Resume Writing 101: Tips for Creating a Resume (With Examples)
Updated June 24, 2022
Having a compelling resume is often the first step in applying for a job, and an interviewer will likely use your resume as a resource to ask you questions about your professional life. Any additional information you include about yourself helps sell you as a well-rounded and accomplished person to a prospective employer. In this article, we discuss tips for writing your resume so you can market yourself effectively.
What is a resume?
A resume is a document that summarizes your work experience, education, skills and professional accomplishments. It differs from a job application by being fully customizable to fit your professional goals, the field in which you seek a job and the career experience you want to highlight. Your resume is a marketing tool to help prospective employers see your professional worth. It should typically be one page long, but people with extensive experience can have a two-page resume.
Tips for writing a resume that stands out
Here are some helpful tips for writing a successful resume:
Begin preparing to write your resume by brainstorming and gathering your professional history. Write down all the jobs you have had and the experience you gained there. List out the work you did, using descriptive words that accurately reflect your duties, tasks and responsibilities. Start with a general description and follow it with specific duties. For example: “Responsible for employee management, including setting weekly schedules, approving time off and mediating conflict.”
Write out your education history, including the names of colleges, the dates you attended, important coursework and degrees earned.
Match keywords from the job description to those found in your skill set.
Brainstorm additional information that would help create a full picture of your life experience. Consider including additional sections on your resume to list your training or professional development, certifications, publications, awards or special recognitions, customer testimonials, hobbies, language fluencies and volunteer work.
Based on your career and the job description, decide if and how you want to describe your objective.
Consider using resume templates to organize your data. The most common format is reverse chronological, where you list your most recent job first. But you can adjust the format to suit other situations, such as:
Format relevant to your field, where you may want to highlight volunteer work more than work experience
You have gaps in your work because of a career break, and you want to emphasize what you accomplished during that time
You are changing career paths and want to emphasize continuing education that prepared you for the change
You are applying for your first job out of college and you have limited or no work experience in your field
To showcase awards or customer feedback that recommends you for a job in the service industry
Focus on your resume as a summary of your qualifications and experience for the job you are applying for.
Use an easily readable standard font with formatting that takes advantage of white space and bullet points.
Proofread carefully. Make sure you do not have spelling or grammatical errors and your content is written clearly and concisely.
Related: Writing a Resume With No Experience
How to write a resume
After you brainstorm your relevant experience and skills, format your information into an organized and easy-to-read document of one or two pages. Some fields are vital and others you can adjust for your industry. You can change the order of information that appears to best highlight the most recent data. Here are some things to include in your career resume:
1. Contact information
The first way you declare yourself open to employment is with your name and contact information. This can include your mailing address, phone number, email address and any social media or professional networking handles. For example, if you are an artist who uses an online portfolio, including that web address would let prospective employers see your work quickly and easily.
If your current email address has an unprofessional handle or does not contain your name, it is worth setting a tone of professionalism by acquiring another email address that is as close to your full name as possible. Allow your phone to receive voicemails and make sure there is a professional recording that the caller will hear.
The objective of a resume is a declarative statement that describes the type of work you are seeking. It can include your current title and reveal your aspirations and ambitions for your next job.
3. Professional summary
Your second introduction after your name is a brief sentence or two that summarizes your professional career. This field works well for people with long and experienced careers with multiple jobs. It distills your career into its most valuable points. Usually, you should include either an object or a summary, but not both.
4. Summary of qualifications
Whereas the professional summary focuses on brevity, this section is typically a bulleted list of more specific accomplishments from throughout your career. You may want to only include this section and the professional summary if they are truly distinct from each other.
5. Professional experience
This will likely be the longest section of your resume, where you list all your previous jobs. You should include the names of the companies where you worked, the city or cities where they are located, the positions you held there, the years when you were employed at each and a bulleted list of your responsibilities or projects. Typically, you would list your jobs in descending order of most recent, and you may include more bullet points describing your last job versus the one you had longest ago.
With the job you seek in your mind, refer back to your brainstormed list and focus your efforts on the skills and experience that best recommend you for that job. To keep resumes concise and scannable, you can eschew complete sentences and long paragraphs. You may have multiple versions of your resume that are customized for different fields or jobs.
If you are entering the workforce after college graduation, your education can be near the top of your resume. List the college, university or vocational school you attended, the years you were there and the degree you obtained. If you have significant job experience since leaving school, the education field can come later in the document.
7. Training certifications
Particularly if employment in your field requires some kind of license or certification, it is vital to list it and indicate its current status. You can list other voluntary certifications to show your professional ambition and continuing education.
8. Additional information
Your work history will list your responsibilities and experience, but depending on what you want an employer to know about you, you can also list your special skills, languages you speak fluently, hobbies, volunteer opportunities, technical skills, professional associations, civic awards, special projects or recognitions. You can think of this section as a valuable indicator of your work-life balance or a record of the time you spent pursuing enrichment activities or accomplishments outside of normal work hours.
A good reference is someone who can speak to topics like your professionalism, skills, experience, dependability and integrity. It should be someone who knows you reasonably well, is not a family member and who has had professional contact with you in the recent past. You should ask your references for permission in advance so they can be prepared for contact.
Consider this sample resume to help you create your own:
15 Main St., Chicago, IL 11000 | firstname.lastname@example.org | 901-555-1212
Experienced office manager seeking an opportunity to thrive at a mid-sized company
Summary of Qualifications
• 12 years of experience as an office manager at a small graphic design firm
• Deep knowledge of employee management, including hiring, firing and conflict resolution
• Impeccable electronic and paper organization skills
• Proficiency in Office Suite and task management software
• Event management from ideation to completion
Office Manager, Green Graphic Design, Chicago, Illinois
• Managed daily operations, including office key management and supplies requests
• Acted as human resources contact for a staff of 10 employees, including interviewing, hiring, terminating, employee counseling and resolving conflict
• Managed travel and per diem requests and reimbursement for employee travel
• Oversaw move from one office to another, including interior design and furniture purchase decisions, coordinating construction and meeting deadlines
• Planned and executed a biannual conference for 200 people
Executive Assistant, Young Law Firm, Omaha, NE
May 2000-July 2007
• Managed daily schedule for three attorneys, including making appointments, sending reminders and coordinating meetings
• Received and made phone calls from clients and other professionals
• Oversaw company filing system, both physical and electronic
BA, Communication Studies, University of Nebraska
Skills and Certifications
• Certified Business Office Manager from the Management and Strategies Institute
• Certified Meeting Planner from Meeting Planners International
• Proficient in Office Suite and Task Management software
• Moderate knowledge of Adobe design programs
• Speaks Spanish fluently
• Volunteer every other Saturday at Chicago Food Bank by preparing and serving hot meals
Tom Jones, CEO, Green Graphic Design
Betty Smith, Instructor, Management Strategies Institute
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