How to Make a Resume in 2024 | Beginner's Guide

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For most job-seekers, a good resume is what stands between a dream job and Choice D. Get your resume right, and you’ll be getting replies from every other company you apply to.

If your resume game is weak, though, you’ll end up sitting around for weeks, maybe even months, before you even get a single response.

So you’re probably wondering how you can write a resume that gets you an interview straight up.

Well, you’ve come to the right place!

In this guide, we’re going to teach you everything you need to know about how to make a resume, including:

  • The 8 Essential Steps to Writing a Resume
  • 11+ Exclusive Resume Tips to Up Your Resume Game
  • 27+ Real-Life Resume Examples for Different Professions

….and more!

So, let’s dive right in.

resume templates

How to Make a Resume (The Right Way!)

Before we go into detail about how you should make a resume, here’s a summary of the most important steps and tips to keep in mind:

how to write a resume

  • Choose a resume format carefully. In 99% of cases, we recommend the reverse-chronological format .
  • Add the right contact details. Leave your headshot out and make sure to include your job title , a professional email address, and any relevant links. (E.g.: your LinkedIn profile , online portfolio, personal website, etc.).
  • Write an impactful resume summary. Unless you’re an entry-level professional, always go for a resume summary. If you do it right, it’s your chance to get the hiring manager to go through the rest of your resume in detail.
  • Pay attention to your work experience section. Take your work experience section from OK-ish to exceptional by tailoring it to the job ad, making your achievements quantifiable, and using action verbs and power words.
  • Add the right skills for the job. Keep this section relevant by only including the hard and soft skills that are required for the position.
  • Keep your education short and to the point. Your most recent and highest degree is more than enough for a strong education section. You only need to add more details here if you’re a recent graduate with barely any work experience.
  • Leverage optional resume sections. Optional sections like languages, hobbies, certifications, independent projects, and others can set you apart from other candidates with similar skills and experience.
  • Include a cover letter. That’s right, cover letters matter in 2024, and the best way to supplement your resume is by adding an equally well-crafted cover letter to your job application. To make the most of it, check out our detailed guide on how to write a cover letter .

To get the most out of our tips, you can head over to the resume builder and start building your resume on the go as you read this guide.

New to resume-making? Give our ‘7 Resume Tips’ video a watch before diving into the article!

#1. Pick the Right Resume Format

Before you start filling in the contents of your resume, you have to make sure it’s going to look good. 

After all, the first thing hiring managers notice is what your resume looks like, and then they start reading it. So, this is your best chance to make a great first impression.

Start by choosing the right resume format.

There are three types of resume formats out there:

  • Reverse-chronological. This is by far the most popular resume format worldwide and, as such, it’s the best format for most job-seekers.
  • Functional. This resume format focuses more on skills than work experience. It’s a good choice if you’re just getting started with your career and have little to no experience in the field.
  • Combination. The combination resume format is a great choice for experienced job-seekers with a very diverse skill set. It’s useful if you’re applying for a role that requires expertise in several different fields and you want to show all that in your resume.

So, which one should you go for?

In 99% of cases, you want to stick to the reverse-chronological resume format . It’s the most popular format and what hiring managers expect to see. So, in the rest of this guide, we’re going to focus on teaching you how to make a reverse-chronological resume.

reverse chronological resume

Fix Your Resume’s Layout

With formatting out of the way, let’s talk about your resume’s layout , which determines the overall look of your resume. 

Does it look organized or cluttered? Is it too short or too long? Is it boring and easy to ignore, or is it reader-friendly and attention-grabbing?

Here are some of the best practices you should apply:

  • Stick to one page. You should only go for a two-page resume if you have decades of experience and you’re sure the extra space will add significant value. Hiring managers in big companies get hundreds of applications per job opening. They’re not going to spend their valuable time reading your life story!
  • Add clear section headings. Pick a heading and use it for all the section headers so the hiring manager can easily navigate through your resume.
  • Adjust the margins. Without the right amount of white space, your resume will end up looking overcrowded with information. Set your margins to one inch on all sides so your text fits just right on the page.
  • Choose a professional font. We’d recommend sticking to a font that’s professional but not overused. For example, Ubuntu, Roboto, or Overpass. Avoid Times New Roman, and never use Comic Sans.
  • Set the correct font size. As a rule of thumb, go for 11-12 pt for normal text and 14-16 pt for section titles.
  • Use a PDF file. Always save your resume as a PDF file, unless the employer specifically requests otherwise. Word files are popular, but there’s a good chance they’ll mess up your resume’s formatting.

Another thing you need to consider in terms of your resume’s layout is whether you’re going for a traditional-looking resume template or something a bit more modern :

traditional vs modern resume

If you’re pursuing a career in a more traditional industry, like law , banking , or finance , you might want to stick to the first.

But if you’re applying to a tech company where imagination and innovation are valued, you can pick a more creative resume template .

Want to Save Time? Use a (Free) Resume Template

Anyone who’s ever tried creating a resume from scratch knows how boring the formatting can be.

Before you can even start filling in the contents, you need to tweak the margins, adjust font sizes, and make sure everything fits into one page while still looking good.

What if you could skip past all that and still create a compelling resume?

Try one of our free resume templates . They’re pre-formatted, so all you have to do is fill in the contents.

They’re also created in collaboration with recruiters from around the globe, ensuring that the templates are visually appealing and ATS-friendly!

See for yourself how one of our templates compares to a resume created in a standard text editor:

novoresume vs text editor

#2. Add Your Contact Information

Now that we’ve got all the formatting out of the way, let’s get into what your resume is all about— the information you put on it .

The first thing you want to do when filling out the contents of your resume is to add your contact information .

This section is pretty straightforward but crucial. Your contact details belong at the top of your resume in a designated resume header , so the hiring manager can easily find them.

Even if everything else about your resume is perfect, that all flops if you misspell your email address or have a typo in your phone number. If the hiring manager can’t contact you, it’s a missed opportunity.

So, double-check, and even triple-check your contact information section and make sure everything is factually correct and up-to-date.

Must-Have Information

  • Full name. Your first and last name should stand out at the top of your resume.
  • Email address. Stick to an address that’s professional and easy to spell, like a combination of your first and last name. (E.g.: [email protected])
  • Phone number. Add a reliable number where the hiring manager can easily reach you.
  • Location. Add your city and state/country. If you plan to relocate for the job or want a remote position, specify it on your resume.

Optional Information

  • Job title. Add your professional title underneath. Write it down word for word, whether it’s “Digital Marketing Specialist” or “Junior Data Scientist.” Just don’t make up job titles like “Marketing Wizzard” or “Data Manipulator.” They’re not quirky; they’re just unprofessional. 
  • LinkedIn profile . We recommend that you include a link to your updated LinkedIn profile since over 77% of hiring managers use the platform when evaluating a candidate. 
  • Relevant links. Include links to personal websites or any social media profiles that are relevant to your field. For example, a developer could include a Github profile, while a graphic designer could link their Behance or Driblle account, and so on.
  • Date of birth. Unless this is specifically required in the job ad, the hiring manager doesn’t need to know how old you are. It’s not important for their decision-making, and at worst, it might lead to age-based discrimination.
  • Unprofessional email address. Your quirky, old high school email address doesn’t belong on your resume. Instead of [email protected] , go for a [email protected] type of address.
  • Headshot. (USA, UK or Ireland) Depending on the country where you’re applying, it might even be illegal to include a picture of yourself on your resume . While it’s the norm to include a picture in most of Europe and Asia, always check the regulations for each specific country or industry you’re applying to.

All clear? Good! Now, let’s look at what a great example of a resume's contact information section looks like:

professional resume contact section

#3. Write a Resume Headline (Summary or Objective)

It's no secret that recruiters spend an average of less than seven seconds on a resume .

When you receive hundreds, if not thousands, of applications daily, it's physically impossible to spend too much time on each.

So, what the hiring managers do to go through resumes more effectively is to skim through each resume and read it in depth only if it piques their interest.

This is where the resume headline comes in.

Placed right next to (or underneath) your contact information, this brief paragraph is the first thing the hiring manager is going to read on your resume.

Now, depending on how far along in your career you are, your resume headline can be either a resume summary or a resume objective.

resume summary professional

So, how do you choose between a resume summary and a resume objective? Here’s all you need to know:

Resume Summary

A resume summary, as the name suggests, is a two to three-sentence summary of your career so far. If done right, it shows that you’re a qualified candidate at a glance and gets the hiring manager to give you a chance.

Here’s what your resume summary should include:

  • Your job title and years of experience.
  • A couple of your greatest professional achievements or core responsibilities.
  • Your most relevant skills for the job.

Here’s an example of a well-written resume summary: 

Experienced Java Developer with 5 years of experience in building scalable and efficient applications. Contributed to a major project that enhanced application performance by 25%. Strong background in Spring Framework and microservices. Aiming to apply robust coding skills to develop innovative software solutions at XYZ Tech Solutions.

Unless you’re a recent graduate or amid a career change, we recommend you stick to a resume summary. Otherwise, a resume objective might be a better option for you.

Resume Objective

A resume objective is supposed to express your professional goals and aspirations, academic background, and any relevant skills you may have for the job.

It communicates your motivation for getting into a new field, so it’s the go-to headline for recent graduates and those going through a career change. As with a resume summary, a resume objective should be brief—around two to four sentences long.

So, here’s what it would look like if you’re a student:

Hard-working recent graduate with a B.A. in Graphic Design from New York State University seeking new opportunities. 3+ years of practical experience working with Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop, creating illustrations and UX/UI design projects. Looking to grow as a designer and perfect my art at XYZ Design Studio.

Or, on the other hand, if you’re going through a career change, it might look more like this:

IT project manager with 5+ years of experience in software development. Managed a team of developers to create products for several industries, such as FinTech and HR tech. Looking to leverage my experience in managing outsourced products as a Product Owner at Company XYZ.

#4. Prioritize Your Work Experience

The most important part of your resume is your work experience.

This is where you get to sell yourself and show off your previous accomplishments and responsibilities.

If you manage to master this section, you’ll know most of what’s there to know about how to make a resume.

There are plenty of good practices for writing your work experience . But before we dive into all the nits and grits, let's start with the basics.

The standard format for each work experience entry is as follows:

  • Job title/position. Your job title goes on top of each work experience entry. When the hiring manager looks at your resume, you want them to know, at a glance, that you have relevant work experience for the job.
  • Company name/location/description. Mention the name of the employer and the general location, such as the city and state/country where you worked. In some cases, you may also want to briefly describe the company, like when the organization isn’t particularly well-known.
  • Dates employed. Add the approximate timeframe of your employment at each company. You don’t need to give exact dates since the standard format for this is mm/yyyy.
  • Achievements and responsibilities. This is the core of each work experience entry. Depending on your field, you want to list either your achievements or responsibilities. List them in bullet points instead of paragraphs, so they’ll be easier to read.

Here’s a real-life example:

how to list work experience on a resume

Your work experience entries should always be listed in reverse chronological order , starting with your most recent job and working your way back into the past.

