Learn step-by-step how to write a good resume—that is, a resume with the right format, the right templates, the right sections, and the right information that will impress recruiters and help get you hired. Our “how to write a resume” guide will even show you how to write a resume with no job experience.
How to Write a Resume in 7 Steps?
Figuring out how to write a resume can seem intimidating, but with our step-by-step guide, you’ll gain the knowledge and the confidence you need to write a resume that will impress recruiters and hiring managers alike. We’ll guide you through each stage of the process, from choosing the right resume template and format to writing the five key resume sections: Contact Info, Summary Statement, Skills, Work Experience, and Education and Training. By following the expert tips and advice in this guide, you’ll understand how to write a resume that boosts your chances of landing more interviews—and ultimately getting the great job you deserve!
Choose a Resume Format:
When it comes to writing a great resume, you have three format options: chronological, functional, or the combination format: a resume that combines the other two styles. Chronological resumes highlight your work experience in order, most recent first. Functional resumes focus on your skills, while downplaying chronology. Combination resumes include a skills section and a chronological listing of work history. Choosing the right format depends on your strengths and your experience.
Choose a Resume Template:
When choosing a template, consider elements like font choice, font size, page margins, color choices, and different kinds of layouts, such as a single column or multiple columns. The template you select may depend on your level of experience, the type of job you’re applying for, and the professional story you want to tell.
Use Resume Examples:
To learn how to write a resume, it helps to look at successful and proven examples. You’ll get great ideas from our professionally-written resume examples for dozens of the most commonly-sought jobs in the most popular industries, including valuable industry keywords that you can use in creating your own job-winning resume.
Spruce Up Your Resume:
By using job-specific keywords, compelling action verbs and phrases, and specific, quantifiable accomplishments, you’ll take your resume to the next level. Our pre-written text suggestions make it easier than ever to add professional-quality content to your resume with just one click.
Start Your Resume:
Use the tips in this how to write a resume guide to get a feel for how your resume should read. Then, use our award-winning resume builder to create your resume section by section, with help from our expert tips and pre-written, job-specific suggested text.
Employers and recruiters see a lot of resumes every single day—and even one resume mistake can take you out of the running for the job you’re pursuing. That’s why it’s essential to carefully check your resume for spelling and grammatical mistakes—not once, but multiple times.
Personalize Your Resume:
Sending the same resume to each job you apply for may seem like a time-saver, but it won’t get you the best offer. Customizing your resume for each application will dramatically improve your chances of getting through the automated tracking system many employers use, being called for interviews, and landing the job.
Choosing the Right Resume Format
Choosing a resume format is one of the most important decisions you’ll make in creating your resume. The format you select will determine how you’ll organize the information you include on your resume. It can also help you grab the attention of decision-makers, land more interviews, and ultimately secure the job. Each resume format, Chronological, Functional, and Combination, can highlight (or hide!) specific aspects of a jobseeker’s background and experience. We’ll help you to identify the right resume format by evaluating the strengths and the weaknesses of each format. By understanding each of these approaches to how to write a resume, you’ll be ready to create a resume that works for your situation.
The Chronological Resume
For most jobseekers, resume experts recommend choosing the chronological resume format simply because it’s the most straightforward. Simply put, a chronological resume lists your past work experience in reverse chronological order—from most recent to earliest. The key advantage of this format is that it’s easy to follow. An employer can see which jobs you had, when you had them, and what you did at each job. If you’ve worked continuously in your field for a number of years, this resume format is likely the best way to go. If you have less experience, or gaps in your experience, you may want to consider another format.
The Functional Resume
Functional resumes emphasize your skills and professional accomplishments rather than a strict chronological list of past jobs. The functional resume can work for someone who is changing careers, someone who has a gap in their employment history, or someone who has taken significant time off from the workforce. In considering how to write resume in this format, it’s important to emphasize marketable skills, like technical or language skills, as well as education, training, and community or volunteer experience. Be sure as well to include a brief summary statement at the beginning that gives employers a compelling reason to want to interview you.
The Combination Resume
A combination resume combines the functional and chronological formats discussed above. It’s ideal for someone with a solid work history, but who has changed careers or industries multiple times and is wondering how to write a resume that effectively sells what they have to offer. Combination resumes lead with a summary statement that includes specific skills, qualifications, and achievements gathered over a variety of work experiences. It then follows, like a chronological resume, with a list of past jobs and responsibilities in reverse chronological order. Use this format to grab employer’s attention with your skill set, and to show that you’ve got the professional experience needed to succeed.
Resume 101: How to Write a Resume, Section by Section?
