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Resume Writing

How to Write a Resume – A Beginner’s Guide

Today’s job market is as competitive as it is diverse. You need to have a specific skill set to get a role that fits your expectations. But despite your expertise, are you not getting a call from the recruiters? You are waiting for that interview invitation to arrive on your email, but then you just keep on waiting. Clearly, you are not alone. In this day and age, where competition is at its brim, having expertise is not enough; you should also focus on presenting them in your resume intelligently. You have to write a resume in such a way that it’s irresistible for the hiring managers.

Now when you want to do that, there are many things that you should consider. In this article, I will guide you on how to write a resume that attracts the attention of your recruiters, effortlessly. So without further ado, let us dive into it!

How To Write A Resume

Before you begin to write your resume, first, you have to organize your information by creating a resume outline. Find out your strengths and weaknesses, and what aspects of your experience you wish to highlight. This method will help you determine which resume format is right for you. 

Determining the right resume format

There are three resume formats that you can use: Reverse-Chronological, Functional, and Combination. Let’s define each resume format so you can decide which one works best for you.

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Reverse-Chronological

The reverse-chronological format is the most commonly used resume format. The format gets its name from the way an applicant’s job details are presented. All work experience is listed in the resume from the latest to the oldest. This resume format is ideal for those who show vertical career progression and intend to pursue a job in the same or similar field. This format is especially suitable for those who have a long tenure with the companies they previously employed.  

This resume format contains the following resume sections: 

  1. Contact information – Basic applicant details, including name, contact number, email, and physical address placed near or at the top of your resume.
  2. Resume objective – A brief introduction that applicants can tailor-fit to the needs of their prospective employer.
  3. Work experience – Employment history, including from the latest to the oldest.  
  4. Additional skills – Advanced skills that you can showcase to your potential employer showing your versatility and expertise.
  5. Education – Your scholastic history, degree received (if applicable), and relevant certifications.
  6. Accomplishments.- Awards and recognitions gained throughout your career.
resume in reverse chronological format

Functional

If you’re looking to take your career in a different direction, or you know you’ve gained considerable skills from multiple industries in a short period, the functional resume format would be more suited for you. The functional resume is designed to emphasize your relevant skills and place other non-essential details in the background. If you’ve also got significant gaps between employment, this is also the format best suited for you.  

The details contained in this format are the same as the reverse-chronological format, with fundamental differences in some of the resume sections.

  1. Contact information – Details and location consistent across all three formats. 
  2. Resume introduction – A more extended presentation that details relevant work achievements and transferable skills.
  3. Work experience – A short section where you list relevant work experience. Omit the dates as this format is meant to highlight your knowledge and applicable skills.
  4. Relevant skills – This is where you sell yourself to the employer. Show as much relevant information as possible. Match your skills with what they’re looking for. Make this the section where the recruiters and hiring managers focus their attention on and not your work experience.  
  5. Education – Your scholastic history, degree received (if applicable), and relevant certifications.
  6. Accomplishments.- Awards and recognitions related to the work you’re applying for. Be mindful of the previous work experience you’ve listed when filling out this section.
resume in functional format

Combination

As the name suggests, the combination format puts together the best elements of reverse-chronological and functional formats. This resume format is ideal for tenured employees as it would highlight vertical career progression and relevant skills.  

Being a combination of both formats, there are considerable differences to information presented in the resume sections:   

  1. Contact information – This stays consistent in all formats. 
  2. Resume Profile – A summary of position-related skills and your highest work achievements. Work experience is essential, but it is ideal to highlight your skills and achievements in this section. Your continuous, tenured work experience speaks for itself. 
  3. Work experience – Written similar to the reverse chronology format and more detailed than the functional format version.
  4. Relevant skills – Enumerate your skills and divide them into your job-related abilities, personality traits, and behavior (soft skills). Make sure to showcase your hard skills on the main body of your resume. This helps the hiring manager to identify and review your relevant skills quickly.  
  5. Education – As this format is meant to highlight your work skills more, your education details can be kept to a bare minimum.
write a resume in combination format

Once you’ve determined which resume format works best for you, it’s time to fill out your resume details. Depending on which format you’ve chosen, some sections would be more detailed than others. To get a general idea of what information to highlight to come up with an effective resume, browse some examples of the resume format you selected.  

Formatting a resume

The first and most crucial element of an effective and well-formatted resume is clarity. Regardless of what industry you are submitting your resume to, providing an easy-to-read document greatly improves your chances. As a rule of thumb, resumes should have the following:

  • Use serif and sans serif type fonts. These font types are straightforward and legible. Reserve fancy, decorative fonts for your poetry or artwork.
  • The font size should be 11pts or higher. In keeping with the rule to make your resume readable, keep font size between 11 – 14 pts. Remember, this is your resume and not an eye test chart.  
  • Margins should not go lower than 0.7 inches on all sides. Aside from allowing enough space for paper fasteners, and the recruiters’ notes, not all printers are capable of borderless printing.
  • Keep your resumes up to 1-2 pages max. The point of your resume is for the hiring manager to see if you’re qualified for the position. 

