Your resume is one of the most important documents you will create in your professional career. Why? Because it often gives the first impression an employer will have from you. Taking the time to learn how to write a resume correctly can help reduce the burden of your job search.
Fortunately, what would otherwise take hours of hard work can be done in the blink of an eye. All you have to do is follow our simple step-by-step guide on how to write the perfect resume.
In this article, you will learn:
- What to Research Before Writing Your Resume;
- How to choose the correct resume format;
- What contact information to add (required and optional);
- How to format your work experience;
- How to add your education;
- What skills to add to your resume;
- What other optional sections it can include;
- Why a cover letter is important;
- Final tips before submitting your resume.
What is a resume?
The word resume comes from French, which means “resume”. A perfect word since that’s exactly what a resume is – a short summary detailing your professional accomplishments, skills, qualifications, education, work experience, and previous employers. It is also known as to Curriculum vitae (CV).
The goal of a resume is to get an invitation to a job interview. It should be aimed at convincing a potential employer that you are a good fit for the job. Because of this, your resume must be adjusted and adapted to each job opening.
Too long to read? Here’s a step-by-step video guide on how to write a professional resume in 2021
If you’re already familiar with what should be on a resume and just want a quick and informative summary, or if your time is limited. You can check our 5 minutes step by step video guide.
Step 0: before you start writing a resume
Before moving on to how to write a resume, we recommend taking a few minutes to do your research. These few minutes can save you hours of frustration and ultimately make your job search that much easier.
Here’s what we recommend you do your research before writing your resume:
- Research the company, specifically the “About us” page. This is a great place to search for keywords that you can use in your resume or cover letter.
- What is your mission statement?
- What are your values?
- Research the position that you will request. Great resumes are tailored to a specific job opening. You can do this by asking these three questions as you progress through the job:
- Again, what are the essentials keywords ? (Save them, they will come in handy later.)
- What adjectives, nouns, and phrases occur repeatedly?
- What words are original or atypical? (What language does the company use?)
- Discover your strengths, like this It will make it easier to identify the qualities you want to highlight on your resume. Asking these questions has worked for us.
- Ask others: “What are my abilities and capabilities, and what are my weaknesses?” How others see you is almost as important as how you see yourself.
- Look at your past achievements. What are your past achievements? What skills and abilities helped you be successful in the past?
- Look at your weaknesses. What weaknesses always get you in trouble?
Another way to prepare before you start writing your resume is to look at these well-researched, specifically designed and properly formatted documents. resume examples.
Step 1: choose the correct resume format
Once you know what the company and the job entail and have identified your strengths and weaknesses, you should be ready to choose the correct resume format.
Are you an experienced professional? Then you should choose a resume format that emphasizes your experience.
A recent graduate? Next, your resume should emphasize any transferable skills you have acquired during your studies.
Or maybe you are changing careers. So a combination of the two will produce the best results.
There are three dominant resume formats in use today:
- Chronological resume format. Probably the best option for seasoned professionals. List the candidate’s jobs and accomplishments in chronological order. Main section of the resume: Work experience.
- Functional resume format. Ideal for recent graduates, IT professionals, or other skill-based professions. Emphasize skills over experience. Main section of the resume: Skills.
- Combined resume format. A combination of the previous two. It requires a good understanding of what you want to accomplish with your resume.
The resume format you choose will determine how you organize the information on your resume.
It will also draw attention to some things and away from others. Take the time to understand your strengths and weaknesses and choose accordingly.
Ultimately, it’s mostly about which section of the resume is going to be the longest that comes first. For more information, see Resume Format: How To Choose The Best And Get Hired In 2021.
Step 2: add contact information and personal details
Compared to the other resume sections, the contact information section is very easy. That is, until you start asking more questions.
Should you put your address on the resume? How to include social mediaand should you Date of birth? And how exactly should you do that?
- Name. Absolutely necessary. Put your first name, last name last. The second name is optional. If you are applying for a position in a traditional field, add your Ph.D., MBA, or other degrees.
- Qualification. Optional. It tells the future employer who you are. Brand strategist? Product manager? A subtitle in your name.
- Email address. Absolutely necessary, even when sending your request by email. Your email address should look professional (eg. [email protected], NOT [email protected]). Always use your personal email address.
- Shipping Address. Something troublesome. Your neighborhood says a lot about who you are and, in some cases, it can be a ground for discrimination. On the other hand, if you are located in the same city as the company, it can help you get the job, as it helps them save money that they would otherwise spend on a relocation package.
- Phone number. Necessary. Many employers will call you to set up an interview, rather than by email.
- LinkedIn. Recommended. If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile yet, consider creating one. Make sure your profile is complete and up to date.
