Style reflects both your attitude and your personality.
In a generation of a multitude of characters, it is important for you to stand out.
Therefore, it is important to be aware of how you express yourself. To better understand how to make a resume, you must understand what a resume is and how it is different from a CV. Thereafter, you should know when to use a resume and how to make a resume and customize it for your best experience.
Choose from 20+ professional resume templates & create your resume in 10 mins!
The best way to write a resume is to tailor it professionally once all your data is ready. We suggest you use Hiration's online resume builder for an effortless resume writing experience.
Feel free to browse through our list of resume examples to get a better sense of what an ideal resume for your niche industry should look like.
We know how writing a resume can be extremely painful. Post which you must organically incorporate the keywords and make sure that you don't exceed 2 pages.
Sounds hard, right? But nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into smaller parts.
Our 2021 Guide to How to Write a Resume will cover the following:
But first, what is a Resume?
Simply put, a resume is a formal and official presentation of an applicant's work experience and education, and his/her definite skills. A resume is therefore a one or two-page document to summarize your qualifications for your target job profile.
A resume purposely provides a summary of your skills, abilities and accomplishments. It is a brief of who you are with respect to your interests and experiences. A good resume gets you an interview.
Since your resume is a primary tool in your job search, it needs to be carefully written and critiqued. This article is designed to guide you through the process.
Resume vs. CV
The three major differences between CVs and resumes are:
- the length,
- the purpose, and
- the layout
A resume is a brief summary of your skills and experience over one or two pages, a CV is more detailed and can stretch well beyond two pages. The resume will be tailored to each position whereas the CV will stay put and any changes will be in the cover letter.
A CV has a clear chronological order listing the whole career of the individual whereas a resume’s information can be shuffled around to best suit the applicant.
The main difference between a resume and a CV is that a CV is intended to be a full record of your career history and a resume is a brief, targeted list of skills and achievements.
Check out our Blog on CV v/s Resume Difference for a better understanding of the differences between the two.
Who needs a Resume?
You'll need to submit a resume if you're applying for a job with an organization that doesn't rely solely on standard, handwritten application forms.
Companies that require resumes will say so in their job postings, and those that don't will ask you to fill out an application.
It is also always a good idea to have a typed resume ready to submit with the application form.
Why Do You Need a Resume?
A resume is not necessarily a sanction of your personality.
To Find A New Job
Change is sometimes forced on a worker – companies do not share all the information that could potentially impact employees or sometimes the company is blind-sided by changes outside of its control.
If you are caught in this position, your stress will be somewhat eased by an updated resume at hand and ready to send to potential employers and colleagues.
To Find A New Opportunity
A visible resume posted online or shared among a network of trusted friends or colleagues could open doors to opportunities not recognized, considered, or thought of.
How exciting to be presented with the perfect opportunity out of the blue?
A network member might recognize a match between contents of a resume and an opening only they are privy to at the moment. After an “AHA” moment, a line can easily be drawn between the needs of the opportunity and the offerings outlined in a well-formatted resume.
To Improve Or Maintain Status In An Industry Or Field
In many industries, it is crucial to have a standing in one’s professional community.
A recommendation from a competitor can often carry more weight than one from a friend or customer.
Visibly impressive qualifications communicated well often ensure that few people will have ill words to speak. To do so would be to risk dissent.
Skills vs. Employer Benefits
One way to rise above the competition is to make sure that your resume is loaded with employer benefits, not just skills.
According to resume expert Peter Newfield, today’s resumes must be "result-driven" rather than the skills driven resumes of the past. By reading your resume, the employer must quickly understand what advantages you offer to his company.
Think of yourself as a product and the employer as the consumer. How to make a resume and how to you sell your product (yourself) to the employer?
An employer is more interested in the benefits you have to offer than your impressive repertoire of skills. When you write your resume, make every effort to highlight these employer benefits.
For example, if you are proficient in PageMaker and desktop publishing, do not just list your skills (such as Mastery of PageMaker). Translate those skills into benefits. Tell the employer what you are able to do with your desktop publishing skills (for example, "ability to produce attractive brochures at ~80% of the cost").
Skills indicate your potential, while benefits demonstrate your actual accomplishments — what you have achieved with your skills.
An employer realizes that many applicants are well versed in PageMaker. Your job is to explain to the employer what you can do with it.
