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Landing an interview is a race against the clock—dozens of job seekers have already written their resumes and applied for *your* dream job.
How to beat them and land that position?
Let's get started with our step-by-step guide on how to make a perfect resume.
Want to save time and have your resume ready in 5 minutes? Try our resume builder. It’s fast and easy to use. Plus, you’ll get ready-made content to add with one click. See 20+ resume templates and create your resume here.
Sample resume made with our builder—See more resume examples here.
To start with, watch our video to get the basics of writing a resume right:
Our guide serves to write a resume for any job. However, for maximum efficiency, making a resume for your specific situation is ideal. Check out a few of our guides, they may also apply to you:
- Resume With No Experience
- Entry-Level Resume
- Student Resume
- College Student Resume
- Internship Resume
- College Application Resume
- Teen Resume
- Resume for a Part-Time Job
- Resume With Employment Gaps
- Career Change Resume
- Military to Civilian Resume
- Federal Resume
- US Resume
- Canadian Resume
- Specific Resume Examples for 500+ Jobs
In case you wondered! What the US and Canada call a resume, most of the rest of the world calls a curriculum vitae (CV). South Africa, India, New Zealand, and Australia tend to use the terms resume and CV interchangeably. For more, you can learn the differences between a resume and a CV.
If you're an international reader, switch over to:
Making a resume for the first time? Not sure how to ace each of the points listed above? No worries. Click any of those links to read our tips about that particular step and get examples of how to do it right.
How To Make A Resume
- Choose the Right Resume Format
- Add Your Contact Information and Personal Details
- Start With a Heading Statement (Resume Summary or Resume Objective)
- List Your Relevant Work Experience & Key Achievements
- Reference Your Education Correctly
- Put Relevant Skills That Fit the Job Ad
- Include Additional Important Resume Sections
- Complement Your Resume With a Cover Letter
- Proofread, Save & Email Your Resume the Right Way
1. Choose the Right Resume Format
You can't just start writing a resume by putting your info together in some easy resume template all willy-nilly.
Instead, first select from the standard resume formats:
Pros: Traditional resume style, familiar to potential employers.
Cons: Very common, not the most creative resume design format.
Pros: Great for experienced pros and career changers for highlighting transferable skills.
Cons: Uncommon type, not as familiar, not recommended for entry-level jobseekers.
Functional format (skills-based)
Pros: Entry-level job hunters can emphasize skills over lack of experience.
Cons: HR managers may think you're hiding something.
To learn more about the best resume format to use for your particular situation, check out:
- The common resume format examples.
- Chronological resume, i.e., the classic resume layout.
- The combination resume template, or a chrono-functional resume.
- The functional resume template focusing on skills.
- Good resume designs to ease your choice.
Also, take a look at our guide on free resume templates.
Most job applicants will likely want to choose the reverse-chronological resume template:
The chronological resume is a traditional resume format that emphasizes your duties, experience, and work history. As the standard format, it tends to be the easiest to read and scan. You'll list your most recent positions first, and go back through past jobs in reverse-chronological order from there.
Pro Tip: There are several studies that theorize relationships between resume cues and the applicant's personality and hireability, further impacting hiring judgments through resumes. Be careful which info you choose to include!
2. Add Your Contact Information and Personal Details
A career diplomat knows what information should be disclosed, and which is better held back.
Likewise, there are basic items that you must include in the contact information section, but you should also know what not to put on a resume:
Contact Information to Include in a Resume:
- Name: First name, last name (middle name optional).
- Phone Number: Personal cell phone is preferred over the home phone number.
- Email Address: Today's preferred means of communication.
- LinkedIn URL: Include your LinkedIn profile (hiring managers will spy on you anyway).
Contact Information to Leave Out:
- Date of Birth: Adding your birthdate could lead to ageism. Add only if required, such as for jobs serving alcohol, for example.
- Second Email or Phone Number: A second email address, mailing address, or phone number will just confuse them (and you).
