How To Write A Resume

Your resume is the first impression you give to a prospective employer. Knowing how to write a resume effectively means the difference between getting an interview and seeing your application sent to the trash. A concise, well-formatted resume that successfully conveys skills and abilities is the first step in landing a job.

Knowing how to write a resume starts with understanding the basics of the format. A resume is a piece of professional communication. It should be neat, concise, and should look like the type of document you would expect to cross the desk of a company’s key decision makers. Your resume should be limited to a single page that effectively summarizes the key points of your qualifications. If your work experience is such that one page is simply not enough, a second page is fine, but use the space judiciously.

Keep in mind that your resume will be read by busy professionals. They will evaluate your qualifications at a glance and will not pour over a long and involved dissertation to carefully evaluate you. You need to make things as convenient for them as possible. All your qualifications, including work experience and education, should be neatly summed up using bullet points. This will make your resume easy to assess and increases your chances of getting an interview.

A common theme you will see here is that the resume should be tailored to the job. The best way to get an interview is to show the correlation between your goals, experience and education and the requirements of the job. If the job posting lists activities that you have done at past jobs or tasks that your coursework has prepared you for, then be sure to state this right away. Do not have one bland, catch-all resume that you use for every job application.

A clear, professional resume that is written with one job in mind is the first thing to know about how to write a resume. The next step is deciding how to fill the space.

Contact Information

You need to list your personal contact information at the very top of your resume.

  1. Name: your legal name. First and last are fine. Include middle name if you usually include it, but it’s not necessary. No nicknames.
  2. Home address
  3. Telephone number
  4. Email address: be sure it is a professional-sounding address. There is no use writing a very good resume just to top it with cutiepie[at]snuggles.mail-ect. If you don’t have an address that looks professional, sign up for a new one with a service like Gmail or Yahoo right away.
  5. Do not include personal information such as gender, ethnic background or date of birth.
  6. Career Objective: include a one-line summary of your career goals. Be sure it relates to this job in some way. If the job has nothing to do with any long- or short-term career goals, leave this section off your resume.

Work History

If you have work history relevant to the job you’re applying for, then this should be the first section of the resume. Here you need to list all past jobs in reverse chronological order (latest job first). Remember to use bullet points, not paragraphs. Each bullet point should summarize an important job responsibility or a major accomplishment. Internships should also be listed in this section. Again, tailor the resume to the job. If this job lists responsibilities or tasks that you have done at previous jobs, be sure to list them right away. Match your history to the job you’re applying for as best you can.

An important thing to remember is to not leave gaps in the summary of work experience. Anyone who has read enough resumes can spot an omission quickly and that just leads to them asking the wrong kinds of questions. Remember: get ahead of any trouble spots in your work history. Answer them ahead of time to mitigate any prospective issues. Don’t try to leave things out with the hopes they won’t notice.

If this is your first job or your work history is short, or if you’re completing your education with the goal of changing careers, then education should be listed before work history on your resume.

Education

In this section of the resume, list your education history (again, reverse chronological order). Under “education,” be sure to list all degrees, professional certifications, relevant student organizations and professional extracurricular activities. Again, be sure all the activities are relevant to the job and professional. If your resume is light on work experience and you’re relying on education to carry it, you can also list a few important courses if they are related to the job you’re applying for. This is another opportunity to write the resume aimed at the job itself.

Referees

If a job posting specifically asks for referees, be sure to list them on your resume. If the posting doesn’t ask for them but you have space to fill, you can list them as well. If you’re out of room on your resume and the job doesn’t ask for referees, you can simply write “referees available upon request.” Regardless of how you choose to list referees, be sure to contact them ahead of time. Get their approval and get their current contact information. Listing a referee with an incorrect telephone number inconveniences your prospective employer and makes you look like you have no attention to detail. An additional benefit of contacting referees ahead of time is that it gets your referees in a frame of mind where they are thinking about what they’ll say about you. Prepared referees give better references

Be sure to proof read your resume when it’s finished! Make sure it’s written in plain English, with no slang, confusing jargon or spelling errors. If you need help, you could use online resume template or writing and reviewing services. Remember: your resume is meant to show prospective employers the kind of worker you will be. Keep it concise, neat and error-free and they’ll assume the same about you.