Now that you know how to list your experience, we’re going to show you how to write about it in a way that makes you stand out from the competition, starting with: 

Are you a student with no work experience? We’ve got you covered. Check out our guide to writing a resume with no experience here.

Focus on Achievements Whenever Possible

One of the most common resume mistakes is only listing responsibilities in your work experience section.

Here’s the thing—in most cases, the hiring manager knows exactly what your job responsibilities are.

For example, if you’re a sales manager, your responsibilities would be:

  • Reach out to potential clients over the phone or email.
  • Maintain relationships with existing company clients and upsell relevant products.
  • Tracking and reporting on leads in CRM.

Coincidentally, this is also the same list of responsibilities for every sales manager out there. So, 90% of all other resumes probably mention the same thing.

To stand out from the competition, you want to focus on writing achievements in your resume instead. These can be how you helped your previous company grow, reach quarterly quotas, and so on.

Let’s compare how responsibilities hold up next to achievements for the same job:

  • Exceeded sales team KPIs by 30%+ for 3 months straight.
  • Generated over $24,000 in sales in 1 month.
  • Generated leads through cold-calling
  • Managed existing company clients

Keep in mind, though, that in some fields, there just aren’t that many achievements you can mention. Let’s say you’re a warehouse worker .

Your day-to-day responsibilities probably include:

  • Loading, unloading, and setting up equipment daily.
  • Packaging finished products and getting them ready for shipping.
  • Assisting in opening and closing the warehouse.

In fields like this, it’s pretty hard to distinguish yourself through achievements, so it’s okay to stick to responsibilities instead. You can still make them shine by following the rest of our advice about listing your work experience.

job search masterclass

Keep in mind, though, that in some fields, there aren’t that many achievements you can mention. Let’s say you work in a warehouse. Your day-to-day responsibilities probably involve:

  • Loading, unloading and setting up equipment on a daily basis.
  • Package finished product and get it ready for shipping.
  • Assist in opening and closing the warehouse.

In such fields, it’s pretty hard to distinguish yourself, so it’s totally OK to stick to responsibilities instead.

Tailor Your Resume to the Job

Tailoring is what sets an amazing resume apart from an okay one.

Hiring managers don’t need to know about every single job you’ve ever worked at or every single skill that you have.

They only want to know about your jobs, experiences, or skills that are relevant to the role you’re applying for.

For example, if you’re applying for a job doing Google Ads, you don’t need to talk about your SEO internship from eight years ago.

By focusing your resume on whatever is important for the specific role, you’re a lot more likely to stand out and catch the hiring manager’s attention.

Let’s take a look at an example of a job ad:

how to tailor your resume to the job ad

As you can see, we’ve highlighted the most important requirements.

To tailor your resume accordingly, you just need to mention how you meet each of these requirements in your resume.

You can highlight your relevant achievements and qualifications in different parts of your resume, such as:

  • In your resume summary, where you should recap your years of experience.
  • Throughout your work experience section, where you should list achievements and responsibilities that reflect your social media marketing experience.
  • In your education section, where you can let the hiring manager know you have the degree that they’re looking for.

Include the Right Amount of Work Experience

If you’ve got over a decade’s worth of work experience, you’re probably wondering whether all of it belongs on your resume. In most cases, you’d end up writing a novel if you listed everything you’ve ever done, and that’s not how long a resume should be .

If you’re new to the job market, on the other hand, you probably don’t have any experience, and you’re wondering what you could even add to this section.

So, here’s how much information your resume should include, depending on your level of experience:

  • No experience. If you’re looking for your first job , you won’t have any work experience to fill this section with. So, you can either keep it empty and focus on all the other sections or fill it up with any experience gained in student organizations, extracurricular activities, volunteering, and other projects.
  • Entry-level. List all your work experience so far. While some of it won’t be relevant, it can still show the hiring manager that you do have some actual work experience.
  • Mid-level. Only mention relevant work experience to the position you’re applying for. There’s no need to waste space on jobs that aren’t related to what you’re after.
  • Senior-level. List up to 15 years of relevant work experience, tops. If your most recent experience is as a marketing executive , the hiring manager doesn’t care how you started your career as a junior marketing specialist 23 years ago.

Consider Applicant Tracking System (ATS) Software

Did you know that over 70% of resumes don’t even make it to the hiring manager ?

Most companies these days use ATS to evaluate hundreds of resumes instantaneously and automatically filter out the ones that don’t meet their criteria.

For example, if a resume doesn’t mention a specific skill or isn’t formatted correctly, the ATS will automatically reject it.

ats system statistic

Fortunately, there are some easy ways to make an ATS-friendly resume .

Here are a couple of tips to help you get past those pesky robots:

  • Stick to one page. Sometimes employers set a limit on how long a resume should be. This means that if your resume is longer than one page, it might get automatically disqualified.
  • Incorporate keywords. Tailoring your resume to the job helps a ton with beating the ATS. Just carefully read the job description to find hints for what the ATS will be looking for. Then, whenever you find keywords related to your responsibilities and achievements, make sure to include them in your work experience section.
  • Use an active voice. Passive voice is too vague and unclear, so make sure to use active voice as much as possible when describing your previous jobs. (E.g.: “Managed a team of ten people,” instead of “ A team of ten people was managed by me.” )
  • Leverage powerful action words. Instead of starting each of your sentences with “was responsible for," make your work experience impactful by using words that can grab attention. Saying that you “spearheaded” or “facilitated” something sounds a lot more impressive than “helped.”

Want to make sure your resume formatting passes the ATS test? Choose one of our tried and tested ATS-friendly resume templates , and you’ll be good to go! 

#5. List Your Education

The next section on your resume is dedicated to your academic qualifications. Let’s start with the basics!

Here’s how you should format the education section on your resume :

  • Program Name. Your major and degree type should be listed. (E.g.: “B.A. in Business Administration” )
  • University Name. Add the name of the institution. (E.g.: “New York State University” )
  • Dates Attended. Use a mm/yyyy format for the dates you attended. (E.g.: “08/2008 - 06/2012” )
  • Location. If your university is less well-known, you can also add the location. (E.g.: “Stockholm, Sweden” )
  • GPA. Use the appropriate grading system for the country you’re applying to work in. (E.g.: In the USA, it would be “3.9 GPA” )
  • Honors. Add any honors and distinctions you’ve been given. (E.g.: Cum Laude, Magna Cum Laude, Summa Cum Laude )
  • Achievements. You can mention interesting papers you’ve written, projects you’ve done, or relevant coursework you’ve excelled in.
  • Minor. “Minor in Psychology”

Pretty simple, right? Now let’s see what an education section looks like in practice:

education on resume

This example includes all the necessary information, plus an eye-catching award and relevant classes this candidate has taken.

Resume Education Tips

Now that you know how to list your education on your resume, let’s take this section to the next level.

Just follow these expert tips:

  • If you’re making a resume as a student and don’t have any work experience yet, you can list your education section at the beginning of the page instead of work experience.
  • You can add your expected graduation date if you’re still pursuing your degree.
  • If you already have relevant work experience, just keep this section short and sweet. Recent graduates can expand on their education more and add optional information like projects, classes, academic achievements, etc.
  • Always list your degrees in reverse chronological order, starting with your highest degree on top. Your highest and most recent degree is usually enough, so if you have a Master’s degree that’s relevant to the job, there’s no need to mention your earlier degrees.
  • Don’t add your high school degree to your resume if you already have a university degree. It doesn’t have as much weight, and you can use the space for something else.
  • Only mention your GPA if you had an impressive academic career. Anything below a 3.5 GPA doesn’t need to be on your resume.

Are you in the process of applying for college? Check out our guide to writing a college application resume to wow that admissions officer!

#6. Emphasize Your Know-How in the Skills Section

After your work experience, your skills are the first thing the hiring manager is going to look for. In fact, together, work experience and skills make up 90% of the hiring decision .

So, this is the place where you want to mention all the know-how that makes you the perfect candidate for the job.

There are two types of skills you can include when writing your resume:

  • Hard Skills. These are measurable abilities. What you can list here can be anything from coding in Python to knowing how to cook Thai cuisine.
  • Soft Skills. Also known as personal skills, these are a mix of communication skills , personal traits, career attributes, and more. They can include leadership, critical thinking, and time management , just to name a few.

Your resume should always cover both hard skills and soft skills . Here’s an example in action:

How to List Skills in Your Resume

Now, let’s discuss how you should list your most important skills on your resume.

There are a few essential steps you need to follow:

Always List Hard and Soft Skills Separately

Your resume should be easy and neat to navigate. The hiring manager shouldn’t have to waste time looking for a specific skill because you didn’t separate it into the appropriate subsection.

So, just create separate categories for your hard and soft skills.

Depending on your field, you could customize the name of your “hard skills” subsection to something like “technical skills," “marketing skills," or something else related to your field.

Let’s look at an example of what skills look like on a project manager’s resume :

Methodologies & Tools

  • Agile Methodology
  • SCRUM Framework
  • Waterfall Project Management
  • Microsoft Project
  • Critical Path Method (CPM)
  • Earned Value Management (EVM)
  • Risk Management

Soft Skills

  • Team Management
  • Conflict Resolution
  • Negotiation

Tailor Your Skills to the Job

You might have some awesome skills, but the hiring manager only needs to know about the ones that are relevant to the job.

For example, if you’re applying for a job as an accountant, your gourmet chef skills shouldn’t be on your resume.

Look at the job ad and list at least two to three essential skills you have that are required for the role. Remember—there’s no need to list every skill you have here; just keep it relevant.

Qualifications:

  • Bachelor’s degree or higher in Graphic Design or a related field.
  • Tech-savvy, with some background in CMS systems such as WordPress.
  • Thrives in a stressful environment and juggles multiple tasks and deadlines.
  • Strong organizational and time management skills.
  • Excellent communication skills.
  • Self-reliant, with the ability to manage their own work.
  • A can-do attitude and an outside-the-box thinker.
  • Proficient in Adobe Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, Keynote, and Pages.
  • Basic understanding of Office software such as Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook.

So, the must-have hard skills here are Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, Keynote, and Pages. Other good computer skills to have are WordPress or similar CMS systems.

While you can also mention Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook, it’s pretty much assumed that you know how to use them since they’re required for most office jobs.

List Hard Skills with Experience Levels

For each hard skill you list on your resume, you should also mention your proficiency level. This tells employers what they can expect from you and how much training you might need.

  • Beginner. You have some experience with the skill, whether it’s from some entry-level practice or classroom education.
  • Intermediate. You’ve used the skill in a work environment with good understanding.
  • Advanced. You’re the go-to person for this skill in your office. You can coach other employees, and you understand the skill at a high level.
  • Expert. You’ve applied this skill to more than a handful of different projects and organizations. You’re the go-to person for advice about the skill, not just in your office but even amongst some of the best professionals in your field.

Just make sure to never lie about your actual skill level. Even if you get the job, once you need those skills you exaggerated, it will be pretty awkward for both you and your employer.

