How to Write a Resume

Learning how to write a resume is easy! Our tips and templates will teach you how
to get your resume past the robots and into the hands of a human recruiter.

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How to Write a Resume

Table of Contents

  1. How to Write a Resume: 10 Facts You Need to Know
  2. The Perfect Resume Starts with the Perfect Format
  3. Diagram of a Perfect Resume
  4. Find Your Perfect Resume Template
  5. Beat the ATS Bots: 8 Tips for Personalizing Your Resume

With so many employers using applicant tracking systems (ATS) to scan resumes, today’s jobseekers know that the first set of “eyes” on their resume may not be human. When considering how to write a resume for today’s job market, you’ll need to think about all the potential gatekeepers that will be evaluating it, including the automated ones.

Automated scanning tools are typically programmed to match keywords from job descriptions to words in an applicant’s resume. At the same time, a ho-hum resume that merely repeats the phrasing of the job description is not likely to impress a hiring manager once you clear the first automated hurdle.

If you are trying to determine how to write a resume that will advance you through all the steps of the hiring process, focus on clarity of design, focus on an easy to digest design, clear examples of how you’ve benefited your past employers and how you are positioned to help your next one. Learn more by reading our top resume writing tips below.

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How to Write a Resume: 10 Facts You Need to Know

As you consider how to write a resume you’ll want to keep all of its possible audiences, as well as the following facts, in mind:

1. Recruiters spend an average of only about 6 seconds on each resume before deciding whether to interview a candidate.
2. The first 15-20 words of your resume are the most important; that’s how many words the average person can read in those 6 seconds.
3. The top one-third of your resume often determines whether a hiring manager chooses to keep reading.
4. Your personal summary is the section of your resume a recruiter ismost likely to read.
5. Many employers use applicant tracking systems (ATS) to scan resumes for specific terms.
6. ATS search terms are usually correlated to job descriptions.
7. A recent survey found that 54 percent of jobseekers do not customize their resumes for each job, so tailoring yours could put you ahead of more than half your competition.
8. Changing the wording of a keyword from the job description even slightly – for example, from “project management” to “project manager” – could cause the ATS to eliminate you.
9. Many ATS cannot recognize abbreviations as common as “CPA.”
10. Unusual fonts, spacing, and images can all throw off an ATS.
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The Perfect Resume Starts with the Perfect Format

Since ATSs often fail to recognize unusual resume designs or headings, it is best to stick with time-tested formats that use standard categories like “Summary,” “Experience,” and “Education.” Write your resume in a way that will enable you to bypass ATSs by using one of three basic formats: chronological, functional or combined.

A chronological resume lists your work history in descending order beginning with your most recent position. Skills and achievements are grouped under each job title. A combination, or hybrid, resume divides the focus more equally between achievements and work chronology. A functional resume emphasizes accomplishments and skills specific to the position at hand.

Whatever format you choose, as you learn how to write a resume, begin with a brief summary that starts with a title, preferably one that is tailored to the job description. Follow your title with two to three concise sentences or bullet items that describe the skills and experiences that will make you an asset to your next employer.

Chronological Resume

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This resume format lists a candidate’s work experience in reverse order. A brief Education section and a Work Experience section outline the jobseekers credentials and experience. Begin your chronological resume with a professional summary.

The format is ideal for candidates who want to write a resume that demonstrates that they have progressed in their field and gained responsibility at each job.

 DO’S
1.
This is the preferred format of hiring managers.
2.
A chronological resume is the most likely to be accurately scanned by an ATS
3.
Using this format emphasizes where you have worked, making it a solid choice for candidates who have worked for prestige employers.
 DONT’S
1.
The emphasis on chronology will make employment gaps stand out.
2.
This format may not be a good choice for new jobseekers or for highly experienced workers who are trying to obscure their age.
3.
A chronological resume can make shifts in career paths seem abrupt.

Functional Resume

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The perfect resume format for candidates new to the job market and those with gaps in their work history. Functional resumes can help jobseekers emphasize the skills they’ve attained without broadcasting that their work experience is limited or spotty.

A summary section highlights the most important and relevant aspects of your work history and skill set. Other sections organize your skills and expertise. If you are writing a resume for a Financial Analyst role, for example, you could create a budgeting section to list your experience in this area.

 DO’S
1.
This format allows professionals with diverse career paths to highlight transferrable skills they’ve developed across fields.
2.
A functional resume allows younger and older workers to emphasize their skill sets and potential rather than the length of time they’ve been in the workforce.
3.
Using a functional resume format can obscure a potentially problematic work history issues, such as gaps in employment.
 DONT’S
1.
Many hiring managers find this format frustrating because they cannot see what you did in each job and how your career has progressed.
2.
Some recruiters assume that candidates who use these resumes are trying to hide something.
3.
Some ATSs cannot scan these resumes correctly.

Combination Resume

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The combination, or hybrid, resume uses attributes of the chronological and functional formats. For example, you might begin with Skills and Achievements, followed by a detailed Work History.

