Summary: A résumé is an essential job-hunting tool and summarizes your education, work experience, and other relevant skills. Create a professional snapshot with these tips.
Everything You Need to Know About Résumé Writing
One of the most important tools when job-hunting is your résumé. It’s a document describing your personal, professional, and educational qualifications and work experience in one to two pages while also showcasing your achievements. It is usually your first contact with potential employers and often determines whether you will move forward in the job application process—so it’s important to make it really represent you and stand out in a crowd!
Most companies require a résumé and a cover letter from job applicants. A résumé lets companies quickly sort, compare, and identify potentially qualified applicants. People who receive your résumé will spend an average of 6 seconds scanning your document, so fine-tuning the details can help your résumé make a maximum impact. Read on for more about how to effectively format and present your information.
Résumés can be formatted or designed differently depending on what information you want to highlight. The two most common résumé formats are chronological format and functional format. Another category of résumé is a curriculum vitae (or CV) that’s used when applying for academic or scientific positions.
A chronological résumé uses a timeline approach from your most recent job to present important information about your education, qualifications, and experience. A functional résumé groups your work experience by skill area or job category.
Since your résumé should include your information in an organized and easy-to-read document, sections are an integral part of the résumé. You can change the order of résumé sections according to the type of position you are applying for. Consider these sections when writing your résumé:
- Header – Informational and answers the questions of who you are and your contact information with your name, location, phone number, and email
- Summary or objective – Showcases your strengths or add an engaging and specific goal for obtaining the position
- Skills – Highlight your relevant job skills specific to the position you’re applying for
- Professional experience – Includes your professional work experience
- Education – Describes your educational background, including certifications, special training, or workshops
- Additional information (optional) – Lists volunteer work, awards, achievements, and special interests
Where do I start?
A template is one of the easiest ways to start your résumé. Different résumé templates offer different formats, so you’ll want to choose the format that best highlights the information you wish to present about yourself for this particular position. Once you’ve added all of the details into the template and stored it in an electronic file, you can easily revise your résumé later for a different job posting.
More Tips for Writing Résumés
Once you have a first draft in hand, there are a few more steps you can take to polish the document and prepare to send it.
- Focus your résumé on the specific position. Word your objective so that it closely fits the employer’s needs and gives the greatest emphasis to the qualifications or experience matching the position. You can do this by repeating keywords or phrases the employer used in the job posting that reflects your abilities. But above all, be honest, concise, and straightforward.
- Add your values or work ethic. While it is essential to discuss your work experiences, employers want to know your work ethic and values, so make sure to include these in your objectives.
- Avoid a lengthy résumé. The ideal length for the doc is around 1 page for entry-level jobs; for a higher-level job, your résumé can be 2 pages. Use action verbs in your résumé to describe your experiences and qualifications, like “administered,” “managed,” and “supervised.”
- Proofread your résumé carefully. Check for spelling, grammar, punctuation, and any format error. Having a counselor, teacher, family member, or friend give it a read-through will also help catch any errors you may have overlooked.
A Positive First Impression
Before you ever meet a hiring manager, recruiter, or potential employer, your résumé makes a first impression for you. Remember that busy employers or hiring managers only take 6 seconds to review résumés. Take the time to investigate the company’s website and social media presence so that you know the company that you could potentially work for. A résumé should sound professional in tone, be attractive in style, and, most of all, describe how you can not only fulfill the company’s job opening successfully but also make a positive contribution to the company long-term.