This “how to write a resume” guide will show you everything you need to include in your document to impress hiring managers. It will help you get those interviews with step-by-step instructions on how to maximize each section and how to make a good resume.
Best Ways to Write a Resume - From Hands-on to the Fastest
Your resume is a one- to two-page document that clearly outlines your professional accomplishments. A well-written and detailed resume is a crucial tool in any job seeker’s arsenal. The resume is traditionally used by hiring managers in the United States to measure a job candidate’s qualifications and aptitude for the open position.
Today, there are three popular ways to write a resume:
Write a resume from scratch. The most time-consuming but most customized option, writing your resume from scratch helps you learn how to critically observe and analyze each job posting. This attention to detail can help you spot specific and unique requirements that may align with your personal and professional growth.
Download a free resume template. Our original product. Hloom started off with a humble premise –– create beautiful templates that trumped the free, standard options found on your word processors. You can find a vast library of free downloadable templates organized by popular designs like modern, simple, contemporary and more.
Use an online Resume Builder. The fastest and easiest option to make a resume, an builder uses trends to predict what information hiring managers want to see on your resume. After years of perfecting our free downloadable templates, memorizing the latest resume writing trends, and studying dozens of different industry hiring trends, we buckled down and launched what we consider to be the best online resume builder on the market.
Regardless of your choice in how to write a resume, make sure that your final document includes these crucial resume sections:
Contact information: Include your full name, phone number, email address, and location.
Professional summary: Think of this as your personal sales pitch. Highlight your top accomplishments and the most coveted skills for the role.
Work experience: List your most recent jobs in reverse chronological order and outline your most impressive achievements in each role.
Skills: Make a list of six to eight soft, hard and technical skills.
Education: Display your college degrees, high school diploma, or equivalent to let employers know your education level.
How to Write a Resume: Prep Work
Even the most experienced writer finds it intimidating to start a resume from a blank page. Before you dive into writing your resume, you need to understand what type of information you’re working with. Complete these series of preparation steps so you have all your materials handy and your information ready before you get to writing.
- First, make a thorough and accurate list of your skills. The skills section is one of the most important parts of your resume, and employers will be paying close attention to your skills to decide if you have what it takes to do the job. Think of all the skills you’ve acquired through jobs, education, and training; they all count.
- Compile a list of specific accomplishments and quantifiable achievements you’ve attained in each role.
- Make a list of all your previous jobs. Jot down the exact job title, company name, and exact dates of employment. You’ll need this on hand when writing your work experience.
- Write down all your college degrees, certifications, and licenses. Make sure you have the exact titles and license numbers.
- Review resume examples for your desired role. This will help you get an idea of what information you should include and the right wording for your resume’s content.
- Finally, study the job description and identify the skills, experience, and qualifications the employer is looking for in that role. Prioritize including the skills you possess that match the ones in the job description.
How to Pick the Best Resume Format
Once your prep work is complete, you need to learn which resume format is the best fit for you. How you write your resume depends on the resume format you choose, as it will need to highlight your best attributes. Spend some time comparing the three formats to determine which works best for you before you tackle resume writing.
- The chronological format focuses on the work experience section, so the bulk of your writing will be concentrated here. This format is ideal for candidates with a long and consistent career of more than 10 years. You should emphasize all the accomplishments and experiences you’ve gained in your previous roles.
- The functional format is all about skills, meaning that candidates should spend a lot of time crafting their multiple skills sections. This format is best for candidates who just came out of college or have little formal experience, even so, compensate with qualifications and skills relevant to their desired position.
- When writing a combination resume, you need to put a lot of effort into both the work experience and skills sections. Career changers or candidates looking for promotion do well with a combination format since it shows how well-rounded they are as professionals.
Learn How to Write Resume Sections
Now that we have introduced the five primary sections of a resume, It is now time to learn how to write a resume for a job. Here’s how to tailor each section and how to structure your resume.
Update your contact information
There’s no point in creating a great resume if a recruiter isn’t able to contact you for an interview. Your contact information will follow this simple formula, and we’ll advise you on how to include the relevant information below.
Mary Hloom/Harry Hloom
Hloom City, HM, 98760
Your name: This will be the first item read on your resume. You are establishing a professional relationship. Use your full professional name, and don’t include inappropriate nicknames. Consider making your name slightly larger than the rest of the header.