If you are opting for this format to obscure gaps in your work history, consider creating a resume that is mostly in a functional resume format but with a brief Work Experience section.

 DO’S
1.
The combination format is ideal for younger workers who have attained a wide range of skills in a short period, but who have a relatively short work history.
2.
This format highlights the accomplishments of workers who have held the same title or worked for the same employer for a long time.
3.
For those looking to enter a new field, this format emphasizes achievements and transferrable skills.
 DONT’S
1.
The functional resume format might make employment gaps or abrupt career shifts more obvious than the functional format.
2.
This is not the preferred format of most hiring managers.
3.
Some ATSs may fail to properly scan information such as “Work History” if it does not appear in the expected order.

Diagram of a Perfect Resume

Let’s dissect this resume below to help you understand how to write the best resume. Click the show button within each section to see how this resume example is the type of resume that hiring mangers and recruiters look for.

Title SectionConsider dressing up your heading, particularly the presentation of your name. A rule line or slight change of font size or style can make the heading information stand out from the rest of the resume and create a branding effect that makes an impression, but that won’t interfere with ATS scanning.
Getting StartedBegin by selecting a simple, classic, legible font such as Helvetica, Times New Roman or Georgia. These are font that are designed for optimum readability on the screen. Choose leading – the space between lines – that is 120 percent of your font size to increase legibility.The same rules apply to how to write a resume. Aim for short, varied lines of copy with plenty of white space. Avoid crafting uniform paragraphs and long blocks of type. Use strong verbs, direct sentence structure, and clear, concise language. This is key to keep in mind when you are learning how to write a resume.
Resume TipsDon’t worry if your lines or bullet points end in the middle of the page – a little white space will help guide a hiring manager’s eyes from top to bottom. Condense information wherever possible so there are no more than 4-5 bullet items under each job title. Use data and numbers, such as sales revenue or website traffic, to add tangible proof to your claims and to break up the type.As you plan out how to write your resume, remember to include a bit of flair. Consider dressing up your heading, particularly the presentation of your name. A rule line or slight change of font size or style can make the heading information stand out from the rest of the resume and create a branding effect that makes an impression, but that won’t interfere with ATS scanning.
Additional Resume Writing TipInclude hyperlinks to your LinkedIn profile and digital work samples. Make sure these links are live and customized so that your resume is not cluttered with overly long, complicated URLs.

Your resume is your calling card and the template you choose as you decide how to write a resume can help or hurt your chances of getting the job you want. In addition to selecting a functional, chronological, or combination format, you’ll need to consider the conventions and expectations of your field, as well as your experience level.

We offer a resume template to address nearly any scenario. Finding the one that’s right for your needs can increase your chances of landing the job.

Recent graduates and those shifting from one field to another will want to consider an entry-level template that can highlight skills, education, and achievements, while devoting less space to Work History.

If you are trying to convey to a potential employer that you are a tech-savvy worker with up-to-date skills, a contemporary resume template with modern design flair will help to convey these qualities. Sleek and modern, these eye-catching templates will help you stand out from the competition.

If you are sending your resume to a hiring manager or employer with a reputation for preferring time-tested documentation and processes, opt for a traditional resume template. As you think about how to write your resume, sticking to a chronological format with standard headings and conservative font choices will reassure employers with more formal corporate cultures that you are serious, well qualified, and ready to contribute. It will also clearly show your career trajectory at-a-glance.

Beat the ATS Bots: 8 Tips for Personalizing Your Resume

When considering how to write a resume that will get you past an ATS and onto the desk of a recruiter, simplicity is the key. Make sure you repeat the keywords that most closely align with your own skills. However, don’t go overboard, repeat yourself to the point of monotony, or mirror the job description too closely. Use keywords and phrases to describe your skills and experience without regurgitating the job post word for word.

Instead, describe your experience and skills accurately in a way that allows your writing to flow logically while still employing as many of the keywords as possible. “Stuffing” your resume might get you past the ATS, only to have it be quickly eliminated from consideration when it finally gets into human hands.

Tips:

1.

Study the job description to determine what problem the employer is trying to solve with this hire and make sure that your resume demonstrates that you can solve their problem.

2.

Do not use an “objective” section. Instead, customize a professional summary for the each job.

3.

Highlight as many of your skills that match the job description as possible in a separate skills section.

4.

Throughout the resume, echo the job ad’s keywords and phrasing.

5.

Write out all acronyms and abbreviations as some ATS can’t recognize even common acronyms.

6.

Don’t use overly fancy fonts or complex formatting, which can throw off the ATS.

7.

For best results, use traditional headings, such as Summary, Skills, and Work Experience.

8.

Don’t send a PDF of your resume as scanners can misread them. Instead, use Word or rich text format.

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Need More Help? Write a Resume Using Our Resume Builder

If the thought of transforming a blank page into a standout resume still makes you nervous, try using our resume builder. The easy-to-use, self-service software makes it super simple to build your own unique, perfect resume.

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