Now that you’ve explored your resume format options and made a decision as to which of the three resume formats to use, let’s move on the next step in the process of how to write a resume for a job you want. Successful resumes aren’t just about format and layout—they’re really about the content you use and the words you choose. In the sections and tips below, we’ll guide you through each element of your resume and discuss what you should include, and what you should consider leaving out. Remember, words matter: the stronger and more job-specific your resume content, the more likely your resume will rise to the top of the pile and land you the interviews you deserve. In brief, here are the resume sections you should focus on:
Include your name and a professional email address on your resume so that employers can contact you to schedule interviews or update you on your status.
This is a short (3 to 5 sentence) summary of your top qualifications and accomplishments. It should quickly answer the employer question: “Why should we hire you?”
Your skills section should include approximately 6 to 8 of your top skills. Make sure these are relevant to the job, and consult the job description for ideas.
List your recent (past 10 years or so) relevant work history, and include not just your responsibilities, but also your achievements, especially if they’re quantifiable.
Education and Training
Mention your education (college-level or higher), as well as job-relevant training and certifications. Do not include high school unless it’s your highest level of education.
If you list hobbies, make sure there’s some connection between the hobby and the skills you’ll need for the job (i.e. leadership skills learned through your hobby)
Our easy-to-use, award-winning resume builder can help you find the right words to fill out each of these resume sections. With expert tips and pre-written industry-specific text, we’ll show you how to write a resume that grabs employers’ attention within seconds. Try it today at https://www.myperfectresume.com/resume-builder
How to Include Your Contact Info on Your Resume?
If an employer or recruiter doesn’t know who you are or how to reach you, nothing else on your resume will matter. Your contact information, including (at least) your name, email, and telephone number should always be correct, professional, and prominently listed at or near the top of your resume for easy employer reference. You should also make sure that your contact information is consistent across other communications with employers, including cover letters, web pages, and social media pages such as your LinkedIn page if you have one. Follow these tips for how to write a resume contact information section, line by line:
List your name consistently in all your application documents, including your resume, cover letters, business cards, online sites, etc. Make your name stand out by listing it in a larger font, and/or by writing it in bold text.
If you choose to list your full mailing address, include house or apartment number, street, city and state. For privacy or other reasons, you may not want to list your full address, in which case it’s acceptable to simply include city and state.
Include a phone number (with area code) where you can be easily reached by employers or recruiters. Double-check that your outgoing message 1) includes your name and 2) sounds professional—that makes a difference when you’re receiving a call for an interview or offer!
A few don’ts for your email on your resume: don’t use your current work email and don’t use an unprofessional-sounding address like “[email protected]” Do choose an email account that you check regularly, so you don’t miss important messages.
Social Media Links
List your LinkedIn account, especially if it is up to date with your most recent information and a compelling profile summary. Beyond that, list your social media only if it’s relevant to the job you’re applying for. Even then, be careful and consider what you want to share (and how others might respond to the photos, comments, and memes already posted to your social media accounts).
How to Write a Resume Summary Statement?
If you ask resume experts how to write a resume that will stand out, they’ll often mention a clear, effective and succinct summary statement. The summary statement is your chance to catch a recruiter or employer’s attention quickly, even before they read the main body of your resume.Your summary statement should be no more than 3 to 5 sentences (or bullet points), and should explain, briefly and specifically, what you have to offer for the position.
Your summary should include:
- Your top selling points as a candidate
- Highlights of your career (or your education/internship experience)
- Key strengths and attributes that employers are looking for (leadership, versatility, creativity, organization, etc.)
- Specific results if applicable (“increased sales by 25%”)
One thing to keep in mind when considering how to write a resume objective or summary statement is to look to the job description for guidance. The job description is your key to understanding what the company is looking for, and should help you tailor your summary for the job.
For more tips on how to write a resume objective or summary statement, check out the information here: https://www.greatsampleresume.com/resume-objectives
Resume objective vs. resume summary: what’s the difference?
A resume objective or resume summary are both meant to quickly sell the candidate to the employer. Resume objectives focus more on general skills and are better for career changers or entry-level jobseekers. The resume summary is better for highlighting specific work experience and is best suited for candidates looking to find a new position in their field.
How to Write Your Skills Section on a Resume?
Learning how to write a resume skills section effectively requires you make an assessment of your own best skills, and for what type of skills a specific employer is looking for. Start by making a list of your skills. These can include so-called “hard” skills like computer software skills, language skills, or industry-specific training or certifications. But your list should also include soft, or transferable skills, such as communication, leadership, time management, etc. Soft skills are particularly important to employers because they showcase an applicant’s ability to work successfully with other people in their own team and across the organization.
When adding skills to your resume skills section, we recommend choosing approximately 6 to 8 skills, including a mix of both hard skills and soft skills, and placing your skills section right below your resume summary. Be sure to label your skills section with the word “Skills” so it can easily be read by automated (ATS) screening software.
Here’s an example of how to write a resume skills section that impresses potential employers:
- Excellent written communication and presentation skills
- Ability to multitask and work under pressure
- Well-organized and detail-oriented
- Able to effectively manage and lead teams of 5 to 10 people
- Proficient in Microsoft Excel, including macros
- Fluent in Spanish (reading and writing)
How to Include Your Work History on a Resume?