General location: Include your city and state so employers can know if you’re a local applicant. Some studies have shown that hiring managers have a preference for employees with shorter commutes, so this might act as an added benefit to your application. You no longer need to include your mailing address, as most communications are handled through phone calls and emails.
Phone number: List a number that links to a professional voicemail greeting in case you can’t receive the call.
Email address: As we mentioned – conventional mail is outdated. Most HR departments and hiring managers will communicate with you through email. Consider making a dedicated email for job applications that uses a professional handle like your first and last name. This dedicated account makes it easier to track communications during your job search.
Social media links and online presence: If you work in an industry that requires work samples, add live links to your professional websites, blogs or online portfolio. You can also include your LinkedIn portfolio. Remember, these are supplemental sites that help create a fuller idea of your professional expertise – they don’t replace your resume.
Write a professional summary
At the top of your resume, you will find your professional summary or career objective. This section is about how to make a resume impressive by adding a sales pitch of yourself near the start of your document. It consists of a two to three-sentence-long paragraph that summarizes your top skills, accomplishments and qualifications for the job.
There are two strategies for how to write this resume section. The one we tend to recommend to most candidates is the summary statement. The summary statement is written with the employer’s needs in mind. You should list a couple of hard and soft skills, background information that will gain the interest of your employer, and achievements that you can tie to the open position.
Check out this example of a summary statement:
“Innovative Marketing leader with 7+ years of experience executing exceptional marketing campaigns, content, and collateral based on established and innovative strategies. Results-oriented and collaborative professional bringing expertise in brand management and social media engagement. Adept in both online and traditional marketing approaches.”
The job applicant mentions their years of job-relevant experience and highlights their key marketing skills.
The second strategy you can use is the career objective. The career objective is different from the summary statement because it focuses more on your professional goals and ambitions. A successful objective should explain what you hope to accomplish in this role and how you can help the company with your newfound knowledge and experience. The career objective is definitely more suited to young professionals and those applying for an entry-level position.
Check out the example below to learn how to write an exceptional career objective:
“Resourceful and collaborative human resources valedictorian with strong knowledge of office administration and everyday human resources operations. Eager to apply my skills in a corporate environment. Strong interpersonal, administrative and coaching skills.”
This job seeker wisely highlights their valedictorian status to demonstrate strong academic understanding of human resources, downplaying their relative lack of formal working experience.
They build on their academic knowledge by sharing crucial soft skills related to jobs in HR.
Gather and categorize your skills
This section gives you another chance to highlight your technical know-how. When crafting your skills section, you should have around six to eight skills in a balanced variety of all skill types. These abilities are divided into soft, hard, and technical skills. We gathered a master list of the most requested skills found in job postings to help you identify your strongest hiring skill set, so let’s break down what each skill type means:
Hard skills: These are objective and measurable qualifications you should present to a recruiter or hiring manager in your resume. Because they’re concrete, they serve as strong verification to a potential employer of your ability and skill set. Hard skills can include:
- A degree or a certificate in a specialized field
- Computer-programming abilities
- Machine-operation proficiency
- The number of words that you can type per minute (WPM)
- Foreign language proficiency, e.g., speaking French fluently
Soft skills: These skills are also helpful for you to showcase. However, unlike hard skills, soft skills are more subjective and harder to quantify. Most soft skills fall under interpersonal skills. These can include:
- Time management
Technical skills: These fall under a specific umbrella of hard skills –– they involve nuanced or niche-specific technology and computer-based abilities. Technical skills often require more education, training or hands-on experience. They are very advantageous to showcase on your resume, especially if you’re applying to a job in the realm of computers and technology. These specialized skills can include:
- Data analytics
- Data modeling
- Technical writing
- Digital marketing
- Experience using various trade-specific computer programs
You need to pick and choose these six to eight skills wisely. Consider how to write this resume for a specific job. Will the skills you include make someone want to hire you for this role? Your hiring manager might be personally impressed that you can speak fluent French, however, it is best to save that fact for the interview portion of the job search if the job you’re applying to does not require this skill. Visit our Skills Library to review over 100 skills.
