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How to Write a Resume (The Ultimate Guide)

by Caileen Kehayas | Last Updated December 16, 2016
How to write a resume

The Resume. It seems like an easy enough concept.

(In theory)

After all, your resume is an itemized summary of your work experience.

However, there are many opinions and articles on how to write a resume, how not to write a resume, what information to throw out and what information is absolutely necessary.

And now that many companies use ATS systems to filter your resume out before human eyes ever see it, you may have to be more tactical than ever.

In this ultimate guide, we will show you how to make your resume look equally attractive to the systems scanning and for the human eyes. We’ll cover the best resume length, design, format and pertinent information so you can build the perfect resume.

We will also share great examples of resume templates and sample resumes that other job seekers have used to find their dream job!

The Ultimate List of the
Web’s Best Resume Writing Resources

From your address to your resume format, this guide has your covered

CHAPTERS

Download the free PDF of this how to write a resume guide!

Writing Your Basic Information
CHAPTER 1

Writing Your Basic Information

This sounds easy enough! In the header of your resume, you will of course include your name in large bold letters. Make it pop, but not too much. Don’t make the mistake of having your name take up a quarter of the first page of your resume. But what else? You can include your address, but what if you are relocating for a position? You do not want to be knocked off the pile because you don’t currently live close enough. Include your email address, but not the one you’ve had since you were 13 years old that has the word unicorn in it.

You will also want to include your phone number in the header. Are you going out for a more creative role that requires a portfolio? Include your website (as a clickable link!) in the header as well. You may also decide to share links to your social media accounts here. Make sure your accounts are appropriate both to be shared and to the job at hand. Otherwise, you may consider leaving them out altogether.


Tell Them Who You Are & What You Want (Your Objectives!)
CHAPTER 2

Tell Them Who You Are & What You Want (Your Objectives!)

There are varied opinions on whether an objective is necessary to include on a resume. However, a clear and concise objective can cut out a lot of guesswork for hiring managers.

Your Objective section is a great place to really hone in on who you are and what you intend to accomplish. For a person continuing on a particular career path. This can be a simple single sentence. For a candidate hoping to switch career tracks, the objective section is a good place to explain (briefly) the why and how of it. This also shows the hiring manager or recruiter that you took the time to customize your resume to the position at hand.


Include Your Most Recent and Relevant Employment
CHAPTER 3

Include Your Most Recent and Relevant Employment

Remember that awesome internship you had between sophomore and junior year of college ten years ago? Your resume  is probably not the place for that information! Use this section to summarize your relevant work experience, citing your most recent position first. Depending on the longevity of your career, a good rule is to only include the past 15 years of your relevant career experience.


Add Relevant Skills and Interests
CHAPTER 4

Add Relevant Skills and Interests

Like the objective section, this is an element of a resume that has differing views. However, if you have mastered the Adobe Creative Suite or are a genius at producing complicated Excel spreadsheets, this is certainly something a hiring manager would want to know! Take a good look at the skills and interests you want to share. The real estate of your resume is limited, so make sure this valuable space is being used to really impress.


Formatting & Length - Do not write War & Peace II
CHAPTER 5

Formatting & Length - Do not write War & Peace II

No ATS system nor hiring manager wants to see a big block of text when looking at a resume. Bullets are your friend! So is spacing! Make sure your resume format makes it easy to read and understand.

Once you have your resume expertly formatted and ready to email, make sure to save it as a PDF. A PDF is the most reliable document and can be opened by most any computer or device. A PDF document will also preserve the beautiful format of your resume.

Length is another hot topic for resumes. There has long been an argument that a resume should never exceed one page. Don’t feel the need to adhere to this “rule” - Allow your resume to be as long as it needs to be to paint a clear picture of your background, your objectives and your skill sets. That being said, it is wise to keep your resume between one and two pages.


Font & Design
CHAPTER 6

Font & Design

After editing, formatting and organizing the pertinent information to be included in your resume, you will want to consider other overall design aspects.

In 2017, design is not about using several colors, elaborate fonts, data-heavy graphs and other flashy decorative elements. Rather, you will want your resume to be easily read on mobile devices. Therefore, your resume should include high contrast, simple fonts and no more than four lines of text per paragraph.

If you use huge blocks of text and a flowery font, a recruiter or hiring manager will likely deem it “too hard to read” and move on to the next resume. The best font for a resume will be easy to read on a mobile device.

To serif or not to serif? Well, that is up to you.


What Not to Include
CHAPTER 7

What Not to Include

There is an ample amount of information that is completely necessary for your resume. We already touched on your name, contact info, objective, job history and additional skills. By the time you have collected all of that information, you could find yourself with a 3-5 page resume. That is way too long! Sometimes, what not to include can be just as important as what you have included! Get ready with a red pen to edit your resume.


Proofread More Than Once
CHAPTER 8

Proofread More Than Once

Do not have your resume passed over because of a spelling or grammar error. Read your resume over and over (& over). Aside from spelling and grammar errors, you will also want to make sure the language and verb tenses you use are consistent. If proofreading is not your strong suit, get a second (and a third) set of eyes on your resume. You definitely do not want to be mistakenly hired as a hiring manger! What could that job even entail?


Infuse your Resume with Relevant Keywords!
CHAPTER 9

Infuse your Resume with Relevant Keywords!

Keywords are extremely important to keep in mind, especially when you are submitting your resume or cover letter through an online form. While it is difficult to target the exact keywords, use the job post as a guide. Research other companies hiring for a similar position. Find the words that pop up in several job listings and make sure to use those words in your resume and your CV!


Adding Your Own Flair
CHAPTER 10

Adding Your Own Flair

Some candidates use their resume to display their own design, graphics or analytics know-how. If you think that submitting a resume in the format of an infographic or a comic book strip will impress a particular hiring manager then go for it!

Keep in mind that an ATS system will be deeply confused by a graphic-laden resume. In these cases, have a text-based and a graphic resume on hand to both inform and impress! 

Flair can also come in the form of unique achievements, awards or publications. As with all information included on your resume, make sure to carefully curate.

Consider any “extra information” before adding it into your resume. Does it truly reinforce your aptitude for the position at hand? Will it really add that extra “oomph” for that hiring manager? If the answer is yes, consider adding unique achievements and experiences.  


Resume Examples
CHAPTER 11

Resume Examples

resume-template-together.jpg

Finally, sometimes the best way to get started on your resume is to see examples of some others. When writing your resume, you can take a highly graphic approach (like we discussed in Step 9), add pictoral elements or keep it clean and simple. Here are some links to the gamut of resume examples.  Check out some of these great resources of sample resumes to get you started. 


While writing, re-writing or revamping your resume can be a huge pain, it will pay off in the end.

Ask any hiring manager for a resume horror story and they will have at least five on hand to tell you. Taking a few steps to make sure your resume is optimized for both digital and human eyes will put you at a great advantage!

Make sure you get that extra pair of eyes on that one (or 1.5) page document or you could be missing out on the job of a lifetime.

Use this guide on how to write a resume and you will be guaranteed to have your calendar booked with interviews for the next month!

Other Great Resume Sources:

 

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Topics: resume, how to write a resume

Caileen Kehayas

Written by Caileen Kehayas

Caileen is the Director of Marketing at Proven. When she is not blogging or tweeting, she likes to hit the nearest trail for a run, take her camera on a trip or curl up with a good book.

 

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