Tips for Creating a Great Resume: A Comprehensive Guide

Sections of this topic

    ‍In today’s competitive job market, a well-crafted resume can make all the difference in landing your dream job. But with so much conflicting advice, figuring out where to start can take time. A well-written resume is critical in today’s competitive job market and makes the difference in getting your dream job. However, what makes a great resume is subjective, and it can be challenging to know where to start.

    That’s why we’ve compiled this comprehensive guide to provide you with the most effective tips for creating a great resume. Whether you’re a seasoned professional or just starting, these tips will help you stand out and impress hiring managers.

    >>Recommended Reading: The Best Executive Resume Writing Services (December 2023)<<

    Understanding the Importance of a Great Resume

    A great resume is not just a list of your career history but a powerful marketing tool highlighting your achievements and skills. It’s your chance to make a solid first impression and convince hiring managers that you’re the perfect fit for the job. Here are some essential tips to keep in mind:

    Give yourself credit:

    Be bold about showcasing your accomplishments. Use your resume to highlight all relevant achievements, education, and skills.

    Highlight your education:

    Remember to mention any degrees, specialty training, or industry-specific certifications you have obtained. Employers value well-educated candidates.

    Write professionally:

    Your resume is your first impression, so professionally present yourself. Correct grammar, polish your language and eliminate punctuation and spelling errors.

    Avoid jargon:

    While it’s essential to demonstrate your familiarity with industry-specific language, remember that not all readers will be familiar with it. Use clear and specific terms to describe your responsibilities and achievements.

    Think beyond jobs:

    Take advantage of volunteer work or part-time roles from your past. Highlight the skills and responsibilities you gained from these experiences.

    Don’t overdo it:

    Keep your resume concise and relevant. Depending on your experience, it should be one to two pages long. Focus on the most recent and relevant information.

    Resume Tips: What is the hiring manager looking for in my resume?

    Hiring managers seek specific qualities and information in a resume to determine if a candidate is a good fit for a role. Here are vital aspects a hiring manager often looks for:

    Relevance to the Job

    • Skills and Experience: A hiring manager looks for relevant skills and experience directly related to the job description.
    • Accomplishments: Show demonstrated achievements that showcase your impact in previous roles.

    Alignment with Company Values

    • Culture Fit: Indicators that show how well you align with the company’s values and culture.
    • Passion: Evidence of genuine interest in the industry or field.

    Professionalism and Presentation

    • Clarity: Clear, concise, and well-structured information that’s easy to scan.
    • Formatting: Use a clean layout and professional design that is easy on the eyes.

    Adaptability and Growth

    • Learning Agility: Demonstrated ability to learn new skills or adapt to changing environments.
    • Career Progression: Evidence of growth and increasing responsibilities in previous positions.

    Problem-Solving Abilities

    • Initiative: Instances where you took initiative or led projects that brought about positive changes.
    • Problem-Solving Skills: Stories that showcase your ability to solve challenges or overcome obstacles.

    Keywords and Applicant Tracking System (ATS) Compatibility

    • Relevant Keywords: Inclusion of keywords from the job description to pass through applicant tracking systems (ATS).

    Communication and Soft Skills

    • Communication Skills: Evidence of strong written and verbal communication skills.
    • Teamwork: Indications of successful collaboration and teamwork.