- Photo/Headshot: In the United States, resume images and profile photos are usually not recommended.
Contact Information That Is Optional:
Personal websites and social media are now okay to list on a resume header:
Marketing-specific advice? Perhaps. But employers will look you up online anyway, so keep that in mind.
To be sure you get the personal details on your resume right, have a glance at our resume contact information guide.
Pro Tip: Give them a professional email address, not your old high school handle (gossipgirl212xoxo@…) or an outdated email provider (…@hotmail.com). Studies have proven that a formal email address is much more hirable than an informal one.
3. Start With a Heading Statement (Resume Summary or Resume Objective)
You know how most Tinder users have little patience? And it takes a witty statement, or a provocative image to get a person not to swipe left on you?
Well, the employer flips through resumes just as fast. In less than 7 seconds, as our HR statistics report shows, hiring managers scan your resume and make an initial decision. That means your resume summary statement/resume objective statement is likely to have the most eye time since it's at the top of the page.
You've got to compose a statement that paints an attractive image of your candidacy. After all, what is the purpose of a resume but to give the best impression of your clout as a candidate? Only question is—which one should you choose?
Here's how to write a resume profile that makes the recruiter swipe right:
What Is a Resume Summary Statement
Got enough relevant experience? Choose the resume summary statement that will condense your position-related skills and qualifications.
Let's take a look at how to write a professional summary (or not), with right and wrong examples for clarity:
Personable and dependable graphic designer with 4+ years of expertise in a fast-paced global marketing firm. Achieved company-best quality satisfaction rating according to internal review (99.76%). Seeking to advance my career by growing professionally with the DeZine team.
I have been a graphic designer for the last 4 years. In addition to my knowledge of various software and design programs, I also handle some tough customer accounts, and I am always able to work well under pressure, even the tightest of deadlines.
Difference? Wrong focuses on everyday duties, not accomplishments. Right gives evidence of IT consultant resume skills, achievements, and experience.
Pro Tip: The “right” resume summary above also mentioned the company by name. This is a great way to make sure that your resume feels personalized, rather than just sent to every company out there.
See more resume summary examples.
What Is a Resume Objective Statement
Choose the resume objective statement if you have no work experience at all or at least none related to the position you're applying for (entry-level applicants, career changers, students, etc.). You'll make the case that though you don't have experience with this position, you do have experience relevant to it, and transferable skills from other areas.
Let's look at another set of good/bad examples on writing an objective for a resume:
Diligent customer support specialist with 3+ years of experience at a large computer hardware company. Obtained the highest grades in build spec knowledge (100%) and quality (97.3%). Seeking to further career by growing with the BQNY team as an entry-level IT technician.
I am a customer support specialist eager to become a field technician. I don't have experience in field work, but past coworkers have said that I am a quick learner. I am highly motivated because I enjoy being outside for work rather than behind a desk at a cubicle.
In the Right one, we used some transferable skills from the previous company and some proud resume achievements… with numbers. Remember: numbers speak louder than words! The Wrong one doesn't show enough to hold the hiring manager's attention.
Pro Tip: If you noticed, both “wrong” examples above used the first-person. Avoid this on your resume.
When making a resume in our builder, drag & drop bullet points, skills, and auto-fill the boring stuff. Spell check? Check. Start building a professional resume template here for free.
When you’re done, Zety’s resume builder will score your resume and tell you exactly how to make it better.
4. List Your Relevant Work Experience & Key Achievements
If you think of your resume as a fancy meal, the resume experience section is the main course. It includes the most important things to put on a resume, like your work history and past achievements.
Let's go through the various job history components of the perfect resume experience section now.
How to Format the Resume Work Experience Section
The recommended way to format your employment history in the job experience section is this:
- Job Title: This should go at the very top of each entry of work history so that it's easy for potential employers to scan and find. Make it bold and/or increase the font size by 1pt or 2pts from the rest of the entry.
- Company, City, State: On the second line, include the previous employer's company name, and the city and state of the location you worked at.
