How To Write A Great Resume: A Complete Step-by-Step Guide

Writing a resume is, of course, a daunting task and even a nightmare for some people. Often people simply don’t know what to say or they get caught up trying to figure out what format or layout to use.

If this sounds anything like you, don’t worry.  We have a step-by-step method to guide you through the ins and outs of resume writing. With us, you will learn how to build an effective resume that helps you stand out from other candidates.

Are you ready? Let’s start first with the basics.

What Is A Resume?

If we summarize it in one sentence, a resume is a brief document that is tailored for a specific job. Only the skills and experience related to a specific job are shown while others are omitted. However, on the other hand, a curriculum vitae (CV), or “course of life”, is an extended document longer than a resume that includes all the descriptions of your career and educational journey. Academics, researchers, and teachers tend to use CVs for these purposes.

What Is The Difference Between A Resume And A CV?

Resume:

A resume focuses on skills and relevant experience.

  • Leveraged typically for industry, corporate sector, and skill-based jobs.
  • Tailored for a specific job.
  • Summarized in roughly 1-2 pages

CV:

On the other hand, a CV focuses on your career and academic accomplishments.

  • Leveraged typically for academia and research-based jobs.
  • Developed to exhibit a general profile in nature of summarized professional experiences.
  • Intended to cover more than two pages and contain a detailed list of publications, rewards, and related accomplishments.

To better understand the difference between a CV and a Resume, make sure to check out this blog!

Step 1- Choose the Right Format

Until now, we have understood what a resume is and how it is different from a CV. Now, it’s time to have a look at the most fundamental parts of resume building —choosing a suitable format.

There are two most common resume writing formats: chronological and functional.

Chronological Resume Format

In a chronological resume format, you can present your experience and skills logically. It is easy to read and mostly preferred by recruiters due to the display of the natural flow of progression throughout one’s career. In a chronological format, the sections are ordered properly with the most recent experience at the top. This format works best for candidates who have continuous working experience with limited gaps in employment.

Functional Resume Format

If you do have not a steady job history or have several employment gaps, you’re likely not going to want to opt for a chronological resume. Instead, it may be best to leverage a functional resume format.  For this purpose, this format is ideal as it de-emphasizes job experience and weighs more on qualifications and skills.

Using a functional resume format, you must first introduce your qualification summary in the beginning right off the bat to leave a more positive impact on the recruiter. Then you can break up your main skillsets in the following sections and relate your experience to these specific areas of expertise.

Step 2- Add Your Name and Contact Information

We hope that you have selected your format. Now, let’s go ahead and talk about your name and contact information. This section should be rather simple and consists of the following:

Name: Make sure that your name is expressed clearly at the top of your resume.

Contact Number: Make sure you use your personal contact number. Not your friends, not your work phone, and not the phone of someone who’s likely not going to answer a call professionally. We recommend a cell phone number that has a quality voicemail recording just in case you miss an important call.

Email Address: Use your current, personal email address that you check regularly. Not your old email address that is made up of a nickname and not a school email address. While “stylishangel” or “gamerboy123” might be tempting options, let’s ditch these for this job search for now.

Account: Include your LinkedIn profile, GitHub link, or related links to provide recruiters access to more information regarding your skills and experience. Be sure to remove anything unprofessional from these accounts that doesn’t represent you professionally.

Pro-Tip:

“Don’t write your contact information in the header section, this information is likely to be missed by scanners and some printers.” – Deja Tyla Hansen

Step 3- Have A Stunning Introduction

The introduction section of a resume is primarily either a resume summary or resume objective statement Let’s make this easier for you to distinguish between the two so that you understand better.  

Resume Summary:

A resume summary commonly known as the summary statement is used by qualified and experienced candidates to show potential employers that they fit for the specific job. It can be written in bullet points. Personally, we recommend leveraging a combination of bullets and sentences, if possible.

The major purpose of a resume summary is to grab the attention of the employer by expressing your keen ability to excel within the position. A strong, well-written summary makes even a mediocre candidate outstanding.

Do not mistake a summary for an objective. Let’s discuss the differences.

Resume Objective:

It is an ideal choice for candidates who are looking to begin a career in a new field or planning to learn new skills. It gives a clear message to the recruiter that you have the potential to learn the specified skills and have a deep knowledge of the company’s working models. It also exhibits your passion and devotion to the job or industry in which you are looking to grow your career.

