How to Write a Resume: The Short Guide

A person holding their resume and a pen

You’ve seen it a million times on job applications- “Please attach your resume.” Does that line make you break into a cold sweat or close the screen frustrated?

Providing a resume can be overwhelming if you’re unsure how to summarize your experiences and skills professionally and cohesively. After all, the resume on your job application is as important as SAT scores on your college application. Talk about stress!

Don’t worry; writing a stellar resume isn’t the impossible task you’ve been dreading for months. With strategic tips and a push in the right direction, you can create a resume that captures your most important qualities and lands your application firmly in the “yes!” pile.

Practically Perfect Resume Presentation

Before you even start thinking about the content of your resume, select the best resume format. (Not the first template that populates in Microsoft Word!)

Your resume format gives the first impression of your skills, even before the hiring manager reads a word. Font, margins, and organization all matter!

Though every resume is unique, this general organizational scheme will set you up for success:

  • Begin with a single sentence that describes your professional objective
  • List your relevant work experience from most recent to least recent
  • List your most recent and relevant education (college, trade school, high school)
  • Leave room for an additional section that, if applicable, lists your certifications and/or unique training

Depending on the structure and template you use, you also need to include the following information either at the top or on the side of your resume:

  • Name, address, phone number, email, and LinkedIn or Portfolio link
  • Skill sets
  • Language(s)
  • Interests

The key is to provide the most important and meaningful information without writing an autobiography. Short, powerful phrases and sentences resonate more than long-winded paragraphs!

Cater the Info to the Job You Want

Depending on the job you’re applying for, you may add or eliminate specific experiences, skills, and goals on your resume. For example, you don’t need to include your summer camp leader experiences if you apply for an engineering position at Boeing. Still, those same experiences could be precious when applying for a teacher or school counselor position.

It’s a great idea to browse sample resumes online or even review job descriptions of your dream position. Take notes on the adjectives and verbs used to describe the job, then work those elements of language into your resume to stand out from other applicants.

Edit and Proofread

You’re only human, and mistakes happen… but shouldn’t happen on your resume. Hiring managers may not have the patience for a resume with a few spelling or punctuation mistakes; even minor errors, reflect poorly on your attention to detail and overall capabilities.

So edit, proofread, review, revise, and do it all again. Ask a friend or family member to read your resume with fresh eyes to catch mistakes you might not see. Print your resume on paper and read it from a physical copy. So much extra attention will pay off when you can confidently attach your resume to any application and trust that it’s the best.

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