Who should use a functional resume format?
- Job seekers who have little to no work experience.
- Applicants who want to emphasize skills and education over work history.
- Those with gaps in their employment history.
Last Updated: April 29, 2022
Learning how to write a resume is a skill and taking the time to learn that skill can dramatically change the course of your job search. The key to successful resume writing is to present your unique skills and experience to pique the interest of a hiring manager.
By following the instructions on this page, you’ll learn section-by-section what to include in a resume to best present your top skills and achievements to potential employers. Use our detailed resume writing tips and review our diagrammed resume example to learn how to make a resume in eight simple steps.
Before you begin writing a resume, it’s crucial to understand the five basic sections of the document:
Things to put in a resume header:
What to include in a resume professional summary:
What belongs in the work experience section:
What to include in a resume skills section:
What belongs in the education section:
Before you start learning how to write a resume for a job, there are a few things you’ll need to prepare. Remember, each resume you write should be customized for a specific role. To ensure you know how to write a good resume, you’ll need to have all the information you need at your fingertips. Follow these resume tips to craft a strong document:
The foundation of a resume is your experience mixed with accomplishments tailored to an employer’s specific job opening. After you’ve searched for job openings that match your industry interests, it is important to make your resume as relevant to the position as possible.
Create a list of all the skills and qualifications you have and then group them into different categories. Soft skills would be things like: communication, customer service and teamwork. Language skills, strategic planning and business development would be hard skills. Technical skills are any industry-related programs you have experience with. Make sure to have a good mix of all types and put the skills referenced in the job posting that you possess at the top of your list.
Give an overview of your responsibilities, especially things that correspond to the skills or qualifications referenced in the job description.
Showing your work’s impact is critical because employers want to see how your contributions impacted previous roles. Find data and numbers that tell the story of your achievements. This helps solidify your effectiveness in projects and company improvements.
Studying resume examples for the job title you seek is a great way to get a sense of what information employers seek in top candidates. Look to see which skills and experiences are emphasized on these examples before you start writing your resume.
With these reference materials gathered and the resume example review complete, you now know how to create a resume that will help you stand out from the competition.
Now that you know what belongs in your resume sections, you must choose the resume format that best fits your level of work experience. This will help you emphasize your strengths and top skills to employers. Choosing the right resume format is as crucial to landing an interview as what you include in a resume.
Here is a quick breakdown of how to choose a resume format:
The professional summary grabs a reader’s attention and expresses your career goals and interest in three to five sentences. It is usually the section hiring managers spend the most time on, so when learning how to create a resume, remember that it should be both succinct and customized for the job posting.
Pro resume tip: Most applicants will want to use a professional summary as it is the industry standard and provides a more descriptive cataloging of your accomplishments in an active voice. Career objectives are one to two sentences that solely convey the job seeker’s goals. They are useful for job seekers who have experience in an unrelated field or are recent graduates.
A great list of skills tells employers at-a-glance about your technical acumen and hard and soft skills. One of our top resume tips is to revisit the list of skills you created during your writing prep and be sure to focus on those that were pulled directly from the job ad. The more relevant skills your resume contains, the more likely it is to pass through an applicant tracking system (ATS).
An ATS is programmed with critical skills for the role and applicants whose resumes do not contain those keywords are often deemed unqualified. For that reason, when considering what to include in a resume, remember that it’s critical to list skills using the same language as the job ad.
Here is a quick tutorial on the different types of skills you’ll want to add to your resume:
To further illustrate, here are some common resume skills for each category:
Employers want to see the impact your work has had in your previous jobs, so your work experience should be more than just a list of responsibilities. When considering what to put on a resume and what to leave out, remember that results matter and numbers are powerful. The more mundane aspects of your day-to-day responsibilities are less critical to include. Regardless of your role, it’s usually possible to find data or metrics that prove your impact in previous roles.
Here are some examples from various industries:
Resume writing tips for your work experience section:
Now that you’ve written the bulk of your resume, focus on the finer details. Paying attention to these points is how you create a resume that gets you noticed. Here’s how to add the finishing touches:
How your resume looks is just as important as what you include in a resume. Consider the employer and industry when selecting your resume template. For example, a colorful creative resume template would be a great fit for a design position, while the simplicity and easy readability of a traditional template is often perfect for fields like banking and law. A sleek modern template is a happy medium between the two and is a versatile choice for many industries.
Double-check information like dates and the spelling of company or school names and make sure your contact information is accurate and up to date.
It won’t matter if you’re the most qualified candidate in the world if your resume is full of spelling and grammatical errors. Check each of your resume sections for typos and formatting errors. Read the page from top to bottom before deeming it ready for recruiters. Whenever possible, send your document to a trusted friend for a fresh set of eyes.
The resume-writing process isn’t as daunting when you do the prep work and break down your experience into small, easy-to-work-with sections. Our professional Resume Builder can provide you with that extra boost to take your resume to the next level and provide you with the confidence that comes with knowing your resume sections are well-written and properly formatted.
Here’s what we offer:
When learning how to create a resume, start with a strong summary of your qualifications, emphasizing the value of your skill set and industry knowledge. If you have limited work experience, move your education section above the work history, listing any academic honors. Remember, you may have internships or volunteer experiences to note on your resume.
The best way to write a good resume is to do the prep work, both internal and external. First, know what you’re good at, your interests and qualifications. It will be easier to craft your resume if you start looking for job postings relevant to your interest. Second, pay close attention to the job ad. Most employers list exactly the skills and qualifications they are looking for in an applicant, then all you need to do is customize the resume to match those requirements.
To learn how to write a resume for a job that will pass an applicant tracking system (ATS), you’ll need a clean, easy-to-scan resume template. You’ll also need to study the ad carefully to ensure that your content mentions the most critical keywords from the job posting. Customize your resume every time you apply for a job to ensure that you are emphasizing your most relevant skills and experience to the role. Carry these same principles over as you learn how to write a cover letter.
Career Advice Expert
Erin is a Content Writer at LiveCareer and a Certified Professional Résumé Writer (CPRW). She has facilitated creating and demonstrating product examples across all of LiveCareer’s brands both in the U.S. and internationally. Before providing in-depth guidance for resumes and cover letters, she taught English and Creative Writing for grades K-8. With a B.A. in English and MFA in Writing, she has contributed to several online outlets as a creator of ad copy, articles and short fiction.
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