- Dates Employed: Thirdly, put the timeframe of your employment there. You can add the year or both the month and the year, but there's no need to put exact days.
- Key Responsibilities: Don't just list every single task you did in your job history. Focus on the few duties most relevant to the new job.
- Key Achievements: Often overlooked, but super important. Employers know what you did, but they need to know how well you did them.
- Keywords: It is important to sprinkle resume keywords throughout the experience section (we'll talk more about this shortly).
If adding more than one job history entry to your resume or CV experience section, start with the most recent position and go back in reverse-chronological order from there. Use five or six bullet points to make your case for each entry's responsibilities and achievements.
Also, your experience section resume bullet points should go near the top, just under your heading statement. However, if you have little or no professional experience, put your education section above your work history.
Got a promotion you want to show off, or more than one job title within the same company? Don't worry, our guide on how to show promotions and multiple positions will show you how.
The work experience section of your resume where you describe your past jobs is the most crucial component of your whole job application. Make sure you get it right: Work Experience on a Resume: Job Description Bullets that *Kill* [100+]
Tailoring Your Resume Work Experience
Robots are taking over. As hiring practices continue to modernize, larger companies are turning to applicant tracking systems (ATS) to give them a hand. ATS software automates the early stages of the recruitment process. How? They look for keywords and assign a score per candidate.
So, tailoring your resume is an absolute must, and your experience section is where you'll do most of it. To create an ATS-friendly resume, go back to the job description and look for resume keywords related to your responsibilities. If you see duties you've performed, include them in your resume job description bullet points.
Also, don't use the same, tired words (“responsible for…”) in your resume job experience area. Instead, choose power words and action verbs which will keep them interested. Use present tense to describe your current job and past tense to talk about previous experience.
Finally, don't use passive voice, as it feels evasive and unclear. Instead, choose active voice when writing a resume, as it's concise and to the point:
Growth team was managed by me.
Managed growth team.
How Much Work Experience to Include on a Resume?
In principle, a resume should go back no more than 10-15 years. But the more experience you have, the less you should worry about the length of your resume. Don't go trying to cram everything into a 1-page resume template if you're a highly-experienced candidate.
Senior-level applicants, such as executives and managers, should list up to 15 years of relevant work experience with powerful action verbs to introduce each bullet point.
Mid-level jobseekers should include detailed job descriptions of relevant positions and a brief mention of any other positions.
Entry-level candidates should list and describe all paid work, particularly calling out responsibilities and achievements that are most relevant.
First-time job hunters with no work experience can still include other history, such as a student organization role, internship, or volunteer experience, to fill out their experience section.
As you learn how to write a resume, remember the best resume templates will highlight your experience and eligibility. Don't hide it with the wrong order, a dull resume layout, or a template free of character. With dozens of good resume examples, templates, and styles, Zety is the best resume builder online.
Make a resume in no time with our resume builder app and 20+ great templates.
Experienced a spell of unemployment? Don't worry! Check out our guide: How to Explain Gaps in Your Resume.
5. Reference Your Education Correctly
Many people treat the education section as an afterthought, but you shouldn't. It's an essential part of your resume structure.
How to List Your Education on a Resume:
- Place your highest degree first.
- List any other degrees in reverse-chronological order.
- Skip the high school info if you finished a university.
- Mention completed credits if your education is unfinished (some college on a resume is better than none).
- Add any relevant coursework, list honors on your job application, or mention the awards you received (e.g., making the Dean's List).
- Finish with relevant extracurricular activities.
Simple, huh? Here's a brief look at how to list education on a resume:
As for mentioning your GPA on a resume, it’s only a good idea if you graduated recently and your GPA was high enough to impress employers: at least 3.5. Otherwise, just leave it off your application.
Want to know how to create a resume education section if you have a GED or didn't graduate? Not sure about the proper resume education format? Check out our article on how to put education on a resume.
