How to Write a Resume
There comes a time in everyone’s life when they need to get a job. This new period of your life journey may be quite stressful itself. You look at a job ad and wonder: what am I supposed to do now? What is a cover letter and how should I write a resume? We are here to help you with that and make your way of getting a dream job as easy as possible.
So, the first step you need to make after finding a suitable job ad is writing a resume. It is important to make a good first impression, and a well-written professional resume will surely help you do that. The process of writing this important document may seem frightening, but you don’t need to worry. We gathered some tips that will make resume writing much easier for all job seekers out there: here you can find recommendations on how to structure all resume sections, choose the right type of resume and edit it. Using these tips and resume template compilation, you’ll write a perfect resume in no time.
What is a resume?
Let’s figure out what a resume is. In general terms, a resume is a recap of your work experience, professional skills summary and education section. It usually covers only 10 years’ worth of employment. It is better to write and edit a new resume for every specific job you are applying to in order to point out your particular skills that are suitable for the position and to specify your relevant work experience that can show hiring managers and recruiters that you are the best candidate for that job.
When you write a resume, you should pay attention to its length— just one or two pages will be enough. The reason behind it is simple: if your resume is too long and has too much information, time-pressed hiring managers won’t read everything you wrote. That reduces your chances of getting the job.
If your resume is too long, you should decrease it. In that case, it is recommended to avoid mentioning positions you held 10 or more years ago. If you minimize information about them and focus on your latest job occupations instead, your resume will make a better impression on recruiters.
These days many companies use ATS (Applicant Tracking System) that first checks candidates’ resumes. To pass this check, you need to optimize your document and specify the data that is important for a particular position. If there are enough requested points, applicant tracking systems will redirect your resume to the hiring manager.
When we understand what a resume is, let’s answer the question “How to write a resume?”
Most Common Types of Resume
So now you are starting to take steps to get your dream job. It is important to understand that you can’t make just one resume and send it to all the positions you want to get — your resume has to meet the requirements of the particular job description (you can also write a new resume objective for every position you are applying to). You should carefully choose the right resume type for every specific job occupation to show your experience and skills in a better light. A resume is the most requested document in any job search — followed by the cover letter. Let’s find out how to structure your resume properly.
The first thing you need to know before you start to make a resume is that there are three main types of resumes: chronological, functional, and combination. We’ll take a closer look at each type to decide which one suits better for your specific job position.
Chronological resume: A chronological resume format is the most popular one and you are surely familiar with it — the main subject in this type of resume is your recent work history. To create such a resume, you need to write a list of all your job positions in reverse chronological order so your recent positions will be at the top of your paper and the oldest ones at the bottom. The chronological resume format is a perfect structure to show hiring managers your career path that prepared you for the current job application.
Functional resume: This resume format is ideal for those wanting to change the industry they are working in or minimize resume gaps. Unlike chronological format, a functional resume focuses on job seeker’s experience and skills relevant to the job. In this type of resume, you have to feature your professional summary, skills, and work experience sections structured by how closely those positions and professional skills relate to the position you are currently applying to. This way, you can show yourself in a better light, and hiring managers will see that you are skilled enough for the particular job.
Combination resume: As it becomes clear from the name of this type, a combination resume mixes features of both chronological and functional resume formats. Here you take the best from the resume types mentioned above: combine the detailed work experience section of chronological resume type with the professional summary and skills section mentioned in functional resume type. A combination resume format is the best way to stand out from all the competitors for the position you are applying to. This way, due to the reverse chronological order of your job positions and a detailed skills section, hiring managers will see that you are perfectly prepared for the position.
Every resume is different, as it should be! However, after deciding which type of resume you will choose, your next step is to structurize your document. There is a lot of information about job seekers that must be included: from your name and contact info to your education and work experience. It’s impossible to make a good resume and good first impression without a scheme, so here is the ordered list of bullet points you should mention in your document:
Header&Contact Info: To avoid any possible confusion over who the resume belongs to or make it difficult for hiring managers and recruiters to contact you, it’s important to include a header with your name and contact information (most frequently, it’s your phone number, email address, and links to your website or social media if you’d like) at the very top of your resume. Right under the header, you can write a resume summary. Generally, a resume summary serves as a career recap and when done correctly, it outlines your most relevant experience accomplishments and knowledge in less than four sentences. Though resume summary is optional, it can help the potential employer identify your core skills and the value you can bring to their business.
Professional summary: The professional summary section is mostly short (one- to three- sentences) and describes you as a worker: who you are, what you do, and why exactly you need to be hired. This section doesn’t describe the type of career opportunity you are looking for; instead, it shows what you can bring to the employer on the position you are applying to. The professional summary isn’t an essential part of the resume, but it is a good way to quickly overview your experience and show recruiters why you are the perfect candidate for this position. Starting this section from a resume objective statement that states your career goals and shows why you are applying for the job may also help catch a hiring manager’s attention.