Personalize this section for each job you apply to. Scan the job ad for those crucial keywords we mentioned earlier and echo the exact same language it uses for skills. If it calls for a candidate with “strong customer service skills,” you need to duplicate this language in your skills section. Rephrasing the wording even slightly, like using a different tense, can make it challenging to get your resume past applicant tracking systems (ATS).
This step only takes a few minutes. It might be the difference between getting your resume into a hiring manager’s hands or getting deleted by a computer program before you even meet a human decision-maker.
When writing a functional resume, it’s important to note that you will have an expanded skills section. Instead of writing a simple list of skills, you will pick three of your top skills that are relevant to the job and expand on them with three to four bullet points that describe instances where you’ve demonstrated your mastery of that skill.
Here’s an expanded skills list example for a functional resume format:
- Developed an effective digital marketing campaign that resulted in a 27% increase in sales.
- Created engaging content for different social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok.
- Hosted and planned over 12 marketing events.
- Leveraged tracking data to segment target audiences, trigger campaigns and personalize content.
- Provided weekly reports detailing progress against KPI objectives.
- Assisted with obtaining and analyzing social media metrics.
- Responded to 40+ social media messages each day, functioning as community manager for brand’s social media accounts.
- Communicated effectively with team members and colleagues in outside departments to help expand marketing channels.
- Used excellent writing, editing, and proofreading skills to produce engaging and error-free content.
The first set of skills showcases strong analytical, creative, and organizational skills related to marketing campaigns and brand awareness.
This second set of skills focuses on technical skills that enable the job seeker to gather, analyze, and conceptualize data for easy review.
This final skills set builds on the crucial soft skills that enable a marketing professional to create meaningful relationships and engagement with a brand’s audience, increasing the chance of a loyal customer.
Showcase your work history
The length of this section will depend on how long you’ve been in the workforce. A general resume writing rule of thumb is to add a page to your document for every 10 years of experience — this section should take up most of that allotted space. Remember, your entire resume should be written in the third person — no first-person pronouns. Use four to six bullet points to break up the copy.
Elaborate: Do more than recount your past duties and responsibilities. Shed light on your accomplishments and achievements by using data to quantify those achievements. For example, if you introduced a new supply-ordering system that saved the company money by reducing duplicate orders, explain it with percentages and financial savings. “Consolidated weekly orders into monthly orders, thereby reducing duplicate orders and cutting spending by 7%.”
Be active: Use action verbs to describe your duties. Recruiters and hiring managers read several resumes on any given day — use dynamic words to stand out in your experience section. For example, suppose one of your responsibilities was to order office supplies. In that case, it’s more interesting to read that you “executed and maintained a new system for ordering supplies” than it is that you were “responsible for placing orders.”
Use relevant experience: Don’t stuff your resume with every job and responsibility you’ve ever held. Tailor your resume by focusing on the needs of the job at hand and what you can provide. If you’re a recent graduate or have a limited job history, this can be tricky. In these rare cases, you can list relevant summer jobs, part-time work, volunteer opportunities, or internships that you’ve held. It’s still important to name any similar past work experience and specifically call out the qualifications and qualities that made you good at your job — even if your past roles don’t relate to the current job you are seeking.
Your work experience section is always going to include your job title, company name, location, and dates of employment, followed by a couple of bullet points outlining the accomplishments and work duties, as we explained above.
This concise work experience example demonstrates how to write a resume using three strategies to demonstrate this job seeker’s active qualifications:
The Gap – Sales Associate
06/2018 – Current
- Working with a team of 19 retail representatives to increase sales by offering personalized styling services and advertising store promotions and discounts.
- Processing customer purchases and carefully counting back currency and bills, reducing drawer errors and end-of-day shortages by 100%.
- Helping over 40 customers per day complete purchases, pick items, and join reward programs to promote loyalty, satisfaction, and sales numbers.
The job seeker uses active verbs to add specificity to their daily retail tasks and emphasize their sales skills.
The job seeker clearly elaborates on each action they took to minimize missing funds at the end of each sale day.
The job seeker highlights specific retail tasks that help establish positive customer experience and extended brand loyalty.
Display your education
Employers are interested in your education, although the amount of detail you offer in this section changes depending on when you graduated. If you graduated more than three years ago, this section is sparse. You can list the name of the school you attended, the date of graduation, and the type of degree you earned. However, most hiring managers will be more interested in your practical work experience if you’ve been out of school for a few years.
