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For most people, writing a good resume is tough, and it takes time. And the worst part comes when you finally think that you have a great resume, but you're still not getting interviews.
Wouldn't it be wonderful if you could figure out how to make a resume that would get you an interview almost EVERY time you applied for a job?
Is it possible?
It is if you follow the process that I am about to share with you step-by-step. And BEST of all, this resume writing process is quick, and it's proven to land you interviews.
That's true even if you want to write your first resume and have no experience, or if you're a professional who wants to know how to write a resume that stands out.
Here's what you're going to find:
Here's an example of how to make a good resume for work versus a great resume. What's the difference? Is it the way it looks?
Not only. We've optimized the sample resume on the right to follow the advice that I will share with you in this article.
So how do you make a resume? Let me show you step-by-step:
Hello, blank page. Now, what?
What is a resume?
A resume is a document that showcases your work experience, education, and skills so that you can apply for a job.
What's the difference between a resume and a CV?
Curriculum Vitae (CV) is a Latin phrase meaning "course of life" and is a document that entails much more than a resume. Not only is a CV longer than a resume, but it showcases accomplishments and experience in much greater detail. It's the ideal document for academics.
So, knowing how to write an academic resume is knowing how to write a CV. If you need to know more, read our guide: CV vs. Resume: What is the Difference? When to Use Which (Examples)
Pro Tip: If you want to save time and find out how to write a good resume for a specific profession, take a look at our guides and examples of resumes here.
Once you know if you should write a CV or resume, it's time to choose the right format.
What does a resume look like?
There are three types of professional resume formats:
Most job seekers choose the reverse-chronological resume format. Here's what a sample resume looks like written in the reverse-chronological format:
|3 Types of Resume Format||Pros||Cons|
|Functional or “Skills-based”||
Still not sure which professional resume format is best for you? Need to see examples of resumes with different layouts? Read our guide: "3 Resume Formats: How To Choose The Best One [Examples]"
Despite the professional resume format you choose, your contact information goes at the top.
Here is how to write a resume contact section:
|Professional Email Address|
|Social Media Handles (Twitter and LinkedIn)|
|URLs to Personal Websites or Blogs|
Adding your address is optional. It is no longer necessary to add it to a modern resume. Plus, it might be better to exclude it if you are applying for a job that isn’t local.
Your email address should be professional which means:
Adding URLs to your personal website or blog directs recruiters to your portfolio or extra work that you want to show without cluttering up your perfect resume.
Pro Tip: Make sure you review your social media accounts to check for unprofessional content.
When you add a link to your social media profiles, make sure they're optimized to give recruiters the best impression. Not sure how to optimize your LinkedIn profile to attract employers? Read our guide: "How to Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile To Get More Jobs"
Again, what does a resume look like? Well, you know that contact information comes first. But what comes next? Education? Experience?
Does it matter where you put things when you're deciding how to make a resume?
The short answer is yes, it does matter. That's because your best stuff should go in the top third of your resume.
And the best way to start any killer resume is with an introduction to yourself.
Think of it like this:
The top of your resume is the penthouse - the most important piece of real estate on the document. But why?
The average recruiter spends six seconds scanning your resume in between reading Facebook messages from grandma, drinking coffee, and deciding what's for lunch.
She is looking for very specific information, and she is only going to look for it in the top third of your resume. If you do not grab her attention - game over.
That's why a creative resume summary or objective can save the day. Here's a sample resume:
What is a resume summary statement?
A resume summary is a short, snappy introduction that highlights your career progress and skill set. It should also demonstrate why you'll be a valuable hire.
Example Resume Summary:
Boyfriend Material experienced at laying coats over mud puddles, opening doors, and pulling out chairs. Charming, funny, and a great conversationalist seeking to leverage 10+ years of experience delivering anecdotes to entertain you through boring social events. Has an MA in hand holding and a license to cook romantic dinners.
What is a resume objective statement?
A resume objective achieves the same thing as a resume summary. The difference is how you write one and who should use it.
Example Resume Objective:
Experienced Chef interested in becoming a Zoo Keeper. Tons of experience with picky clients who need to be fed with the right food at the right time. Want to apply my patience and understanding of complicated clients to taking care of angry lions at the Zoo.
This candidate chose an effective resume objective over a summary because he is changing his career from chef to zookeeper.
Either way, the point is to focus on the employer's needs and not your own.
Who should use an objective for a resume?
You can also choose to write something called a professional profile. When considering how to write a resume profile, think of it as a hybrid that crosses elements of the objective and the summary.
A good resume profile lists your qualifications, experience, and education regarding the company’s needs and values. It can be formatted as a paragraph or as a list with resume bullet points.
