Learn how to write a resume that speaks volumes about your skills, experience and history. Whether you are an entry-level or a highly experienced candidate, there are five sections to always include in your resume. Recruiters spend an average of 6 seconds looking at a resume, so make sure you know what to include in these sections to quickly give the recruiter the information they need to know, quickly. Writing a resume may seem intimidating, but we have created a complete guide on how to write a resume covering topics from the three types of resume formats to complete resume personalization.
The 5 Resume Components
A resume consists of five components, all crucial to persuading an employer or recruiter that you are the right person to hire. Below is a look at the purpose of each component:
A header contains your name and contact information. Make sure you have a professional email address to include.
This is where you sell yourself in a brief summary. In a few sentences, describe how your skills and experience would benefit the company.
Your skills section should include your top skills. Focus on technical abilities, but don’t forget to include a couple soft skill as well.
Describe each duty as an accomplishment. Use reverse-chronological format if you have detailed job experience. If not, use a hybrid or functional format.
Detail your education information here. Don’t forget to include relevant clubs, activities, or publications.
The 3 Resume Formats
Emphasize Your Experience With a Chronological Resume Format: The chronological format is the best format to use if you have relevant and consistent job experience. List past positions in reverse-chronological format.
Emphasize Your Relevant Experience With a Functional Resume: If your most relevant position is not your most recent position, use a functional resume. Functional resumes provide more flexibility for arranging resume sections.
Combine Both Formats to Create a Strong Application Document: Do you have a strong skill set, some relevant experience, and outstanding academic accomplishments? If so, consider using a hybrid of functional and chronological formats.
How to Write Each Section of a Resume
How to Write Your Resume Header/Contact Information:
Put your name, phone number, professional email address, and city and state at the top. It’s okay to play with this section and use bold fonts.
How to Write Your Resume Summary Statement:
In this section, address four major points: your specific strengths and transferable skills, your professional expertise (if applicable), and relevant personality traits. Note: this is not an objective statement, which states what you want from the employer. This statement explains the value you plan to bring to the table.
How to Write Your Resume Skills Section:
In six to eight bullet points, list your most relevant and strongest skills. When writing a resume, it’s important to use the skills from the job description, as both the employer and applicant tracking system look for these keywords. List both hard and soft skills, but focus on the latter.
How to Write Your Resume Work History:
List your most recent position first followed by the one before that, and so on. However, when applying for your first job, use a functional or hybrid resume format. Both these formats allow job seekers to emphasize other areas, such as skills, education, and awards.
How to Write Your Resume Education Section:
Put your highest level of education first, followed by the second highest or most relevant. List each institutions’ name and your graduation dates. If you attended college, don’t include your high school information.
How to Write a Resume Based on Your Experience Level
How to Write a Resume for Entry-Level Positions: No work experience? No problem. Use a functional format to emphasize your strengths, accomplishments, and relevant training and education. If you have certifications, highlight those.
Write a Resume When You Have Some Experience: If you have prior work experience, use either a chronological or hybrid resume format. Chronological emphasizes experience whereas hybrid allows flexibility for what you emphasize.
Write a Resume for Executive Level Positions: Recruiters with executive roles to fill want applicants with the right qualifications and experience to interview. Use a chronological format to showcase your extensive work history.
How to Write a Resume Based on Your Industry
When It's Appropriate to Use a Traditional Resume: This tried-and-true resume style works best in conservative industries, such as law and finance. Don't get creative when applying for a role in these fields.
Use Contemporary If You Have Modern Skill Sets: If applying for a role that requires modern skills (think social media and web development), it's okay to get creative with a modern resume.
When in Doubt, Use a Classic Resume: If you cannot gauge an employer's style, stick with the classic resume. Like a traditional resume, this style is simple and to the point.
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Write Your Resume for an ATS in 3 Quick Steps
As you approach writing your resume, you will need to learn how to write for the applicant tracking system (ATS). The ATS electronically reviews and scores resumes before passing them to hiring managers. Failed to impress the ATS and your resume will be discarded. Use the following tips to help your resume bypass an ATS.
Because the ATS searches for exact phrases from the job description, pack your resume with terms from it. For instance, if the ad says the employer wants a “highly detailed worker,” don’t write “obsessed with details.” Use the exact phrase instead.
Stick with a simple layout so as not to confuse the ATS. Even our contemporary resume is simple enough for an ATS. You should avoid infographic resume designs or other obscure resume ideas. That said, it’s okay to add some color and bars.
Check your spelling. Even a single spelling or grammar error can trip up the ATS and cost you an interview.
FAQs About Resume Writing
When writing a resume after a long period of unemployment, spin your story in the best light. . Use your summary statement to emphasize the value your unique skills can bring to the table. Don't lead with your last job but rather, lead with the most relevant. If you have relevant training, put that above work history. Omit exact dates and simply include years.
To write a resume for a career change, use a functional or hybrid format. These formats will emphasize your most relevant skills, accomplishments, and work experience. Our resume builder can help you decide which format to use based on the information you provide as well as your prior work history and the job you want. Use our resume builder to build an immediate resume.
It's important to bear in mind each employer's immediate wants so that you can tailor your resume to fit. Always pull keywords from the job description when crafting your skills section and summary statement to help your professional resume bypass ATS.
No, you should not include references in your professional resume. Prior to an interview, if an employer asks for references, include them in a separate document or in the body of an email. The only time it's okay to put references in a resume is if an employer specifically asks you to. Also, remember to ask your references ahead of time if you can share their information.
To stand out, lead with a strong summary statement that emphasizes your greatest and most relevant skills. Stress the value you can bring to the company. Also, list your duties as accomplishments. If you were responsible for cleaning the store at which you worked, say you "maintained the premises and helped the retailer win an award for the cleanest branch in the district."