Other Reasons for a Resume
To Identify Gaps In Skills, Knowledge, Or Abilities
Prior planning prevents… Well, enough said! Just the exercise in pulling together the information for an updated resume may be enough to identify areas for improvement.
There is no time like the present – not having an up to date resume is like playing Russian Roulette with one’s income. No one wants to have to look for work because they lost their job. Be prepared, keep a current resume, and keep skills updated.
Prepares you for the interview
Most employers will use your resume as a guideline when they interview you. They will ask you to explain in detail many of the statements you have made in your resume.
Preparing a resume forces you to assess your skills. This in turn will help you evaluate several employment options open to you. It will also help you plan an effective job search campaign.
Gives you a sense of security
It’s a good idea to always have an updated resume at hand. You never know when you will want to seek a better job or just a change. Also, in case you unexpectedly lose your job, it is wise to have your resume updated and ready.
Can be used as a calling card
It’s there when you want to conduct informational interviews to test potential opportunities.
When Do You Need a CV?
The popular belief is that resumes land jobs. Not true. The resume's sole purpose is to land you an interview. If employers like what they see in your resume, they'll contact you to schedule an interview.
During the interview, they'll evaluate how well your skills match the job requirements, and how well your personality fits with their team.
CVs are used almost exclusively in countries outside of the United States. In Europe, the Middle East, Africa, or Asia, employers may expect to receive a curriculum vitae rather than a resume.
Within the United States, people in academia and medicine tend to use CVs rather than resumes.
CVs are thus used primarily when applying for international, academic, education, scientific, medical, or research positions or when applying for fellowships or grants.
How to Write a Resume?
Review the Purpose of a Resume
Think of a resume as “self-advertisement” that sums up your experience on one page. Your resume is one of the most important pieces of your job application.
It gives the hiring manager an overview of the qualifications you have for the job for which you’re applying.
You should also familiarize yourself with the difference between a resume and a cover letter:
A resume is typically sent with a cover letter, which is a document that provides additional information on your skills and experience in letter form.
A resume is a concise, often bulleted summary, while a cover letter highlights and expands on certain traits or accomplishments that would be unique or ideal assets for the particular job.
In order to effectively convey your strengths, you must do a self assessment.
- Begin with a list of your greatest accomplishments and personal qualities.
- Describe your skills and accomplishments with each employer by using action words.
- List only the skills that you would like to use on a new job. If you are writing a resume that can be scanned, then use key words.
- Write a chronological history of your employment, training, volunteer work and extra-curricular activities.
- Analyze the requirements of the new job you want to apply for.
- Compare the skills required with your background and indicate how you have demonstrated these skills.
- Apply for jobs where you have the closest fit and interest.
Create a Master Resume
An effective resume lays out a summary of qualifications that will push the hiring manager or employer to move forward and invite you for an interview.
Along with details on skills, education, and work history, resumes can also have optional sections, such as an objective, summary statement, skills, or career highlights. Those sections can be added after you’ve compiled all the factual information you need to list on your resume.
For many people, it can be helpful to sit down with a pen and paper, or a blank Word document, and jot down their work history from start to finish. Of course, if you have been in the workforce for many years, this is not going to be time-efficient, so you may choose to focus on your most prominent and relevant positions.
Once you’ve decided on a resume type, it’s time to start writing a resume. You don’t have to start from scratch. First, review examples of the resume type you’ve selected. Then, choose a template which you can copy and paste into a document, and then fill in with your own work history.
Regardless of the type of resume you choose, aim to tailor your resume to the job you are applying for. While it's perfectly acceptable to use a resume template which you adapt to fit each job description, it's a bad idea to send the same exact resume to multiple openings, even within the same field.
Your goal should be to write your resume with both robots and humans in mind. Many organizations use Applicant Tracking Systems to sort and vet resumes, before hiring managers ever take a look at them.
This means that you could have the best experience and qualifications in a whole field of candidates, and a pretty decent resume besides, but your information will fall through the cracks if your resume doesn't contain the right keywords.
Good keywords will refer not only to your experience but to the job description in the posting as well.
Your Master CV should include all information about your past work experiences, duties and achievements, along with:
- Volunteer activities
- Extracurricular activities
- Publications and presentations
- Honors, awards, and achievements
- Certifications and trainings
... and anything else that could be significant in getting yourself a job.
