Congratulations on writing your first resume! This is an important time for you. A strong resume is a powerful tool that can help you get a job, jumpstart your career, and capitalize on any opportunities that come your way. To do these things, however, your document must have proper formatting and compelling content to pique the interest of prospective employers.
How do you begin creating such a document with no resume-writing experience? Start by reading our compilation of useful tips. With this advice, you can navigate the writing process until you have a stunning document that makes you proud, confident, and ready to land the job you want.
How To Write Your First Resume: 15 Tips To Get Started
1. Use Helpful Tools
If you are new to resume-writing, the task ahead of you may seem intimidating. That is why it is important to supply yourself with as many useful tools as possible. Look at resume samples for inspiration concerning your document’s content and appearance. Then choose an industry-appropriate template to make the writing process easier.
If you are new to resume-writing, the task ahead of you may seem intimidating.
2. Study the Company
Before you begin writing, learn everything you can about the business to which you are applying. Determine the company’s culture and what the employers expect from their staff. This helps you understand what tone to use as you write and how to present yourself to the hiring manager in the most appealing way.
3. Use the Job Description
After you research the company, you have one more thing to study before you craft your first resume. Think of the description of the job you are pursuing as the ultimate “cheat sheet.” Use it to decide how to tailor your resume to the role. What keywords and important skills do you see? Remember to add these crucial terms to your resume.
Think of the description of the job you are pursuing as the ultimate “cheat sheet.”
4. Choose Your Layout
If you are creating a resume for the first time, you probably do not have a lot of experience. Opt for a format that draws attention away from this. Choose a layout that illuminates many skills and position your experience section at the bottom of the page to keep the focus on your stronger qualifications.
5. Avoid Common Mistakes
As you start writing, watch out for mistakes that may cause hiring managers to discard your document. Avoid using the first person in your text, and stay away from overused phrases such as “team player” and “results-driven.”
Stay away from overused phrases such as “team player” and “results-driven.
Don’t include references on your resume. Instead, create a separate document detailing the names and contact information of your references. Save this document until a hiring manager asks to see your reference (and give your references a friendly FYI, too).
6. Be Honest
Are you worried about your lack of work experience? It is natural to feel pressure to exaggerate or fib in a first resume but resist that temptation. Otherwise, you face embarrassment — at the very least — if hiring managers discover your lie. Give a truthful account of your skills, experience, and other qualifications.
7. Make Your Contact Information Count
Place your contact information at the top of your page, starting with your full name. “Keep your name prominent,” writes resume expert, Jessica H. Hernandez, in her LinkedIn blog that details 131 resume writing tips for 2018. Hernandez also recommends including an appropriate, non-controversial email address and the URL to your LinkedIn profile.
“Keep your name prominent.”
8. Consider Using a Summary Statement
If you are searching for your first official job, an objective statement describing your career ambitions is appropriate. However, a summary statement may add more value to your document than the outdated objective. Hernandez notes that a summary can show hiring managers your accomplishments and your ability to meet a company’s needs.
9. Capture Attention with Your Skills
Your first resume should have a memorable skills section. Remember those skills you found in the job description? If you have them, list them in this section. Include a few soft skills as well. Teamwork, problem-solving, and communication are a few of the top skills you need on your resume.
Your first resume should have a memorable skills section.
10. Showcase Your Education
Do you meet the education requirements for the position? Place your education section in the top half of your resume. Give the full title of your degree. If you do not have a degree, Hernandez recommends listing certifications, classes, or other programs. “This shows that you’re open to ongoing learning and development,” she writes.
11. Include Any Experience You Have
In his LinkedIn blog, Here’s What the Perfect Resume Looks Like, recruitment specialist Kailash Shahani advises, “Don’t be afraid to include positions that aren’t directly related to the one you’re applying for, especially if you have limited work experience.” Are you pursuing your first official job? Write about unofficial work, such as babysitting, dog-walking, or lawn-mowing.
“Don’t be afraid to include positions that aren’t directly related to the one you’re applying for, especially if you have limited work experience.”
12. Emphasize Your “Extras”
Add some substance to your first resume by writing about other experiences outside of the work environment. “Include clubs/organizations, volunteer experience, awards you’ve won, and even interesting hobbies or activities,” counsels Shahani. Use these experiences to demonstrate a hard work ethic, leadership, or other valuable talents.
13. Lead with Dynamic Verbs
Your work experience section may be small, but that does not mean it cannot be memorable. Every bullet point in this section should lead with a strong action verb. Hiring managers are more likely to remember descriptions that begin with words such as “managed,” “led,” and “assisted” than passive phrases such as “responsible for.”
Your work experience section may be small, but that does not mean it cannot be memorable.
14. Quantify Your Accomplishments
Using metrics quantifies your achievements, and, as Shahani notes, “helps provide recruiters with the scope and context of your work.” Did you increase your dog-walking clientele by a certain percentage, graduate in the top five percent of your class, or voluntarily fundraise an exact amount of money for an organization? It is appropriate to discuss these accomplishments in your first resume.
15. Proofread Thoroughly
Once you finish writing your contact information, summary, skills, education, and work experience sections, you have one crucial step left: proofread your document. Peruse your content for spelling and grammatical mistakes. Ask others to help locate any errors you miss. Feeling shy? Read your resume out loud. It is easier to catch mistakes when you read your work aloud. After that, all you have left to do is submit your finished document to potential employers.
Ask others to help locate any errors you miss. Feeling shy? Read your resume out loud.