Include Transferable Skills

These are the types of skills that are useful for almost any job out there.

Transferable skills can be both soft skills (e.g.: teamwork, creativity, problem-solving skills, and others) and hard skills (MS Office Suite, HTML, writing, etc.)

Whatever job you’re applying to, chances are you have transferable skills from your experience that can come in handy one way or another. So, feel free to include them, even if they’re not specifically required for the position.

Not sure which skills to mention on your resume for your specific field? Check out our list of 101+ essential skills for inspiration!

#7. Leverage Optional Resume Sections

The sections we’ve covered so far are must-haves for any resume. They’re the bread-and-butter for any job application, and if you get them right, you’ll land any job you apply to.

But if you have some leftover space, there are a few optional sections you can choose from to give your resume a boost!

other important resume sections

Are you bi-lingual? Or even better  – multi-lingual? You should always mention that on your resume!

Even if the position doesn’t require you to know a specific language, it can still come in handy at some point. At the end of the day, it’s always better to know more languages than less.

To list languages in your resume , just write them down and assign them the appropriate level:

  • Intermediate

You can also use the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFRL) or the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) proficiency scales.

As a given, you should never lie about your language skills. You never know—your interviewer might turn out to be fluent in the language or even be a native speaker!

Hobbies and Interests

If you want to spice up your resume, hobbies and interests could be just what you need.

While this section isn’t a game-changer, it can help the hiring manager see who you are as an individual.

For example, if you listed “teamwork” as one of your skills, hobbies like team sports can back up your claim.

And who knows? Maybe you and your interviewer have some hobbies or interests in common!

Volunteering Experience

If you’re the type of person who devotes their free time to helping others while expecting nothing in return, chances are that you’re the type of employee who’s in it for more than just the money. 

Seeing volunteer experience on your resume tells hiring managers that you’re a loyal employee who’s after something meaningful.

Several studies show that listing your volunteer experience can boost your chances of getting hired, especially if you have little to no work experience.

Certifications

Hiring managers love candidates who invest in themselves, and that’s exactly what they see when you list certifications on your resume .

If you value continuous learning and strive to expand your skill set, that’s always a plus.

Certifications can also show employers how much expertise you have.

For example, if you’re a Microsoft Cloud Engineer and you specialize in Microsoft Technologies, you should definitely include all essential certifications on your resume, such as the Azure Solutions Architect Expert one.

Awards and Recognitions

There’s no harm in showing off a little on your resume. After all, you want to be a candidate that shines above the rest.

So, if you’ve received any awards or recognitions that make you stand out in your field, make sure to add them.

For example, if you’ve been recognized for your contributions to data science or received a hard-to-come-by scholarship , mention it in your resume. Just keep your entries here relevant to the field you’re applying to.

Publications

Whether you’re a freelance writer or a distinguished academic, publications are always impressive.

If you have any published works (online or in an academic journal), you can add them to your resume. Just make sure to include a link so the hiring manager knows where to check your work!

Are you looking for a career in academia? Check out our guide to writing the perfect academic CV to get started!

Working on side projects can show off your passion for your field. Whether they’re university class projects or part-time entrepreneurial endeavors, they’re relevant.

For example, if you worked on a mock software product as part of a university competition, it shows you went through every step of product creation, from ideation to creating a marketing strategy.

This project also shows off your organizational skills , and if you mention it in your resume, you stand a better chance of landing the job you had your sights set on.

But projects can also be personal, not academic. For example, you might manage an Etsy store where you sell hand-made arts and crafts to customers online. This is a great opportunity to highlight your creativity, management, and customer service skills .

Overall, hiring managers love employees who do cool work in their free time, so projects are always a great section to add to your resume.

Looking to kickstart your career? Check out our guide on how to get an internship for useful tips and real-life examples!

Extracurricular Activities

Every college freshman knows that extracurricular experience can make a difference in their application.

Especially if you don’t have a lot of experience outside of school, extracurricular activities are a great way to show potential employers your skills and give them insight into you as a person. Different clubs and after-school projects can help you gain real-life skills and considerably increase your chances of landing your first job after college.

For example, joining a student government organization can hone your leadership skills and teach you how to work as part of a team.

For example, if you’re part of a student government or public speaking club, these activities can help you hone your leadership and presentation skills.

11+ Expert Resume Tips

You’ve got the gist of how to make a resume. Now, it’s time to make it really stand out from the crowd!

Follow these exclusive resume tips to take your resume game to the next level:

  • Match the professional title underneath your name to the job title of the position you’re applying for. Hiring managers often hire for several roles at once, so giving them this cue about what role you’re after helps things go smoother.
  • Mention any promotions from your previous jobs. Use the work experience entries for them to focus on the achievements that helped you earn them.
  • Describe your achievements using Laszlo Bock’s formula : accomplished X as measured by Y by doing Z . This way, your work experience can go the extra mile and show the hiring manager what you can bring to the table.
  • Always list your achievements and responsibilities in concise bullet points. This makes your resume more reader-friendly, and it’s more likely that the hiring manager will see your impressive achievements at a glance.
  • Don’t use personal pronouns like “I” or “me,” and don’t refer to yourself by name. Stick to a slightly altered third person, like “managed data integrity at XYZ Inc.” instead of “he managed data integrity at XYZ Inc.”
  • Name your resume sections correctly, or it might get rejected by the ATS. Swapping out quirky names like “career history” or “expertise” for “work experience” and "skills" makes it easier for the hiring manager to find what they’re looking for, too.
  • Prioritize important keywords instead of adding all of them. Make sure the relevant skills, qualifications, and experiences you add all make sense in context, too. Your goal is to get past the ATS and impress the hiring manager.
  • Focus on transferable skills if you don’t have a lot of relevant work experience. Any extracurricular activities or personal projects can help you stand out here.
  • Add a strategic pop of color to headings, bullet points, or key elements you want to highlight. It can help your resume stand out, but don’t overdo it—you want the information to be more impressive than the color palette.
  • Don’t include the line “references available upon request.” Hiring managers already know they can request a list of references from you, so there’s no need to waste valuable space on it.
  • Make sure your resume is optimized for mobile viewing. Most hiring managers use their mobile phones as often as desktop computers, so save your resume to a PDF file and make sure your formatting stays intact across any device.
  • Rename the resume file you plan to send so it includes your name and the name of the position you’re applying for. It’s a small detail that can turn into a crucial mistake if you forget it.
  • Read your resume out loud when you’re done. This is a great way to catch awkward phrases or spelling mistakes you might have missed otherwise.
  • Use a tool like DocSend to track your resume. You’ll get a notification any time someone opens your resume, and you can see how long they spend reading it.

FREE Resume Checklist

Are you already done with your resume? Let’s see how it holds up!

Go through our checklist for perfecting your resume and see where you stand!

professional resume writing checklist

If you missed some points, just go through your resume one more time and perfect it.

And if you ☑’d everything—congrats! You’ve learned all there is to know about writing a resume, and you’re good to go with your job search.

Need to write a CV instead of a resume? Check out our step-by-step guide on how to write a CV with dozens of examples!

9 Resume Templates for Different Industries

Looking to create an effective resume without dealing with the formatting hassle? Just choose one of the templates below.

#1. Traditional Resume Template

Traditional Resume Template

Good for traditional industries like finance, banking, law, and manufacturing.

#2. Modern Resume Template

Modern Resume Template

Good for both contemporary and forward-looking industries, including entrepreneurship, medical technology, and engineering.

#3. Creative Resume Template

Creative Resume Template

Good for creative industries, including entertainment, design, and architecture. 

#4. Minimalistic Resume Template

Minimalistic Resume Template

Good for experienced professionals in basically any industry who want to let their achievements do the talking. 

#5. IT Resume Template

IT Resume Template

Good for any IT-related profession like software development, cyber security, and DevOps engineering.

#6. Tech Resume Template

Tech Resume Template

Good for the tech industry and everything it encompasses.

#7. College Resume Template

College Resume Template

Good for college students and recent graduates alike.

#8. General Resume Template

General Resume Template

Good for multiple industries, including HR, education, and customer service.

#9. Executive Resume Template

Executive Resume Template

Good for senior professionals across different industries, including hospitality, marketing, and logistics.

17+ Resumes for Different Jobs

Knowing how to write a resume is one thing, but making a resume that stands out is something entirely different. Without inspiration, even top career experts might stumble on a roadblock or two.

Check out the following effective resume examples for specific jobs to get a better sense of what a good resume looks like:

#1. Nurse Practitioner Resume Example

Nurse Practitioner Resume Example

Check out our full guide to writing a nurse resume here.

#2. Data Scientist Resume Example

Data Scientist Resume Example

Check out our full guide to writing a data scientist resume here.

#3. Business Analyst Resume Example

Business Analyst Resume Example

Check out our full guide to writing a business analyst resume here.

#4. Digital Marketing Resume Example

Digital Marketing Resume Example

Check out our full guide to writing a digital marketing resume here.

#5. Software Engineer Resume Example

Software Engineer Resume Example

Check out our full guide to writing a software engineer resume here.

#6. Construction Project Manager Resume Example

Construction Project Manager Resume Example

Check out our full guide to writing a construction project manager resume here.

#7. Customer Service Resume Example

Customer Service Resume Example

Check out our full guide to writing a customer service resume here.

#8. High School Resume Example

High School Resume Example

Check out our full guide to writing a high school resume here.

#9. Student Resume Example

Student Resume Example

Check out our full guide to writing a student resume here.

#10. Server Resume Example

Server Resume Example

Check out our full guide to writing a server resume here.

#11. Actor Resume Example

Actor Resume Example

Check out our full guide to writing an actor resume here.

#12. Web Developer Resume Example

Web Developer Resume Example

Check out our full guide to writing a web developer resume here.

#13. Engineering Resume Example

Engineering Resume Example

Check out our full guide to writing an engineering resume here.

#14. Computer Science Resume Example

Computer Science Resume Example

Check out our full guide to writing a computer science resume here.

#15. Architect Resume Example 

Architect Resume Example

Check out our full guide to writing a data analyst resume here.

#17. Remote Job Resume Example

Remote Job Resume Example

Check out our full guide to writing a remote job resume here.

#18. Sales Associate Resume Example

Sales Associate Resume Example

Check out our full guide to writing a sales associate resume here.

#19. Receptionist Resume Example

Receptionist Resume Example

Check out our full guide to writing a receptionist resume here.

Want to see more examples? Check out our compilation of 80+ resume examples for different fields .

  • Administrative Assistant Resume
  • Bartender Resume
  • DevOps Engineer Resume
  • Executive Assistant Resume
  • Flight Attendant Resume
  • Graphic Designer Resume
  • Paralegal Resume
  • Pharmacist Resume
  • Recruiter Resume
  • Supervisor Resume

Next Steps After Your Resume

Now that we’ve covered everything you need to know about how to make a resume, it’s time to talk about the rest of your job application.

