may also want to introduce it briefly.
- Duties and accomplishments – These are the foundation of every work experience entry. Depending on your profession, you should state your achievements or responsibilities.
- Dates employed – The length of time you worked at each firm. If you’re unsure of the exact dates, don’t worry. The mm/yyyy format is commonly requested by recruiters and employers and performs best for the ATS.
LMV Realty / Lima, Peru / 2014 – Present
LMV is a commercial and residential properties real estate company based in Peru. My responsibilities include
- Administered office functions and provided secretarial support to 5 executives.
- Prepared and circulated monthly presentations for 13 clients.
- Researched and qualified clients, saving 16% of the marketing budget.
- Prepared contracts, assisted agents, and facilitated project progress.
6. Outline relevant skills and keywords
Keywords describe the knowledge, understanding, or skills that prove you can perform a task or job. They can appear as nouns, phrases, adjectives, or even action verbs.
It’s crucial to identify the keywords and tailor your resume whenever possible. To find relevant keywords, examine the job description. Any skills or duties mentioned many times or listed as necessary can be considered relevant to the role. Keep in mind that keywords can be:
- Job titles
- Education, volunteering, leadership roles, certification
Thus, it is critical to emphasize essential skills throughout your resume. Starting with your headline, it should contain the most relevant keyword – the job title.
If you use the combination resume style, you can also mention skills in a separate dedicated section of your resume.
Desirable skills that recruiters look for include foreign languages, business/project management, hardware and software, programming languages, laboratory experience, or various trade skills. Concentrate on those skills that other candidates might not have and that the employers might be interested in. The best way to gauge these is to review the job description and company website.
7. Include your education, certifications, and other relevant information
Your education section should generally follow your work history, but you can put it first on your resume if you’ve never worked full-time.
Ideally, you should only include your highest degree in your resume education section. If you didn’t attend college, you could instead mention your high school diploma.
Here’s what each entry in your education section should include:
- Include the name of the school location (city, state
- the title of your degree
- your graduation year (if it occurred within the past 15 years)
- your GPA, if it’s higher than 3.5
- You may list honors here, but only if you have less than two. For more than that, create a dedicated section near the bottom of your resume.
You may also include any relevant coursework on your resume, especially if it is appropriate to the job, the company, or if you are a recent graduate
University of Lima
INTERNATIONAL TRADE AND DEVELOPMENT
Diploma with 3.9 GPA
Instituto de Estudios Internacionales Universidad de Peru
8. Tailor your resume for the job and the applicant tracking system
An applicant tracking system (ATS) is software that assists businesses in sorting through dozens of resumes each day.
Yet, getting past the ATS and in front of a hiring manager isn’t difficult if you know what to do.
The most crucial step is customizing your resume for each job application. To do so, include the relevant keywords from the job listing in your resume.
For example, the job description of a sales manager could include these points:
- 5+ years of B2B sales experience
- Networking and relationship building
- Increasing company revenue by 8% in the first 3 months
To tailor your resume, include each one in your text – assuming you have the necessary skills and qualifications.
9. Proofread before submitting
Employers anticipate that your resume will showcase your finest work; hence, spelling and grammatical mistakes often result in exclusion from further consideration. When you believe you have included all the required information, it is time to proofread your resume.
Things to consider when proofreading:
- Do you know what each word you use means? Do you use enough active verbs? If you need to, change the words that are wrong or don’t fit.
- Are you using the right font, size, and white space throughout?
- Does the order of the sections make sense?
- Does your resume have bullet points that work well?
- Have you checked the spelling and grammar?
If you can, ask someone else to help you with your resume. It’s easy to miss your mistakes and see things in the text that aren’t there.
When you get the opportunity, print out your text. Most people can read text better on paper than on a screen. This also keeps you from changing details in the text as you read, so you have a better chance of seeing the resume as a whole.
FAQ: How to Make a Resume
Should I write a new resume for every job I apply to?
You don’t have to change your resume every time you apply for a job, especially if the jobs you are applying for are very similar. But recruiters and hiring managers say that it will significantly improve your chances of getting an interview in some cases. Additionally, people who want to change careers should also change their resumes to show how they can use their skills in other fields.
How many positions should I include on my resume?
You should mention all your previous positions relevant to the role you are applying for. Typically, you’ll put 2–4 jobs on your resume. But this number might vary depending on your degree of experience. You are not required to include every job you have ever had on your resume. Too many jobs might warn a recruiter that:
- you are overqualified, particularly if you are seeking an entry-level position
- your skills are obsolete
- you switch jobs too often
Hiring managers prefer a brief, organized resume that is simple to skim. So, focus on your relevant experience by putting jobs in the same industry or with similar qualifications higher on your resume.
Can I just list years on my resume?
In short, yes, you can add only years to your resume. Leaving the precise months you worked off your resume’s job experience section is an appropriate technique to disguise an employment gap and make your work history look more consistent.
Do not, however, insinuate that you held a position for a year when you only worked there for a few months. After all, employers will hardly ever hire you if they suspect you of lying on your resume.
Should I include employment gaps on my resume?
The severity of a gap on your resume depends primarily on your explanation for the gap. For example, if your resume clearly states that you spent six months away from work training to develop your skillset, then a gap in your resume isn’t a terrible thing. In fact, you may even include some of the skills you acquired in that class.
If the explanation for your resume’s gap is unclear, expand upon your time off of work in your cover letter. For example, if you were laid off, explain that your firm reorganized. Similarly, make it obvious if you took time off to be a stay-at-home mom.
Should I use a resume template?
First-time resume writers might benefit from using templates. They aid in ensuring that all relevant information is included. There are several professional layouts and designs available for use. However, certain templates may cause the resume to seem boxy or add strange characters and spaces. If you want your resume to look more professional, take a look at our wide variety of resume templates.