How To Write A Good Resume
Making headway into the job market is a daunting task at any stage, but you won't get far without a solid resume. Your resume is your way to convince potential employers that you're the right fit for the job—enough so that they consider you for an interview. It's a marketing tool for yourself and the cornerstone of advancing your career path.
Building a resume can seem deceptively simple. After all, it's a list of your skills and work experience—how hard can it be? That sort of mindset can cause more damage than help, though. To land an interview (and the dream job that comes after it), you need to create a professional resume.
Read on for the best tips to help you learn how to write a good resume.
One of the first things a potential recruiter will notice about your resume is the formatting. A poor layout can end with your document discarded without so much a glance at your qualifications. Creating a professional format is easy, so don't lose out just because you didn't put in the effort.
Every document has a font and the one you choose matters. You want your resume to be easy to read, after all. Selecting a crisp font (and avoiding anything too stylized to decipher) is the first key to success. Some best fonts for resumes include:
Size is also a critical factor in readability. The standard font size is 12 or 11-point, and you don't want to go any smaller than 10. If you need to adjust to fit all your information, word processors can also change to the decimal point. Feel free to do this so long as you stay within the 10-12-point range.
A professional header should be at the top of your resume. It should include all your relevant contact information:
After you've built your header, use it for any other requested documents for the application, such as your cover letter, references, and examples.
The proper length of a resume is much up to debate. In most cases, you'll want to stick to one page. If trimming your resume down to a single page cuts out valuable information, you can continue onto a second page, but no more than that. Since your first page is going to catch the hiring manager's attention first, you may want to try some innovative formatting before you decide you need more than one.
A well-organized layout pulls double-duty in your resume: it makes it simple for the hiring manager to find the information they need and makes you look professional. You'll want to break your resume into sections (career objective/summary, experience, education, etc.) and make use of headers.
Bolding your section headers gives recruiters an easy way to find relevant material. You can also bold other vital pieces of information, such as degrees and job titles, so long as you do so in moderation.
Bullet lists are excellent to group information about specific roles and experiences. Make sure that you use the same style for all bullet points throughout the document for consistency, and don't exceed six bullet points for any one section.
You'll also want to make use of white space. Having gaps between sections makes them easier to distinguish and stops your entire resume from looking like one block of text. Be careful not to leave too much white space, as large gaps can make it appear as if you don't have enough qualifications.
One-inch margins are a safe length to use. Much like with font, you may want to adjust this to make the most of your page. It's best not to make your margins smaller than 0.5 inches so that you avoid any printer mishaps.
There are three resume types: chronological, functional, and combination. Which format you use is up to you, but each can be better suited for different situations.
This resume format is the most established, which lists your work experience in chronological order. Since it's traditional, recruiters will have an easier time reading it for the information they want. It's best suited for candidates that have a lot of relevant experience.
The functional (or skills) resume focuses more on your relevant skills than experience. This format can be helpful if you're an entry-level candidate, a fresh graduate, are changing careers, or have been out of the workplace for some time.
As the name suggests, a combination resume takes the formats of the chronological and functional resumes and brings them together. While not traditional, this type is excellent for highlighting both relevant skills and experience and is more flexible for the information and layout you can include.
Sections to Include
No matter what format and layout options you use, the meat of your resume is in the information you provide. You may decide on the content after looking at the role, but it's best to include these significant sections to catch the employer's interest.
Applicant Summary/Objective Statement
This section may not be as well known as other resume components, but it can do you a lot of good. An applicant summary will highlight your experience and skills, while an objective statement will show what sort of position you're seeking. In both cases, you'll want to emphasize how you can contribute to the job.
The applicant summary or objective statement can be the first thing on your resume under the header. It is also a great place to highlight the position title as one of your keywords.
What positions have you worked that relate to the job you're applying for now? What accomplishments have you earned in these positions? The work experience section is where you discuss these details.
Be sure to include your position title, the company name, and the dates you worked in the position. The list of jobs should be in reverse chronological order, with the most recent/current first.
If you don't have work experience in the field, you will still list your jobs. Take advantage of how you word your job descriptions to highlight transferable skills between positions.
Listing your education gives employers a chance to recognize what studies you've taken. This section works best if your degree is relevant to the position, but it also offers an opportunity to show your work ethic. Many fields of study work in several different job markets, so don't skip over listing your qualifications, especially if you're still an undergrad or lack work experience.
Only list your GPA if it is at 3.4 or higher. If you took any courses that directly relate to the job, you could also include the name of the class, but you don't want your education section to take up too much space that can highlight your other skills.
Jobs are looking for candidates that have not just the right experience, but related skills at all. Creating a section on your resume to mention these is excellent for highlighting information that may not fit your work experience.
Play to the job description with your skills. You should play to the job description with everything in your application, but the skills section is the easiest place to do it. If the job description mentions needing experience in Microsoft Office and you have that experience, be sure to include it.
While the above four sections will make the meat of your resume, there are several different sections that you can include as they relate to the job position:
Note that adding "References available upon request" at the end of your resume has fallen out of practice and is typically assumed. Keep a list of references on file for when it's needed, but otherwise, don't worry about mentioning it.
Resume Best Practices
Now that you've gotten all the information you need in a professional format, keep these other tips for how to write a good resume in mind:
Figuring out how to write a good resume can be a stressful experience, and writing one even more stressful still. However, it's more than worth the effort. Put in the time to craft a polished and professional resume to open the door to an interview for your dream job.