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:
- How to write a resume for a job with examples for every section.
- Quick but little-known tips to follow to get up to 10x MORE INTERVIEWS.
- Answers to all of your questions about how to make the best resume for a job.
- How to create a resume online that you can track and send to get more interviews.
- A checklist that will help you make sure your resume has everything you need.
Take a look at this: 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 in this article.
25 Steps on How to Make a Resume For a Job That Works
1. How to Choose a Professional Resume Format
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 actually knowing how to write a CV.
Most professionals will want to know how to write a good resume for work. And before you start, you'll need to choose a resume format.
What does a resume look like?
There are three types of professional resume formats:
- Functional or “Skills-based Resume”
Most job seekers choose the reverse-chronological resume format. Here's what a sample resume looks like written in the reverse-chronological format:
If you're a highly skilled professional and want to know how to build a resume that places emphasis on your skills, you could try a combination resume format.
Don't expect to see the functional resume format among examples of resumes often. The format takes the emphasis off your experience and places it on your skills. But these skills are not reinforced by the proof of your experience.
So, while it's tempting to use the functional format when you're struggling to figure out how to make a resume with no experience, I don't recommend using it.
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]"
2. Contact Information Is Not as Basic as It Seems
So, now that you know what a resume looks like, you still need to know how to make a resume. And despite what professional resume format you choose, your contact information goes at the top.
So, that's where we will start.
Here is how to write a resume contact section:
- Your Name
- Phone Number
- Professional Email
- 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, and if you are applying for a job that isn’t local, it might even be better to exclude it.
Your email should be professional which means:
- Start by choosing a sophisticated email provider. It is much better to write firstname.lastname@example.org than email@example.com. And don’t use your current work email. Create a professional, private email address.
- Don’t use your email address from when you were a freshman in high school. It won’t amuse recruiters to see firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. Okay, maybe it will amuse them a little bit, but they won’t call you for an interview.
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"
3. Here’s How the Best Candidates Start Their Resumes
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.
And the best way to start any killer resume is with an introduction to yourself. That's because your best stuff should go in the top third of your resume.
Think of the top of your resume as the penthouse - the most important piece of real estate on the document. But why?
Take a moment to consider the fact that:
An average recruiter is spending six seconds scanning your resume in between reading Facebook messages from grandma, drinking coffee, and thinking about what she wants 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 nail it in that space - 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. It is just written differently and is used by specific types of job seekers.
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?
- Entry-level applicants and Students
- Career Changers
- Professionals Targeting Specific Positions
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 resume profile lists your qualifications, experience, and education in terms of 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]"
4. How to Write a Resume Experience Section That's More Than a List
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.
Note: If you're deciding how to make a student resume, or have little or no work experience, 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:
- Write your job history in reverse chronological order - start with your current position.
- Under each position, include around six bullet points describing the scope of your responsibilities at that job.
- Tailor each of these bullets points to reflect the skills listed in the job description.
- Follow the bullet point format, and include facts and figures.
- You should try to include achievements.
- You should try to craft a narrative that reflects the persona you introduced in your resume summary or objective.
Sample Resume Experience Entry:
Marketing Manager 2014 - Present
ABC Company, Albany, NY
- Spearhead a global brand strategy for our top performing product.
- Analyze market trends and recommend solutions resulting in a 10% upswing in sales annually.
- Prepare Portfolio Deployment Plans.
- Head up a team of 10+ marketing specialists.
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]"
5. Is Your Education Section Underperforming? It Might Be
The education section of a resume is also written 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. If you recently graduated from college and have a student resume, it is ok to put your GPA if it was 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]"
6. Why You Need to Focus on Your Skills Section
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:
- You have the skill set they want and requested in the job post.
- You have extra skills that prove you are a valuable worker.
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]"
7. How to Add Other Resume Sections While Making an Effective Resume
Here are some additional resume sections you can consider adding if you don't feel the traditional resume sections are doing it for you.
- Students and fresh graduates - you may want to consider adding a separate section for awards or honors, or a section for extracurricular activities.
- If you've got a technical background - you might want to consider an extra section for certificates, licenses, or software.
- Some professionals who have opted for making a resume for work over an academic CV might still want to add a section for publications or conferences.
- Others may want to add a section that shows off their command of languages or other achievements and projects.
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.
8. No One Adds a Hobbies Section, But It Works So Well
Speaking of adding extra sections, 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
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)"
How to Make a Resume for Work That Will Land You More Interviews
Okay, so you know how to write a resume for a job, but you're not landing interviews. So, what are you doing wrong?
Here's the thing:
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.
So, you're probably not doing anything wrong. You just have to work a little harder to create a killer resume that stands out.
Another thing you have to keep in mind is that R2D2 might run a scan on your resume before a human does. Many recruiters are using Applicant Tracking System (ATS) software to sort through resumes.
That means you have to learn how to build a resume that stands out for both human recruiters and the bots.
The software sorts through hundreds of resumes and compares them to keywords from the job description. If your resume preparation hasn't included keyword optimization then you're resume will never make it to the top of a recruiter's inbox.