    Additional Factors

    • Education and Certifications: Relevant educational qualifications and certifications.
    • Extracurriculars or Volunteering: Activities outside work that display additional skills or passions.
      How to make a good resume into an impressive resume?
      Turning a good resume into an impressive one involves refining and elevating key elements to stand out to potential employers. Here are some tips:
    • Tailor it for the Job.
      • Customize your resume with the specific job description by highlighting relevant skills and experiences.
      • Keywords: Use the job posting keywords to ensure it will pass through applicant tracking systems (ATS).
    • Focus on Achievements
      • Quantify Results: Showcase achievements with numbers or percentages to demonstrate impact.
      • Accomplishments: Highlight specific accomplishments that differentiate you from other candidates.
    • Design and Layout
      • Visual Appeal: Use a clean and professional layout, incorporating design elements that make it visually appealing.
      • White Space: Ensure a balance between text and white space for readability.
    • Professional Summary
      • Engaging Summary: Craft a compelling professional summary that captures attention and emphasizes your value.
    • Skills Section
      • Relevant Skills: Highlight skills pertinent to the job and industry, emphasizing technical and soft skills.
    • Experience Section
      • Impactful Descriptions: Write concise, action-oriented descriptions of past roles focusing on achievements and impact.
      • Reverse-Chronological Order: Arrange work experiences with the most recent at the top.
      • Only include things they need to know: Including necessary personal information, such as your marital status, won’t help your chances.
    • Educational Background and Certifications
      • Relevance: Showcase education and certifications relevant to the job or highlight specialized training.
    • Additional Sections
      • Portfolio or Projects: Include a section showcasing your portfolio, relevant projects, or additional professional work.
      • Volunteer Work: If applicable, highlight volunteer work demonstrating skills relevant to the job.
    • Proofread and Edit
      • Error-Free: Ensure your resume is free from typos, grammatical errors, and formatting issues.
      • Consistency: Maintain consistent formatting and style throughout the document.
    • Networking and Online Presence
      • LinkedIn Profile: Ensure your LinkedIn profile complements your resume and is up-to-date.
      • Networking: Leverage professional networks to increase visibility and opportunities.
    • By refining each section, highlighting accomplishments, and customizing your resume for each application, you can transform a good overview into an impressive one that captures attention and showcases your value effectively.

    Formatting and Design Tips

    The format and design of your resume play a crucial role in catching the attention of hiring managers. Here are some essential tips to consider:

    1. Use attractive and readable fonts: Choose a font that is both visually appealing and easy to read. Engaging and readable fonts include Times New Roman, Arial, and Tahoma.
    2. Use a font size of 10-12 points: Ensure your font size is appropriate and legible. Avoid going too small or too large.
    3. Use simple subheadings: Organize your resume with clear and straightforward subheadings. This helps readers navigate through the document easily.
    4. Frame your resume content with the correct margin size: Maintain consistent margins throughout your resume to create a professional and balanced appearance.
    5. Align your content to the left: Left-aligning your text makes it easier for hiring managers to skim your resume and quickly find the needed information.
    6. Balance your text and white space: Don’t exaggerate your resume. Utilize white space strategically to create a visually appealing and easy-to-read document.
    7. Don’t worry about making your resume one page long: While keeping your resume concise is generally recommended, feel free to fit everything onto one page. Focus on relevancy and quality of content.
    8. Consider using professionally designed templates: Utilize pre-designed templates to create a polished and visually appealing resume. There are numerous templates available online that can help you stand out.

    Customizing Your Resume for Each Job

    One-size-fits-all resumes rarely make an impact. To maximize your chances of success, tailor your resume to each job you apply for. Here’s how:

