Choose the right resume tense and voice, pass the ATS scan and land that interview. Here’s how.
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A job opening in the US has your name written all over it. You need to submit a resume, but you're not sure if it's something totally different from a curriculum vitae.
Follow along as we go through several expert tips and tricks and you’ll have a brand spanking new American resume in minutes!
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Looking for US resume examples for specific positions? See:
- Entry Level Resume
- Resume with No Work Experience
- Resume for a Part Time Job
- Internship Resume
- Student Resume Template
- College Graduate Resume
- College Application Resume
- Scholarship Resume
- Resume for Graduate School
- Academic CV
- Federal Resume
- IT Resume
- Samples of Resumes for 500+ Jobs
- Samples of Curriculum Vitae for 500+ Jobs
- Best Resume Templates for 2021
US Resume Format
An American resume is typically a one-page document similar to a CV. The US resume format lays information out in reverse-chronological order: you start with your most recent job and make your way back in time. American resumes often start with a heading statement, followed by experience, education, and skills.
You may be surprised, but there are very few differences between American resumes and CVs:
American Resume Template
The most popular resume format in the US in the reverse-chronological format which puts the focus on your professional work experience. Alternatives include the functional resume format and combination resume format. Standard US resumes are one page long.
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
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 summary of qualifications and skills shouldn’t be any longer than 5 sentences.
Check how to write a resume profile: How to Describe Yourself on a Resume
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 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.
- Tailor your resume to the job description.
See how to craft the perfect work experience section for your US resume: Resume Work Experience, History & Example Job Descriptions
As the name suggests, this is the section where your education goes.
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 US recruiters anyway.
School yourself on how to add your education to your resume the right way: Education on a Resume Made Simple
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 US resume.
Don’t mention every skill you ever had.
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:
- Certificates and Licenses
- Hobbies and Interests
- Foreign Languages
- Achievements and Awards
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.
US 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.
- Don't go too far back on your resume and write it up in reverse chronological order.
- A two page resume is fine if you only list relevant experience and simply have plenty of it.
- Use an easy-to-read, professional resume font.
- Divide your resume into clear, separate sections.
- Leave some white space in your resume to make it more pleasant to read.
See the resume outline below:
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
1. Personal information on a US Resume
There is certain information that is considered normal on international resumes (e.g., biodata forms), but is actually a severe no-no on resumes in the USA.
You should remove all of the below information from your traditional resume:
- Date of birth
- Marital status
- Number of children
- Parents’ names
- Personal identification numbers
- 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 US 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 US
Under federal law, it’s illegal for employers to ask for proof of your eligibility to work in the US until after giving you a job offer.
3. Phone Number on a US 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 US Resume
Leave your address off of your 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 US Resume
It’s not customary to mention references on an American resume. The employer will ask for them if interested.
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, when writing a resume for the US, 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 US interview!
Thanks for reading! Do you have any other questions concerning US style resumes? Let us know down below!