Pro Tip: Don't lie in your resume or CV education section. A credit short of a diploma is not a diploma. Also, don't round your GPA up. Anyway, many business degrees don't necessarily improve job prospects.
6. Put Relevant Skills That Fit the Job Ad
Your skills are crucial to making your resume relevant to the position (and attractive to employers). A good resume uses the job ad as reference and includes resume keywords to show you're a good fit for the job.
What Are Hard Skills vs. Soft Skills
Hard skills are specific abilities and know-how (e.g., Photoshop, using a cash register).
Soft skills are self-developed, life-learned attributes (e.g., social skills, adaptability).
Combined, these make up a skill set, which is a job seeker's range of skills and abilities.
Pro Tip: Don't list irrelevant skills! An IT resume doesn't need to disclose your veterinary skills, and a resume for a chef shouldn't include your ability to use Photoshop.
What Skills to Put on a Resume?
Remember that job description you had handy from earlier? Read it again, paying attention to any specific skills that it mentions. If you have any of them, great: those are the keywords to put on your resume! Not only will that make your resume more ATS-friendly, you’ll also prove to recruiters that you’re the right fit for the job.
In case you’d like more guidance, here is a list of some common skills to put on a resume:
- Communication skills—These can include social skills, non-verbal communication, listening skills, and interpersonal skills.
- Technical skills—Knowledge required to perform specific tasks, like computer skills or clerical skills.
- Job-specific skills—Particular prowess the company specifically requires.
- Leadership skills and management skills—Ability to be a good manager, leader, and supervisor.
- Critical thinking skills—Ability to make your own, thought-based decisions and take initiative. Includes analytical skills, decision-making skills, and problem-solving skills.
- Organizational skills—A knack for planning, organizing, and seeing initiatives through.
- Transferable skills—for career changers, these are abilities you learned that can be carried over to your new position.
Pro Tip: Don't just google “skills for a [industry] resume” and throw in the results. Take time to tailor your resume skills list to the job posting, as we mentioned earlier.
How to List Skills on a Resume?
There are several ways to include a list of skills on a resume. For most, a simple skills section that includes 5-6 key abilities and your proficiency level is enough:
For specific job titles and technical skills, you may want to list your particular knowledge per item, to give them specific detail into the areas of the skill you excel at:
Pro Tip: Not every skill is worth mentioning on a resume! Saying you can use Microsoft Word is like bragging about being able to use a fork.
7. Include Additional Important Resume Sections
Here's the thing—everyone's job resumes include those sections above. But what should a resume include to make it personalized?
Make your resume unique by including extra resume information. Additional sections on your resume can showcase just about anything about you, from your proud commendations to languages in which you're fluent and more.
Here's how to make your resume stand out with extra sections:
Hobbies and Interests
You might not think that your love of baseball and being the Little League assistant coach would be of interest to a potential employer. However, listing your hobbies and interests subtly proves your ability to work well in a team, and the coaching can verify your leadership and management expertise.
Volunteering boosts employability, studies find. For most job seekers, listing any volunteer experience as one of your additional resume sections is a great way to show your commitment and values. It also lets them know that you don't only care about the money. For entry-level or first-time applicants who have no experience, volunteer work makes an excellent stand-in.
Listing internships on your resume is only OK if you're fresh out of school, had one or two other jobs, or you haven't been on the market for longer than 4–5 years.
Certifications and Awards
Got any certifications, licenses to show off on your resume? If they are relevant to the job and industry, include them!
Placed first in a chili cook-off at the state fair? If you're looking to be a cook, it will definitely help. Likewise, a food safety certification or food handler's license that you already have would surely be in your favor.
Speak another language? Impressive! Listing language skills on a resume only extends your usefulness as an employee, particularly in international corporations or localities where there is a large population speaking that second language. List the language, international variation (Latin American Spanish, for example), and your language fluency levels.
You can include projects as a separate section if you've done a bunch, or simply mention one or two below each job description.
Have articles written for a blog, newspaper, or scientific journal? Mention those publications on a resume. If your published material isn't online, create a short bibliography of the works you'd like them to acknowledge.