After preparing the Master CV, prepare your resume outline. Keep the following tips in mind to ensure your resume outline is tailored for each application:
- Read the target job description carefully and research the organization to identify the significant parameters and key skills
- Use targeted headings which direct to the main requirements of the position
- Include additional section for key achievements during your work profile
- Make sure the order of your sections ensures the most important achievements are visible first
Outline your Professional Trajectory
No matter your approach, your goal will be to produce a chronological list of experience that is relevant to the jobs you’re applying for.
Although this should focus on professional work experience, you can also include awards or accolades, volunteer or community experience, post-grad coursework, and skills, as well as your college education, which can move to the bottom of your resume once you get your first job after college.
When you’re working on your brain dump, make sure to include the name of the company, its location, dates of employment, and several bullet points describing your role and responsibilities for each position you list.
Although you may need to expand on the bullet points later on, you’ll need this information.
Focus on Your Achievements
When writing a resume description for the jobs you’ve held, focus on what you accomplished in each position rather than what you did.
Listing quantifiable achievements in a numerical manner (increased sales by 20%, reduced expenses by 10%, for example) will help your resume stand out.
Be sure to match those accomplishments to the criteria the employer is seeking in the job posting.
If it’s challenging (and it can be!) to write resume descriptions that will catch the attention of the hiring manager, review our Blog on resume tips for how to make your resume employment history sound better – all so that you get picked up for an interview.
Sections in a Resume
Broadly speaking, the content in your resume is spread across the following sections:
- Contact information
- Resume Header
- Professional Summary or Resume Objective
- Key Skills
- Professional Experience
- Additional Sections - Certifications, Training, etc.
Organizing your Resume
The entire resume must be targeted to a specific job objective. Arrange a resume to highlight your strongest or most extensive skills.
For example, if you have just graduated from college, your education, class-work and internship or co-op experiences are most important and should be placed at the beginning.
If you have an extensive work history which is the highlight of your resume, the education section would go near the end of the resume.
If you are not quite finished with your degree and you are currently taking college courses directly related to the position; then either your co-op work history, the highlights of school achievements or specific courses can be indicated.
Below are some suggestions in setting up your resume. Link to Resume Content for categories that may be used in the content of a resume and a description of each of these categories.
Organize the resume so it is easy to follow. Margin space should be approximately one inch around the edges.
Write short sentences.
Distinguish categories clearly with headings that are bold, underlined or CAPITALIZED.
Use bullets, underlining and capitalizing sparingly to guide the reader to detail within a category.
Place key words or the main point of each statement at the beginning of each line.
Bolding and Bucketing. You should highlight the important words/numbers on your resume. This is to ensure that you pass the 10-second test. On average, a recruiter will go through your resume for only 10s in the first go.
If you do not highlight any words using bold/italics, then it is up to her to read whatever she wants to. This can lead to an immediate rejection. Hence, highlight all the important keywords to ensure that she reads what you want her to read. But do not overdo it, otherwise it makes the highlighting redundant.
The general principle that you should follow while highlighting your resume is that you should only highlight those words/facts that are relevant to the roles you're targeting. For example, highlight where all you led a team, what all targets you were able to meet, what all methodologies you're aware of, etc.
Highlight the things which you have a good knowledge of because in case of an interview questions are generally asked around those highlighted points. This can actually be used to your benefit. Additionally, under all your job experiences, you can create a resume with subheadings or 'buckets' as we call them (mainly what all broad level skills you acquired in that job) and club similar points together.
Consequently, the recruiter won't have to necessarily read all the points, just perusing through those subheadings can suffice. Then highlight significant numbers and achievements in each or most points to make the recruiter's job even easier. For every work ex, you can have a separate Key Achievements section.
This section usually contains specific contributions/cases, impact, result, figures, etc. See if you can enrich your points here and in general throughout your resume, by better showcasing the extent of your role.
Additionally, make sure that all your points don't exceed one line. If they do, either split it into multiple points or create a resume with sub points. Not only will it help weed out fluff, it will force you to only mention your contribution and its impact while leaving out everything else.
Leave a space between lines to enhance readability. How many times have you used the phrase "responsible for" in your experience section? More than once?You may want to consider mixing up your vocabulary. Overusing words and phrases like “responsible for” or “manage” is boring.
