4 Steps to Writing a Job-Winning Resume

Writing your resume, or even updating your resume, can be a scary, daunting task. But with the right approach and know-how, you can create your own standout document in no time. And the good news is we’re here to help.

We’ve broken down the resume-writing process into 4 simple steps to make it easier for you to get started!

Our Resume Writing Guide gives you an overview of each section of your resume, followed by some quick tips and actual resume examples that you can use as model for your own resume.

Step 1: Your Summary Statement

Write Your Summary Statement image

Every great resume begins with a strong summary statement. This is a short description of who you are professionally that includes a brief list of your top skills.

Your summary statement is the first thing that recruiters will see. So think of it as your big chance to catch someone’s attention. You also want to show hiring leaders that you’re a great fit for the job. You can do this by using the skills and keywords that are in the job description in your summary statement – just make sure you only use those that reflect your experience (no exaggerating or lying on your resume!).

Your statement can be written in either sentence form or bullet-point form and should be short, but effective – no more than 3 sentences or bullet points; it should also contain the following information:

  • Your professional title
  • Top 2-3 skills
  • Specific expertise, professional traits, accomplishments

Need help writing your own professional summary statement? Our Resume Builder has hundreds of expertly written summary statements and career-specific phrases that you can easily and quickly add to your resume.

Registered Nurse  

  • Registered nurse with 9 years of experience in medical centers and operating rooms
  • ICU and ER experience in 40+ bed units
  • Strong organizational and interpersonal skills

Dedicated assembly line worker with 5 years of experience. Well-versed in machinery assembly and production line efficiency . Fast learner who picks up new processes and technologies easily.

  • Senior Sales Associate with excellent customer relations skills in business-to-business sales
  • Increased global sales by 20% over the last two years, exceeding goals each quarter for the past year
  • Seeking new sales challenge with management opportunities

Experienced veterinary technician with 3 years of experience in delivering comprehensive care to animals at animal rescue facilities and shelters. Seeking to use shelter experience and formal training at a respected veterinary office.

Responsible cashier experienced at managing front-of-store needs in busy environments. Friendly and energetic with strong communication and organizational abilities. Seeking role of increased responsibility where strengths in service and sales will be valuable.

Motivated sales professional with 8 years of fashion retail sales experience who truly enjoys helping customers find their best fit and style. Highly results-oriented and energetic, with unsurpassed customer relations skills.

Step 2: Your Skills Section

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The skills section – often called the “Qualifications” or “Areas of Expertise” section – of your resume is a list of your top skills. This section of your resume is your chance to showcase your abilities to employers in a quick and easy-to-read way.

Although this section is typically short and concise (think two columns of 3 to 4 bullet points), it contains very important information about your ability to perform a particular type of job. Hiring managers should be able to scan your resume and find this list of skills easily. Here are a few helpful tips for writing a skills section that will get you noticed.

  1. Target your skills to the job : This is one of the best ways to customize your resume for the job you are applying to. Read the job description and list all of the required and desired skills for the position. Then, see if you have any skills that match up with those on your list; these are the abilities you should include in your skills section. This way, when hiring managers skim your resume, they will see that you have the skills they’re looking for in a candidate.
  2. Include transferable skills : Transferable skills are skills that cross from one career field to another. These skills can be applied to a variety of positions. Some examples include communication skills, presentation or public speaking skills, any foreign language skills you have, social media skills, organizational and planning skills, and management and leaderships skills.
  3. Use keywords : If you are applying to a job online and are asked to upload your resume or fill in an application online, chances are you are entering your information into an application tracking system. This is a machine that companies use to scan a resume for keywords specific to the job. Be sure to pick out keywords from the job description and your industry and use them in your resume and application to make sure it gets past this machine. Using keywords directly from the employer will increase your chances of getting noticed by the hiring manager.

Need help writing a skills section that gets you noticed? Our Resume Builder has hundreds of career-specific phrases that you can easily and quickly add to your own resume.

