How to Write a Resume

Are you looking for your first job? Are you out of work and looking for a new job? Are you looking to change or advance your career?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you need to get to work and make a new resume or update your current one.

But, how can you write one that stands out above all of your competition in the job market?

typing on laptop

Resume Writing Tips & Strategies

To catch the eye of a prospective hiring manager or human resources representative, you need to treat you resume like a work of art. It needs to be both professional yet pleasing to the eye.

Do you know that according to well-respected career improvement website The Ladders, on average, you only get six seconds to impress whoever is tasked with deciding whether or not you’re a suitable job candidate? Six seconds! That’s not a lot of time.

So how do you ensure you’re the person that gets an interview?

The 4 Steps of Writing a Winning Resume

Step 1 – Start at the beginning

Before you even get into the nitty-gritty of how you should describe your previous job or if you should list your hobbies, you need to choose a resume format.

The most common resume formats are called:

  • reverse-chronological (sometimes simply referred to as chronological)
  • functional (sometimes referred to as a skill-based resume)
  • combination or hybrid

In general, if you have a clean and logical work history the reverse-chronological format should fit your needs. But, if you don’t have much work history, or your work history is checkered, you should probably go with a functional format.

Lastly, if you are switching careers or you want to highlight your skills while also showing years of experience, the combination format may benefit you.

For more information about each of this options, check out this detailed breakdown of these resume formats (inner link).

Step 2 – Choose your opening

The classic way to start a resume is to use a Career Objective, which is a short summary usually three to four sentences long about what you plan to accomplish for the new company you’re applying to.

For a more in depth look on how to write a Career Objective, check out these Career Objective examples.

There are two other options though.

If you are more experienced and bring a lot of skills to the table, you should consider using a summary of qualifications, also called a qualifications summary. This will let you go into more detail about what job-relevant skills you have.

If you think this sounds right for you, check out more information on writing a Summary of Qualifications here.

The other potential opening is called a professional profile. Like the qualification summary above, it’s a way to showcase your skills and previous achievements in a more thorough manner.

Take a more detailed look at how to write a Professional Profile here.

Step 3 – Fill out the rest of your details

You should have already picked a format, so now you need to populate your resume with work relevant information.

After your opening, you need to include sections showing:

  • your work history if you have any
  • your post high school education
  • a skills section if your opening didn’t cover them
  • any special certifications or licenses you have

Take your time with each section as you want to get as much relevant information across to the reader as quickly and easily as possible.

Step 4 – Make it look stunning

Once you have all the content worked out, you will want to make your resume pleasing to the eye. That means you need to spend a little time stylizing it.

You should make it easy for the reader to know who you are and how to get a hold of you. So, put your name and contact information at the very top of your resume.

Also, use headings to break up each section so the hiring manager or HR person can easily scan it.

Lastly, when writing a resume, bullet points are your best friends. They help organize your information into an easily readable format. They also break up what could have been long boring blocks of text into chunks of lists.

You can stylize it yourself, use a pre-made resume template to help speed up the process, or even use an online resume builder to walk you through it step-by-step.

In Summary

Think of your resume as the key to getting through the door of a hiring manager’s office. The only way to unlock that door is to have the right key.

Create a resume that is organized, relevant to the job in which you are applying, and looks professional.

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