How to Make a Resume

If you're constantly being passed over for ideal jobs or you just can't seem to get your foot on the next rung of the ladder, chances are your resume is to blame. Competition for jobs is at an all-time high, and it's not unusual for employers to receive hundreds or even thousands of applications for a single position.

A fantastic resume can really make a difference and not just in terms of content. Your resume is your one shot chance to make an impression and secure an interview. If it does not grab the attention of the reader in the first ten seconds, your application might not get a second glance.

What you need is to know how to make a resume that will impress. Here are a few things you’ll want to include to make your resume stand out.

Research Before Writing

Before you start writing a resume, do some research. Your resume is an advertisement for your skills and experience, and if you want to appeal to your prospective employer, you need to figure out what they're looking for. Read the job posting thoroughly, talk to current employees of the company if you can, and spend some time looking through the company’s website. Identify both the core values they look for in their employees and the specific needs they have for this position so that you can present yourself in a way that fits with their vision. Pay attention to their style of writing and the terminology they use, and try to reflect it.

Resume Styles

There's no need to start from scratch. Your resume should make an impression on anyone reading it, so use a clear, eye-catching template or take advantage of one of the many resume writing services, sites, and applications available online.

Once you're happy with your resume, print out a copy to make sure it looks as good on paper as it does on screen. Chances are the HR manager and/or hiring manager will have a pile of resumes to flip through and your resume needs to stand out.

How To Arrange Your Resume

Make your resume easy to read by ordering its contents in a logical way.

  1. Personal Statement, Summary or Objective: This is your shot to grab the reader's attention and make them want to keep reading. You can do this by instantly showing them the direct correlation between the job you’re applying for and your own goals, experience, and skill set. This piece should explain to the reader that you are looking for a job in this field, highlight your previous relevant experience, and briefly mention key skills you have that are required for the role. This section should be around 3-5 lines long and should echo the style of the job posting if possible. Consider giving it an attention-getting title, particularly if you're going for a highly competitive role. Also, think of this section as your foot in the door or your 30-second elevator pitch. Opening your resume with a strong personal statement makes it more appealing to busy prospective employers and allows you to highlight your most relevant skills and experience.
  2. Key Skills And Characteristics: Adding a list of key skills to your resume makes it easy to see what your strengths are and saves busy people the task of scouring your work history for relevant information. Use clear bullet points to list your key skills. These should be ordered by their relevance to the position you are applying for, and should be short, snappy, one line summaries of each skill. Don't mention obvious, generic skills like the ability to use Microsoft Office and avoid trying to make each one sound more exciting than it really is. This information is meant to be concise and useful. In this section you should also try, where appropriate, to tailor the words you use to the job for which you are applying.
  3. Work Experience: Add your work experience, starting with your current or last position first. For each position, you should include the name of the company, your title or position, dates you worked in that specific role, and 2-5 bullet points of specific and succinct information describing your responsibilities and accomplishments. Try to use quantifiable, solid, and relatable data so your readers can envision how you would be a great asset to their company. Some examples of great accomplishments to highlight include, “Saved the company $35,000 in two years by initiating an annual audit of returned goods,” “Managed a marketing budget of $500,000 with a proven positive ROI,” or “Found homes for an additional 2% of the city’s cat population by creating and managing the Houses for Kittens campaign.”
  4. Education: The education section of your resume should list relevant qualifications, including your grades and graduation date, with the most recent and relevant qualifications listed first. The amount of detail you include depends on both the type of job you’re applying for and the relevance of education to your career. If you’re applying for roles that have specific education or training requirements, it’s recommended that you go into a little more detail about areas of your education that are relevant to the role, especially if you’re a graduate job seeker.
  5. If you want to include qualifications that are noteworthy, but unrelated to the position you are applying for, include them under the subheading, “Other Qualifications” or add them to your “Personal Interests” section. While they may not apply to the role in question, recruiters may find them interesting and it can help to give the impression that you are a well-rounded individual.

    If you have gained other certifications or licenses, include them under a separate section and list them with the most recent and relevant first.

  6. Personal Interests: If space allows, include a section about your hobbies, passions, and unrelated achievements. This section gives you the ability to add a little personality to your resume. Try to include a good mix of work-related as well as personal interests.
  7. References: Adding references is optional, unless you’re specifically asked to provide them. If you do include references, add 3-4 of them to the bottom of your resume. Make sure your references are professional and are people you directly worked with, including supervisors and co-workers. Also, include each reference’s name, professional title, how you know the individual, and their contact information (phone number and email address). Depending on the job, your references may or may not be called, however, adding references always adds a bit of credibility to your resume.

How Long Should A Resume Be?

Your resume should be long enough to make recruiters want to interview you, but not so long that they can't find the information they want easily. Usually one page is best, but you can include two if you are applying for a management position or a more senior role.

Adding A Cover Letter

Cover letters are an opportunity to showcase your personality. They also allow you to build rapport with recruiters, HR managers, and hiring managers. They also give you a chance to present information that might not fit into your resume. A well written cover letter that tells the recruiter why you'd be perfect for this role can really set you apart.

Cover letters aren't always necessary–-some recruiters will ask you not to send them and some online applications will not give you an opportunity to include one. Read the job posting carefully before taking the time to write and send a cover letter.

Do's And Don't’s

Do: Make sure your resume is eye-catching, visually attractive, professional, and well written. Proofread it carefully!

Do: Get a second, third, or fourth opinion. Ask for feedback from multiple friends and family members before you send it out. Don't be afraid or offended by criticism or suggestions!

Do: Tailor your resume to each role you apply to, connecting each aspect of the role with your own skills, experience, and passions.

Do: Explore resume writing services and applications, especially the free ones. Be sure to search around and use only credible resources.

Don't: Make your resume too long, dry, or difficult to read or understand.

Don't: Invent or over-embellish skills and achievements. If you can’t back these up, it will only reflect badly on you and hurt your chances at getting past the interview stage.

Don't: Give older or less senior positions as much page space as more recent or more senior roles.

Don't: Be afraid to toot your own horn! There is a difference between being cocky and being confident. It’s all in the tone and the words you choose to use as you represent yourself. All employers appreciate and desire a visible level of confidence and positive self-image in their potential employees.

The tips above will help your resume look its best. Follow all of these tips and make sure to review it a few times and have friends and family members others proofread it before sending to potential employers.

By Staff Writer, SimplyJobs