How to Write a Resume (With Examples)

Whether you’re dipping your toe in the job market pool for the first time or diving back in for a career move, you know that every successful job search begins with a resume. But, writing a resume is one of those things that makes people feel lost and a little overwhelmed. No worries. To get you pointed in the right direction, let’s do a quick and easy review of how to write a resume.

Resume Goals

First, let’s review the three goals you want your resume to accomplish. Your resume needs to:

1. Function as the first piece of marketing information people see about you and your job experience and accomplishments.

2.Get you past the artificial intelligence filters companies use to weed out resumes during the hiring process.

3.Make you stand out from the hundreds of other job candidates so that you get an interview.

What Your Resume Is Not

Now that we know the primary goals of how to write your resume, let’s talk about what your resume is not:

Your resume is not just a history of your work experience and education. In today’s competitive job market, your resume needs to be much more than a summary of what you’ve done and where you did it. Your resume is a personal marketing document that is the foundation of your job search.

Your resume is not a list of every job you’ve had or every skill you’ve ever learned. Your resume should be strategic. Recruiters don’t want to play a game of Where’s Waldo by searching through your 50 skills to find the five that relate to their open position. If your resume is too crowded and hard to read, they’ll toss it aside and move on to the next one. When it comes to resumes, sometimes less is more.

    What to Include On Your Resume

    Now that we’ve got that cleared up, let’s talk about how to write a resume.

      1. Contact Information

      Your name and contact information, including your email address and phone number, go at the top of your resume. It’s also common to include your mailing address, but it’s not required, so that’s up to you. Your font size should be no less than 10 and not more than 14,  and skip the fancy script fonts or graphics. Your name should be noticeable and easy to read. If you’re applying for a creative positive, this is also the place where you’d include a link to your online portfolio.

      2. Summary or Objective

      Under your contact information, it’s common practice to include a summary of your work experience or a few sentences about your objective in your job search. Think of this section as a written introduction of yourself.

      3. Select Your Best Resume Format

      Selecting the right format for the body of your resume is an important consideration when thinking about how to write a resume. There are three formats that job applicants commonly use, and one of them will probably be a perfect fit for you.

      Chronological Format

      The chronological format places your employment history at the top, right under your contact information and resume summary. Jobs are listed in reverse chronological order, which means that your most recent job is at the top of your work history.

      The chronological format is a great choice if you have an employment history of 3 or more years with minimal gaps between jobs. This is also a good way to highlight career progression, meaning you were promoted from one job to another.

      Functional Format

      A functional resume lists skills and abilities at the top, just below your contact information and candidate summary. Begin by listing the most essential, in-demand skills required for your career path and then prioritize from there.

      A functional resume is a smart choice if you have gaps in your employment history, want to make a shift in your career path, or if you want to change industries.

      Combination Format

      A combination resume lists both employment history and specific skills. It typically lists skills at the top, followed by employment history.

      A combination resume is a good choice if you're applying for a position where you have technical or special skills that are just as important as your employment history. For example, IT professionals often use a combination format to highlight their technical abilities.

      4. Employment History

      No matter which resume format you select, list your employment history in reverse-chronological order. Start with your most recent job title, company name, dates of employment, and accomplishments and keep going backwards in time.

      Whenever possible, remember to use measure of success and key words.

      Measures of success are numbers or statistics that indicate specific contributions you made while in that position. For example, you may have increased sales revenue by 25% or reduced customer service response time by 50%. Measures of success will make your accomplishments stand out.

      Selecting the right keywords is an important aspect of how to write a resume. Keywords are words and phrases that the employer thinks are important and included in their job posting. Recruiters and hiring managers look at hundreds of resumes for a job posting, and the easier you make it easy for them to see that you have the experience they’re looking for, the more likely you are to get an interview.

      5. Education

      Whether or not you have a fancy degree, you need to include an education section. This is where you list any college degrees or degrees in progress but not completed.

      This is also where you’d list any professional certifications, technical training, workshops, or seminars you’ve attended. And remember, for specialty positions, they’re probably going to be more interested in your technical or specialty training than whether or not you have a college degree, so don’t be tempted to leave it off.

      If you are a veteran, this is where you can list any military courses, training, or education awards you received during your time of service.

      If you've completed tons of education, don't go overboard. Prioritize your completed education and list the ones that are most directly related to the position.

      6. Honors and Awards (Optional)

      You may wish to include an honors and award section at the bottom of your resume. This is where you list any special recognition you received on the job or during your education. You could also include volunteer recognition you may have received.

      7. Proof Your Resume

      Now that you know how to write a resume, it’s time to proofread.

      --Proof for Content--

      Ask someone to proofread your resume and let you know if anything you’ve included seems unclear or confusing. They should read it as though they are the person screening resumes for an open position. This should be someone who has some familiarity with your career path or has hired people before. Ideally, this person will not have been involved in any step of writing your resume so that you get a fresh set of eyes on your resume.

      --Proof for Typos--

      Next, ask someone else who is known for their attention to detail and business writing skills to check for mistakes in your resume. They’re looking for spelling errors, typos, inconsistent punctuation, and glaring grammatical errors. This should not be the same person who proofed your resume for content.

      --Proof in a Pinch--

      If you’re in a pinch and need to submit your resume right away but don’t have time to have someone else proof it, you can proof it yourself. Read your resume out loud very slowly, word by word. When reading out loud, you will probably catch mistakes that you would miss if you just read it. Or, you can convert the text to audio and then listen for errors in the audio.

      --Final Proof--

      When you can see the finish line, it's time to read through your resume one last time. Read over everything. Double-check titles, dates, and numbers or statistics. There's nothing worse than submitting your resume and then realizing there was a typo. An extra 2 minutes before you submit can make or break your resume.

      Congrats, You're Done!

      So, now you know how to write a resume. Set aside some time and work through the process step by step. Take your time and think things through. Your resume is your #1 tool for getting an interview. Make sure it’s as fabulous as you are!