Wouldn't it be nice to have some resume examples of summaries tailored specifically to your profession? Read our guide: "A Resume Summary That Will Get You The Job [7 Secret Steps]"
The first section that should appear in the body of an excellent resume is the section that will best show off your skills and accomplishments.
For most of you, that will probably be the experience section.
Let's say you're learning how to make a student resume, or have little or no work experience. In that case, lead with your education or skills section.
But do you know how to write a resume employment history?
When you start writing a resume experience section you will want to keep a few things in mind:
Sample Resume Experience Entry:
Marketing Manager 2014 - Present
ABC Company, Albany, NY
Marketing Manager 2014 - Present
ABC Company, Albany, NY
Now, what if you have career gaps in your job history or a habit of job hopping?
Let’s face it. Not all of us have a pristine job history. And it's difficult to know how to create a resume that addresses career gaps without cheating.
One approach is to include a brief explanation next to each job.
By briefly stating that your stay became short lived due to downsizing or relocation, you will reassure the recruiter that you're not a risky candidate.
Chronic career hoppers may be tempted to tamper with dates, leaving only the years in their experience section:
|October 2005 - January 2006||2005 - 2006|
Excluding the months makes it look like you worked a year instead of three months. But it's a dirty trick that employers know well, which makes it a big no, no.
Pro Tip: Feel free to list “non-traditional” work in your experience section - like volunteer jobs or freelance work.
Want to read more about what to include in an ideal resume experience section? Read our in-depth guide: "What To Put on a Resume To Make It Perfect [Tips & Examples]"
You should also write your education section of your resume in reverse-chronological order, with your most recent degree appearing first.
Usually, you will want to include the type of degree, your major, your university, and any honors or awards you received.
You can skip your GPA. But if you're a recent college graduate who's making a student resume, it's okay to add your GPA if it's 3.5 or higher.
You can also include a coursework narrative. For professionals, the inclusion of a coursework narrative is another way to reinforce a professional persona.
Do you know how to make a resume when you have a GED or didn't graduate? Not sure how to write a degree on a resume? We can help with that. Check out our article: "How To Put Your Education On A Resume [Tips & Examples]"
When you consider how to make a good resume that stands out, it has everything to do with sprinkling your skills throughout your resume.
But, it also makes sense to have a big section labeled “SKILLS.”
Use the key skills listed in the job description. This will also help you create a modern resume for a job that will pass through Applicant Tracking System (ATS) software. More about that later.
Recruiters should be able to see two things when they look at your skills for a resume:
|MS Excel - Advanced (Macros, Pivot Tables)||Has a great command of MS Excel.|
Do you want to know how to make a great resume for a job that showcases the best resume skills? I thought so. Read our guide: "What Skills To Put On a Resume [Examples + 6 Proven Tips]"
Here are some additional resume sections you can consider adding if you don't feel the traditional resume sections are doing it for you.
Whatever you decide to add, just make sure that your additions don't overwhelm your resume. You still want everything to fit onto one page if possible.
The hobbies section of a resume is optional. But, I recommend adding one if you have space.
Adding your interests shows off extra skills for a resume, makes your resume stand out, and gives the hiring manager a fuller image of you.
Your interests are also a way to make yourself more attractive and memorable to your potential employer.
You can always cut this section later if your resume is too long.
|Reading Russian Literature||Reading|
Not convinced? Well, it's true. Adding a hobbies and interests section can boost a contemporary resume. Find out how: "Best Examples Of Hobbies & Interests To Put On A Resume (5 Tips)"
Did you know that R2D2 might run a scan on your resume before a human does?
On average, a corporate job offer attracts up to 250 resumes. Of those, 4 to 6 candidates will get invited for an interview. And only one person will get the job.
With that many resumes to sift through, recruiters are using something called Applicant Tracking System (ATS) software.
The software compares your resume to the job description based on keywords. How to prepare a resume that will make it through ATS? You need to tailor your resume.
Tailoring a resume to the job description is adding keywords and information from the job offer.
For starters, you're going to want to make a master resume.
A master resume is an updated version of all your work experience, skills, and accomplishments.
When you sit down to write a tailored version of your resume, you will pick and choose material from your master resume to match the specific job for which you are applying.
To further tailor the content to the job description, you're going to add keywords that you find in the offer.
Let's say you want to apply for a job as a copywriter.
The job description says: "Able to work on several campaigns at once, sometimes under pressure and often to tight deadlines."
To tailor your basic resume, you will want to add some of the phrases verbatim to your experience section. For example: "Work on several campaigns at once."