After all, your resume is only the first step in your job search. To land the job you deserve, you also need to write a captivating cover letter and ace that upcoming interview. Here’s how:

#1. How to Write a Convincing Cover Letter

The companion piece to every resume is the cover letter.

Most job-seekers flinch when they hear that they have to write a cover letter. What do you even mention in a cover letter, anyway? If you were good at writing cover letters, you’d be applying for a job as a writer !

In reality, though, writing a cover letter is very simple once you know its purpose.

Think of your cover letter as a direct message to the hiring manager. It’s your chance to briefly explain why you’re such an awesome fit for the position. And with a few cover letter tips to point you in the right direction, you’ll write the perfect cover letter for your job application.

Just follow this structure:

cover letter structure for resume

  • Add the contact details. Include the same contact information as on your resume, plus additional contact details for the hiring manager, including their name, job title, the company’s name, and location.
  • Introduce yourself. Start your cover letter by mentioning who you are, what your work experience is, and why you’re interested in the position. Mention a standout achievement or two, relevant skills, and what you’d like to do for the company you’re applying for.
  • Explain why you’d excel at the job. Find the requirements in the job ad that you meet, and elaborate on how you fulfill the most important ones. Research the company so you know what you like about it, and mention it in your cover letter. Make sure to convey your enthusiasm for the job and confidence that you’ll be a great fit for their team.
  • Wrap it up politely. Conclude your cover letter by recapping your key selling points and thanking the hiring manager for their time. Then add a call to action, such as “Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me at the provided phone number so that we can discuss my application in greater detail.” Then, add a closing line and follow it with your full name.

Sounds easy, right? Here’s a real-life example to drive the point home:

cover letter example for resume

Do you need more help perfecting your cover letter? Learn what the most common cover letter mistakes are and check out cover letter examples for all professions here.

#2. How to Ace Your Next Interview

Once you’ve perfected both your resume and cover letter, there’s only one thing left.

It’s time for the final step—the dreaded job interview.

Whether you’re an extrovert or an introvert, you probably hate the interviewing process. No matter how experienced you are, it can be nerve-wracking. Sitting there while someone’s prodding into your past experiences and judging you isn’t fun.

But did you know that most interviewers ask the same questions?

That’s right—all you have to do is learn how to answer some of the most common interview questions, and you’ll be an interview away from landing your dream job!

Just check out our complete guide to the 35+ Job Interview Questions and Answers and learn how to ace your next interview.

FAQs on How to Make a Resume

Do you still have some questions about making a resume? Check out the answers to the most frequently asked questions below!

#1. What does a good resume look like in 2024?

For your resume to look good in 2024, make sure it’s organized and clean and isn’t longer than one page.

Be sure to include information that adds value to your application—leave out the focus on your relevant work experience and skills that you can back up, and list as many achievements as possible. 

If you’re using a resume template, choose one based on your industry. Conservative industries like law, banking, and business require more traditional resume templates. But if you’re going for an industry like design, architecture, or marketing, you can go for a creative resume template . 

Remote work is also big in 2024, so if that’s what you’re after, tailor your resume to match the job you want.

#2. How do you make a resume in Word?

The best way to create a resume in Word is to use a pre-designed Microsoft Word template. To access them, you should: 

  • Open MS Word
  • Click “file” from the menu bar 
  • Select “new”
  • Type “resume templates” in the search bar 

That said, Word resume templates are generic, hard to personalize, and overall not very stylish.

Want a resume that looks good and is extremely easy to make? Check out resume templates to get started!

#3. How do I write a resume for my first job?

If you’re writing your first-ever resume for an entry-level position, the hiring manager won’t expect you to have any work experience.

However, you can make up for your lack of experience with your skills and academic achievements.

For example, you can take advantage of extracurricular activities, internships, volunteering experiences, and other non-professional experiences. You can use them to highlight the skills you’ve gained and what you’ve achieved so far.

So, your first job resume should have a resume objective, emphasize your education, and replace your work experience with any internships, volunteering, independent projects, or other experiences.

#4. How to make a resume on Google Docs?

You can make a resume on Google Docs by choosing one of their templates and filling it in on the go.

All you have to do is go to your Google Drive’s template gallery, choose your preferred template, fill in your information, and your Google Docs resume is ready to go! 

That said, Google Docs templates aren’t the most user-friendly choice. You don’t have much flexibility with the layout and formatting isn’t that easy. For example, you tweak a section to the slightest, and the whole resume becomes a mess.

If you want an easier option, check out our resume builder !

#5. What kind of resume do employers prefer?

Typically, employers prefer one-page-long resumes that follow the reverse chronological format. 

Hiring managers receive hundreds of resumes every day, so they don't have the time to read three-page resumes. Try one of our one-page resume templates so you don’t go over the recommended resume length.

Meanwhile, the reverse-chronological format is the most popular because it draws attention to your most recent jobs and professional achievements, which is the #1 most important thing hiring managers look at when evaluating a resume.

#6. How many jobs should you put on your resume? 

You should only include relevant job positions on your resume.

This means that your work experience section should be tailored to the job you are applying for. If you’ve worked five different jobs and they can all add value to your current application, then you should include all five. 

If, on the other hand, you’re applying for, say, a customer service position and some of your past jobs don’t have anything to do with customer service, you should skip them.

#7. Should I put my address on my resume? 

You can put your location (city, state, or country) on your resume, but you don’t need to put your entire physical address.

Putting a physical address on a resume was the norm back when companies would contact you via mail. In today’s world, everyone communicates via email, which is why adding a correct and professional email address to your contact information section is far more important than putting your physical address. 

So, just include your location or-–if you’re a remote worker—specify you prefer to work remotely by writing “working remotely from [location].”

#8. What information should I leave out of my resume?

As a general rule, you shouldn’t include your birthday or your headshot on your resume. This norm varies from country to country but it applies to the USA, Canada, and UK.

If you have plenty of achievements to list under your work experience, then you can leave your basic work responsibilities out of your resume. 

In your education section, you should only include your highest and most recent degree. So, if you hold a Ph.D., you can list that and your Master’s degree and leave your Bachelor’s degree and high school diploma out.

Finally, leave out any skills that aren’t relevant to the job you’re applying for.

#9. Is a resume a CV?

Depending on where you are, a CV (Curriculum Vitae) and a resume might be completely different things.

In most of the world, though, including Europe and Asia, they are used interchangeably for the same document. Both CVs and resumes are one to two pages long, and list skills and experiences relevant to the position you’re applying for.

Sometimes more detailed resumes that go over one page are referred to as CVs. These are typically only used by senior professionals, executives, CEOs, etc.

In the USA, however, a CV is a completely different document. Typically, CVs are detailed and comprehensive documents that highlight your entire academic and professional history. They’re often used for academic, scientific, or research positions, which is why this type of CV can also be referred to as an academic CV.

You can create your CV using one of our CV templates !

#10. Should I write my own resume?

Yes, you should always write your own resume.

Your resume is your opportunity to show the hiring manager your communication, writing, and presentation skills . Employers also evaluate you based on how effectively you can convey information about yourself, and there’s no one that can represent you better than yourself.

Writing your own resume lets you introduce yourself authentically. You have the best understanding of your skills and experiences, and you can personalize them to make your resume stand out.

And, as a bonus, the experience of writing your resume yourself can be reflective and insightful, so it might help you understand your professional journey and career goals better.

#11. Can a resume be two pages?

Generally, we strongly recommend that your resume stick to one page.

Hiring managers go through hundreds of resumes every day, and keeping your resume to one page increases the odds that they’ll see your qualifications faster.

In some cases, like when you have a lot of relevant experience, your resume can go over two pages. But this exception is reserved for senior professionals with over a decade of relevant experience and tons of skills and achievements that simply can’t fit on one page.

#12. Is a simple resume okay?

Absolutely, a simple resume is often more than okay—it's preferable.

Before your resume even gets to the hiring manager, a complicated layout could get it rejected by the applicant tracking system (ATS). A simple resume template can help get your application straight to the hiring manager.

A clean layout can also make sure that your resume is easily readable and looks professional. This can focus the hiring manager's attention on your work experience and skills without excessive clutter or flashy colors to distract them.

Key Takeaways

And that’s a wrap!

If you’ve followed all of our advice until now, congrats! You’re probably an expert on how to make a resume.

To recap, let’s go through some of the most important lessons we’ve learned so far...

  • Use the right resume builder to make the process as smooth as possible. You don’t want to mess around with formatting for hours before even starting to work on your resume!
  • Focus on your achievements over responsibilities. This can help you stand out from all the other applicants, especially if you back your claims up with data.
  • Include all the must-have sections, like the resume summary, work experience, education, and skills. Then leverage optional sections if you have leftover space.
  • Tailor your resume for the job you’re applying for. Everything listed on your resume should be relevant to the specific job you’re applying for, and you should write a new resume for every new job application.
  • Take the time to perfect your cover letter. It’s just as important as your resume, so make sure you pay as much attention to it!

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  • Resume Tips

Beginner's Guide to How to Write a Resume

Ken Chase profile pic

21 min read

how to write a resume for the job you want

For job seekers, few things are more important than making a great first impression on employers. Of course, it’s difficult to accomplish that goal without a compelling resume. 

But what can you do if you’ve never had the opportunity to craft a personalized resume? 

What do you need to know to write a truly convincing resume that can capture an employer’s interest?

In this beginner’s guide, we will provide you with all the information you need to know to learn how to make a resume that can increase your odds of landing an interview. We’ll explain why it’s so important to know how to make a resume and then walk you through the resume creation process step-by-step.

What is a resume?

Before we explain how to make a resume, let’s make sure that we properly define this vital job search tool. A resume is a brief one to two-page document that highlights your most relevant skills, work experience, achievements, and educational qualifications. If you’ve ever filled out a formulaic job application, then you already have some idea about the type of information you’ll need to include in your resume.

But make no mistake; resumes are not just job applications. 

Instead, they are marketing documents designed to highlight your qualifications and potential value as a new hire. Well-crafted resumes should offer more than just a dull recitation of your skills and experiences. A great resume delivers a powerful and compelling narrative that enables prospective employers to envision all the many ways that you might benefit their company.

Why do you need to know how to make a resume?

To understand why it’s so important to know how to make a resume, consider the following job search challenges:

Today’s job market is more competitive than ever before, and you need a way to stand out from the competition.

Most companies expect candidates to provide a resume when they apply for a job. Without a compelling resume, you may have no way to introduce yourself and compete for the role.

You need to be able to convince employers that your experience and skills offer real value to their operations.

Without a resume, you’ll struggle to get the attention you need to earn interview opportunities – interviews that can help you make your best case as a candidate.

The good news is that you can overcome all these challenges by learning how to make a resume that helps you capture employers’ interest. With the right approach and execution, you can craft a resume narrative that not only highlights your qualifications for a job but also demonstrates that you know how to provide value for your employers.

How to make a resume, step-by-step

Now that we’ve explained why it’s so important to have a great resume, it’s time to learn how to make a resume for a job. To simplify this process, we’ve broken everything down into distinct steps that you can follow as you craft your resume document. Just follow along with the steps outlined below, and you’ll quickly learn how to make a great resume that can capture an employer’s attention.

