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How to Write a Resume 101

A resume is one of the most important documents in your life. It is your foot in the door to a new position. This sheet of paper, or file, can determine whether or not you get the job of your dreams. No pressure, right? Knowing the stakes, you want to build an effective resume guaranteed to get you noticed. Here’s how to do just that:


1.) Decide what content to include

The first step toward building your resume is deciding exactly what you want to include. Your specifics may look different depending on where you are in your life, but here are the basic considerations:

  • Name and contact information: This seems obvious, but they do actually get left off resumes with the pressure to include everything else. Don’t forget to let people know who you are and how they can get in touch with you.
  • Summary or objective: You use this section to explain your career goals or briefly summarize everything else in the resume. While not mandatory, if you’re just starting out in your career this can be useful.
  • Work experience: Start by listing your most recent job, and then move backward from there. The descriptions for your work should include timeframes, relevant data to show what you did, what you accomplished and should be written with strong verbs to represent your responsibilities. Include specific keywords related to the position that can help you get noticed faster. This section can be larger, but you still want brief summaries for each job.
  • Skills, software, etc.: This section is a way to specifically highlight where you shine, whether in specific skills or experience with certain software and apps that are relevant to the work you want to do.
  • Education: Let them know your degrees and relevant certifications. If you’re further advanced in your career, just listing the institutions, what you earned, and when is usually sufficient, but recent grads can include more like leadership positions, GPA (as long as it’s higher than 3.5), relevant classes, and other clubs.
  • Extras: This will vary from resume to resume, but if you feel like you’ll have additional space, think of different things you can include, like specific interests or achievements that didn’t fit anywhere else.


2.) Determine the basic format and design

Once you know what you want to include, you can decide on the best layout. Services like Microsoft Word provide templates that can help you figure out exactly where to place everything, or you can try and arrange the content yourself in a program. Whatever you choose, the goal is to have a clean and well-organized resume where the information clearly flows.

Colors can be used sparingly, and the complexity of design comes down to your industry. For example, if you want to be a designer, your resume should be unique. Another factor to consider is printability – what looks good on a screen may not print well, and it needs to look good both ways.

Important note: your resume should be one page, single-sided. There are some exceptions to this, but as a general rule, this is the way to go. If you find you have too much information, look for ways to shorten language or remove experience that may be very old or irrelevant to what you’re trying to do.


3.) Proofread, edit, and proofread again

Once you’ve assembled your content into your design, it’s time to proofread. And then proofread again. Seriously, you cannot read through this document enough. A small typo can be all it takes to send you to the rejection pile, and you don’t want to risk an opportunity because you didn’t edit. It’s also advisable to send to at least one other person you trust for their eyes and input to help catch mistakes you aren’t seeing.


4.) Save your file

In most cases, your resume should be saved as a PDF, no matter what application you used to create it. This standard file type is easily printed and will open when sent without issue. A Word document can experience issues with formatting when opened, depending on the versions and fonts used, but a PDF helps you avoid issues with that.


5.) Customize for specific positions

Finally, once you’ve created your resume masterpiece, you have to update it for specific positions when applying. Most things will likely remain the same, but you may want to highlight different experiences or responsibilities depending on what the position requires. Sending a standard resume everywhere could be another way to a quick rejection.


Get job hunting help with Sterling Personnel


Your resume is crucial, but in this digital world, it can feel like your actual worth is hidden behind the faceless resume. Working with Sterling Personnel is a personal experience. We take the time to get to know you beyond what a piece of paper says about you to help you connect to the best job for you. Search our jobs today to see what we have to offer.