When beginning to look for a job, the first step is to create a resume, a document detailing your background, skills, and accomplishments. A professional, clear resume is one of the best ways to stand out among other applicants. You want to grab the attention of employers, sell your best skills, and most importantly, display why someone should hire you. So, how do you build a resume? Follow this step-by-step guide to create a great working resume!
1. Create a header.
A header contains your name, phone number, and email address.
- Be sure to use a phone number that you will answer, and if you do not have a voicemail message, consider changing it to a professional message.
- Additionally, your email should be professional. If your email contains something other than your name, consider changing it to contain only your first and last name. For example, firstname.lastname@example.org is an appropriate and professional email address.
2. Create a resume title.
At the beginning of every resume, it is beneficial to include a resume title, also known as a headline or tagline. In just a short phrase, the title introduces you to employers. Locate the title below your header.
- Keep it brief!
- Capitalize your headline.
- Try to use keywords pulled directly from job descriptions that you might apply to.
- Consider changing up the headline for each job you apply to. It is extra work, but when the headline is tailored to the job, you are more likely to stand out!
- Get creative! Avoid phrases like “great communicator” or “hard worker.” Employers are looking for unique candidates.
- IT Network Manager
- Public Relations / Marketing / Corporate Communications
- Honor-Roll Student with Tutoring Experience in Numerous Subjects
- Goal-Oriented Senior Accountant with Five Years of Accounting Experience
3. Write a summary.
A summary is a brief statement showcasing your most relevant, key skills for a specific position. Use the summary to highlight your most relevant qualifications. When employers see your resume, they will likely scan the beginning to gauge whether you are a good fit. A strong summary grabs the attention of a reader and highlights your key skills earlier in your resume. To write a resume summary, consider your most important skills and experiences. Think about how you would describe your work experience in one to two sentences.
- Ask yourself: how would I describe my work experience in one to two sentences?
- Begin your summary statement with an adjective that describes yourself.
- Use an active voice, and include key action words to describe your experiences.
- Customer-focused business professional eager to leverage more than 6 years of experience in corporate communications and community outreach.
- Expert in delivering training programs that drive productivity and performance improvements.
- Creative graphic designer with 8 years of experience working with top brands using Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, and other Adobe Suite software.
- Sales Manager with more than 15 years of experience managing sales, marketing, operations, personnel and merchandising at the district and regional level for established publishing companies. Motivational management style with a record of building and retaining highly motivated sales teams and distributor networks.
- Organized dental office associate with seven years of experience maintaining effective client schedules, billing policies, and office workflows.
4. List relevant skills and proficiencies using keywords (optional).
Below your summary statement, listing relevant skills is a great way to grab an employer’s eye with some keywords. Format this list using bullet points and incomplete sentences.
- Organizational and Strategic Planning
- Oral and Written Communications
- Proficient in Microsoft Office, Apple Suite, and other cloud-based programs.
- Staff Training
These examples are quick phrases that really pack a punch - if a potential employer is looking to get a quick idea of your capabilities, this is a great place to give that opportunity.
5. Choose a resume structure for your experience, skills, and previous work history.
There are a few great options for structuring your resume, and you should pick one depending on your work history and your strengths. Below are descriptions and linked examples of the different structures you could choose.
- Chronological - A chronological resume is the most common resume format. This format allows employers to see a quick snapshot of your employment history, while seeing your most recent work right at the top.
- Functional - A functional resume focuses on your skills and experience before your job history.
- Combination/Hybrid - Combination resumes allow you to detail your skills, while also including a chronological list of your work history.
6. List any additional and unique activities.
If you are a member of professional organizations or volunteer associations, this is a great place to include that information. Community involvement and community service experience can be especially helpful if it pertains to the job for which you are applying. For example, if you are applying to a non-profit organization, the potential employer would love to see your experiences with community service work.
- Member of The Houston Bar Association
- Jewish Family Services Volunteer
7. List your education.
Beginning with your most recent school, list out all the schools you have attended, the degree or certification gained from that school, and the year in which you graduated. If you have recently graduated, put your education and dates of graduation at the top of your resume. However, if it has been many years since graduation, put it at the bottom, and do not feel obligated to include dates. Also, if you have graduated from college, you do not need to list your high school.
- University of Georgia, Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology –1992
- Rice University, B.A. in Psychology – 1986
8. List any awards or recognition.
If you have been recognized as an expert in a certain field or won an award, feel free to include this on your resume.
- Richmond County National Essay Contest, Honorable Mention, May 2006.
- Honor Roll, South Satchewan High School, Junior and Senior Years, 2008–2010.
9. List out any formal interests or hobbies (optional).
If you have a hobby or skill that has improved you as a person, you may choose to include this information at the bottom of your resume.
- Do not include casual hobbies such as watching TV, napping, or spending time with friends.
10. Check for formatting and grammatical or spelling errors.
Your resume should be consistent throughout the entirety of the document. Keep a consistent amount of space in between each section.
- When writing bullet points for the body of your resume, be sure to start every phrase with a verb, such as created, maintained, and organized. Keep this consistent throughout the resume.
- When ending phrases, include a period at the end of each phrase, and be sure to do this after every qualification, skill, or experience listed.
- Read your resume out loud! Sometimes, we catch more errors when we read the words to ourselves.
- Ask for a second pair of eyes. Send this document to a friend or colleague willing to double-check the clarity and grammatical and spelling accuracy. Sending your resume to someone in your employment field would be an added bonus - they may have some inside tips or tricks!