Skills: The skills section has great importance since hiring managers and recruiters are looking for workers mostly with specialized backgrounds. If you tailor your resume according to the job description, it will increase your chance of getting your dream job. When managers see that you got all the relevant skills you need to get the job done, they are more likely to pay closer attention to your resume, so it is recommended to take your time to write a skills section. Also, it is important to mention both your hard skills and soft skills. Hard skills are job-specific abilities or knowledge learned through education, while soft skills are a combination of people skills, social skills, communication skills and character or personality traits. Though many people think that soft skills are less important, it’s far from true. While looking for new employees for particular jobs, hiring managers pay even more attention to soft skills than hard skills.
Work experience: The work experience section is one of the most important parts of your resume since it can make you and your resume stand out from the crowded pack of quality candidates. This section must be as detailed as possible: it includes company names, locations, employment dates, roles, and every job title you held on your positions before. It is also important to feature bullet points with action verbs and data points that detail the relevant accomplishments of each position. All this information of your work history is essential for hiring managers since this way they can connect your work experience and skills and see if you’re suitable for the job position you’re applying to or not.
Education: Many job positions require a certain level of education, so it’s the information you should add to your resume. However, education section doesn’t have to be big: just listing when you went to school, when you attended, and what degree you got will be enough.
Additional experience: That’s an optional section, but potentially including additional experience may help you stand out, especially if you’re writing an entry level resume. Here you can write about your awards, volunteer experience, and hobbies. This section should be brief to avoid distracting the hiring managers’ attention from your experience and skills though it can help them know you better as a person and potential worker.
It is also recommended to attach a forceful cover letter to your resume. A cover letter is a way of introducing yourself to potential employers and explaining your suitability for the desired positions. Even though hiring managers pay more attention to job candidates’ resumes than their cover letters, letting recruiters get to know you better may help you get the job.
Design Tips for Your Resume
When we are done with the subject matter of your resume, let’s talk about the editing process. It’s a sure thing, of course, that recruiters and hiring managers will pay close attention to the information you tell about yourself in the resume; however, a well-edited document will help you to earn some extra points. There is no doubt that a sloppy, carelessly written resume can make managers put your document aside. We gathered some rules that will help you edit your resume to make the best impression on recruiters.
- Choose easy-to-read font size: no less than 11 pt.
- Margins should be at least 7 inches. It may sound complicated, but you can always use resume templates to make your resume looks the best way possible.
- Make sure to add enough white space between sections.
- Don’t overdo the design of your resume. Adding some neutral colors is fine but avoid any visually busy details.
- If you need printed copies of your resume, choosing a good paper and high-quality printer is important.
- Be careful with the format when saving your documents: it is not recommended to save such files as a PDF since some tracking systems fail to capture information on files in this format. However, some applications say they accept PDF files; in that case, you can choose it as well.
- Your resume should be one or two pages long. If you are in a field like medicine or academia, it is allowed to exceed two pages when you need to add publications and papers.
How to Edit Your Resume
You have finally finished writing your resume. You reread it twice. Still, it’s not enough. A final step to make a resume look impressive is editing, and it takes some time, but it’s definitely worth all the effort. Here we offer you some editing tactics to help you avoid errors and create a resume that will surely help you get the job you want.
First of all, it is recommended not to edit your resume in the process of writing. Why? This way, you can focus on writing and writing only. Of course, it will be difficult at first to leave errors you see but move on and don’t distract yourself from writing. It will help you create a better first draft of your resume since you will concentrate on the information you write, and you won’t waste your time detracting from correcting your errors.
The second tip is to give yourself a 24-hour break after you finish writing and before editing your draft. The resume writing process can be tiring, so your attention may become scattered. Giving yourself a rest is a good way to see your resume with fresh eyes: all the errors will be much more visible than they were the day before. You’ll see your resume the way it is really written and not the way you meant to write it.
There is a good way to catch both spelling and grammatical errors in your resume though it may seem quite odd at first. You need to read your document backward. It won’t be easy, but it works the best. This way, you’ll be focused on every word of your text, so you’ll see all your errors right away.
You can ask your family members or friends to read your resume as well. They can catch the errors you left and also they may have some suggestions for how to ameliorate your resume and show yourself in an even better light.
Lastly, don’t forget to fact-check your resume. It is extremely important not to make any mistakes in the company names and their contact information you wrote in your work history section. These things might change from what you remember, so make sure to have all the current information.