    1. Use a professional email address: Include a professional email address on your resume. Avoid using an email associated with another job or any unprofessional email address.
    2. Keep your contact information up to date: Double-check that your contact information, including phone number and email address, is accurate and current.
    3. Include URLs to relevant online profiles: If you have a LinkedIn profile, personal website, or blog that showcases your work or professional achievements, include the URLs on your resume.
    4. Try to find the hiring manager’s personal email address: If possible, address your application directly to the hiring manager by finding their email address. This shows personalized interest in the position.
    5. Make good use of the top third of your resume: Hiring managers spend only a few seconds scanning each resume. Grab their attention by placing your most relevant qualifications and achievements in the top third of your resume.
    6. Include a resume summary or objective: Start with an outline or objective statement highlighting your essential qualifications and career goals. Make sure it engages the reader and encourages them to continue reading.
    7. Use the right keywords: Tailor your resume to each job using keywords and phrases that align with the job description. This will help your resume pass through applicant tracking systems (ATS) and catch the attention of hiring managers.
    8. Only add jobs from the past 10-15 years: Focus on recent and relevant work experience. Only if older positions are directly related to your current career goals is it best to leave them out.
    9. Remember all your jobs, but eliminate irrelevant ones: While it’s important to remember all your past jobs, eliminate those unrelated to the position you’re applying for. This helps streamline your resume and keep the focus on relevant experience.
    10. Read the job description and find keywords: Study the job description carefully and identify keywords the employer is looking for. Incorporate these keywords into your resume to demonstrate your alignment with the position.
    11. Run your job description and resume through a cloud generator: Use online tools to generate a word cloud from the job description and compare it to your resume. This will help you identify any missing keywords.
    12. Add achievements to your experience section: Instead of simply listing your job responsibilities, focus on your achievements and results. Highlight specific accomplishments and quantify them whenever possible.
    13. Supply numbers and details wherever possible: Provide concrete evidence of your achievements by including numbers, percentages, or other relevant data. This helps hiring managers understand the impact you’ve made in your previous roles.
    14. Insert action verbs wherever possible: Use strong action verbs to describe your responsibilities and achievements. This adds power and impact to your resume.
    15. Add a link to your portfolio: If you have an online portfolio showcasing your work, include a link on your resume. This allows hiring managers to see your work samples and further evaluate your skills.
    16. Draw attention to your promotions: If you’ve been promoted within a company, highlight this progression on your resume. It demonstrates your growth and success within the organization.

    Structuring Your Work Experience

    The work experience section of your resume is where you showcase your professional history and demonstrate your qualifications for the job you’re applying for. Here’s how to structure it effectively:

    1. Reinforce your professional titles by showing career progression: If you’ve held multiple positions within a company, highlight your career progression by listing each role separately. This demonstrates your growth and increased responsibilities.
    2. Write explanations for significant gaps in your career history: If you have substantial gaps in your employment history, provide brief descriptions for these periods. This helps hiring managers understand the context behind their career path.
    3. Forget the placeholders: Avoid using generic phrases like “responsible for” or “duties included.” Instead, focus on specific accomplishments and responsibilities in each role.
    4. Get rid of nonsensical jargon: Steer clear of industry-specific jargon or buzzwords that may confuse or alienate hiring managers from different fields. Use clear and concise language that everyone can understand.
    5. Cut the fluff in your experience section: Keep your descriptions concise and to the point. Use bullet points to highlight key responsibilities and achievements, and avoid lengthy paragraphs.
    6. Offset with passion what you lack in experience: If you need more extensive experience in a particular area, emphasize your enthusiasm, passion, and willingness to learn. Highlight transferable skills that make you a strong candidate for the position.

    Showcasing Your Education

    Your education section provides hiring managers insight into your academic background and qualifications. Here’s how to effectively showcase your education:

    1. Consider putting your education section first: If you’re a recent graduate or your education is more relevant than your work experience, consider placing your education section at the top of your resume.
    2. Describe your project work: If you’ve worked on significant projects during your education, highlight them in this section. Discuss the skills you developed and the outcomes you achieved.
    3. Pay attention to non-traditional work: If you’ve gained relevant skills or experience through non-traditional education, such as online courses or certifications, include them in this section.
    4. Use reverse-chronological order for education sections: List your most recent educational achievements first, followed by earlier degrees and certifications.
    5. Incorporate continuing education and online learning: If you’ve pursued additional education or completed online courses to enhance your skills, mention them in this section.

    Including Additional Sections

    While the core sections of your resume focus on your work experience and education, including additional areas can provide valuable information and make your resume stand out. Here are some examples:

    1. Technical skills: Include a section listing your technical skills, such as programming languages, software proficiency, or other relevant technical abilities.
    2. Languages: If you’re fluent in multiple languages, mention them in a separate section. This can be particularly valuable for international positions or roles that require language proficiency.
    3. Certifications and licenses: If you hold any relevant certifications or licenses, such as a PMP or nursing license, include them in a dedicated section.
    4. Volunteer work: Highlight any volunteer work or community involvement demonstrating your commitment to social causes or showcasing transferable skills.
    5. Publications or presentations: If you’ve published articles or presented at conferences, list them in a separate section to showcase your thought leadership and expertise.
    6. Awards and honors: If you’ve received significant awards or accolades, create a dedicated section highlighting your achievements.

