What matters more, resume or application? [Part 1: How to Write a Resume]
Is the resume more important than the application letter? It’s for you to find out at the end of this blog series.
For part 1, I will teach you how to write a resume that makes you stand out from the crowd.
How to Write a Resume
Think of your resume as an advertisement. But in this case, you are the product. Your goal in your resume is to get hiring managers “buy” you. Hiring managers love resumes that are clear, well-formatted, and full of attention-grabbing details. Studies show that hiring managers only look at resumes for 10 seconds — so you must grab their attention at first glance.
Are you ready to write a killer resume? Let’s begin.
Step 1. Create a resume outline
Your resume outline is the backbone of your resume. It lets you see what your strengths and weaknesses are and what areas of your professional life you need to highlight.
Step 2. Choose your resume format
There are three common resume formats to choose from:
- Reverse Chronological – this is the traditional resume format. It’s more flexible and is ideal for job seekers with any level of experience. Use this format if you want to show a vertical career progression and you want to promote your upward career mobility. The reverse-chronological format is perfect if you are applying for a job in a similar field.Don’t use this format if you are changing your career path, have major gaps in your employment history, or you change jobs often.
- Functional – this resume format is ideal for a skill-based resume. The functional format puts heavy emphasis on your qualifications and is more suited for applicants who are experts in their fields. Use this format if you want to highlight a key skill or if you have gaps in your work history. You can also use the functional format if you are changing industries.Don’t use this resume format if you don’t have transferrable skills or if you lack experience. This format is also not for those who want to highlight their upward career mobility.
- Combination – as the name suggests, this resume format combines the best parts of functional and reverse chronological. The combination resume format focuses on specific qualifications while retaining a professional experience section that’s similar to reverse chronological resumes. Use this format if you are changing a career path or if you are a master of the job you are applying to.Don’t use the combination resume if you lack experience, an entry-level applicant, or you just simply want to highlight your education.
Step 3. Setting up your contact information
Lesson 101 on how to write a resume: the information you add will depend on your chose resume format. With that said, below are the basic information that you should add and the order in which it should appear in your resume:
|Name||Your name should have the largest font on the resume. Your middle initial is optional.|
|Mailing address||Make this as complete as possible.|
|Telephone number||Make sure it’s accurate and that you have an appropriate/professional voicemail message setup.|
|Email address||Please use a professional email.|
|Link to your online portfolio||Only if you have one. And make sure that your portfolio is relevant to the position you are applying for.|
|LinkedIn Profile||Make sure you have one. It’s a must nowadays.|
Avoid adding contact information in your resume header as applicant tracking systems may find it hard to read.
Step 4. Nailing your resume introduction
There are four resume introductions to choose from:
- Resume Objective – also known as a career objective, this introduction is a 2-3 sentence statement that highlights your experience and skills. This type of intro is perfect for entry-level candidates and fresh graduates who don’t have enough experience to showcase.Don’t use the resume objective introduction if you are changing career paths and if you have a lot of relevant skills sets and experience to highlight. Don’t use this in your cover letter.
- Qualifications Summary – this type of resume introduction is a 4-6 bullet point list that emphasizes your most spectacular achievements. Use this if you applying for a job that needs a specific set of skills or if you have a lot of experience up your sleeves. Qualifications summary is also perfect if you have multiple skill sets that you want to highlight.Don’t use this introduction format if you lack experience, an entry-level applicant, or if you don’t have enough measurable achievements.
- Resume Summary – also referred to as professional summaries, this introduction contains 4-5 bullet points of your past achievements. The kicker here is that these achievements must come with quantifiable data.For example:Leadership: managed a staff of 50 membersOrganization: supervised the management of 30 stores, 5 of which are located internationally.Use this introduction if you have many accomplishments to highlight and if your work experiences are quantifiable.
Don’t use the resume summary introduction if you are a fresh graduate with zero to little quantifiable achievements to highlight.
- Professional Profile – this type of introduction combines the career objective and qualifications summary. Out of the four, this is the most flexible style as you can use this in either bullet point or paragraph form. Use this if you are applying in the same industry and if you have a major experience to highlight.Don’t use this if you are an entry-level applicant or if you lack measurable accomplishments from your past jobs.