- Social media. Optional. Include it if it is related to your job. GitHub, Behance, Muck Rack, even your Facebook or Instagram profile will work (if you regularly post content that has to do with your profession). Here are some tips on how to include your social networks.
- Blog / Website. Optional. Similar to social media. If you have a blog, website, or portfolio related to your chosen profession, don’t be afraid to show it off.
- Photo. Problematic. Depends on the country. In most English-speaking countries, they don’t add a photo. Watch Should you put an image on your resume? for a more detailed analysis.
Step 3: get started with your professional brief
You Professional resume should be a list of 4-5 bullets or a short paragraph which summarizes your relevant skills, experiences and achievements.
You can think of it as a preview for the rest of your resume. Make sure it’s interesting enough to hook the hiring manager right away.
But how do you write a good professional summary?
- Write your professional summary at the end. It’s surprisingly easy to do if you’ve already finished other sections of your resume.
- The first bullet should describe your professional title. Don’t forget to add the number of years of experience. Write it in bold.
- Choose the most impressive 3-4 parts of your resume and rewrite them in agile bullets. Keep your potential employer reading.
- To maximize impact, pack your professional brief with relevant keywords. Even better, try quantify every achievement.
- Tie each point to the requirements entered in the job offer.
If you do everything right, you should end up with something like this:
Step 4: list relevant work experience
The work experience section is what most people imagine when they think “resume”.
The trick is to focus on your past accomplishments, not your responsibilities.
Hiring managers likely know what their responsibilities were supposed to be. In most cases, your job title says it all.
If you want to stand out, you must tell them how you excelled at your previous job instead of. And there is no more effective way to do that than to mention your accomplishments.
But how do you include your work experience on a resume?
- Put your work experience section in the right place. If you can boast a lot of professional experience, put the work experience section just below your resume summary. If you don’t have enough experience yet, put it just below the education section. Lastly, if you prefer to highlight your skills rather than your experience, put the skills section first.
- Give it a suitable title. Abide by “Work experience”or “Job history” as Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) may not understand other titles.
- List your jobs in reverse chronological order. Start with your most recent experience and work from there. Based on your level of experience, decide how long to roll back your resume.
- Do not include the job description. Instead of listing what you were supposed to do, try telling your potential employers what positive results you got.
- Write in the past tense. This will help you focus on your past accomplishments rather than your responsibilities. It also sounds better.
- Show your problem solving skills. Ultimately, hiring managers want to know how effective you will be in solving real problems. There is no better way to demonstrate your ability to solve problems than to briefly describe how you solved difficult problems in the past. Follow the PAR scheme: What was the (problem)? What (A) ction did you take? Which it was the result?
- Quantify the results. Hiring managers love measurable results. This is why a single number often speaks more than a thousand words. Don’t say that you “It significantly increased the company’s revenue.” Instead, don’t be afraid to show off “Increasing the company’s revenue by 20%.”
- Use bullets. Bullets help you structure each subsection. Try to limit yourself to about 5 rounds per job.
- Avoid buzzwords. People used some phrases on their resumes so much that these words have become meaningless. Everyone seems to be an innovative creative thinker with a knack for innovation today. But in reality, only very few people are really those things. For more, see 10 buzzwords to stop using on your resume
- Use action verbs. Unlike buzzwords, action verbs carry the weight you need to persuade an employer to hire you. Just to mention a few, these are words like “developed”, “augmented”, “facilitated” and others. For more inspiration, check out our Resume Cheat Sheet: 222 Action Verbs to Use on Your New Resume.
- Keywords. Reread the job description and choose your most important keywords carefully. These are the words that best describe the position you are applying for. We have already discussed the importance of keywords at the beginning of this guide.
In the end, your work experience section should look like this:
Step 5: summarize your education
The education summary The section is where you list your relevant academic degrees and achievements.
Depending on your title and where you are in your career, it may be the least or the most important part of your resume.
Are you an experienced professional?
As you gain more experience, the education section takes a backseat to your work history and skills.
In other words, it means that your education section should come after the work experience section, not the other way around. It also doesn’t have to be too long. It is sufficient if you include the name of your university, the name of your degree, and the year you graduated.
Here’s an example:
Are you a recent graduate?
So your title is still one of the strongest cards you have to play.
In practical terms, it means that you should place your education section at the top of your resume, right between your career summary and the work experience section.
It should also be a bit longer. Here are the things to add to your education section if you are a student or recent graduate:
- Academic Awards. AP Scholar, Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, National Merit Award, President’s Award, Subject-Based School Awards, Dean’s List, etc.
- Scholarships Sports scholarships, scholarships for women, creative scholarships, etc.
- Academic congresses and symposia. Be sure to mention the scope and name of the work you presented at a conference.
- Relevant student societies. Debate or programming clubs. If you were on a student committee of any kind, bring that up as well.