Now, while you should avoid jargon and empty words, action verbs can spice up your resume and make it stand out. Also, be sure to use the present tense when describing your current role.
Keep resumes to one page, if possible; however, two pages is acceptable. Use whatever space is needed to relate information to potential employers. Resumes should be long enough to convey your qualifications and experience, but not wordy.
If you are not able to concentrate information into one page, make sure the information on the second page has sufficient content. It is important to share your resume with someone who can provide objective feedback.
Focus on customizing your resume to the job offer and prove you fit the job by showing related accomplishments. If you can do that in one page, definitely do. If a single page makes you look too light for this particular career, add more achievements.
Formatting Your Resume
Before you proceed further, it's important to first decide the resume format you'll choose. Broadly, there are 3 options:
Of the 3, we recommend going for a reverse chronological resume which would allow you to showcase all your achievements with proper context. In this resume format, the most recent achievement/contribution comes first, followed by the earlier ones.
The Chronological Resume format is the most effective choice for individuals with a strong or continuous work history and increasing levels of responsibility in the occupational area stated in the resume objective.
Dates should be placed on the resume in reverse chronological order (most recent jobs listed first) to highlight the continuous work history and increasing levels of responsibility.
Job titles may be italicized, capitalized, underlined or printed in bold to emphasize increased responsibility. The resume should then list those skill qualifications or characteristics offered to an employer.
The Functional Resume is usually chosen by individuals without a strong work history or current work experience. It emphasizes skill areas and de-emphasizes work history and dates.
The functional resume is for someone who would like to change careers, has no career history or desires a job in another field. It lists areas of expertise, skills and qualifications with the most extensive skills listed near the top of the resume. For example, this could include management, leadership, technical or communication skills which employers desire.
The Combination Resume combines the strongest elements of the chronological and functional formats to include both job-related qualifications and work experience. This provides strong support for the stated job objective. The combination resume may be useful for someone who wants to emphasize work history in addition to specific skill areas. This is a hybrid resume with the functional format at the top portion of the resume and the chronological format at the bottom.
How To Make A Resume Scannable
The Scannable Resume uses key words and phrases to increase the likelihood that the resume will be selected in an electronic search. It may be useful for someone who is applying for a job with a large company.
Larger companies utilize software to electronically scan resumes for sorting, reviewing, distributing and filing. The scanning process searches for key words which may be important to the field you have interest in or the job for which you are applying.
In fact, the most important aspect of a good scannable resume is the use of key words. Instead of the action verbs used in the traditional resume, you will want specific phrases or words.
Resumes can be sorted with all kinds of data bank keywords looking for such things as skills, knowledge of computer software packages, education and technical terms. To determine the key words in your field, first go to the job advertisement and use as many of those key words as possible or go to the Occupational Outlook Handbook, the O'Net or the Michigan Occupational Information System.
It is important to know these key words or phrases but not to overuse them. The scanning process will then indicate which resumes could be reviewed in more depth. This process is referred to as having a certain number of "hits" (key words, phrases, etc.) identified.
Tips for a Scannable Resume:
|Use white or light-colored 8 1/2 x 11 inch paper||Print on both sides|
|Provide a laser or ink-jet printer||Use pixelated photocopy|
|Use sans-serif||Use boldface type for your name, dates or body|
|Use a 10/12-point type||Underline or use italics|
|Leave space between lines||Use graphics, logos or bullets|
|Use boldface or CAPITAL letters for section headings||Use vertical and horizontal lines and boxes|
|Use only commonly recognized abbreviations||Abbreviate all possible terms|
|Place your heading on top of your resume||Fold your resume|
Keep your resume short and concise to make a good impression in a quick glance. Consider one to two pages if you have under 10 years of professional experience.
Format and style
The design and layout of your resume or CV should be neat and easy to read. Use only one or two easy to read fonts and include headers, bullet points and paragraphs. Make sure you write your resume consistently in first person, and have perfect spelling and grammar.
Match your resume or CV to the position
This is most important when writing a resume, but it applies to a CV too. Make sure that you highlight your education, work experience, and skills as they relate to the particular industry or job.
Use a template
You may want to use a template to structure your resume or CV. This will give your document a clear organization, which will help the employer quickly see your qualifications and experience.