With all this in mind, I've put together the next bunch of tips to show you how to make a resume for a job that outshines the competition. Follow these tips and you'll be the candidate landing the interview.
9. How to Write a Perfect Resume Tailored to the Job Description
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"
10. Here Is the Number One Thing That Will Attract ANY Recruiter
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.”
Another basic resume example:
“Proficient use of MS Excel (pivot tables and macros).”
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.
11. No One Adds Achievements, But It Works So Well
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]"
12. Turn Boring Words Into Action Words - Here’s How
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.
Here're a few before and after resume examples:
Orchestrated the launch of a new service that resulted in a 10% increase in sales.
Negotiated a streamlined approach to the internal use of Salesforce among project leaders.
Overhauled external marketing materials for Continental Europe across all markets.
Want more examples of action words for resumes? Read our guide: "+80 Examples of Resume Action Words For Every Profession"
13. Don't Go Overboard - How to Make a Resume Understandable
While action words are great, you don't want to sound like a freshman English major flexing a large vocabulary for the sake of it.
Also, try to avoid jargon. The recruiter might not be familiar with technical jargon related to the position. That doesn’t mean you need to avoid all phrases connected with the industry.
Using a few industry specific phrases can give the impression that you are savvy. And you should use any jargon that is specifically used in the job description.
Pro Tip: Just do not use words like “synergy.” Just don’t. Also, keep in mind that when you list responsibilities for your current role, all of the verbs should be in present tense.
Are you transitioning from a military to a civilian career? Well, it can be tough. But figuring out how to make a resume that avoids military jargon can help. Check out our guide: "Military To Civilian Resume: How To Use Your Military Experience"
14. The Best Candidates Know How to Show Their Career Progression
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 past role should reinforce your place in the next one. I will show you.
Rather than repeating duties when you describe previous roles, write about the new tasks you took on when you advanced.
- Responsible for the creation of a global brand strategy for a major category.
- Prepare Category and Portfolio Deployment Plans.
- Analyze market trends and recommend solutions.
- Team Management (10 marketing specialists).
Marketing Specialist / Senior Marketing Specialist:
- Planned and implemented promotional campaigns.
- Cooperated with interactive agencies.
- Managed project budgets and timeline control.
- Researched information.
- Assisted during promotional campaigns.
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 make a resume for students: "The Complete Guide To Writing A Student Resume [13 Tips, Examples]"
15. Here’s How to Create a Resume Despite Career Gaps
Let’s face it. Not all of us have a pristine job history. Some of you have large gaps in your job history or have a habit of career hopping.
And it's very difficult to know how to create a resume that addresses career gaps without cheating. One way to approach the issue is to include a brief explanation next to each job.
By briefly stating that the job was 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.
Perhaps you were wondering how to write a creative resume? Well, there are better ways to be creative on your resume than being tricksy my precious.
For example, consider making a simple resume for a job that starts with a resume objective that explains large career gaps. Not sure how to write an objective? Read our guide: "The Only Way To Use Resume Objectives [20+ Examples & Tips]"
16. How to Make a Resume Draw Attention to Promotions
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:
- Repeatedly recognized for top performance through fast-track promotions and selection for high-priority initiatives.
- Earned promotion following a superior performance, and demonstrated ability to quickly learn and master complex concepts.
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, 2/01 to present
- Store Manager 8/11 to present
Describe responsibilities and achievements…
- Assistant Manager 5/02 to 8/11
Describe responsibilities and achievements…
- Clerk 2/01 to 5/02
Describe responsibilities and achievements…
17. Here's a Quick Trick to Make Your Resume Easy to Read
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]"
Wrapping Up - Putting the Final Touches on Your Resume
18. Is a Font Ruining Your Awesome Resume?
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)"
19. Here Is the Best Way to Save Your Resume
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”
“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?"
20. Here Is an Easy Way to Keep a Resume Short
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:
- Trim introductions.
- Cut extra bullet points. (6 or less)
- Kill or trim the additional sections. (e.g., Hobbies)
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"
21. Little Known Tools That Will Proofread Your Resume for You
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, go ask your mom, your partner, your best friend, your neighbor - whoever - to read over your resume for you.
Bonus Material - How to Send Your Resume to a Recruiter
22. How to Clean Up Your Online Image
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.
23. Here’s the Most Common Myth About Cover Letters
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.
Lose the phrase "references upon request." You don't need to put references on a modern resume. If a recruiter wants references, they know they can request them.
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]"
24. Why Sending a Personal Message Can Be a Big Win
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"
25. Secret Ways to Track Your Resume
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 in a timely manner 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.
If you take the time and energy to think about how to write a resume well and how to tailor it to the job description, you will have a much better shot at getting past the bots and recruiters and proceeding to the next level - the interview.
Taking the time to tailor your resume to a job description is time well spent.
And knowing what recruiters are looking for, and how to present that information, is the key to getting your resume in the “yes” pile instead of the trash can.
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.