How To Make a Resume

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 17 February 2021 | Published 25 August 2020

Updated 17 February 2021

Published 25 August 2020

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Resumes are professional documents that can highlight an individual's employable qualities. Regardless of your industry or level of experience, you need to know how to write an effective resume. By taking the time to review formatting details and critical components of resumes, you can create one that accurately presents your qualifications to an employer.

In this article, we review why it is important to make a resume, discuss the standard resume formats, list the components that contribute to a strong resume and provide you with a step-by-step guide on how to craft your own resume.

Why is knowing how to make a resume important?

Knowing how to make a resume is important because employers need it to review your qualifications and determine whether you are right for the job you have applied for. Resumes are also important because they are typically the first means of introducing yourself to an employer. What you choose to include or leave out influences their decision to schedule an interview with you.

Types of resume formats

There are three popular resume formats you can choose from, depending on your current level of experience in the professional world:

Chronological

The chronological format places your professional history section first in your resume. This is useful if you have a consistent and long history of work experience with no breaks. The result is a well-structured resume that shows your career progress and achievements as you grew in various roles.

Functional

The functional resume focuses more on your professional experiences and emphasises the professional skills resulting from those experiences. This is a go-to alternative for those who are either short on work experience or have long gaps between jobs. You can use this if you are changing industries or moving into a different role that requires the same skill set.

Combination

This is a hybrid option that uses a combination of the chronological and functional formats. You can use this option when you have both adequate work experience and functional skills to discuss.

Components to include in your resume

Here are some essential components to incorporate into your resume:

  • Contact details

  • Objective statement

  • Skills

  • Academic history and achievements

  • Professional experience

Contact details

No matter which format you choose, you need to include your contact information at the top of your resume. Here are the details to include:

  • Full name

  • Phone number

  • Email address

  • Mailing address

  • Professional social media handle or link to a professional portfolio/website (if applicable)

Objective statement

After your contact information, add a short statement that summarises your career objectives and goals. You could also include a resume summary instead, which is better for summarising everything you have accomplished if you have more experience.

Skills

Mention both your soft skills (interpersonal and behavioural) and hard skills (technical and acquired through learning and experience). Only include skills that are relevant to the job.

Academic history and achievements

Share details regarding your academic history and achievements. You should have the following points in this section:

  • Name of school and degree

  • Grade details

  • Graduation year, if applicable

  • Participation in clubs/organisations

  • Any positions held

  • Accomplishments

Professional experience

Highlight your relevant work experience starting with your current job using reverse chronological order. To describe your work experience, include information like:

  • The company name and the industry

  • The period of employment

  • Your role or job title

  • Your responsibilities and key result areas

  • Highlights of your stand-out achievements

How to write a resume

Follow these steps to draft a strong resume that will impress employers:

  1. Select the right resume format

  2. Set up your contact information

  3. Include an objective statement

  4. Highlight your relevant hard and soft skills

  5. Compile your academic history

  6. List your professional experience

  7. Format it properly

  8. Proofread and edit before sending it in

  9. Customise and adapt for each job

1. Select the right resume format

Begin by choosing the resume format that's right for your application. The choice depends on the type of job you are applying for and your level of experience.

2. Set up your contact information

Start your resume by sharing your personal information and contact details, including your phone number and mailing address. This should be at the top of your resume so that employers can find it easily. Your name should be in bold letters and prominent in size, and the rest of your contact information should be smaller.

3. Include an objective statement

Following your contact details, write a short statement that summarises your career objectives. This is particularly useful for beginners or those considering a career change because it calls attention to their skill sets. If you have more experience, consider writing a summary instead.

4. Highlight your relevant hard and soft skills

List all of the skills that make you the perfect person for the job. To decide which skills are most relevant, look through the job posting for keywords that show what the employer is looking for in a candidate. In case of mandatory requirements for any certifications or licences, be sure to include these as well.

5. Compile your academic history

This section needs to provide evidence of your academic qualifications and history. The less work experience you have, the more critical this section is. This helps individuals who are just starting in their field or changing industries highlight their candidature using their academic strengths.

Remember to mention the name of your school, the years you attended,and the degree you received. Anyone who has just left university can share their grades and coursework details to provide more information, but those applying for mid- to senior-level roles can take this information out.

6. List your professional experience

The professional experience section is an important component to your resume and requires careful planning and writing. Depending on the length of your career, structure it to best project your professional capabilities to a future employer.

Always work your way backward. Start with your current job or previous place of employment using reverse chronological order. If you have minimal or no work experience, add details about any internships or projects you have undertaken or any achievements or interests that align with the job description and offer potential value to an employer.

While citing your professional experience, keep these points in mind:

  • Use keywords relevant to the job description. Highlight your achievements by using keywords that align with the requirements in the job description. There should be a correlation between the job description's requirements and the information you supply. For example, if the job description emphasises the importance of meeting sales quotas, you should explain how you have been able to accomplish this task in your previous positions.

  • Be brief. Use clear and concise statements in your resume. For example, when explaining your previous work experience, only include the most important and relevant information. Share your key achievements in single lines while avoiding unnecessary filler words like articles, figures of speech and adjectives or adverbs.

  • Use strong, positive language. Action verbs give a positive impact and convey the message regarding your professional achievements. Examples of such words include: drove, led, managed, spearheaded, developed and optimised, to name a few. These give power to your content and help create an impression of what you are capable of.

  • Share hard data. Remember to provide specific information like numbers and percentages rather than just words. Saying 'I helped increase revenue by 15%' is clearer and more impactful than 'I was a key player in effecting an increase in revenue'.

7. Format it properly

Take extra care to prepare a professional-looking document that is clean and devoid of clutter. To achieve this, ensure that you format it correctly by selecting the right font, margin specifications and spacing. Here are a few tips to help you choose the right format:

  • Select fonts that are easy to read like Arial or Helvetica, which are clean and non-stylised.

  • Get the correct font size by choosing between point size 10 and 12.

  • Use bullet points to separate information, such as to list your skills and certifications.

  • Create section headers to separate each section clearly and consistently.

  • Keep margins between 1 and 1.5 inches for best results in the layout.

8. Proofread and edit before sending it in

A resume is an extension of your identity and is the first thing an employer will see when you apply for a job. It should be impeccably written with no mistakes or grammatical errors, and you should write in simple and clear language. It should ideally be a single-page document and edited carefully for unwanted words or unnecessary sections. If you are applying to a senior-level position and therefore have more professional experience and qualifications to include, a two-page resume is justified.

Ask your friends and family to read your resume to check for grammar, punctuation errors and overall readability. You can also ask trusted colleagues, mentor figures or faculty members at your institution to get a professional perspective on your resume.

9. Customise and adapt for each job

Finally, it is important to update and adapt your resume for each job you apply to. This involves understanding the job description and making a note of the keywords listed there. Look through your skills to find a few that are also mentioned in the job description before adding them to your resume. Revisit your academic track record and your professional achievements to calibrate it according to the needs of the position you are applying for.

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