Edit, edit, edit
No matter whether you use a CV or resume, you need to thoroughly edit your document. Make sure there are no spelling or grammatical errors.
Proofread, Proofread, and Proofread Again
Not even professional proofreaders can easily proofread their own work. Once you've made a typo, it's hard to catch it yourself. For that reason, it's a good idea to have one or two trusted friends take a look at your resume before you send it in for consideration. Use this resume proofreading checklist first, then ask someone else to give it a final review to be sure it’s perfect before you click send or upload to apply for a job.
What to exclude from your resume
Personal details such as your religion, age or marital status are prohibited in the US. Although they are accepted universally you should check your job description necessities to understand whether you should absolutely include them or not.
Try excluding irrelevant jobs. If you are applying for a profile in the aerospace, your internship at McDonald's might not count.
Salary expectations or previous salaries that you have received. This information is usually discussed during the time of the interview.
Refrain from including images on your resume. They can create problems with the recruitment softwares and also reduce the appeal in a professional layout.
Stick to professional and simple fonts and formats so that it is easier for recruiters to review your resume. It also means any recruitment software that reviews your resume can easily read the information. Good fonts to use include Verdana, Arial, Calibri, etc.
Don't use large headers to break up the sections of your resume. Use a 10- or 11-point font for your main content and a 12- or 14-point maximum for headers.
Some resume templates present information in tables to help with layout, but some recruitment software is unable to read tables. Your resume should only be formatted using line breaks and simple formatting (like setting multiple columns across the page).
You have reached the end of this blog. We encourage you to browse through our resume writing blog for more blogs like this.
In case you missed it, here are the key takeaways of this blog:
You’re bringing steak to the tigers with your resume. The employer can look at it and know immediately that not only are you qualified but that you’ve done your research into what the job is and what they’re looking for in an employee. Your goals are clear as are your skills, areas of expertise and or body of experience.
2) Aesthetically Pleasing
Remember what we said about a resume being a work of art? It should be clean, concise and have a simple structure that invites a reader to glance at it and immediately know what they’re looking at. It’s balanced and flows between sections smoothly. It’s not crowded, the margins are clean, and the font is professional. It’s also devoid of ANY ERRORS. No missing periods, no misspelled words, no grammar issues. It’s also correct and the information included is current and accurate.
That means everything you need to include is included, including (but not limited to) your name, current phone number and accurate email address, a listing of all the jobs you’ve held (in reverse chronological order), educational degrees (including any certifications and the highest degree achieved – again in reverse chronological order) and any targeted information that will help a hiring manager realize you are the perfect candidate.
The easiest way to make sure you remember all of this is to keep track using the “Perfect Resume” Checklist we made for you. You can simply check off the boxes as you complete them. Click here to your “perfect resume” checklist.
Jobs listed also include your title, the name of the company or organization you worked with, the city and state where you worked and the years you were employed. The bulleted lists are summarized in a clear way that highlights the key ideas without taking up too much space.
And PLEASE! No fibs. Hiring Managers can easily verify anything you put on your resume, and getting busted lying isn’t exactly a winning formula for getting job offers.
The hiring manager can look at your resume and immediately know what you’re applying for and what you bring in value to the company. It’s clear and concise. There’s no confusion as to what your profession is and what you can do.
One page to two pages max, depending on your field, level of experience and skill set. Don’t bore people with details, keep them wanting more…but also learn the balance between not saying enough to saying just enough.
Never include anything on a resume that might turn off an employer including political or religious affiliations, anything controversial, or that could be taken in a negative light.
This includes font, layout, and paper as well as content. Again, this is for a job and should be used as such. This isn’t a platform for personal statements or a novel detailing every job you’ve ever had since birth to present. It’s printed on high-quality paper in an appropriate color and is clean of any smudges, tears or wrinkles.
Every time you apply for a new job, check your resume to ensure that it’s not only targeted, but also current. Make sure your dates are correct and that you include the most up to date information (this is especially important if you’ve changed your phone number or contact email!)
10) It Is YOURS
That’s right…it might seem strange to say this, but the number one thing you have to remember when applying for any job is to be honest! Use action verbs and power words to give your resume life, but don’t let yourself get carried away and overstate your skills, positions, or abilities. Remember, they’re hiring you…and the last thing you want is to get a job you can’t do.
In case you have more concerns, drop in a line at firstname.lastname@example.org!