    Proofreading and Finalizing Your Resume

    Before submitting your resume, it’s essential to thoroughly proofread and finalize it to ensure it’s error-free and professional. Here’s what you should do:

    Proofread your resume: Carefully review your resume for any spelling, grammar, or punctuation errors. Use spell-check software and ask a trusted friend or family member to check it.

    Trim any unnecessary fat from your resume: Eliminate irrelevant or outdated information that doesn’t add value to your application. Keep your resume focused and concise.

    Lose the phrase “References available upon request”: This outdated phrase is no longer necessary. Employers assume you will provide references if requested.

    Consider saving a copy of your resume as a PDF: To ensure your formatting remains intact and consistent across various platforms, keep it as a PDF before submitting it.

    Consider adding your resume to LinkedIn: If you have a LinkedIn profile, upload it to showcase your qualifications and make it easier for potential employers to access your information.

    Name your resume file correctly: When saving your resume, use a professional and descriptive file name that includes your name and the position you’re applying for.

    Match your cover letter to your resume: Ensure that your cover letter complements your resume in terms of formatting, tone, and content. Consistency is key.

    Clean up your online presence: Before submitting your resume, review your online presence, including social media profiles. Remove any unprofessional content or adjust privacy settings as needed.

    Follow-up: After submitting your resume, consider sending a follow-up email or phone call to express your continued interest in the position.

    Update your resume regularly: Keep it updated by adding new accomplishments, skills, and experiences as they occur. Regular updates ensure that your resume is always current and ready to go.

    Consult a professional: If you need clarification on any aspect of your resume, consider seeking advice from a professional career counselor or resume writer. They can provide valuable insights and help you create a standout resume.

    What to Include in the Skills Section?

    The Skills Section of a resume is vital for showcasing your abilities and qualifications. Here’s what you should include:

    Relevant Hard Skills

    • Technical Competencies: Include skills specific to your industry or the job you’re applying for, such as programming languages, software proficiency, or specialized tools.
    • Certifications: Mention any relevant certificates or licenses that enhance your qualifications for the role.

    Soft Skills

    • Communication: Highlight your ability to convey information verbally or in writing effectively.
    • Leadership: Showcase your leadership qualities, team management, or project coordination skills.
    • Problem-Solving: Emphasize your capacity to analyze problems and develop solutions.
    • Adaptability: Highlight your flexibility in handling changing situations or environments.
    • Time Management: Mention your skills in prioritizing tasks and meeting deadlines.
    • Collaboration: Showcase your ability to work effectively in a team.

    Industry-Specific Skills

    • Sales and Marketing: Include skills related to sales techniques, market analysis, or digital marketing if relevant.
    • Finance and Accounting: Mention financial analysis, budgeting, or accounting software skills if applicable.
    • Healthcare: Highlight skills such as patient care, medical procedures, or knowledge of specific medical software.

    Language Proficiency

    • Languages: List any languages you speak fluently, especially if they relate to the job or if the role involves international interaction.

    How to Present Skills

    • Relevance: Tailor your skills section to match the job description, emphasizing the skills most relevant to the role.
    • Organization: Group similar skills together, such as technical skills, soft skills, or language proficiencies.
    • Quantify, if Possible: Quantify or qualify your skills to provide context or demonstrate proficiency.

    Ensure you make your resume with the skills you list are genuine and relevant to the job. Avoid generic terms without providing examples or evidence of proficiency. This section should be concise yet comprehensive, providing a snapshot of your capabilities relevant to the job you’re pursuing.

    Bottom Line:

    What makes a professional resume is open to debate. However, there are certain things that most experts agree on. For example, making sure your resume reads well without mistakes, adding and highlighting achievements, and having industry-recognized qualifications are all gold standards. Making sure your resume reflects your experience, skills, and talents is essential in the increasingly competitive world we live in today.

    >>Recommended Reading: 10 Best Resume Writing Services in 2023<<

    Common FAQs about Resume Writing