Also, if you've built graphic designs or other creative creations, or if your list of publications or projects is too long to go on a resume, consider building an online portfolio to document everything. Link to it from the contact section, in this case.
8. Complement Your Resume With a Cover Letter
You need to submit a cover letter, most definitely. Your cover letter or job application letter lets you expand upon things that you need to keep brief on your resume. Also, it allows you to speak easily in normal sentences!
Sound like an overkill? Think again. Most employers think a resume is not enough to make a decision. Follow our guide on how to make a cover letter (or a cover letter with no experience or cover letter for an internship), and you'll knock this out quickly and painlessly.
Plus, a great cover letter that matches your resume will give you an advantage over other candidates. You can write it in our cover letter builder here. Here's what it may look like:
9. Proofread, Save, and Email Your Resume the Right Way
You're almost there, but don't send it off just yet. Here are some resume best practices to keep in mind, so you can rest assured that you wrote the perfect resume:
Proofread & Double-Check
Double-check your CV or resume draft before sending it out. Scan your resume and cover letter (and email!) with a tool like Grammarly. Then, ask a friend or family member to triple-check. Better safe than sorry!
As for the question of how to spell resume? It's still a bone of contention, but we think “resume” without the accents is the best choice.
Check Your Online Presence
Remember when we discussed social media and LinkedIn back in the contact section?
Before a recruiter or hiring manager gets the chance to look you and your employment history up, you better have your online presence sanitized! That means removing any offensive posts and making private things private. While you're at it, tweak your LinkedIn profile so that it's up-to-date and complete.
Pro Tip: Don't send your email to the catch-all public email address for the entire company, unless the job listing specifically asks you to do so. Find the personal email address of the HR manager, instead, if you can.
Save Your Resume
Word Doc or PDF? See what the job ad says. Resumes in PDF usually work best, because they preserve the structure and formatting on all devices. However, if the company’s asking the candidates to send resumes in Microsoft Word .doc format, creating your resume in Word and sending it as required is a better idea.
How to name your resume file? Easy: include your name, job title, and the word resume, separated with hyphens or underscores.
What about references? You definitely shouldn't include them on a resume, but you can include a reference page with a resume.
Pro Tip: When emailing your resume, check the job description to see if they ask applicants to send emails with something specific in the subject line of the email. If not, go with the position title, posting any job reference number, if required, your name, and include the word “resume.”
Make It Legible
This entire document you're making is completely useless if the employer can't actually read it. Make it easy for them to scan by keeping these points in mind.
What Should a Resume Look Like—Formatting:
- Choose the best resume font—a standard font that will render correctly on most machines, like Cambria, Calibri, Arial, Times New Roman, or Helvetica. No cursive!
- Go for single line spacing, and 11pt or 12pt font size for the regular text. Increase to 14pt—16pt font size for section titles. Avoid making your resume margins too small, and make them equal on all sides.
- Use bold text to draw attention to particular words or phrases, and italics for supporting text. Avoid underlining, as it just makes the resume feel cluttered (and URLs already use it).
- Complement the standard font of your text by alternating serif for sans-serif (or vice versa) in any section headings. For example, you can pair the Arial font (sans-serif) or Calibri font (sans-serif) with the Times New Roman font (serif).
- Go for the best resume paper you can afford if you're printing your resume. It'll add an extra professional touch.
Consistency on your resume draft is crucial, just like your consistency as their future employee. For example, format your dates any way you'd like (31 Dec, December 31, 12-2020, etc.), but follow the same throughout.
If you find an icon to introduce a particular resume section, find resume icons for each section or skip them altogether. Don't use the wrong verb tenses or go back and forth between tenses. If it was a past job that you no longer work at, use the past tense. If you're listing a current position, use the present tense. Whatever you do, keep them consistent throughout.
Email Your Resume the Right Way
When you send a resume to a catch-all email address such as firstname.lastname@example.org, your resume and cover letter are entering a sea of similar emails from other job seekers fighting for the same position as you.
