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American Resume: Tips on U.S. Style & Format (+Template)

American Resume: Tips on U.S. Style & Format (+Template)

When in America, do as Americans do. Write a great American resume using this compendium of U.S. style tips and tricks.

Oliwia Wolkowicz
Oliwia Wolkowicz
Career Expert

A job opening in the U.S. has your name written all over it so you sit down to write your resume.

 

And you realize you don’t know how.

 

What does an American resume look like? What’s a U.S. resume format? 

 

Let me start off with some good news—American resumes aren’t all that difficult to write. 

 

Want the even better news?

 

We’ve gathered all you need to know about a U.S. resume in one spot.

 

Follow along as we go through several expert tips and tricks and you’ll have a brand spanking new American resume in minutes!

 

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 templates

Sample resume made with our builder—See more templates and create your resume here.

 

Check out these other writing guides about resume formats and structure:

 

U.S. Resume Template: Tips for an American Style Resume

 

For the most part, American resumes look quite similar to resumes in other countries.

 

Keep your original resume handy— it might turn out that you just need to do a few cosmetic changes and you’ll be good to go in no time!

 

American Resume Template

 

1. USA Resume Format

 

The most popular resume format in the U.S. in the reverse-chronological format which puts the focus on your professional work experience.

 

If you’re fresh out of school and just starting your career, a skills-based or functional resume format might be a better choice since it focuses more on your knowledge and skills and less on your job experience.

If you’re unsure what format to choose, read on: Best Resume Format (+Samples)

2. Header with Contact Information

 

Add your contact information at the top of your resume so that recruiters know how to get in touch. 

 

This should include your name, contact phone number, and email.

 

If you have a relevant website or online portfolio or an up-to-date LinkedIn profile, add that too.

 

Pay very close attention to information that should not be found in an American resume since it can exclude your resume from the start. We’ll mention this later on.

Read more: Resume Header Examples

3. Resume Profile

 

Your resume profile should be a short, relevant paragraph about yourself and why you’re applying for the position.

 

If you’re already an experienced professional, use the resume summary statement that will focus on your job experience.

 

If you’re just starting your career, use a resume objective statement that focuses on your skills and your career goals.

 

Remember to keep it brief. Your resume summary or objective shouldn’t be any longer than 5 sentences.

Check how to write a resume profile: Resume Profile Samples and Tips

4. Work Experience

 

This section will be the main part of your American resume and include your relevant work experience.

 

You should include the name of the company you worked for, its location, your employment dates, the title of your position, and a short list of your primary job responsibilities.

 

Here are a few tips:

  • Mention your relevant job responsibilities in bullet points using action words.
  • Add 6 bullet points for your most recent position and fewer as you go back in time.
  • Don’t go back further than 15 years in your career experience.
  • Use resume keywords to raise your chances of passing computerized recruitment systems that scan your resume for specific phrases.

See how to craft the perfect work experience section for your US resume: Resume Work Experience, History & Example Job Descriptions

5. Education

 

As the name suggests, this is the section where your education goes.

 

Mention your degree (if applicable), school name, and location (city, country).

 

Different countries have different degrees and mastery so make your level of education as clear as possible (avoid abbreviations or jargon).

 

If you lack job experience, feel free to mention relevant coursework you’ve done to boost your credentials.

 

There’s no need to add a GPA or your grades. Most internationally grading systems most likely won’t be understood by U.S. recruiters anyway.

School yourself on how to add your education to your resume the right way: Education on a Resume Made Simple

6. Skills

 

List the job skills you have. Then take a look through the job ad and highlight the skills the employer is looking for. 

 

Do any of the skills on both lists match? Mention those skills on your U.S. resume.

 

Don’t mention every skill you ever had. 

 

Remember to make your skills section a nice balance between hard and soft skills since employers value both. In fact, it’s demand for soft skills that’s on the rise!

Go more in depth on skills, their different types, and what employers value in this guide: Work Skills That Should be on Your Resume

7. Additional Sections

 

This section is the perfect place to add any extra interests or accomplishments that hiring managers might be interested in and that will make you stand out from the crowd.