1.     Know your goals

First, you’ll need to figure out your career goals so that you can make a resume that is targeted toward jobs in that industry. Have you given any thought to your career path? 

Some of the key things you’ll want to consider include:

What industry interests you? If you already know which type of job you want, then chances are that you’ve already answered this question. If not, give it some thought.

Which city or state do you want to live in as you pursue your career? Do some research on industries and jobs in that area to make sure that your goal is reasonable.

What position are you seeking? Until you figure out what type of job you want, there’s no reason to create a resume.

What long-term goals do you have for your career? The answer to this question can help you identify short-term job goals as you figure out which career steps you need to take to reach those broader objectives.

Once you’ve answered these questions and formed the broad outline of a career plan, you’ll have a better idea of how to make your resume in a way that speaks to that audience. 

As you craft your resume and continually revise it for each new job throughout your career, knowing your audience can help you focus on creating a professional brand that speaks directly to their hiring needs.

2.     Gather your resume information

The next step in your resume creation process involves preparation – which means getting organized so that all the information you need is readily available before you even begin. This initial preparation can ensure that you don’t waste time looking for key details later and can instead just focus on writing the best resume possible.

Below is a summary of the information you should gather:

A list of your marketable skills. Make sure that you focus on hard and soft skills, including technical abilities, industry-specific knowledge, and key interpersonal skills.

An outline of your employment history. Create a list that includes each job title, the name of the company you worked for, their locations, and your employment dates.

A list of three to five quantifiable achievements for each of those jobs.

Your educational qualifications. Here, we’re talking about any degrees that you’ve earned, the schools you attended, the date you graduated, and relevant coursework or certifications.

You can also gather details about any volunteer work you’ve engaged in – identifying any key skills that you might have learned or used during that experience.

Depending on the job you’re seeking, you may also want to gather information about any accolades you’ve earned – but only if they reinforce your qualifications and past performance.

3.     Choose your format

After gathering your information, you’ll be ready to make your first big resume decision – which format to use. There are three options here, each of which offers a different way to organize and present your information. The choice you make will largely depend on where you are in your career and what you’re trying to achieve. Those three formats include:

The reverse chronological resume format

This format choice is preferred by most hiring managers and job seekers. Its structure and format provide an ideal way to present your work history in a clear and convincing manner by listing your previous jobs in reverse chronological order. That allows employers to focus on your most recent achievements at work while also being able to review your overall career progression.

The functional resume format

The functional resume takes a different approach to organizing your employment information. Instead of focusing on that work history, the functional format emphasizes your skills and education to demonstrate your qualifications for the role. Because it is often used by those with little experience or major gaps in their work history, many employers view this resume format with some degree of skepticism.

The hybrid, or combination, resume format

If you’re looking for a resume format that seeks a happy middle ground between functional and reverse chronological resumes, then the combination option might be ideal. This resume format is often used by people who are changing their careers or who have a great deal of experience that they want to highlight. It is designed to emphasize both skills and relevant experience.

While you are free to choose whichever option you think will work best, we typically recommend the reverse chronological format for most job seekers with any level of experience. 

If you have no work experience, you may be better off relying on the hybrid option. 

Throughout the rest of this post, however, we will focus on helping you learn how to make a resume that uses the most popular formatting option – the reverse chronological format.

4.     Use a solid structure to outline your resume

Fortunately, the reverse chronological resume offers a simple way to organize your resume information to create a solid structure that is easy to follow and scan. That last part is important because very few employers will ever read through your entire resume when it first crosses their desk. Instead, they will scan it, searching for key bits of information that they’re prioritizing for their hiring process.

Knowing that, it’s important to create an outline that provides that scannable structure. To do so, you need to separate different types of resume information into distinct sections. 

Your resume outline should include the following sections:

Contact information

Resume headline

Resume summary

Core competencies or skills

Work experience/Professional experience

Optional sections

We’ll examine each of these important sections as we proceed through the guide, providing examples to help you better understand how to present these details to employers.

5.     List your contact information

Your contact information needs to be placed at the top of your resume. That helps ensure that hiring managers and others can easily find the details they need to know if they want to contact you for an interview or a job offer. 

Include the following information:

Your name . Make sure that it matches the name you use in your cover letter and LinkedIn profile. Also, use both your first and last name, and adjust the font size to a larger font to help it stand out from the rest of your contact information.

Your location . While there is some debate about this, it is still common for job seekers to include their city, state, and zip code in their contact details. Do not list your home address , though.

Phone number . Make sure you include a working phone number that employers can use to reach you. Include all ten digits of the number to ensure that there is no confusion.

Email address . For your email address, try to utilize a professional email rather than a vanity address. For example, you would not want to use an address like [email protected]. Instead, use an address that contains your name and no silly or controversial details. Something like [email protected] would be a far better option.

LinkedIn URL . If you have a LinkedIn account that you use for your professional career, include that URL too. Just make sure you’ve cleaned up your profile and updated it to align with your resume and current career goals.

Website/Portfolio URL . This is an optional contact detail that you may need to include if you have a professional body of work you need employers to see. Website designers, graphic artists, and architects are examples of the type of professionals who often need to rely on their portfolios to demonstrate their skills.

Putting all of that together, your resume contact information section might look something like this:

Tom Thompson

Anytown, Anystate 99999 ∙ 555-555-5555

your email address ∙ Your LinkedIn URL ∙ Portfolio address

6.     Create a dynamic resume headline

If you’re confused about resume headlines, relax – they’re easy to understand. Basically, they’re just a job title with some descriptive language that helps to capture hiring managers’ attention. The headline goes right below your contact details, with the text bolded and centered to give it more prominence on the page.

To create a headline, start with the job title. For example: Marketing Manager. Now add some descriptive language that makes that title more compelling. For example:

Senior Marketing Manager With 10+ Years of Experience in Brand Enhancement

Dynamic Marketing Manager and Digital Marketing Innovator

Strategic Marketing Manager, Focused on Data-Driven Analysis

As you can see, these examples offer more than just a bland recitation of the job title you’re seeking. They provide a more compelling argument for your candidacy while helping solidify your unique professional brand. This can help ensure that you develop a reputation that can contribute to career success and advancement as you provide real results for your employers.

7.     Craft a compelling resume summary

You’ll also need to know how to create a convincing resume summary to serve as your resume’s elevator sales pitch. 

Remember how we mentioned that hiring managers only scan your resume? Well, it’s true. 

And because they don’t read the entire document, you’ll need to work extra hard to make sure that you capture their attention as quickly as possible.

Enter the resume summary. 

This short, three to five-sentence paragraph sits right below your resume headline and acts as a quick introduction to the reader. You’ll want to include a brief description of yourself that emphasizes your experience and most relevant skills, as well as language that shows how you’ve used those skills and character traits to produce measurable results for your previous employers.

You should also include a few keywords from the job description to help guarantee that your resume gets past applicant tracking systems, of course. Just scan the job posting to locate relevant skills, character traits, and other qualifications that the employer is looking for. Those are likely to be ATS keywords you’ll need to have in your resume.

Since this paragraph is designed to serve as a summary of your resume and career, it is usually best to write it after you’ve completed the rest of the document. That can help you to identify key points that you can use in your summary. Regardless of when you write it, though, it always needs to have a prominent place in the top third of your resume.

Here’s an example of what a Marketing Manager resume summary might look like:

Data-driven Marketing Manager with 8+ years of experience crafting and leading high-impact campaigns for more than 200 client companies. Consistently leverage digital campaign expertise to increase client website traffic by an average of 45%, with an 80% boost to customer engagement and 23% average increase in sales funnel activity.  A proven leader focused on creating motivated teams that exceed every expectation.

8.     Highlight your core competencies

Since you’ve already created a list of your core skills, crafting the core competencies or skill section of your resume should be relatively easy. While this is typically one of the smallest sections in any resume, it can also be one of the most effective. After all, this is the one section in which you can include every relevant skill you’ll need to demonstrate your qualifications.

So, let’s start with that list of skills you created. 

You’ll need a total of between 9 and 12 skills for this section, including both hard and soft skills . 

Try to include a balanced mix of each to ensure that employers can see that you not only have the job-related skills needed to fulfill your duties but also possess the key interpersonal skills you’ll need to fit within the company culture.

Hard skills include technical abilities that you’ve learned in school or other formal training venues, while soft skills tend to include traits and abilities that are more difficult to measure. 

For example, consider your ability to analyze data. That is a quantifiable skill that can be easily measured in terms of results. On the other hand, communication or negotiation skills are less tangible and more difficult to measure. Data analysis is thus a hard skill while communication and negotiation abilities are considered soft skills.

As you create your core competencies section, start by reviewing the job description to identify all the skills the employer listed as core qualifications. Then, compare the skills you cull from the job description with the personal skills list you created as you gathered your resume information. 

Fuse the two lists and fine-tune it using language from the job description to create your core competencies list and get past the ATS.

A few things to note here:

This is the first section in your resume that requires a section label. You can label this section Core Competencies or Relevant Skills – or just Skills. It’s up to you.

You’ll want each skill to be listed as a bullet point to help keep them from looking like they’re squished together on the page.

It’s typical to format this section into two or three columns, to help save resume space and create a more appealing presentation.

Make sure that you list the most important skills first and try to group them according to type. For example, if you’re applying for a technical job, list technical skills first, and then your soft interpersonal abilities.

Omit any unnecessary skills that might distract from your more relevant abilities. The goal is to create a compelling list, so quantity is less important than quality.

Here’s an example of what that skill list might look like for our hypothetical Marketing Manager:

CORE COMPETENCIES

Digital Marketing

Strategic Planning

Campaign Budgeting

Project Management

Data Analysis

Brand Management And Enhancement

Team Building

Creative Thinking

Problem Solving

Excellent Communication

Negotiation

Content Management

9.     Document your work experience

If you’ve ever filled out a standard job application, then you already understand the importance of documenting your work experience for a prospective employer. 

Here, you will need to refer to your list of previous jobs and start with your current or most recent position. To begin, start listing every job that you’ve held for the last 10 to 15 years, in reverse order. 

For each of those positions, you should include the following details:

Company name

Company location

Employment dates

Four or five bullet point examples of your most notable and quantifiable achievements

Before we get to examples that show how this section might look on your resume, let’s talk about those bullet point examples for a few minutes. 

While there was a time when job seekers would just list their job duties for every position, that approach rarely works in today’s competitive job market. The reason for that is simple: every employee has duties, regardless of their position. 

Employers are not impressed by a list of your responsibilities; they want to know how you made a positive impact in that role.

By listing measurable achievements that use real numbers to quantify your results, you can demonstrate how you provide value as an employee. That’s one of the easiest ways to prove your capabilities and help any prospective employer quickly understand the type of benefits they can expect if they choose you over rival candidates.