Find the name of the person who will be reading your resume and personalize your email with that information. Sending a resume is much more compelling when you use Dear Susan instead of To Whom It May Concern.
That was super-detailed, we know. So here are a few general resume tips for making a resume:
- Stay relevant—Every single item on your resume should prove you are the best possible candidate.
- Tailor—Make one resume specifically for one specific job and company to apply to. Name the company and pick skills that relate to the open position.
- Choose the right stuff—Use active voice, write a heading statement for your situation, and don't include unnecessary details.
- Be consistent—Follow the same formatting, styles, colors, and conventions throughout your resume.
- Double-check—Don't send your resume off before you are certain there are no typos and errors. Ask a friend for help or do go through a resume critique.
- Build a resume online—Use Zety's easy resume helper to write your cover letter and resume in no time. More than twenty resume examples and templates are there to help guide you. And, with the tips and advice it gives along the way, you know you'll have a great resume that gets the dream job! We think it's the best resume builder out there.
Have any questions on how to write a resume? Not sure how to make the perfect resume work experience section or how to build a resume list of skills or achievements? Get at us in the comments below, and we'll answer your questions. Thanks for reading, and good luck with your résumé preparation!
Frequently Asked Questions about How to Make a Resume for a Job
How to make a resume for a job?
First, read the job ad carefully to pick up keywords for your resume that you’ll target to pass the Applicant Tracking Software test. Next, create resume sections necessary to present yourself, your qualifications, and your strengths. The sections are:
- Personal details
- Professional summary or objective
- Employment history
- Other, such as awards, certificates and licenses, or languages
Depending on the industry and experience, you’ll have to think about which additional sections work best. But you definitely can’t write a resume without the other five. You can spare yourself the worry by using our resume maker.
How to write a resume for the first time?
Write your first resume with transferable skills in the skills and resume objective sections. In the work history part, add accomplishments examples that prove your qualities of a valuable employee, such as curiosity, eagerness to learn and assist, and developed communication skills. Internships and volunteering placements fit there perfectly. And most importantly—put your academic achievements right below the objective to highlight your educational advancement.
How to make a good resume that will impress recruiters?
An impressive resume is a resume that reads well and looks so, too. So before you get down to writing the nitty-gritty details of your professional and academic achievements, take care of the resume formatting and layout.
Only then move on to adding the biggest successes under each section: resume profile, experience, education, and skills. But—additional parts make the strongest impression, so don’t forget to include awards, certifications or licenses, or extracurricular activities to your resume. Say you’re an achiever, not a doer.
What is the format of a resume?
The chronological format is the most popular resume format suitable for every job applicant—an entry-level position, a specialist, or an executive. By choosing it, you decide to show off your career progression.
Functional format, or skills-based resume, presents you in the best light when changing careers. It concentrates on your skillset and leaves work history in the back seat.
Combination format, aka a hybrid, is a well-blended mixture of the chronological and functional formats. It’s the most complex one to write as it includes a skills summary and an extended experience section, which is apt for senior positions.
How to make a resume in Word?
You can spare yourself the trouble and use a pre-made Word resume template. But if you have quite some experience with text formatting (and plenty of time), start making your resume in Word. Create a clean layout, choose a font that reads well, and limit the number of graphic elements on the page not to overwhelm the ATS. Then, add the main and additional resume sections in an order suitable for the resume format. Save it in a Word or PDF file at the end, keeping in mind the instructions from the recruiter.
Or, if you need a top-notch resume that takes just minutes to make and looks better than any Word resume, pick one of Zety’s resume templates, add your info, and land that job.
What does a good resume look like in 2022?
In 2022, you need to make even a stronger impression than in the previous years. Use a modern resume template and include the most important sections: personal information, summary or objective, employment history, education, and skills. Add your best achievements under each section and quantify them. Show your future employer that you’ve had an impact and will continue to bring results.