 

These can usually be divided into the following categories:

 

Remember, this isn’t a chance for you to show off in front of your mother who will think that the fact you like cats and collecting buttons is wonderful. Keep it relevant to the job you’re applying for.

Read more: What Sections and Categories to Add to a Resume

U.S. Resume Formatting

 

It’s not enough to just fill the page with a bunch of information and then just sit back and wait for recruiters to start calling.

 

You need to make sure that it looks professional and clean as well.

 

That’s where formatting comes into play.

 

Here are some quick tips to make your American resume look its best:

  • Use 1.15 line spacing.
  • Have 1 inch resume margins on all sides of the page.
  • Keep the length of your resume to 1-2 pages.
  • Use an easy-to-read, professional resume font. Use 12 pt for the body of the resume and 14-16 pt for you resume section headers.
  • Divide your resume into clear, separate sections through the use of larger font size and formatting options like bold or underline.
  • Don’t try to fill up the entire page. Leave some white space in your resume to make it more pleasant to read.

For the ultimate guide on what your resume format needs to shine, check this out: Best Resume Layout (+Examples)

When making a resume in our builder, drag & drop bullet points, skills, and auto-fill the boring stuff. Spell check? Check. Start building your resume here.

When you’re done, Zety’s resume builder will score your resume and tell you exactly how to make it better.

What Not to Include on American Resumes

 

Here are some very important differences as to what should never be on an American resume.

 

1. Personal information on a U.S. Resume 

 

There is certain information that is considered normal on international resumes, but is actually a severe no-no on resumes in the U.S.A.

 

You should remove all of the below information from your U.S. resume:

  • Date of birth
  • Marital status
  • Number of children
  • Sex
  • Parents’ names
  • Personal identification numbers
  • Photo
  • Age
  • Religion
  • Ethnicity/Country of origin

 

All of these can be grounds for discrimination and so recruiters will simply reject any resumes with the above information without even reading them.

 

2. Authorization to Work in the U.S. on a Resume

 

Some job seekers may think it’s a good idea to add a social security number or their immigrant status to their resume to prove that they can work legally in the U.S. 

 

It’s not.

 

Under federal law, it’s illegal for employers to ask for proof of your eligibility to work in the U.S. until after giving you a job offer.

 

3. Phone Number on a U.S. Resume

 

Add your phone number only if you have an American phone number you can be contacted under. 

 

If you do, do not add the country prefix (+1). 

 

Your American phone number should be entered like this:507-350-1213 (mobile) or (952) 238-1027 (landline).

 

4. Address on a U.S. Resume

 

It’s not wise to have your detailed address floating around everywhere. Writing down the city in which you live plus the zip code should be enough (e.g. Peoria, AZ 85345). 

 

If you live in a large metropolitan area, feel free to narrow it down to a given district or area (e.g. Lower Manhattan, New York, NY 10011).

 

6. References on a U.S. Resume

 

It’s not customary to mention references on an American resume. The employer will ask for them if interested.

 

Key Takeaway

 

No matter where you’re coming from, an American resume is not hugely different than the resume you probably already have.

 

Forget the special vocabulary for different parts of your resume, don’t worry that you don’t know the terminology. 

 

Instead, keep your your eye on:

  • Using the correct resume sections and order (header, profile, work experience, education, skills, additional sections).
  • Formatting your resume correctly with proper fonts, spacing, and size.
  • Making sure that you don’t include information that is unusual or illegal on your American resume.

 

Focus on putting your best foot forward in the right way and soon enough you’ll be walking through the door to your U.S. interview!

 

Thanks for reading! Do you have any other questions concerning U.S. style resumes? Let us know down below!

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Oliwia Wolkowicz
Oliwia Wolkowicz
Oliwia is a career expert with a solid background in various industries, including consulting and aviation. At Zety, she writes dedicated, advice-driven guides to help readers create great resumes and cover letters to land the job of their dreams.
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