Below is an example of the employment experience section for your imaginary Marketing Manager:

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE ABC Marketing – Anytown, Anystate – 2019–Present

Marketing Manager

Successfully created and executed marketing campaigns for 60+ clients, including rebranding strategies, market expansions, and digital engagement, with an average client revenue increase of 22%.

Recruited and trained 3 dozen marketing personnel, boosting company client acquisition by 32% over a 3-year period, with a 95% employee retention rate.

Led negotiations for new vendor contracts, reducing departmental costs by $75,000 per year.

Oversaw digital marketing campaigns that provided $2 million in revenue in 2023.

As you can see, each of these achievement examples highlights the candidate’s various skills, including negotiation, digital marketing, team building, and project management, as well as core leadership abilities that all managers need to possess. Even better, the candidate uses real numbers to demonstrate how those skills helped to add value for his employer.

Adopt this approach to your work experience section by following that same strategy for each of your job role listings. Whenever possible, try to include several skill-based keywords from the job posting in these achievement listings too.

Finally, make sure that you utilize action verbs that demonstrate that you’ve done more than just fulfill your duties in each role. You want employers to see you as a person of action who’s focused on getting results rather than just meeting your responsibilities. 

Avoid boring, meaningless words like “responsible for” or “duties included” and opt instead for action-oriented language like:

Facilitated

Reorganized

Revitalized

Coordinated

Related post : For other great ideas about these types of action words, check out our great post, 101 Power Verbs for Your Resume .

10.   Create an education section

The last required section in your resume is the Education section. This is where you’ll list the degrees you’ve earned that demonstrate you meet the employer’s education requirements for the position. 

Again, refer to the job posting to ensure that you understand what the employer is looking for and make sure that the credentials you list meet those expectations.

This section should include the name of the school you attended and its location, the date you graduated, and your degree. 

Education in progress

You can also include relevant coursework that can help highlight your knowledge base. If you have not yet completed your degree, you can include the anticipated date for graduation. 

The question of whether to include your GPA is a matter of some debate. As a rule, it’s wise to never include it unless you’ve recently finished school – and that GPA is at least 3.5. Of course, some employers may require that information, in which case you’ll need to add it to your resume. In most instances, however, you’ll want to omit it.

Educational awards/honors

Finally, you can include relevant awards or honors if you’re lacking in work experience. If you go that route, make sure that you list the formal award name and include the date that you received it.

So, what does that all look like when you put it together to create a resume section? Let’s return to our Marketing Manager example and see how that resume’s Education section might look:

EDUCATION Bachelor of Science in Marketing Anytown College – Anytown, Anystate – May 2008

Relevant coursework: Advanced Marketing Strategies, Digital Marketing Intelligence, Project Management Insights

11.   Add certifications, training, or license credentials when appropriate

Depending on your chosen career path, you may have certain certifications or licensing requirements for any job you’re seeking. Or perhaps you’ve made a point of continuing to advance your career with continuing education that earned certain certifications. 

If you possess those additional qualifications, and they’re relevant to the position you’re seeking, you may want to include them on your resume.

CERTIFICATIONS / LICENSES Google Analytics Certification – Google, June 2023 (Expires June 2024)

As you can see, you’ll want to include the name of the certification and the organization or entity that provided it. Add in the date you earned the certification. In addition, you should include any relevant expiration date. You’ll also notice that we added a title for this optional section, to help keep it separate from the other sections in your resume.

12.   Volunteer work

Volunteer work is an optional section that you may want to include – but only if the skills you used are relevant for the position you’re seeking. If so, then you can add a separate labeled section for this part of the resume. Include the type of work you did, the organization that you worked for, and any measurable achievements. 

For example:

VOLUNTEER WORK Anytown Food Drive – Budget Manager – 2022

Developed a budget plan for a local food drive, creating a donor campaign that yielded $13,000 in donations in 2022.

Managed team of 9 volunteers who executed donor drive campaign.

Developed offline and online marketing strategies to maximize community outreach, achieving 11% success rate for actionable donor contacts.

Alternatively, you can simply list volunteer work in your work experience section. This option is especially useful if your resume has noticeable gaps in your employment and you spent some of that off-time doing volunteer work. It’s a great way to demonstrate that you were still actively sharpening your skills during a period of unemployment.

If you opt to add volunteer work to your professional experience list, be sure to change the title of that section of your resume from “Professional Experience” to “Professional and Volunteer Experience” so that employers understand you’re mixing the two together.

Once your base resume is complete

Once your resume includes all the core sections and any relevant optional sections, you’ll have a base resume that you can use as your template for any resume submissions. 

But your work isn’t done! 

In fact, there are still some steps that you’ll need to complete before you can confidently send your document off to employers. Let’s examine those additional steps now.

Edit and proofread your resume for content, spelling, and grammar

Obviously, you don’t want to send out a resume that’s filled with misspellings, typos, or inaccurate information. To avoid that, you will need to spend some time editing the document for both content and quality. 

Remember this: employers who spot mistakes in resumes are more likely to toss those documents in the trash than spend any real time reading them.

Here’s the problem, though: it’s difficult to proofread your own writing – especially if you try to do it right after you’re done with your initial draft. 

You see, your brain will remember what it wrote, which means that your eyes will likely miss even obvious mistakes since your brain will interpret what you meant to write vs what’s actually there. To avoid that challenge, try to set the document aside for a few days before you begin your edits. You may need to review it several times after that to get it right.

Even then, though, you shouldn’t rely on your own eyes to serve as the final word on proofreading. Instead, have a friend or family member who’s good with words review it too. Print it out and ask them to look for any confusing language, spelling errors, punctuation mistakes, or formatting lapses.

Tailor your resume to each job you seek

Our final step to making a great resume is an ongoing one that you’ll need to revisit with each new job you seek. It involves tailoring your resume to target a specific job role at a specific company. To complete this step, you need to take your base resume and make modifications that specifically target the role you want. 

The following tips can help.

Begin by making a copy of your base resume on the computer. Give it a different name that identifies it for use in a specific job application.

Go through your resume and compare the different sections to the job posting for the position you’re seeking. As you read through the job posting, identify those skill and qualification requirements that we talked about earlier in this guide. Write down those exact terms on a sheet of paper. Those will be keywords that you need to add to your resume.

Review each section of your resume to ensure that your headline, summary, core competencies, work experience, and education section all align with the core qualifications for the position you want.

Remove any irrelevant skills and replace them with those required for the new job.

Make changes to your work experience achievements as needed to ensure that your accomplishments highlight the right skills for the job.

Once you’re done tailoring the resume, go through your proofreading and editing process again to ensure that it’s as perfect as possible.

With a little effort, you can learn how to make a resume that’s sure to impress!

Learning how to make a resume may seem like a tall mountain to climb, but the challenge can be overcome if you know which steps to take. With the right goals, preparation, and attention to detail, you can quickly learn how to make a professional resume that will capture the attention of any prospective employer.

Good luck in your job search!

Wondering whether your resume has what it takes to land you the interviews you need? Get your free resume review from our resume experts today!

 Recommended reading:

30 Resume Summary Examples that Work in 2024

Communication Skills on a Resume (Examples + Tips)

150 Resume Buzzwords to Use and Clichés to Avoid in 2024

Ken Chase, Freelance Writer

During Ken's two decades as a freelance writer, he has covered everything from banking and fintech to business management and the entertainment industry. His true passion, however, has always been focused on helping others achieve their career goals with timely job search and interview advice or the occasional resume consultation. When he's not working, Ken can usually be found adventuring with family and friends or playing fetch with his demanding German Shepherd. Read more resume advice from Ken on  ZipJob’s blog .

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How to Make a Resume in 2024: [+How-to Guide]

  • December 11, 2023
  • In Resumes & Cover Letters

How To Write A Resume

Your resume is a crucial document tool for your job search. A well-written resume demonstrates your communication skills. More importantly, it provides information that shows that you have the qualifications and experiences necessary for the next step in your career. Throughout your career, you might write many different types of resumes. The content will depend on your industry, career level, and the job you’re applying for.

Resume writing is a process that involves at least three distinct steps: preparation, writing, and proofreading. 

  • Preparation  – Collect the content for your resume, research what your potential employers needs, and create a resume outline. 
  •  Writing  – Create and organize your content into sections, highlighting relevant skills, experiences, and results.
  • Proofreading  – Proofreading your resume before sending it out is critical to achieving the best readability, grammar, and consistency.

Table of contents

  • How to write a resume: Basic 9 steps

Step 1: Choose the right resume format

Step 2: include your name and contact information, step 3: create a powerful resume headline, step 4: add your resume summary or objective, step 5: describe your work experience, step 6: outline relevant skills and keywords, step 7: include your education, certifications, and other relevant information, step 8: tailor your resume for the job and the applicant tracking system, step 9: proofread before submitting.

  • Frequently asked questions about writing a resume
  • Should I write a new resume for every job I apply to?
  • How many positions should I include on my resume?
  • Should I include employment gaps on my resume?
  • Should I use a resume template? 

Preparing to write a resume

Before you start writing a resume, you need to figure out what content you want to include, how, and why you will include it. So, don’t skip these three steps before writing your resume:

  • Gather your content: The first step in the resume preparation process is to collect your content. First, sit down, brainstorm, and write down your accomplishments , experiences, activities, and skills.
  • Do your research : Researching is the key to success. By researching a company before you apply, you’ll be able to tailor your resume to fit exactly what they seek in a potential candidate.
  • Create an outline: Creating a rough resume outline will help you stay on track and organize your content logically. 

Once you’ve gathered your content, researched the company, and created a roadmap for your resume, you’re ready to start writing.

How to make a resume in basic 9 steps

Most resumes will consist of five main sections. These are the critical determinants of whether you are a suitable candidate for a job:

  • Resume headline
  • Resume summary/objective
  • Work experience and accomplishments
  • Skills section
  • Education section
  • Optional sections (languages, publications, interests, etc.)

Resume Formats Strengths And Weaknesses (Chronological Resume, Functional Resume, Combination Resume)

Recruiters seek resumes that show relevant skills and experience that separate you from others. And to pick out only the best, they need to be able to locate this information quickly.  So, maintain uniform formatting throughout your resume. This will make it easier to navigate and demonstrate your attention to detail.

  • Reverse chronological resume format –  In 90% of circumstances, you should use the reverse-chronological resume structure. This is the most prevalent, and most human resource managers are accustomed to it. This resume structure is suitable for candidates who have a lot of relevant experience for the position they are after.
  • Functional resume format –  If you lack formal job experience due to being a recent graduate student or want to change careers, the skills-based format is the best bet.
  • Combination resume format –  A combination resume is an effective solution for applicants with a wide range of skills. It’s handy if you’re searching for a job that demands competence in three or four disciplines, and you want to highlight these on your resume.

