What is a resume?
A resume in most of the world is a document that is used when applying for a job. However, the specific use and structure of a resume will vary depending on which country you live in.
For example, in the United States and Canada, a resume is used to apply for academic roles such as research positions or graduate schools. It is usually at least two pages long (but often much longer) and provides a comprehensive overview of your academic positions, publications and achievements.
However, in most other countries, a resume is simply the document that you send out to employers to apply for a job. In Europe and the UK, the words “résumé” and “résumé” are synonymous (although “résumé” is used less frequently).
Long story short, unless you’re applying for academic positions in the US or Canada, writing your resume is the same process as writing a resume.
What to include on a resume
Now that you know what a resume is, you are probably wondering how to structure your own resume. At least your resume must contain it the following five sections::
- Header with your name and contact information
- work experience
All other information, such as volunteering or hobbies, are optional additions to your resume.
How to write a resume (with examples)
If you’re applying for a job outside of North America, you’ll need a comprehensive résumé to hold an interview with.
To help you get started, here’s how you can create a resume that will stand out from the competition:
1. List your contact information at the top
The first is the first: employers need to know Who are you and How do I contact you if they want to offer you an interview.
Make this information easier to find by including the following contact details in the header of your CV at the top of the page:
- First and last name (in large letters)
- Mailing address
- Phone number
- LinkedIn profile (optional)
Make sure your email address and LinkedIn profile are up-to-date and professional before adding them to your resume.
Example of resume contact information
Here is an example of what a good CV contact information section looks like:
2. Open with a compelling resume goal or summary
A concise and focused résumé introduction is just below the header of your résumé at the top of the page and is the best way to get employers’ attention right away and convince them that you are the right person for the job are.
There are two types of CV introductions that are commonly used by job seekers:
Both introductory styles aim to quickly highlight your relevant experience and skills in order to convince employers to keep reading your resume. However, the way in which you accomplish this goal will depend on the introduction you are using.
CV objective example
A resume goal is an introduction in 2 to 4 sentences that states how many years of work experience you have, what your most valuable qualifications or skills are, and how you can use those qualifications to help the employer.
Here is an example of a strong resume goal:
Example of a resume summary
A resume summary is an introduction in 3-4 sentences that, like a goal, indicates how many years of relevant work experience you have, and also touches on your professional skills. However, unlike a career goal, a resume summary highlights (hard-numbered) one or two of your most notable professional achievements.
This makes it best for candidates with more work experience, while a destination is ideal for people who are just starting their careers.
Here is an example of an effective resume summary:
3. List your relevant work experience in chronological order
This is the most important section on your resume if you’ve already started your career. In your work experience section, employers evaluate your qualifications and look for information about your key professional accomplishments and previous responsibilities.
To write a section with strong work experience, first list each relevant job that you have done, from the last one above to the lowest one below. In most cases, you should include a maximum of four unique positions on your résumé.
For each item you list, provide the following information:
- Company Name
- Job title
- Your start and end date (month and year)
Then add 3 to 5 bullet points for each position and describe your main achievements and responsibilities during this work.
While writing each bullet point Make sure to include the following on your resume to make it as compelling as possible:
- An action verb that attracts attention and shows employers what you have accomplished
- Hard numbers (like dollar amounts or percentages) that provide the context for these achievements
- An example of a specific and relevant responsibility
Here is one Example CV bullet point in action:
Work experience on a CV example
A well-written work experience section on a resume should look something like this:
4. Highlight your education
Having a clear area of education is an essential part of your resume, especially if you have just graduated or have minimal work experience.
If you have less work experience, your educational area should be very detailed so that you can showcase all of your academic achievements. However, if you have been years in your career, keep your education area short and to the point in order to focus on your work experience.
If you have work experience, include the following information in the education section of your resume:
- The names of your university, community college, or technical school
- Location of schools (city and state)
- Date of graduation (month and year)
If you’re a college student or have recently graduated, you can also add the following information to your education area:
Education on a resume examples
Here is an example of a minimal detail resume education section written by a job seeker who already has a decade of relevant experience:
Here is an example of a graduate’s detailed education section:
5. Showcase your skills
Employers are always looking for candidates with strong professional skills that are relevant to the jobs they are hiring for. Listing a number of skills in the Skills section of your resume does not prove you are qualified for the job and highlights targeted, specific skills does Show employers that you at least understand the job requirements.
There are two main types of skills that you should include on your resume: hard skills and soft skills.
Hard skills are job-specific skills that are learned through experience, education, or training. Typically, hard skills are either the technical skills required to complete a specific job or general skills such as project management.
If you’re applying for a position that requires specialized knowledge like software development, it’s important to add hard skills to your resume to conduct an interview.
Here are some common examples of difficult skills to include on your resume:
- linguistic proficiency
- Graphic design
- Front-end development
- UI / UX design
- Social media management
- mechanical engineering
- Perl / Python / Ruby
- Hardware troubleshooting
- Photo editing
- Data analysis
Soft skills are innate character traits that have a positive effect on your work or interaction with other people (e.g. interpersonal skills or creativity). They are, of course, learned throughout your life and, unlike hard skills, cannot simply be taught in a classroom.
Some examples of soft skills for your resume are:
Skills in a resume example
Here is an example of correctly formatting the competence area of your resume:
6. Add additional information highlighting your qualifications
If you’ve read this far, you’ve already put together the basics of your resume. Now is the time to add the finishing details.
Adding an additional section to your resume is optional. However, having the right information can help highlight your qualifications or attract HR managers (if relevant).
Here are more sections to include on your resume:
Candidates who speak multiple languages are valuable in a wide variety of industries. If you can speak or write in more than two different languages, consider including a separate section on your resume to demonstrate your skills.
Including interests or hobbies on your resume is a great way to stand out from other applicants and show employers that you are a good culture for their company.
However, before adding a section of interests to your resume, it is a good idea to check that your hobbies are relevant and work-appropriate for the company you are applying to. Also take into account the company’s level of formality.
For example, it’s perfectly appropriate to include your love of hiking when you’re applying to a casual startup or outdoor company like Patagonia.
However, highlighting how many hours you invested in Call of Duty while applying to a law firm is perceived as unprofessional.
Adding a volunteering section on your resume is a great way to highlight some of your transferable skills and demonstrate that you are involved in your community. These two reasons alone make volunteering a great addition to your resume. However, it is especially effective if you are applying for a job in the nonprofit sector or in politics.
Additionally, if you don’t have any paid work experience, having volunteering on board will help fill out your resume.
Additional section on a CV example
Here is an example of a properly formatted section of interest on a resume:
3 good CV examples
To give you a better idea of what your finished resume should look like, here are three examples of resumes created using some of our resume templates:
1 page resume example (without work experience)
To start with, here is a resume example from someone with no work experience:
1 page resume example (with work experience)
Here is an example of a resume with years of work experience:
2-page CV example (academic)
The following is an example of a two-page academic resume (the type you would use in American universities) for a candidate who has just started his academic career: