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How to Write a Resume

Your Step-by-Step Guide

Making a resume is a daunting task for many - there are just so many questions up in the air.

  • What information should I include?

  • What information should I not include?

  • How do I make sure my resume highlights what I want it to highlight?

  • How much detail should I include?

  • How long should my resume be?

So in this blog article, we’re going to be walking through the process of how to write a resume, step by step to make sure you’ve got all the information you need to make an incredible resume.

Find a nice template or build it from scratch!

macbook desk computer design color

The first step of the process is thinking about the format of your resume. Do you want it to be a standard looking resume? Or do you want a more creative resume?

A creative resume may be more useful in some industries than others; industries such as graphic design or other artistic realms may find creative resumes proof of your design work. Younger companies or startups may also be more open to seeing creative resumes that make your CV stand out in a pile of other CVs.

Think carefully about if a standard or more creative CV would be a better fit for you.

If you’re looking for creative templates, there are plenty online that range from fully out-of-the-box to just a little color here and there.

A standard looking resume normally has the timeline on the left column and the details in the right. It is very organized and is a good option if you’re entirely sure about your industry yet.

You can create a standard resume just on Microsoft Word (Windows) or Pages (Macbook) - just make sure you enable two columns so that you can separate your timeline and your details clearly.

Once you have a rough template or format of what you think your resume is going to look at, we can get started with filling it!

The Basics of a Resume

coffee table phone macbook paper pen

Now, we always start out with the basics of your resume. Imagine you’re building a big house - the template is the blueprint of your resume. Now, we want to lay the foundation of the house by providing the bare necessities of the resume.

First thing first - your name. Your name is the most important part of your resume. How will they know who to contact if your name isn’t on there?

Some other things that you should make sure to include are:

  • Your phone number

    • A valid and current phone number should be included in case someone wants to contact you with follow-up questions or an interview!

  • Your address

  • Your email address

    • Make sure this is a professional email address - “cutiepie88@email.com” is not an email address you should be sending out your resume with!

You can also think about including an image of yourself - in certain countries, employers prefer seeing an image of the applicant. This is, of course, completely optional and up to you!

Professional Experience

woman business work suit professional

Now let’s get onto building that first floor. Every resume should include a professional experience section that details out what you’ve been up to in the professional world.

Resumes should normally be kept to a maximum of 2 pages - so make sure your section doesn’t get too long. All experiences should be semi-recent and stay relevant to the jobs you’re looking to apply to.

For example - the 4 months you spent working as your mom’s yoga course assistant is probably not relevant if you’re looking to apply to engineering jobs. Remember to keep relevancy in mind and tailor your resume to fit the jobs that you are applying to.

** Always put the most recent positions on top and order the positions so that they are in order of most recent to least recent.

Not only that, it is great to include several key pieces of information for each position that you have held.

  1. The position title you had (ie. ‘Sales Assistant,’ ‘Project Manager,’ ‘CEO’ or ‘Data Analyst’)

  2. The company name

  3. The entire duration of the position with month and year included

    1. If the job is ongoing - just put the starting date to ‘Present’

  4. Details on what exactly you did

    1. It’s important to show your responsibilities and your achievements in this section. Using action verbs to show that you took an active role in tasks. In addition, make sure you detail out the specifics to what you achieved to show a potential employer what you truly bring to the table.

    2. Everyone can write a generic job description “Sales Assistants take care of stock and customers. They also answer phone calls and emails.”

    3. A much nicer description of a position would be “I managed all customer service channels including emails and phone calls. I increased our customer support efficiency by developing pre-written support templates and customer satisfaction rose by 50%.”

    4. Details are what make YOU unique in the eyes of an employer; it shows what you are able to do and that you take initiative.

Education

university diploma education college

Education is the next category to include in your resume. The length of your education section depends on how many years of work experience you have. If you have 20 years work experience, your high school education probably does not have to be included. University - yes, but high school may be irrelevant at this point.

If you’re fresh out of university, you may want to include your high school information on your resume as it also gives the employer more information as to what you were up recently.

In the education section, make sure to include information on the name of the school, its location, year of attendance and some further details.

