Resumes & Cover Letters

How to Write a Simple Resume: Definition and Format

February 22, 2021

A professional resume that highlights your best selling points can make a difference when applying for a competitive position. Regardless of your experience, a well-written resume can separate you from the pool of candidates and help you impress the hiring manager. In this article, we discuss how to write an impressive but simple resume that can position you as the ideal candidate for the role.

What is a simple resume?

A simple resume is one that is structured in reverse chronological order. This format requires you to mention your most recent positions and educational accomplishments before highlighting past jobs and experiences. The reverse-chronological resume format may be ideal for people with several years of work experience.

If you are a student or recent graduate without work experience or are switching to a new industry, a functional/skills-based resume might be a more appropriate choice. A combination resume is appropriate for those with extensive skills and experience in diverse fields. A simple resume format allows you to combine your accomplishments in several roles on one resume.

Related: 10 Resume Writing Tips to Help You Land a Job

How to write a simple resume

A simple resume has several elements that allow you to highlight your best skills and achievements to the employer. Use this step-by-step guide to craft an interview-winning resume:

  1. Select a resume format.
  2. List contact information
  3. Create a resume summary or objective.
  4. Include work experience and achievements.
  5. Include education.
  6. List skills.
  7. Add any additional relevant sections.

1. Select a resume format

The first step when writing a resume is to choose the format. Most employers are familiar with the reverse-chronological template. It makes the document easy to scan and highlights your most relevant educational achievements, skills and work experience.

However, chronological resumes may not be ideal if you are inexperienced or have several skills and experiences across multiple industries. You want to choose a format appropriate for your industry, level of experience and the position.

2. List contact information

The contact information is the first section of your resume, and it is important because it provides the employer a means of contacting you for the interview. You want to make sure the information is correct and up to date. The necessary information includes:

  • First and last name
  • Mailing address
  • Phone number, preferably your cell phone
  • Email address
  • Link to online professional profiles

Optional information includes:

  • Title, such as a brief statement highlighting your licensed status
  • Social media handle if it might boost your chances of getting hired
  • Blog/website if it applies to the position

Use a professional email address. For instance, kyla.morrow@email.com is more suitable for job hunting than one with a nickname and lots of numbers. You also want to include a telephone line that is always with you and has an appropriate voicemail. The mailing address is not always necessary, but some employers still prefer to contact you via traditional letters.

If you are applying for a position in the United States, it is not recommended to include your date of birth except where the job requires an age limit. You can also omit photographs and personal information, such as the number of children you have or your marital status.

3. Create a resume summary or objective

A resume summary is a compelling statement that presents you as the best candidate for the role. It is below your contact information and summarizes your role-relevant skills, qualifications and experiences. A resume summary is beneficial when you have experience in the position and includes:

  • Your position and years of experience
  • One or two of your best achievements
  • What you aim to achieve if you get the position

Example: Self-motivated sales representative with 6+ years of experience in the beauty and skincare industry. Increased sales revenue by 36% in six months, resulting in a $30,000 increase in revenue. Seeking to use my advanced negotiation and interpersonal skills to support the sales and marketing department of MedMasters Limited.

A resume objective is your resume's goal. It can be ideal for people who have little or no experience in the role they are applying to. It highlights your motivation for the position and can be two or three sentences. You want to mention transferable skills even if you have no relevant experience in the role.

Example: Diligent recent graduate with a B.Sc. in Accounting from Ohio State University seeking new opportunities. 2+ years of hands-on experience with Peachtree Accounting, QuickBooks, Excel and other accounting software packages. Seeking to join a talented team of accountants at Glades Inc.

Related: Writing a Resume With No Experience

4. Include work experience and achievements

This section allows you to list the specific achievements and responsibilities that qualify you for the position. In this section, you can mention up to three or four jobs, but only include the most relevant positions. List the entries in reverse-chronological order from the most recent to the oldest. The work experience section can come in different formats. Here is a common template you can use.

  • Job title: This is the first entry for each job you want to list. Use large or bold fonts to make it prominent from the remaining entries.
  • Employer, city, state: Here, you mention the employer's name and the city and state where it is located.
  • Dates employed: Include the month and year of employment from the start date to the end date.
  • Key responsibilities: Highlight the most important responsibilities relevant to the position. Here, mention your best achievements and include facts and figures to prove your point. You can use three to five bullet points to list your duties and accomplishments.

Start each bullet point with an action verb and include a quantifiable achievement relevant to the role. Also, add keywords from the job ad to your work experience to make the resume specific to the job.

Example:

Office Manager
BetterLife Health Services Limited | Atlanta, Georgia
February 2014–March 2017

Responsibilities/Achievements

  • Recruited, trained and onboarded 70 administrative employees. Created work schedules, performed quarterly and annual assessments and provided feedback, resulting in improved performance while reducing turnover by 37%.

  • Supervised 150 employees in a fast-paced office environment, provided an interactive and integrated filing system that reduced data processing by 55%, boosting productivity and efficiency.

  • Researched, identified and selected vendors, winning a 10-year service contract that reduced inventory cost by 25% in the first year with incremental gains every six months.

  • Served as an intermediary between junior staff and management, helping to broker three different welfare programs that reduced absenteeism by 40% and boosted productivity by 50%.

The number of entries in this section depends on the position. If you are applying to a senior-level role, you can list up to 15 years of relevant work experience. For a mid-level position, mention only work experience for the previous five years. Entry-level candidates can list all the work they've done until the present. If you have no experience, replace the section with your education section.

Related: 139 Action Verbs to Make Your Resume Stand Out

5. Include education

Start the education section with the highest and most recent degree. Include other credentials in reverse-chronological order. Don't include your high school if you have a college degree. Write your education section after the resume summary or objective if you lack job experience. If you must include your GPA, make sure it doesn't hurt your chances of getting hired.

Here is a format you can use to write your education section:

  • Program name
  • University name
  • Years attended
  • GPA (optional)
  • Academic achievements (optional)

Example:

B.Sc. in Computer Science
San Francisco State University
September 2014–June 2018
3.87 GPA
Dean's Honor Student

6. List skills

Include skills relevant to the position in this section. Skills can be hard, such as proficiency in using word processing software programs. Soft skills include excellent communication, teamwork, adaptability and leadership. You can also include specific skills the employer mentioned in the job description.

When listing skills, start with hard skills and mention your proficiency, such as beginner, intermediate or advanced.

Example:

  • Proficient in popular coding languages, including Python, Java, C++ and frameworks
  • Excellent knowledge of algorithms and flowcharts
  • Self-motivated, with the ability to work independently
  • Analytic thinker adept at solving complex problems
  • Excellent communicator with advanced active listening skills
  • Superior understanding of Microsoft Outlook and Visio

7. Add any additional relevant sections

This section offers the opportunity to include qualities that make you unique. You can include your hobbies and interests, awards and certifications, volunteer work, languages, publications and projects. For instance, being bilingual can give you an edge if the role involves frequent trips to another country where you can speak the local language.

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