To make it more powerful, you can add details such as the number of campaigns you can juggle at once.
|Juggle up to 4 campaigns at once often to tight deadlines.||Work on several campaigns at once.|
Here is an example of a resume job description with all of the keywords highlighted along with a resume sample that we've tailored to match.
Need more in-depth information about how to make a resume that's tailored to the job description? Need more resume samples? Read our guide: "6 Proven Tips On How To Tailor Your Resume To The Job Description"
If you're struggling with how to make a good resume stand out, all you need to do is make things quantifiable. Wherever possible. Everywhere. Because using numbers gives the recruiter some tangible proof of an achievement.
Here are some basic resume examples of achievements:
|Increased sales by 15% by renegotiating a key account contract in the first month of employment.||Significantly increased sales.|
|Proficient use of MS Excel (pivot tables and macros).||MS Excel.|
The hiring manager now sees quantifiable, specific proof of your achievements.
Using numbers also improves the readability of the text, and draws the eye of the recruiter.
Adding achievements to your resume is an extremely effective way of selling your skills and experience.
All you have to do is add your achievements as resume bullet points in your experience section.
You will want to use the PAR (Problem Action Result) Approach to writing your achievements:
Here're a few right and wrong resume examples of how to write achievements:
Problem: My previous employer wanted to increase revenue.
Action: I created a new marketing campaign on Facebook.
Result: We saw an increase in sales by 15% and an increase in revenue by 10%.
|Increased revenue by 10% and sales by 15% by implementing a marketing campaign on Facebook.|
|Increased sales and revenue through social media marketing techniques.|
Not sure how to quantify your achievements? Want more examples of accomplishments to put on a contemporary resume? Read our guide: "Examples of Professional Achievements To Put On A Resume [3 Tips]"
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.
Here're a few before and after resume examples:
Negotiated a streamlined approach to the internal use of Salesforce among project leaders.
Overhauled external marketing materials for Continental Europe across all markets.
Pro Tip: Don't overdo it. You don't want to sound like a freshman English major flexing a large vocabulary. And avoid resume buzzwords like "synergy." Trust me.
Want more examples of action words for resumes? Read our guide: "+80 Examples of Resume Action Words For Every Profession"
What makes a good resume? CEO, Director, Manager - all you need is a big, impressive title, right?
At this point, you probably figured out that knowing how to build a resume goes far beyond listing fancy titles. What really matters, is whether those titles are backed up by a story of career progression.
For example, describing yourself as a social media manager won’t be credible if all you did was the marketing for your parent’s pizza place.
You have to show a steady progression into a management position. Each former role should reinforce your place in the next one.
Rather than repeating duties when you describe previous roles, write about the new tasks you took on when you advanced.
See how these responsibilities evolve?
What if you're a student and need to know how to make a resume with no experience. Read our dedicated guide on how to write a resume for students: "The Complete Guide To Writing A Student Resume [13 Tips, Examples]"
Highlighting your promotions shows potential employers that your previous supervisors valued your work performance. Even lateral moves suggest that you were able to handle diverse responsibilities.
Here are a few ways to describe your promotions while writing a resume:
What if you moved up within the same organization?
You don’t have to mention the name of the same company more than once. It will make even the best resume look messy. Here’s what to do instead:
COMPANY NAME – City, State, 2001 to Present
Describe responsibilities and achievements.
Describe responsibilities and achievements.
Describe responsibilities and achievements.
Need to know how to make a resume easy for a recruiter to read? It's as simple as aligning your text to the left.
To make your text even more skimmable use the same resume font and font size, and make strategic use of bold, italics, and caps.
The bulk of your resume will consist of bullet points. Here's how to construct them:
Action Verb + Quantifiable Point + Specific Task
Spearheaded a targeted email campaign that resulted in a 15% upswing in newsletter registration.
You might also want to consider how to create a resume using templates. Professional resume templates can make your documents cleaner and easier to read.
They also save you time and energy. Let's face it. No one likes trying to control one-inch margins in Word.
Need more tips on how to make a resume for a job? We've got a ton of them. Check out our guide: "42 Amazing Resume Tips That You Can Use In 30 Minutes [Examples]"
While choosing a basic resume font may seem like a silly chore - it's not. A good font will ensure that your resume is readable.
What is the best font for a resume?
The best font for a resume is one that a recruiter can read with no effort.
Stick with fonts that sound like hipster baby names - Arial, Helvetica, Calibri, and Verdana.
What is the best resume font size?
The Goldilocks font size is 10-12 points - not too big and not too small. Keep it uniform.
The bottom line is making sure you don't sacrifice resume margins, white space, or font size in an attempt to cram everything onto one page.