Read more:  “What’s the Best Resume Format for 2024? [Pros vs Cons]

The aim of the contact details is to identify the job applicant and offer the relevant information for the employer to contact them. When putting your contact information together,  make your name a couple of sizes bigger and italicized or bold to stand out. Then, ensure that your telephone number and email address are accurate and up-to-date. Also, check that your voicemail greeting and email address are professional. A physical address is not essential on a resume, especially if you will send out the resume to multiple companies. Only consider giving a current or permanent address if it is near the company or branch. Employers sometimes like to recruit college students and recent graduates with local links to the area. Contact information should include:

  • Email address (use a professional one like [email protected] )
  • Phone number

You can also add these optional details:

  • An online portfolio or website (if relevant to the job)
  • Your LinkedIn
  • Your mailing address (if you want to show you’re a local)
  • A resume headline (a subtitle that describes your experience)

A well-written resume headline should pique a recruiter’s interest and entice them to read more.

Your headline is a brief but impactful addition to your resume, and it can be the first thing a hiring manager reads. It’s also another chance to mention a particular job title or keyword that the ATS could use to filter your resume. Thus, include keywords from the job description, preferably the job title. Also, keep the headline brief, aiming for less than ten words. Use a title case and a bold or bigger font to make the headline stand out.

  • “Customer Service Representative with 5 Years of Call Center Experience”
  • “Experienced Content Writer Specialising in SEO”
  • “Award-Winning Graphics Programmer”
  • “Seasoned Sales Professional With 9 Years of Experience”

Read more: “20+ Resume Headline Examples: Stand Out from the Crowd”

At the start of your resume, a resume introduction delivers a short overview of your experience, abilities, and credentials. Your introduction should be three to five sentences long, written in either sentences or bullet points.

Resume Objective –  A resume objective presents your career goals and how they fit in with the company’s objectives. As such, they are best for applicants who have just graduated and have no professional experience or those who are changing careers.

The objective statement informs the employer of three main points:

  • the sort of employment the applicant is seeking (internship or full-time)
  • their availability
  • the field or industry in which they are interested in and qualified for.

If possible, aim to tailor each objective statement to a particular job description. Generally, try to limit the objective to a single sentence that targets the company’s values and mission as well as your professional interests.

Resume Summary –  A resume summary , on the other hand, emphasizes your most notable professional accomplishments and talents. It is thus most appropriate for individuals that have relevant experience and achievements.

“Degree-qualified board and senior-level secretary and administrative assistant with 10+ years of challenging experience at this level. I have strongly developed organization skills and became a resourceful problem solver by spending many years working to immovable deadlines.”

Read more:  Resume Objective Examples for 2024 [+How-to Guide]

This section outlines the professional experiences in which you have used and refined your skills. The following is the usual format for your job experience:

  • Job title – Your position appears at the top of each entry in your work experience. When the HR manager reviews your CV, you want them to realize that you have the necessary professional expertise.
  • Company description – Next, you state the employer’s name and the address of the office where you worked. If the company is not a well-known household name, you may also want to introduce it briefly.
  • Duties and accomplishments – These are the foundation of every work experience entry. Depending on your profession, you should state your achievements or responsibilities.
  • Dates employed – The length of time you worked at each firm. If you’re unsure of the exact dates, don’t worry. The mm/yyyy format is commonly requested by recruiters and employers and performs best for the ATS.

MANAGING ADMINISTRATOR

LMV Realty / Lima, Peru / 2014 – Present

LMV is a commercial and residential properties real estate company based in Peru. My responsibilities include

  • Administered office functions and provided secretarial support to 5 executives.
  • Prepared and circulated monthly presentations for 13 clients.
  • Researched and qualified clients, saving 16% of the marketing budget.  
  • Prepared contracts, assisted agents, and facilitated project progress.

Read more:  7 Tips on How to Write a Resume Job Description (+ Examples)

Keywords describe the knowledge, understanding, or skills that prove you can perform a task or job. They can appear as nouns, phrases, adjectives, or even action verbs.

It’s crucial to identify the keywords and tailor your resume whenever possible. To find relevant keywords, examine the job description. Any skills or duties mentioned many times or listed as necessary can be considered relevant to the role. Keep in mind that keywords can be:

  • Responsibilities
  • Competencies
  • Education, volunteering, leadership roles, certification 

The more role-specific keywords like hard skills you include on your resume, the better optimized it is. The applicant tracking system (ATS) is used by most organizations to search, filter, and sort through candidates. Some ATS may automatically score the content of your resume, helping recruiters find only the best candidates. Recruiters will often sort through applicants looking for terms such as “C+coding” “Point of Sales,” or “Javascript.”

Thus, it is critical to emphasize essential skills throughout your resume. Starting with your headline, it should contain the most relevant keyword – the job title.

If you use the combination resume style, you can also mention skills in a separate dedicated section of your resume.

Desirable skills that recruiters look for include foreign languages, business/project management, hardware and software, programming languages, laboratory experience, or various trade skills. Concentrate on those skills that other candidates might not have and that the employers might be interested in. The best way to gauge these is to review the job description and company website. 

Read more:  Best Skills to Put on Your Resume in 2024 (With Examples)

Your education section should generally follow your work history, but you can put it first on your resume if you’ve never worked full-time.

Ideally, you should only include your highest degree in your resume education section. If you didn’t attend college, you could instead mention your high school diploma.

Here’s what each entry in your education section should include:

  • Include the name of the school location (city, state
  • the title of your degree
  • your graduation year (if it occurred within the past 15 years)
  • your GPA, if it’s higher than 3.5
  • You may list honors here, but only if you have less than two. For more than that, create a dedicated section near the bottom of your resume. 

You may also include any relevant coursework on your resume, especially if it is appropriate to the job, the company, or if you are a recent graduate

An applicant tracking system (ATS) is software that assists businesses in sorting through dozens of resumes each day.

Yet, getting past the ATS and in front of a hiring manager isn’t difficult if you know what to do.

The most crucial step is customizing your resume for each job application. To do so, include the relevant keywords from the job listing in your resume.

For example, the job description of a sales manager could include these points:

  • 5+ years of B2B sales experience
  • Networking and relationship building
  • Increasing company revenue by 8% in the first 3 months  

To tailor your resume, include each one in your text – assuming you have the necessary skills and qualifications.

Employers anticipate that your resume will showcase your finest work; hence, spelling and grammatical mistakes often result in exclusion from further consideration. When you believe you have included all the required information, it is time to proofread your resume.

Things to consider when proofreading:

  • Do you know what each word you use means? Do you use enough active verbs? If you need to, change the words that are wrong or don’t fit.
  • Are you using the right font, size, and white space throughout?
  • Does the order of the sections make sense?
  • Does your resume have bullet points that work well?
  • Have you checked the spelling and grammar?

If you can, ask someone else to help you with your resume. It’s easy to miss your mistakes and see things in the text that aren’t there.

When you get the opportunity, print out your text. Most people can read text better on paper than on a screen. This also keeps you from changing details in the text as you read, so you have a better chance of seeing the resume as a whole.

FAQ: How to Make a Resume

Q1: should i write a new resume for every job i apply to.

You don’t have to change your resume every time you apply for a job, especially if the jobs you are applying for are very similar. But recruiters and hiring managers say that it will significantly improve your chances of getting an interview in some cases. Additionally, people who want to change careers should also change their resumes to show how they can use their skills in other fields.

Q2: How many positions should I include on my resume?

You should mention all your previous positions relevant to the role you are applying for. Typically, you’ll put 2–4 jobs on your resume. But this number might vary depending on your degree of experience. You are not required to include every job you have ever had on your resume. Too many jobs might warn a recruiter that:

  • you are overqualified, particularly if you are seeking an entry-level position
  • your skills are obsolete
  • you switch jobs too often

Hiring managers prefer a brief, organized resume that is simple to skim. So, focus on your relevant experience by putting jobs in the same industry or with similar qualifications higher on your resume.

Q3: Should I include employment gaps on my resume?

The severity of a  gap  on your resume depends primarily on your explanation for the gap. For example, if your resume clearly states that you spent six months away from work training to develop your skillset, then a gap in your resume isn’t a terrible thing. In fact, you may even include some of the skills you acquired in that class. If the explanation for your resume’s gap is unclear, expand upon your time off of work in your cover letter. For example, if you were laid off, explain that your firm reorganized. Similarly, make it obvious if you took time off to be a stay-at-home mom.

Q4: Should I use a resume template? 

First-time resume writers might benefit from using templates. They aid in ensuring that all relevant information is included. There are several professional layouts and  designs  available for use. However,  certain templates may cause the resume to seem boxy or add strange characters and spaces. If you want your resume to look more professional, take a look at our wide variety of  resume templates .

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Switching Careers? Here’s How to Write a Strong Resume.

  • Benjamin Laker,
  • Vijay Pereira,
  • Abhishek Behl,
  • Zaheer Khan

how to write a resume for the job you want

Start with a personal statement.

When you’re switching career paths, there’s one essential thing you need to focus on: updating your resume. Crafting a smart resume is key to showing your potential employer why you wish to make a change. While there’s no one right format to write a resume, here are some tips you can follow:

  • Begin the resume with a personal statement. This is a short description about who you are, your reasons for changing your career, your new goals, how your previous experience can be transferred to the new industry, and why you’re perfect for the job.
  • Next, instead of highlighting your work experience first, showcase the skills you’ve learned throughout your career. That’s because when changing careers, the hiring managers reviewing your application may not always be familiar with the roles and responsibilities of a different industry.
  • Below your skills, you can include a more traditional description of your relevant work history. You don’t need to include every job you’ve ever had, especially if you’ve held a number of positions that don’t highlight any essential skills required for this role.
  • Finally, end with a chronological list of your educational qualifications. You can also include details about any certifications or courses that you may be undertaking that may be relevant to the position you’re interested in.

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Where your work meets your life. See more from Ascend here .

Switching career paths and trying something completely new can open you up to exciting opportunities, help you learn new things, and even earn you more money. But it’s not always easy — especially if you’re looking to move into an entirely different field. Apart from doing your research and unearthing opportunities, there’s one essential thing you need to focus on before you make the leap: updating your resume.

how to write a resume for the job you want

  • Benjamin Laker is a professor of leadership at Henley Business School, University of Reading. Follow him on Twitter .
  • Vijay Pereira is a professor of strategic and international human capital management at NEOMA Business School.
  • AB Abhishek Behl is an assistant professor of information management at the Management Development Institute Gurgaon.
  • ZK Zaheer Khan is a professor in strategy and international business at the University of Aberdeen.  

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How to Make a Resume for Your First Job (+ Template)

Learn how to build your first resume, even with no prior work experience.

[Featured image] A young woman sits at a table in a cafe writing a resume for her first job on a laptop computer with stickers on it. She has a cup of coffee in front of her on the table.

If you’re looking for your first job, you may be wondering what to put on your resume. While you may not have any formal job experience yet, you almost certainly have gained skills and other experiences through your education and extracurricular activities. 

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at how to write a resume for your first job when you have no experience. Learn how to identify your most marketable skills and experiences, and how to format your resume to show them off.

What is a resume?

A resume is a formal document that presents your background, accomplishments, and skills to potential employers. When you submit a job application, your resume is typically the first thing a recruiter or hiring manager looks at to evaluate whether you’re a good fit for the role.