Step 4- Include Your Relevant Work Experience:

Work experience is the most essential part of a resume. To create a visual and logical work experience section, it is advisable to write your most recent experience at the top while keeping your oldest at the bottom. Here’s how to write a professional work experience section to complete your dream resume.

Mention the full name of the Company on top in along with the location. Write the name of your position, for example, SEO Analyst, Chief Accountant, Assistant Manager Sales, etc right above or below the company name.

Use bullet points to describe your job description, responsibilities, and performance. There are three key points to keep in mind while writing a bullet point.

  • Always begin with an action verb like controlled, planned, or executed.
  • Specify your key role in the job and responsibilities and describe how successfully you achieved your regular duties.
  • Describe in a quantifiable figure how many sales you had generated and how the company benefitted from you.

Step 5- Add Your Education:

There are many jobs like that of banker, lawyer, professor, or scientist that require higher education degrees. As a result, it’s desirable to include an education section so that you can boast off your diplomas and academic qualifications. However, this is the portion of your resume that typically is limited on space after spending a lot of time developing your summary and professional experience section. Starting with your highest qualification, include the following for each of your degrees:

  • Type and Name of the Degree
  • Name of the Institution
  • Year of Graduation (Optional)

Tip to Remember

“You do not have to include your GPA. Unless you have a 4.0 and recently graduated, we typically recommend excluding this information.”

Step 6- Tailor Your Skills To The Job Requirement

Gone are the days when education and experience only were needed to qualify for any job. The world is advancing, and skill-based jobs are overcoming traditional in the market. To catch the eye of whosoever is reading your resume, make sure to add a skill section that is accurate and reflects your level of expertise in various subjects.

Hard Skills

Hard skills are those skills that are measurable and teachable and typically use some sort of technical expertise. Examples of hard skills include prototyping, 3D designing, copywriting, and requirements analysis.

Soft Skills

Soft skills are those which intended to serve more so as character and personality elements that help you succeed within your professional career. These skills include communication, leadership, time management, and critical thinking.

Pro-Tip

“Avoid filling your resume with tons of soft skills that are typically overused by professionals. Instead, elaborate on your experience by providing numerous hard skills that are tailored for the specific position.” – Deja Tyla Hansen

Step 7- Styling And Designing

Finally, you have completed the hectic journey of resume writing by following the guidelines and techniques included. Now you’re ready to finalize your resume and ensure its success in landing an interview. To ensure your resume is ready for submission, you first need to review your style and design. We’re aiming for a professional and easy to read format. Let’s start with the font.

What is the appropriate font size for a resume?

While these days, it’s not uncommon for your resume to be read digitally, sometimes your resume will be printed. On a computer, we can easily zoom in when a font is too small, but on paper, we do not have this luxury. As a result, most text should maintain a 10-12 point size. Heading and titles have more freedom in size but are typically between 14 and 16 points.

What fonts should I use in a resume?

There are many different styles of fonts with the main types being serif fonts and non-serif fonts. Serif fonts are those which have a decorative stroke at the tip while non-serif fonts lack this feature. Both are okay to use in a resume, however, you don’t simply want to use just any font.

Here are some recommended fonts:

  • Arial
  • Times New Roman
  • Helvetica
  • Tahoma
  • Myriad Roman

Pro-Tip

“Avoid using chunky and doodle fonts as they can be distracting and deter from the value of your resume. Just be professional and sophisticated with easy-to-read fonts.” – Deja Tyla Hansen

How many pages should my resume cover?

On average, a resume is typically one to two pages long. However, if you have many years of experience and you’re applying for a senior-level position, it’s not unusual to use up to the third page. Government resumes and CVs will likely be longer than these lengths as well.

Step 8- Proofread Your Resume

No matter who you are, you will likely make mistakes. It’s only human nature.

Therefore, it’s essential that you proofread your resume or CV many times and get feedback from a third party to ensure you didn’t miss anything.

Be sure to look out for grammatical mistakes, spelling errors, random spaces, misplaced words, and other overlooked inconsistencies.

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It’s time for a round of applause! You have done it. Now you are ready to land in the next interview with your new top-notch resume. We wish you the best of luck.