If you graduated less than three years ago, it is alright to elaborate on this section since you don’t have as many years of professional experience to showcase on your resume. You can list your grade point average (GPA), special awards or commendations you earned, or any specialized classes or coursework related to the open job.
Structure your resume’s educational information with the following format:
- University name, city, country, or state.
- Full dates you were in school. For example, January 2016–Present, 2013–2017, or list your anticipated date of graduation.
- Degree title (B.A., MFA, etc.)
- Your major and minor, if applicable to the job you are seeking.
- Only include your GPA if it is 3.5 or higher and if you are still a student or a recent graduate.
Check out this education section example:
MA in English Literature, minor in French, 2019
Add custom sections
The previous five sections are the mandatory sections included in effective resume writing, and you have the chance to customize it further. You can add custom sections to share any other information you couldn’t fit in the existing sections.
For example, common extra sections you can add include an Awards section, a Certifications or Licenses section, and even a Hobbies section if they relate to the role and company you’re applying to.
Many professions require you to be licensed, such as brokers, engineers, and teachers. You should make sure your licenses are up to date and include the license number, institution name that provided it, and year of expedition.
The same applies to certifications, for example, if you’re a babysitter who’s certified in CPR and first aid, you should include all that official information in a separate section.
An Awards section can be especially helpful for professionals in advertising whose work is commonly submitted for award competitions. It can also work well for individuals who have received awards inside their own company for excelling as an employee of the month and such.
Pair Your Resume with a Cover Letter
An optional but recommended step in your job application process is to pair your resume with a cover letter. If you want to expand your chances of getting hired, a cover letter is a great tool to share even more professional information with your employer.
Our Cover Letter Builder is equipped with the tools to speed up and optimize your process of writing a cover letter. Simply fill in your data such as desired role, years of experience, professional skills and qualifications, and writing style, and our builder will produce a personalized letter just for you. Always add specific accomplishments and skills to really make it your own.
It’s easy to write a resume with our builder!
Now that you learned everything about how to write an interview-winning resume let us help you out even more. Hloom’s Resume Builder is a top-of-the-line resume-writing tool. If writing a resume on your own sounds intimidating, our builder will be your helpful guide. Additionally, you get to save time on formatting your resume. Take advantage of our professional sample resume templates and automatically suggested text to craft a resume that looks and sounds professional.
What should a resume include in 2023?
In 2023, your resume should still include the five main sections of a resume which are: contact information, professional summary, work history, skills, and education. If you are unsure of how to update a resume, you can focus on what recruiters will be paying close attention to this year: transferable skills. With the job market experiencing such high turnover, show you have plenty of transferable skills. Transferable skills are skills that can be valuable across industries no matter the role. These skills will allow you to apply to a wide range of jobs and guarantee employers you can be a high-performing employee.
Can a resume be more than one page?
Yes! Although the standard length of a resume is one page your resume can extend beyond that if needed. If you’re a candidate with more than 10 years of experience, your resume can be longer. Between two to three pages is understandable if your information and the role you’re applying to merits it, for example, being an applicant with 30 years of experience applying for a senior management position. If this isn’t your case, your best bet is to stick with one-page resumes.
What’s the difference between a resume and a CV?
Although they serve similar purposes, a resume and a CV are used in different contexts. First of all, a CV is an abbreviation for curriculum vitae, which means “course of life” in Latin. CVs are much more detailed documents that chronicle all your academic, professional and some personal achievements. Instead of being tailored for the job like a resume, the CV is more about you. CVs are commonly used to apply to professional positions such as fellowships, research positions, PhDs, and government jobs. They are around 10 pages long depending on the amount of work you’ve done. CVs are also more popular in job markets outside of the U.S., especially in Europe.
How to write a resume with no experience?
Having no formal work experience shouldn’t discourage you from writing an efficient and impressive resume. First of all, you need to choose the functional format, which is tailored specifically for candidates like you. The functional resume format focuses on your skills rather than your work history. Meaning that even if you haven’t had a formal job, you can still showcase skills you’ve learned in other environments such as school, internships, or informal work you’ve done for family members' business, for example.
If you want to know how to write a resume with no experience, you can check out the following resources:
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