Step 5. Showcasing your work experience
Of all the steps in this how to write a resume guide, this is probably the most important one. Why? Because this is the part where you prove the skills and “claims” you listed in your resume introduction.
As a general rule, only list relevant experiences and always do it in reverse chronological order. Each of your work experience should have between 3 to 5 bullet points of your main tasks and achievements. A strong bullet point must have an action verb first followed by a quantifiable point and specific duty or vice versa.
Trained (verb) 10 (quantifiable data) store attendants, managing their schedules and making sure that they offer excellent customer service at all times (specific duty). Headed (verb) a team of creatives to produce an interactive campaign that increased company sales by 10%.
One thing to keep in mind when writing this section of your resume is to always tailor your work experience to the job you are applying for. In short, your work experience should answer this important interview question: What can you do for our company?
Step 6. Make an eye-catching education section
A solid education means that you have deep knowledge and expertise in the field you are applying for. You can switch this section with work experience and vice versa, depending on your situation.
If you are a fresh graduate, it makes more sense to write your education section first because you don’t have any professional work experience to highlight yet.
If you are already an established professional, keep the education section short and sweet. Let the hiring manager focus on your work experience, skill sets, and what you can bring to the table.
Below are the main points typically included in the education section:
|Name of your school||Highest educational attainment only. Don’t include high school unless you did not go to college.|
|Address of your school||City and state will do.|
|Date of graduation||Month and year only.|
|GPA||Only include if your GPA is above 3.0. Round up using this format 3.75/4.00|
Step 7. Highlight your skills
Listing a lot of skills on your resume doesn’t prove your capabilities and will not get the hiring manager’s attention. What you can do instead is to fit your skills into your introduction and work experience.
With that said, there’s still a skills section where you can list down the skills you think are relevant to the job you are applying to. The key here is to have a perfect balance between hard skills (concrete and quantifiable skills) and soft skills (attributes).
Popular Hard Skills
- Software development
- Adobe creative suite
- UX/UI design
- SEO and SEM
- Business intelligence
- Foreign languages
- Public speaking
- Data presentation
Common Soft Skills
Step 7. Showing off your certifications and awards
By now, you’ve already added the most important sections of your resume. But it won’t hurt to showcase some of your relevant certifications and awards if you have any.
Step 8. Styling your resume
Everything’s done! Well, at least for the content of your resume. This how to write a resume guide will not be complete without some guidelines on how to style your resume. So, here we go.
How many pages should my resume be?
If you have very important information to add and you think it will help establish your credibility, then go ahead and add an extra page.
Otherwise, limit your resume to one page only. Don’t add fluff.
What’s the best font for my resume?
Most resumes follow a 24 (name), 12 (headers), and 10 (body and bullet points) format when it comes to the font size. This is not a hard-coded rule though. If you think you need to increase the font size to make your resume more readable, go ahead. The last thing you want is for the hiring manager to put his glasses on — by that time, your resume is already in the trash.
Use serif fonts (Georgia, Times New Roman, Century Gothic, Bookman Old Style, etc.) on paper. For the electronic version of your resume, sans serif fonts (Arial, Calibri, Helvetica, Tahoma, etc.) look better.
How about margins?
If you are a new applicant, your safest bet will be one-inch margins on all sides. If you are an established professional with a lot of experience to showcase in one page, reduced margins will do — as long as you don’t go below 0.5 inches.
Step 9. Proofread your resume
It doesn’t matter if you are a spelling champion. Save yourself from embarrassing mistakes by proofreading your resume more than once, preferably at different times of the day. It also helps to have a different set of eyes looking at your resume so go ahead and share it with your friend or family member.
Step 10. Save your resume
Once you are sure that your resume is sharp, save your resume in various formats (.docx, .pdf, etc.). Print off several copies for yourself. And don’t forget to upload your resume into Dropbox or Google Drive just so you have a copy stored in the cloud in case your computer fails.
There you have it! If you follow these steps carefully, you should have a killer resume ready to send out. But don’t send it yet. You still need a topnotch application letter to go along with your resume.
Stay tuned because, in part 2 of this series, I will teach you how to write an application letter that gets you to the door.
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