Still not sure about what font to choose while writing a resume? Read our guide about the best resume fonts: "What Is The Best Font For A Resume (+10 Examples & Tips)"
When you're done writing your perfect resume, it's time to consider how to make a resume file. And that's not as obvious as it sounds.
The best advice is to save your resume as a PDF and give it your name.
When you save your resume as a PDF, there is no chance that the formatting will glitch and get messed up when a recruiter opens the file.
Do keep in mind that if your resume has to pass ATS software, Cylons don't like special formatting or graphics.
Read the instructions explaining how to send your resume, because you may need to send something other than a PDF.
How should you name your files?
|Your Name Resume||Resume1|
“Han Solo Resume”
The recruiter won’t have to search for that crazy space smuggler’s resume when they want to refer to it.
Not sold on saving your file as a PDF document? Need to see some pros and cons about different file formats? Read our guide: "Word VS PDF Resume: What Is The Best Resume Format?"
How long should an ideal resume be?
One page or two?
Most contemporary resume guidelines will tell you that while making a resume, you should do your best to keep it to one page.
But you don’t want to force it, and that isn't true for everyone. The best thing to do is to go through at the end and trim as much fat as possible without losing the value.
Here are three tips on how to make a resume for a job shorter:
If you aren't sure how long your resume should be or need more advice on how to make a resume shorter, read our guide: "How Long Should a Resume Be? Everything You Need To Know"
One of the worst things you can do is send out a basic resume that is full of grammar and spelling mistakes.
You need to proofread your resume.
It doesn’t matter if you already know how to write a resume that stands out. Even the best resumes need to be proofread by a second person.
Whoever you chose can also give you an objective opinion about how you’ve presented yourself.
Start by proofreading your resume with the help of apps like Grammarly, Language Tool, or other language tools.
Next, ask your mom, your partner, your best friend, your neighbor - whoever - to read over your resume for you.
Before sending your resume, you will want to check your online presence. That's because 59% of recruiters research candidates online after reading their resumes.
Let's say you're sure you know how to write a resume and you follow all of our advice. That won't matter if you skip this step.
Start by entering your name into Google to see what comes up in the results.
Most of you will find links to your social media profiles. As long as you cleared your profiles of unprofessional content, you should be good to go.
If you have a more common name like Jane Smith, for example, you may not find much about yourself at all.
Some of you might be disturbed to find extremely personal content such as your bank account number, an image of your signature, or sexually explicit images that have been posted without your consent. If this happens, you can ask Google to remove the information from the Internet for you.
If you find some embarrassing content on a web page, Google suggests that it is best to contact the webmaster (owner) to have the image or content removed.
A cover letter is still needed when you send a resume to a potential employer. Up to 45% of recruiters will reject resumes without cover letters.
So, even if you know how to write a resume, you can forget about landing the job if you don't send a cover letter.
Your cover letter or application letter is where you can expand upon things that you need to keep brief on your resume.
It also needs to be tailored to the job for which you are applying.
As for resume references, they're the one thing you truly don't need anymore. So, lose the phrase "references upon request."
Okay, so you need a cover letter. But do you know how to write an application letter? And better yet, how do you write a convincing one? Read our guide: "How To Write A Cover Letter [Complete Guide With Examples]"
When you send your resume to a general email address like firstname.lastname@example.org, your resume is entering a swamp of identical messages from other candidates.
One thing you can do to differentiate your message is to try to find out the name of the person who will be reading your resume and send them a personal email.
This is not the best solution in every case. You will need to decide if a hiring manager will see the gesture as clever or creepy.
Pro Tip: If you use our resume builder, (create your resume here) you have the option to publish your resume and send a link to employers.
Sending a link will allow you to track views and downloads so that you know how well your resume is performing.
Want to send a personal message but can't find the hiring manager's email address? Need to know how to write a resume email? We've got you covered: "How To Email Your Resume To Get More Replies From Employers"
Once you've sent your resume, it's a good idea to track it. You can install a free sales tool like Mixmax or YesWare to help you.
Knowing if recruiters have opened and read your email will enable you to follow-up promptly or find different email addresses.
Your resume is your passport to job interviews. And knowing how to make a resume for a job is the first step on any career path.
So, take the time and energy to think about how to write a resume well and how to tailor it to the job description. If you can do that, you're well on your way to the next level - the interview.
Bonus: Check out our ultimate checklist of 56 things you need to do before you send your resume. How many have you missed? Download: “Resume 101 Checklist.”
Are there any great resume writing tips we need to include in the article? Do you have any questions about how to make a resume for your position? Add a comment. I’ll be happy to answer.