Did you know?

Outside of the United States and in academic settings, a resume is often referred to as a Curriculum Vitae, or CV for short. The Latin term means “course of life.”

How to write a resume with no work experience

Many job listings ask for relevant experience. But just because you haven’t had a job before, doesn’t mean you don’t have experience. Your experience happens to come from outside the workplace. For a first job, your resume should concentrate on your academic achievements, as well as any informal work, volunteer experience, or extracurricular activities.

Here are some steps you can take to create a resume for your first job.

1. Pick the right layout.

The bulk of many resumes focuses on job experience, listed from latest to oldest. If you don’t have job experience to list, pick a resume format that includes an education section closer to the top.

2. Match your experiences to the job listing.

Writing a solid resume begins with studying the job description for the role you’re applying for. You want your resume to match up with what the company is looking for, so start by making a list of the key terms from the job description. 

Go through the job description, and write down or highlight all the abilities, skills, and values listed within. Pay close attention to those listed as required. 

Now, think about experiences in your own life that match up with the items on the list. If the job listing asks for someone with strong organizational skills, think about times when you’ve had to be particularly organized. Maybe you helped plan a school event or led a group project.

It’s okay if you don’t have something for every item. Keep this list nearby as you begin to fill in your resume template.  

3. Focus on your education.

You may find it helpful to start with the education section of your resume. List your school and dates attended, as well as:

Relevant coursework: Have you taken classes that relate to the job you’re applying for (or from your job description research)? Be sure to list them.

GPA: A strong GPA (typically a 3.5 or higher) can show employers that you have the skills and work ethic to succeed in the job.

Academic achievements: Also include anything else that demonstrates your ability to succeed academically—making the dean’s list or the National Honor Society for example.

Extracurricular activities: Focus on the activities that align with the job listing. Involvement in student council, for example, could demonstrate leadership skills, collaboration, and problem-solving. Playing a team sport shows that you can collaborate and manage your time.

Certifications or online courses: If you’ve taken any training, bootcamps, courses, or certification programs outside of school, include them here if relevant.

If you’re still enrolled in a program, list it as “in progress” with your anticipated graduation date.

Read more: How to List Education on a Resume

4. Highlight volunteer work and extracurricular activities.

Next, add in an experience section. While you may not have formal work experience, you should include any volunteer work, community activities, internships, or informal work experience (like tutoring, blogging, or helping with a family business) that’s relevant to the job. 

As you fill in this section, refer back to the list you created in Step 2. You don’t have to include everything; instead, focus on your experiences that align with terms that appear higher up in the job description, or those listed as required rather than preferred.

5. List your technical and human skills.

Include a list of skills as bullet points on your resume that highlights both your human skills and any technical skills you may have.

Technical vs. workplace skills

Human skills, sometimes called soft skills or workplace skills, are those that apply to just about any job. Some examples include communication, decision making, leadership, time management, and problem-solving. Technical or hard skills tend to be more job specific. These might include programming languages, software proficiency, or knowledge of a foreign language.

Read more: Hard Skills vs. Soft Skills: What's the Difference?

The skills you list in your resume should reflect what’s listed in the job description. For technical skills , also include your level of proficiency. If you’re still developing a skill, for example, you could write, “Familiar with Excel spreadsheets.”

It’s okay if you don’t have many technical skills to list. A study from job site LinkedIn found that 80 percent of companies value candidates with better workplace or human skills, which can be harder to teach [ 1 ]. The five most in-demand human skills in 2020, according to LinkedIn, were [ 2 ]:

Collaboration

Adaptability

Emotional intelligence

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Looking to add technical skills to your resume? Prepare for an entry-level job, develop in-demand skills, and get hands-on experience with a Professional Certificate in social media marketing, IT support, data analysis, project management, UX design, or cybersecurity on Coursera.

6. Write your resume objective.

This short statement goes at the top of your resume to summarize your skills. It’s usually a good idea to write this last once you have a better idea of what’s in your resume. Keep it to one or two sentences that state who you are, what you want, and what you can offer the employer.

Tips for preparing your first resume

Now that you’ve filled in most of your resume, here are some tips to help make it stand out:

Keep it to a single page. This is especially true if you’re not including work experience. Include what’s relevant to the job, and leave out the rest.

Use action verbs when describing your skills and experiences. Try to start sentences with verbs (e.g. designed, guided, led, improved, established, managed).

Include the same words and terms from the job listing. Many companies use what’s called an applicant tracking system (ATS) to sort applications by keywords. When you use the same words and phrases as the job description, you might increase your chances of getting your resume noticed.

Customize your resume for each job. Each job posting will have different keywords and requirements. You don’t have to start over each time, but make sure to adjust your resume for each job you apply to.

Proofread. Make sure your resume is free of any spelling, grammatical, or punctuation errors. If possible, ask a friend or family member to proofread for you as well.

Include your contact information , including your full name, phone number, and email address.

Student resume example

Here’s a resume sample for a high school graduate applying for a job as an IT technician:

Sample student resume for a high school student applying for a first job.

First job resume template

When you’re ready to build your own unique strengths, experiences, and skills into your own resume, feel free to use this first job resume template as a starting point. 

Get job ready with Coursera

Whether you’re a high school student, college graduate, or working professional looking to switch careers, start building the in-demand skills you’ll need for a digital job with a Professional Certificate on Coursera. Explore options for data science, cybersecurity, IT support, and project management.

Related articles

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How to Use Resume Sections to Shape Your Professional Story

Article sources

1. LinkedIn. " LinkedIn 2019 Talent Trends: Soft Skills, Transparency and Trust , https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/linkedin-2019-talent-trends-soft-skills-transparency-trust-bersin/." Accessed August 10, 2022.

2. LinkedIn. " The Most In-Demand Hard and Soft Skills of 2020 , https://www.linkedin.com/business/talent/blog/talent-strategy/linkedin-most-in-demand-hard-and-soft-skills." Accessed August 10, 2022.

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Celarity Blog • Updated Nov 21, 2018

Writing a Resume for the Job You Want

how to write a resume for the job you want

Have you ever known someone with a job in sales but they would rather do marketing? Or how about a secretary who wants to transfer into the legal field? While bridging the gap between fields is difficult, it can done, and it’s made easier by tailoring your resume.  It’s simple to write a general resume that lists a past history of job titles and duties, but employers look for talent specific to the jobs they are looking to fill. Tailoring your resume to fit the position you really desire will help you land your dream job.

Consider these tips to help you tailor your resume to a specific job:

  • Know what job you want- Sounds simple enough, right? Yet how many candidates in an interview cannot answer the simple question “Why do you want this job?” Chances are, if you are applying for a job just for the sake of having a job, it probably is not the right fit for you. However, applying for a job within your field of interest will help you climb the ladder into the career you truly desire. Make sure your resume is written with a focus on the field you desire to enter.
  • Tailor your resume to fit the position- For example, if you have an administrative background but want to dive into the marketing field, describe your experience with a marketing focus. Highlight the brochures you created rather than your phone answering abilities.
  • Bridge the gaps in experience- A resume that is focused on general office duties sent to a potential employer for a marketing position will not convey what you can offer them. Sure, your administrative experiences are great, but your resume needs to connect your relevant skills to the ones needed for your desired position. Your potential employer will rely on you to make these connections. Prove that you are a self-starter by creating a bridge in experience between what you have done and how it can benefit your potential employer.
  • Be Creative- Make your resume your brand. What do you want your resume to say about you? Your resume should give your potential employer insight into what you can offer and a feeling of who you are as a person. There is no approved format for writing a resume, so do what works for you.

Using these tips should help you create a resume that targets a specific position. It will also make your relevant skills clearer to your potential employer and represent the image that you want.

Good luck in your resume writing!

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how to write a resume for the job you want

The job market is getting more competitive. How to write a resume that stands out.

The job market is getting more competitive .

There were 8.8 million job openings in November – down 18% from the year prior and the lowest level since March 2021.  

Meanwhile, roughly 85% of U.S. workers are considering changing jobs this year, up 27% from last year, according to a recent survey conducted by Censuswide on behalf of LinkedIn among 1,013 U.S. working professionals in late 2023.

Start the day smarter. Get all the news you need in your inbox each morning.

For job seekers looking for ways to make their applications stand out, here are tips on crafting the perfect resume.

Make it look nice, but don’t worry too much about the design

Resumes should be organized and easy to scan for information. Experts say a little pop of color is fine, but most professions don’t need the job application to show off their design skills.

In fact, too much focus on design could hurt your application if a resume scanning software is unable to pick up on keywords.

“You might stand out with a very bold, graphical resume, but it’s not necessarily going to be in a good way,” Dana Leavy-Detrick, director of Brooklyn Resume Studio , told USA TODAY. “If you over-focus on the design, you're going to sacrifice the optimization of it.”

She said resumes are considered “safe” with a clean look, sans-serif fonts and plenty of white space. Consider hyperlinking text to sites like your LinkedIn profile. 

“Content is always more important than bells and whistles,” said career coach Jenny Foss . “If you are in an industry where style is going to be advantageous or crucial, you can absolutely have a second version if you're able to send a PDF directly to someone or display it on your own website or portfolio."

Use – but don’t lean on – AI

Artificial Intelligence chatbots can be a great start to people drafting up their resumes, but experts warn not to lean on the technology.

“Recruiters and hiring managers are very good at spotting people are using AI to write the resume,” Leavy-Detrick said . “It may sound very well written, but it falls a little bit flat.”

That can hurt a candidate's chances when hiring managers are “looking for authenticity,” according to Leavy-Detrick . 

“ I have seen just pure AI-written resumes, and they're not great yet,” Foss said. “A big part of what they miss is the person. AI’s not going to capture your unique traits and contributions.”

Resume writing: What to include 

Be specific: For instance, don’t just say you’re a good salesperson – say exactly how many deals you closed in a quarter.“You want to put some meat around what you're saying about yourself,” said professional resume writer Lynda Spiegel .

Add a value proposition: Spiegel suggests adding a short paragraph near the top of the resume that makes clear why the applicant would be the right hire. “Your resume is a marketing document. It's not a history of everything you've ever done.  You’re a product, and you're marketing yourself to the buyer, which is the employer,” she said. “(It should tell) the employer, ‘This is why you want to bring me in for an interview. This is I am the answer to the problem you have.’”  

Think you'll work past 70? Good luck. Why most of us retire earlier.

Focus on the narrative: With each job listed in a resume, Foss writes up a quick sentence or two that describes what the applicant was hired to do and the overarching focus of that job. The following bullet points highlight the achievements made in that position.“I try to tell the evolution of this person's career story as we go through their career chronology in a way that is kind of like, all roads lead to this being the absolute no-brainer next opportunity for me,” she said. “I am seeing and deploying that storytelling approach more than ever before.”

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: The job market is getting more competitive. How to write a resume that stands out.

Experts say a little color is fine on a resume, but most professions don’t need the job application to show off their design skills.

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