Tailor-fit your resume

Your next step is to tailor your resume to the job you are applying to. Even if you are applying for multiple roles in the same industry, it is ideal to ensure that your resume fits the requirements outlined in the job postings. This is especially true if you are submitting your resume online. Many organizations have begun using Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to help them sort through resumes submitted by numerous job applicants. These programs will not care if you are the most qualified candidate. If their search algorithm cannot find specific keywords they are programmed to identify in your resume, your application will automatically be rejected. To improve your chances of getting noticed, identify keywords in the job posting, and include these in your resume.

The list above is general examples of keywords that may be programmed into the ATS. Companies may process more specific keywords into their ATS to find specific-skilled individuals. The key to getting your resume through the first hurdle is to spot keywords in the job posting and include them in the resume.

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What to include in the different resume sections

Now that we have fleshed out all the items needed for your resume, it is time to put together and write your resume. Let’s begin with:

Contact Information

As discussed in the first section, different resume formats highlight different strengths. However, there are other parts of the resume that remain constant throughout. One such constant is your contact information. The details provided in this section must be current and accurate with the following points in mind:

  1. Name – Display your full legal name. However, you may omit your middle name.
  2. Contact Number – Provide the phone number (mobile or landline). An ideal format would be to include your country code and area code.
  3. Email Address – A valid email address that allows recruiters to send you updates on your application, including the next steps, if your application is selected. Use an email address that makes it easier for the employer to remember. Emails like rocketdog@email.com or hoppybunny@othermail.com would not be ideal.

There is an ongoing discussion about whether the physical address is still mandatory. There are multiple pros and cons, ranging from personal security to compulsory company requirements. A fairway to determine whether a physical address has to be displayed on your resume is to read through the job posting. If they require an applicant to be a local resident, there is a high probability that the company programmed this parameter into their ATS.

Resume Introduction: Objective or Summary

After putting together your contact information, you then have to put together your objective when you write your resume. Whether you are going with a resume objective or resume summary depends on your experience. For those with limited or no experience, your resume objective can be one-to-two sentence overview of your goals and the purpose of seeking employment. A resume summary is a brief description of an applicant’s experience and skills relevant to the job they are applying to. A resume summary usually includes the applicant’s years of relevant experience. 

Skills

Skills have become a relevant part of a resume. With companies now looking for individuals with a specific skill set, things relegated in the afterthought section now have a place in the resume’s prominent section. When you write your resume, make sure to highlight your work-related skills in the main body of your resume. These are a combination of soft, hard, and technical skills depending on the job requirements. You can create another section on your resume for your additional skills. These are skills not outlined in the job posting that may be useful information for the recruiter.

Work Experience

Impress your recruiter with your vertical career development and your industry tenure. List your employment history from latest to oldest. Indicate the company’s name, inclusive employment dates, position, and a description of your achievements in that position.

When listing your professional history in your resume, make sure to include the following elements:

  1. Use numbers to highlight your accomplishments. Numbers give a better visual description of your achievements. Stating that you increased monthly sales by 20%, reduced lead time by 10%, sends a more explicit message than general statements. Using figures also allows you to make your descriptions brief.  
  2. Use the keywords found in the job description. Aside from making sure your resume gets past the ATS, these keywords are what the hiring managers are looking for. Having keywords spread throughout your work experience will help convince the recruiters that you are the perfect candidate.
  3. Be brief. The shorter, yet more informative your descriptions are, the better it is for the hiring manager. Remember that they have to sort through multiple applications. The last thing you want is to have your resume placed in a silo because they found it too wordy to go through it quickly. Remember the cardinal rule of KISS – Keep It Short and Sweet.
  4. Use action verbs. Format your achievements in a manner that shows your involvement in the company’s processes. Use words like “achieved,” “drove,” “designed,” “collaborated,” “empowered,” and the like.

Keep in mind whenever you write a resume that you are going to be up against the best of the best, and you have to convince the hiring manager to pick you.

Education

Most employers would list down the minimum educational experience as a requisite for the job. If you’re new to the corporate world, providing details like school name, degree earned, years attended, and academic achievements related to your application would be ideal. For corporate veterans, the institution name and degree earned are enough.  

Miscellaneous

Write a resume that can highlight other achievements or memberships that you deem may be worth mentioning. But keep in mind that the more concise your resume is, the better the chances your resume gets noticed.

resume with additional skills

Choose the right resume template now!

The cardinal rule in choosing the right resume template is to match the design with the industry and position you are applying to. If you are applying for a marketing position in an events company, a flashy design complementing your resume details is perfect for you. If you’re trying to convince the hiring manager of a Fortune 500 company that you are the right manager for the job, a simple, straightforward resume template would significantly impact. Resume Guy has hundreds of resume templates for each industry guaranteed to improve your chances of landing that dream job. Here, you can customize your resume online and download the completed and polished document.

Review, review, review…

The last step in making sure you have a well-formatted resume is to take the time to review your resume. Review and revise as you see fit. Treat your resume like how a swordsmith would forge a katana sword – heat, hammer, and fold a thousand times.  

Once you’ve put together your resume, hand it off to someone else and have them read it through it. If they ask a few questions about details on your resume, take note of these items. Go back and polish your resume further.

As author Jayson T. Taylor once said, “Most people want to be perceived as Katana swords, but they don’t spend enough time in the forge to even be butter knives!”

Once you’ve done all that, pat yourself on the back, you have now put together an effective, well-formatted and written resume that would give you a competitive edge in the job market.

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