Edited by Nataly Bogorad
September 23, 2019
How to Write a Resume
What Is a Resume?
Resume comes from a French word “résumé” that literally means “summary.” Basically, a resume is a brief summary of personal, educational, and professional qualifications and experience prepared by an applicant for a position. When it comes to applying for a new job, resume is a must-have: it is required for most positions and helps a potential employer form their first impression of you.
People have been using resumes or something similar since medieval times. Today, this document has come to mean a short but informative account of your career and qualifications relevant to the position for which you're applying.
Common Resume Types
There are three types of resumes in common use: chronological, functional, or a combination of the two. Each resume type is used in a different way, focusing on different aspects of your work history and/or key skills. The purpose of these different forms is to best describe a person’s qualifications for a specific job while being as succinct as possible: resumes should provide a lot of information, but without going into unnecessary details.
A chronological resume is a list of your work history, starting with the most recent position and listing your earlier jobs in reverse chronological order.
This type of resume is ideal for job seekers with a solid work history. If you are at the start of your career and looking for a job for the first time, or if you are switching to a new career field, you should consider a different type of resume.
A functional resume focuses on your skills and abilities rather than on your detailed work history. Instead of starting with an employment history, you can start with a skills section that describes the various skills you have developed over time. A functional resume might not include a person’s work history at all or might have a concise list of previous jobs at the bottom of the document.
This type of resume is a good option for people who are changing careers or who have gaps in their professional experience.
A combination resume is a mix between a chronological resume and a functional resume. It contains details about your skills and qualifications, along with a reverse-chronological work history.
This type of resume is a good choice for a junior or mid-level candidate with important, relevant skills that match the requirements of a particular job. For example, a combination resume format can be beneficial once you have a few years of work experience after college. Using this resume format will highlight skills you’ve obtained as an early-career professional and help to connect those skills to your working experience.
Resume Sections and What They Should Contain
While you may decide to add, remove, or reorder sections depending on your needs, here are a few of the most common sections of a resume:
- Full name and contact details
- Resume profile or objective statement
- Work history
- List of relevant personal and professional skills
- Additional relevant accomplishments
Let’s go into what each of these resume sections should contain.
Full name and contact details
The applicant's name and contact information should be at the top of the resume. The name should include first, last, and middle names (if any). The contact information usually includes a phone number, an email address, and a city of residence.
Resume profile or objective statement
Your resume profile or objective should be a short, one- or two-sentence statement that briefly explains who you are and why you’re qualified. Carefully read the position details for clues as to which of your hard and soft skills will be the most relevant.
Resume profiles and objectives are a bit different, and you should choose to include one or the other depending on your background and the position you're applying for. A resume profile will outline your work experience, while an objective statement will summarize your short-term goals.
A profile is a good choice if you have at least some professional experience that can be quickly summarized. An objective statement is better suited for applicants who have recently graduated from college or university, or those with no experience in the desired field.
The education section usually provides detailed information on an applicant’s educational background. Here, you should include the name of the higher education institution you graduated from, graduation year, degree, and field of study. You also can list any academic scholarships, bursaries, and grants you have held.
The work history section is the most important part of your resume, in which you describe your previous jobs. Here, you should list all of your most relevant professional experiences, starting with your most recent job.
Your work history should include the name of the employer, your job title, years of employment, and a few bullet points with your most important and relevant achievements. Make sure you’re focused on achievements rather than duties. Employers are more interested in what you have achieved than the tasks you have completed.
List of relevant personal and professional skills
The skills section provides a concise list of skills related to the job you’re applying for. In this section, you should include both "hard skills" – specific, measurable skills such as proficiency in a foreign language, ability to use computer programs, or typing speed – and "soft skills" like responsibility, attention to detail, and flexibility.
Additional relevant accomplishments
Additional relevant accomplishments is one more section that can be added to your resume. This section should give a short list of any other relevant accomplishments or volunteer experience. Include only those that seem relevant or that may help you make a better impression with a potential employer.
4 Key Resume Writing Tips
Still not feeling confident? Here are some simple tips for writing a better resume:
- Check your resume twice. Once you’ve completed first draft using all the recommendations listed above, it’s crucial that you proofread the resume so you don’t miss spelling errors, typos, or other details that can ruin your efforts. A perfected and well-written resume shows a commitment to excellence that any hiring manager will appreciate.
- Consider adding a photo to the resume. Line personnel whose duties don’t include any presentation skills can easily do without a photo. However, if you are aspiring to the position of sales manager, public relations manager, or business consultant which implies face-to-face interaction with colleagues and clients, a photo in your resume wouldn't go amiss. Note that what matters most is not beauty standards, but your ability to present yourself visually.
- If you’re not sure whether or not to write a cover letter, you should do so. A cover letter matters. And if you’re wondering how to write a cover letter for a resume in the right way, consider three main things: use a generic formal greeting like “Dear Hiring Manager”; keep your letter brief – three short paragraphs (about 250–300 words maximum); and conclude with what makes you uniquely qualified for the position – make your explanation reasonable and as personal as possible.
- If you are looking for a fast and easy way to get your resume up-to-scratch, download Indeed’s ready-to-use resume templates in PDF format and use Movavi’s PDF Editor to open blank resume templates and fill them out for free. To learn more about working with fillable PDF forms, click here>>
In this article, we have outlined general recommendations for creating resumes. We hope you have obtained some useful information from this study.
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