Step 3: Your Work History

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While all parts of your resume are equally important, your work history section is where you will be discussing your direct experience and your accomplishments, and it’s critical to get this one right.Let’s start with the basics. Your work history section should include the following:

  • Positions and/or titles you held
  • Names of organizations where you were employed
  • City and state of each organization
  • Employment periods for each job, written as Month/Date – Month/Date
  • Brief descriptions of your experience in bullet format

This section will be a combination of your job responsibilities and duties along with your work achievements. Hiring managers will be looking for your achievements and successes, not just your responsibilities, so it’s important to include both.

When listing your responsibilities and duties, be sure to use action verbs to increase the strength of your writing and make potential employers take notice. Some action verbs to use include:

  • Communicated
  • Negotiated
  • Joined
  • Reported
  • Customized
  • Initiated
  • Planned
  • Budgeted
  • Developed
  • Prepared
  • Contributed
  • Ensured
  • Provided
  • Led

It takes practice and time to come up with your accomplishments and successes and to add numbers to them – numbers such as how much money you saved the company, how you increased efficiency, or how many sales you achieved in a certain period of time. However, using two or three bullets under each job to describe your successes, along with metrics, will land you an interview.

Need help writing a work experience section that shows your value? Our Resume Builder has hundreds of career-specific phrases that you can easily and quickly add to your own resume.

Administrative Assistant 

Bayle Industries, Hutchins Creek, MD

July 2010 – present

  • Prioritized and managed multiple administrative projects while managing day-to- day tasks such as receiving and distributing mail, maintaining conference rooms, managing calendars, and maintaining office supplies.
  • Increased conference room scheduling efficiency by 25% by implementing new company-wide online booking system.
  • Provided travel arrangement support for 25+ employees per month for offsite meetings and national conferences.
  • Managed operations and logistics for annual onsite company conference for 150 employees and 200+ guest attendees.

Parkview Elementary School, Summerfields, PA

September 2014 – May 2016

  • Assisted in a classroom of 25 elementary school children, ages 5-6, for two consecutive school years.
  • Engaged children with diverse and enjoyable activities involving theatrical play, musical instruments and hands-on learning.
  • Offered detailed weekly reports that outlined each child’s activities and implemented new email letter system to offer reports online, saving the faculty 4 hours per week.

Ft. Hood, Killeen, TX

January 2008 – August 2015

  • Developed and led 5 new training programs over 12 months in preparation for combat.
  • Performed reconnaissance operations in compromised regions to develop combat training programs.
  • Performed as a fire team member during situational training exercises and all infantry dismounted battle drills.
  • Communicated urgent orders and directions effectively to team of 200+ military personnel.

Step 4: Your Education Section

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Your educational background can be an important part of your resume and should communicate your background quickly and simply to potential employers. Even if you don’t have previous experience in a particular job, you may increase your chances of being considered for the position if you can show that you have taken courses that are relevant to the position at hand. Here are some tips to help make your education section work for you:

  1. List the highest level of education first. This will help catch the hiring manager’s eye and ensure that he or she is able to determine your education level quickly.
  2. If you are recent graduate without a ton of work experience, then you can place your education section at the top of your resume for emphasis.
  3. Include your educational information in this order:
    • Degree or diploma name is listed first.
    • Major(s) follow the degree. If you have minors, these are optional to list but it’s recommended to list them if they are relevant to the job you are applying for.
    • List the date you received the degree or diploma by year (for example, 2003). If you are soon-to-be grad, you can list your expected graduation date.
    • Employment periods for each job, written as Month/Date – Month/Date
  4. Do not include your GPA on your resume unless you are a recent graduate.

If you don’t have a degree, never fear! If you have an associate’s degree, you can list it in the same way as above. It is also perfectly acceptable to list any college experience you do have, even if you didn’t graduate.

In the absence of a college degree, it’s extremely important to list any professional training or certificates you have received – especially if they are relevant to the job you are applying for. Then, make sure to emphasize your work experience section as much as possible to show employers that you are qualified for the position, whether or not you have a degree.

Need help writing an education section that shows your value? Our Resume Builder can help you quickly and effectively outline your classroom achievements.

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