If you’re writing about a university degree, make sure to include your degree and what kind of a degree it was. What did you study? Was it a Bachelor of Arts degree or a Bachelor of Science? Was it a Master’s or a PhD? You should also include your minor or specialization in this section.

For the further details, you can choose to add your GPA or final grade from university or high school, but make sure to also specify what kind of grading scheme it was as that can vary from country to country. You can also include more details on what you were up to during your studies - were on you on the Honor Roll? The Dean’s List? Did you participate in clubs?

Awards & Skills

trophy award certificate success skill

Next section to cover are the awards and skills. This section is more optional than the others, but is a great way to show potential employers what sets you apart from others.

In the Awards portion, it’s important to highlight any special recognitions or awards that you’ve received. If you’ve won a University Physics Competition, make sure you include that. If you were part of the President’s List, you can also include it in this section again. If you’ve been awarded a scholarship, this can also be listed under Awards.

Under Skills, it’s all about showing off what you know. The first important skill to list would be Languages - what languages do you speak? You should also include what level each language is at in this portion. Are you a native speaker? Do you have Full Professional Fluency? Or are you a Beginner?

**Don’t lie about your language level! You never know if an interviewer will ‘test’ your knowledge of the language during an interview. You don’t want to be caught off guard if someone decides to test your ‘Full Professional Fluency’ Spanish if you just started taking lessons two weeks ago.

The next skillsets to include are your technical skills. Here, you should mention all your computer skills as well as programs you’re familiar with. These depend greatly on the type of jobs you’re applying to.

A video editor might include programs such as Final Cut Pro, Camtasia, and Audacity. A graphic designer might list out programs like Adobe Photoshop, Indesign, and other graphic design tools. It all depends on what you are applying to.

A programmer should definitely include the programming languages that they are familiar with (C, C++, Python, Javascript, etc.) as well as how familiar they are with them. Someone who is working in online social media marketing would list out applications they know well such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Google Adsense or Pinterest.

Similar to the languages, you should include how “fluent” you are with each of the skills you are listing.

Extracurriculars & Hobbies

ukelele hobby man playing music

The last portion that can be included in your resume is the extracurriculars and hobbies. This is an optional portion that some people include on their resume to show a different perspective on their person - to show the individual outside of work and business.

Extracurriculars are also very useful for recent high school or university graduate that are trying to show what they did outside of their studies. If you were part of the Finance Club or Model United Nations, this would be the place to include them. You can also include extracurriculars like volunteer work, Student Council, Art Club, Debate Club or any sport teams that you were a part of.

Hobbies can also be a small section all on its own where you include your interests outside of your working day. Do you like fishing? Do you love to travel? This is your time to shine; it also helps if you have cool hobbies that are relevant to the jobs you’re applying to.

For example, if you’re applying to be a blog writer for a company - it would be great to include that you have a personal travel blog with 42,000 subscribers in the hobbies section.

Finalizing the resume

man signing document paper

The last step in the creation of your resume is finalizing the document. That means: Proofreading, final formatting, and last minute editing.

View your resume from the eye of an employer. Would you hire you?

  • Is your resume comprehensive? Does it include all relevant information?

  • Is your resume interesting to read through? Do you use action verbs instead of passive verbs?

  • Is your resume clear and concise? Do you understand everything?

Once you’ve reviewed your content all the way through again, make sure you carefully proofread the content. Reading the resume out loud also helps to find mistakes that you may have just glanced over. You can also get a family member or friend to critically look through your resume and give you feedback.

Maintenance

man building business work professional

The actual last and secret final step of your resume is maintenance! Always make sure your resume is up-to-date and that it reflects your current job status.

If you’ve recently won an award or acquired a new skill, don’t forget to add it as well.

It’s useful to update your resume every half a year or a year depending on your job status to ensure you’re incorporating all necessary pieces of information into it. Also, it is much easier to update your accomplishments regularly at small intervals than to suddenly have to remember all the important accomplishments you’ve had in the past 6 years at your job.

Equipped with all this information - go out there and create your perfect resume!

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