How to Write a Resume

No matter what industry you’re targeting, knowing how to make a resume is key to getting the job you want. Recruiters, employers and hiring managers all begin their search to fill a position by reviewing resumes to identify qualified applicants to interview.

That means that blowing it at the resume stage will prevent you from getting a chance to convince an employer that you’re the best candidate. Knocking it out of the park by crafting a strong resume that captures the attention of the hiring team puts you in contention to earn a job offer.

Follow this step-by-step guide on how to write a resume that a hiring manager just can’t refuse.

Use a simple resume format.

Know what to include and exclude.

Craft your summary statement.

Tailor each resume to the job.

Proofread carefully before submission.

Use a Simple Resume Format

Many job candidates make the mistake of assuming that a resume that stands out visually, or has eye-catching graphics, will be more appealing to hiring teams. If you have this mindset, you might end up spending a lot of time deciding which font style to use or choosing art treatment for your resume.

When it comes to formatting your resume, less is almost always more. Going overboard with fancy fonts and cool graphics can end up simply distracting resume reviewers rather than impressing them. You should choose a simple format and skip the bells and whistles. Chose 10, 11- or 12-point type; keep margins to at least a half-inch all around; use basic bold, italics and underlining to improve readability. Understand that it’s the content of this document — your work experience — that needs to stand out, not how the content is formatted.

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Know What to Include and Exclude

All resumes should contain your contact information at the top of the page, followed by your work experience — with your most recent position first — and then your educational background. You can also add the optional summary section (described below) under your contact information.

Just as important, though, is knowing what information to omit from your resume. You should not list any personal information — such as your age, birthdate, sex, race, marital status and whether or not you have children — to avoid possible hiring bias. You should also leave out irrelevant or outdated work experience; a position that you held over 15 years ago is likely not needed, unless it’s essential to proving your qualifications for the new position. It’s also generally not a good idea to list skills and hobbies that are unrelated to the position to which you’re applying.

Craft Your Summary Statement

While some applicants simply move from their name and contact information at the top of their resume directly into their job history, you can help separate your resume from the pack by including a well-written summary statement near the top of the document. A summary statement is a compact sentence or two that describes the key skills, talents and experiences that you bring to the table. It gives the employer a “quick hit” of who you are professionally, what role you seek and what you can bring to their company.

As you think about what attributes to highlight in your summary statement, consider what would be the shortest way possible to describe your work experience. If you had to give a one-sentence elevator pitch to the employer about everything that your resume ultimately represents, what would you say? Be sure to consider the specific employer and job that you’re targeting when you write this sentence. You may want to tweak the statement slightly for each company you apply to, even if the role is the same, to ensure that you hit on what’s important to each organization.

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Tailor Each Resume to the Particular Job

To that end, when considering how to write a resume for a job, you should be prepared to customize your resume more broadly for different employers, too. While your job history won’t change no matter which company you submit it to, it may make sense to emphasize certain experiences over others depending on the exact role to which you’re applying.

For example, if you are submitting your resume to two product manager positions in two different organizations, read each job description carefully. If one company is looking for someone with superior communication skills, think back over your job history and be sure to flag instances that validate the strength of your communicationskill set.

Proofread Carefully Before Submission

Your resume may be the only calling card that a potential employer sees from you. For this reason, it’s important that every detail conveys the level of professionalism and care that you’d hope to reflect in an interview. This means you’ll want to go over your final resume with a fine-tooth comb, proofreading it for any typos or grammatical errors.

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This is even more important in some industries than others. Clearly, if you’re applying for a job that depends on being detail-oriented, a misspelling in your resume can be a death knell to your chances of getting called in for an interview. No matter what role you’re aiming for, a carefully proofread resume will help ensure that your application doesn’t get thrown out because of a careless mistake.

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