How well your past work experience lines up with the job requirements is one important way a company will decide whether to offer you an interview. In this section of our resume writing guide, we’ll explain how to write a resume for a job you want by highlighting your history of accomplishments in your previous jobs.
In a chronological or combination resume, your work history should be listed in reverse chronological order, starting with most recent jobs first. This section should focus on paid full-time or part time positions, self-employed work, and paid or unpaid internships. For each position, include the name of the company or organization, the location (city and state) where you work/worked, and the dates you were employed (month and year). In addition to these basics, your work history should include a bulleted list of responsibilities and accomplishments for each job listed.
How to write your bullet point job descriptions for past jobs?
Your work history section should include about 3 to 5 bullet points about each job (more for the most recent and/or relevant positions) and should be written in third person and in past tense, unless it refers to your current job. Each of these individual entries should lead with action verbs, like:
Avoid simply listing tasks you did at your past jobs (“wrote press releases”) and try to focus on accomplishments (“created dozens of compelling press releases that helped boost site traffic by 15%”). Your goal should be to demonstrate that you’ve made a measurable impact on past organizations you’ve worked for, so that hiring managers can see the value you might add to their company.
Whenever possible, use keywords from the job description in your work history bullet points. This not only helps with passing ATS screenings, it lets employers know that you have the skills and experience they’re looking for.
If you’ve recently graduated or have limited experience, broaden what you include in your work history section to include paid or unpaid internships, volunteer positions, or roles in student or community organizations. For more tips, see our “How to Write a Resume with No Experience” section at the end of this guide.
How to Include Your Education on Your Resume?
Your education is not always the most important section of your resume (in that it won’t necessarily determine if you’ll get the interview), but it’s important to get it right. Generally speaking, the further along in your career you are, the less detailed your education section needs to be. If you’re a working professional well into your career, you should just list the basics: degree type and field, name and location of school, and graduation year. If you did coursework, but didn’t graduate, make sure you do not list a graduation year. If you have a high GPA (3.5 or above), you may want to list this, although your GPA becomes less relevant over time. For recent grads or current students, you may want to include:
- relevant coursework
- academic honors
- relevant student organizations
- GPA (if 3.5 or above)
- college minor
What to include and avoid
Avoid including your GPA if it’s below a 3.0, or if too many years have passed since graduation. You can also leave out degree or training programs not directly relevant to the job, as well as your high school education—unless that’s the highest level you achieved. Be sure to include degree, school, and year of graduation for all programs listed.
List training or professional development courses on your resume only if they are relevant to the job you’re applying for. For each course listed, include the title of the, the dates taken, and the location of the course or program. You do not need to list every program you have taken. If you’ve led or spoken at a program or seminar, you can include this in your work history section.
If you’ve earned professional certifications, you may include them in your education section. Include the name of the certification, the certifying body, the location, and the date obtained. Only include job-relevant certifications, and make sure your certifications are up to date and have not expired. If you have a number of relevant certifications, you may include these in a separate resume section.
Should You Include Hobbies on Your Resume?
Including a hobby or two on your resume can show your personality and possibly start a conversation during an interview. But you should only include hobbies that feel appropriate to the role, and which might demonstrate some desired skills, like leadership, creativity or teamwork. When considering whether to add hobbies to your resume, research the company or companies you’re applying to, and try to get a sense of the company culture, and whether extracurricular activities are something they’d welcome a discussion of. The decision is yours, and hobbies should be considered on a case-by-case basis.
Examples of hobbies you might consider listing:
- Sports teams or leagues (shows teamwork, organization, and physical fitness)
- Book discussion groups (shows curiosity, creativity, communication skills)
- Photography (shows creativity, analytical ability, focus and dedication)
- Community involvement (collaboration, teamwork, problem-solving skills, willingness to volunteer)
- Experience in the performing arts (confidence, public speaking, dedication to developing a skill set)
How to Write a Resume with No Experience?
If you’re new to the job market, recently graduated, or don’t have a lot of experience in the field you’re applying for, you can still write a powerful, compelling resume. With less experience, you should focus more on your academic experience, volunteer work, and so-called “soft” skills that demonstrate your abilities to succeed in a professional environment. Employers want to see what you’ve learned from the experiences you’ve had, even if they weren’t paid positions.
Here are some examples of academic, volunteer, and social skills you may want to include if you’re light on work experience:
- College coursework & outside projects
- Academic awards & achievements
- Student organizations/leadership positions
- Extracurricular activities (such as team sports, theater, etc.)
- Relevant part-time or summer jobs
- Volunteer/internship experience
- Language skills
- Technical/computer skills
- A list of transferable skills (including social skills like teamwork, communication, organization, etc)