- GPA. Only include your GPA if it was greater than 3.0 on a scale of 4.0. If your overall GPA was lower, please list your overall GPA. Alternatively, mention your summa cum laude or magna cum laude.
- Academic publications. Producing scholarly work worth publishing is impressive no matter the context.
In the end, your education section may look like this:
Step 6: highlight your soft and hard skills
Before you start writing, you should know that there are two types of skills: hard skills and soft skills.
Hard skills it can be learned, taught and, most importantly, measured. Acquiring them requires deliberate effort, training, and time.
Examples of hard skills include: computer skills, language skills, manual skills, math, project management, etc.
Soft skills They are linked to your personality traits. These skills are often part of their education. You can also acquire some of them later in life through self-improvement. These skills can add value to any job as well as your private life.
Examples of soft skills include: communication, leadership, time management, creativity, decision making, etc.
But how do you make your skills stand out?
- Focus on what is most relevant. Do you have any of the skills mentioned in the advertisement for the job you want? Well. Be sure to include them in the skills section of your resume.
- Organize your skills into subcategories. Divide the skills section into several subsections, such as computer skills, social skills, languages, and others.
- Don’t underestimate soft skills. 67 percent of HR managers said they would hire a candidate with strong soft skills even if his technical skills were lacking. In contrast, only 9 percent would hire someone with strong technical credentials but weak soft skills.
- There are skills that you should not include. Never include skills that you don’t have, skills that have nothing to do with the job, skills that everyone should have, or skills that have become obsolete.
Step 7: add optional resume sections
In addition to the standard resume sections we mentioned above, there are the optional sections. When added correctly, these sections can help to: fill the gap when you lack experience, highlight additional skills and knowledge, and let an employer know more about who you are.
This last part can be especially important for companies that prioritize hiring candidates who fit their workplace culture.
These are some of the most common optional sections:
- Technical skills: This section can be a good addition when applied to technicians jobs. Some examples of technical skills are: programming languages, software mastery, project management, and data analysis.
- Achievements and awards: Scholarships, contests, job-related awards, or even promotions to leadership positions at your job; distribute them in other parts of your resume or put them in a dedicated section.
- Certification and licenses: Include several certifications that are important and relevant to the desired job.
- Publications: Mention relevant lectures, presentations, and written publications. It is especially useful if you work in academia, marketing, or journalism.
- Volunteering: This section lists your volunteer work. It should be treated similarly to a work experience section. The reason is that whether your work has been paid for or not, it still translates into a real life experience.
- Hobbies: Use this section to list your interests, preferably unique ones. They are a great way for a hiring manager to break the ice when it comes to the next stage of the hiring process.
A good rule of thumb is that you only add an optional section if it is relevant to the job you are applying for. You can learn what to add and how to organize these sections in our resume section article.
Step 8: wrap it up with a cover letter
Phew! I’m almost done with how to write a resume. Just a little bit of editing and proofreading, choosing the right resume template, and you should be able to click submit, right?
Not quite, at least we don’t recommend you send it, yet.
The truth is that resumes are often put aside when they are not accompanied by a cover letter. It would be a shame if this happened to yours, especially after all the time you’ve spent creating your resume.
A good cover letter is a way to differentiate yourself from the competition. It’s where you can show your hiring manager that you mean business. Here are 4 tips you can use when writing your cover letter:
- Let them know what position are you applying for. Preferably in the opening sentences.
- Highlight an achievement that you have had in a previous job.
- Show enthusiasm for work.
- Add keywords.
When all is said and done, your cover letter should look like this:
USE THE SAMPLE AS YOUR FIRST DRAFT
OR Explore 900+ other cover letter examples from your profession.
And if you really want a memorable cover letter, we’ve got you covered. In fact, we are sure it will be the only cover letter guide you’ll ever need.
Final advice before clicking “Submit”
- The older the job, the less detail. In other words, don’t have 13 bullets in a 5-year-old job.
- Use off-peak hours for maximum attentionespecially if you are communicating with an employer directly. Hiring managers are busy people and you want them to receive your resume when they have enough time to peruse it.
- Check your resume for typos. Well, English may not be your first language. Because of that, most employers might be inclined to overlook any grammatical mistakes you make on your resume. Typographical errors, on the other hand, are unforgivable. Your computer’s spell check feature can help you fix it.
- Customize your resume for each job application. Every employer is different. Any hiring manager can tell if you just sent them the same generic resume as everyone else. Tailor your resume to each individual employer and increase your chances of being hired.
- Get the correct introduction email. It doesn’t matter that you have the best resume of all time if no one can read it. Attach it to an email that catches the employer’s attention early on. Pay particular attention to subject line and make them want to read it all.
Good job, you did it! If you still need more information on how to write a resume. You can go deeper in our section by section. resume guide.