Resume Writing 101: Tips for Creating a Resume (With Examples)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated November 24, 2021 | Published January 3, 2020

Updated November 24, 2021

Published January 3, 2020

Related: First Resume Tips: How to Make a Resume with No Work Experience

In this video, we share first resume tips based on the latest resume writing best practices and provide resume examples to help you brainstorm ideas.

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.

2. Objective

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.

Related: Resume Objective Writing Guide (With Examples and Tips)

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.

6. Education

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.

Related: 10 Best Skills To Include on Your Resume

9. References

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.

Resume example

Consider this sample resume to help you create your own:

June Smith
15 Main St., Chicago, IL 11000 | june.smith@email.com | 901-555-1212

Objective

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

Professional Experience

Office Manager, Green Graphic Design, Chicago, Illinois

August 2007-present

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

Education

BA, Communication Studies, University of Nebraska

May 2000

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

References

Tom Jones, CEO, Green Graphic Design
Betty Smith, Instructor, Management Strategies Institute


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