How to Write a Resume (Examples & Guide)

Kellie Hanna, CPRW
By Kellie Hanna, CPRW, Career Advice Expert Last Updated: May 23, 2024

Our customers have been hired at: *Foot Note

Approximately 40% of hiring managers spend less than a minute reviewing a resume. 

To make a lasting impression, you’ll need an eye-catching document that effectively showcases your skills and qualifications.

In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about how to make a resume for a job, including:

We’ll detail each of the resume writing steps above and provide examples of how to write a resume for popular jobs and special circumstances.

Dive right in with a walkthrough of our Resume Builder to learn how to make a professional resume that wins interviews.

Video: Master Resume Building in 3 Minutes with MyPerfectResume


How to write a resume for a job

Chances are, if you write a compelling resume, you’ll be booked for interviews for every job you apply for. But what makes a good resume?

Keep reading! We’ve broken down the instructions for how to create a resume, step-by-step.

STEP 1

Gather your professional information

Preparation is key to writing a resume that stands out. We’ll cover what essential information you should gather before writing your resume to save time and put your best foot forward. 

To ensure a well-prepared resume, carefully examine your relevant qualifications and match them with the requirements of your desired job. 

Take the time to organize a comprehensive list that includes:

  • Impressive measurable accomplishments from your previous positions that highlight your achievements and contributions.
  • A complete inventory of your soft skills, hard skills and technical skills that match the skills outlined in the job description.
  • Detailed information about your previous employers, including their names, dates of employment, locations, job titles and a clear outline of your responsibilities.
  • Educational credentials, such as your college degree, certifications or licenses that demonstrate your expertise in specific areas.
  • Any volunteer work where you gained skills and experience relevant to the role you are applying for. 
  • Notable awards and honors you have received, which further validate your exceptional abilities and dedication.

Review these qualifications against the job description and note where there is a match. Writing a customized resume is a great way to impress employers and secure interviews.

Make me (the hiring manager ) believe your are interested in our job, not just any job. Specifically, try to use the language of the job posting in your resume. This will also make sure your application makes it past any automated screening software designed to toss out irrelevant applicants. – CJ Johnson, veteran people manager for Silicon Valley startups and unicorns

By planning to include these matching qualifications in your resume, you set yourself up for success.

A compelling, tailored document that effectively highlights your qualifications increases your chances of securing your desired job.

STEP 2

Pick the best resume format for your needs

Now that you’ve prepared your information, it’s time to choose a resume format that effectively showcases your qualifications.

There are three standard formats. Each uses the same resume sections but organizes them differently, so choose one that works best for your work experience level and your professional goals. We’ve detailed each format below: 

The chronological resume format is the most commonly used. It’s perfect for candidates who want to highlight their work experience when building a resume because it places it front and center. It’s the ideal format for individuals with consistent professional backgrounds and no employment gaps. 
The functional resume format focuses on showcasing your skills and training. It’s designed to highlight the abilities that make you a valuable addition to any team, even if you’re applying for your first job or changing careers. This format is especially beneficial for those with employment gaps or limited work experience.
The combination resume format, also known as the hybrid resume, combines the best of the functional and chronological formats. This resume format allows you to showcase your skills while also highlighting your relevant work experience. It’s an excellent choice for job seekers with more than 10 years of experience and those seeking to move up in their careers.

Make a resume with My Perfect Resume

Our Resume builder can help you write the perfect resume. Start Now!

STEP 3

Add your contact information

One of the most important aspects of writing a resume is ensuring that your contact information is clearly displayed so that hiring managers can contact you for an interview.  

Check out the resume header examples below to learn what contact information to include, where to place it and how to format it for maximum impact. 

You can also explore our library of 800+ resume examples to draw additional inspiration for ways to display your contact information.

Here’s what to include in your resume contact information: 

  • Your full name.
  • A reliable phone number.
  • Your professional email address.
  • Your city, state and ZIP code. 
  • A link to your professional social media account, website or portfolio if you have them.

Here is a sample of how to write a resume header:

Kathy Backer | 555-555-5555 | Milwaukee, WI 53209

example@example.com | https://www.linkedin.com/in/kathy-baker/

Resume Header Contact Information

STEP 4

Write a compelling resume summary

A resume summary is a concise and impactful overview of a candidate’s qualifications, skills and career goals.

Murray emphasizes that a resume summary should “hook the reader and entice them to explore your resume further,” avoiding generic clichés while highlighting what sets you apart from other applicants.

Here is an example of a captivating resume summary:

Efficient, accuracy-driven secretary successful at delivering key clerical support to internal teams, customers, vendors and other stakeholders. Demonstrated success in analytical problem-solving and boosting operational efficiency. Bringing 10 years of superior performance in related roles.

Resume Summary

If you are a first-time job seeker, changing careers or returning to work after a long absence, you should write a resume objective instead. 

It is important to note that in modern resume writing, a professional summary or profile section is preferred over a traditional resume objective statement.

If you choose to include an objective statement, ensure that you focus on the company’s needs rather than those of your own. Here’s an example:

As a medical assistant wanting to transition into a project manager role, my career objective is to leverage my strong organizational skills, attention to detail and ability to work collaboratively to lead projects from conception to completion effectively. I seek a challenging and dynamic environment where I can apply my skills and experience in health care administration and project management to achieve organizational goals and drive success. Through continued education and professional development, I aim to become a highly effective project manager who consistently delivers results and exceeds expectations.

Resume Objective

The bottom line: Whether you use a resume summary or a resume objective, make it compelling, concise and clear.

STEP 5

Make a resume work history section

Potential employers want to know what they can gain by hiring you, so they will review your resume work history section to see how you have used your skills and knowledge to make an impact on current and previous employers.

For each job, display three to five work accomplishments in bullet points and quantify them when possible. A 2018 survey conducted on behalf of CareerBuilder found that 34% of hiring managers identified a lack of quantifiable results in a resume as an instant deal breaker. 

For example, a teacher might write: “35% of the senior class improved end-of-semester test scores by 25% within three months.” 

Format this resume section by listing jobs in reverse-chronological order, with the current or latest position at the top. Include your title, the company name and location, the dates of employment and bullet points with your top achievements and responsibilities. For example:

Secretary | BCforward – Milwaukee, WI | 08/2015 – Current

  • Conducted thorough research using diverse resources to assist professional staff with routine and special project tasks.
  • Provided clerical support to 200 company employees by copying, faxing and filing documents
  • Produced accurate office files, updated spreadsheets and crafted presentations to support executives and boost team efficiency

Resume Work History 1

Resume Action Verbs

  • Accelerated
  • Designed
  • Improved
  • Achieved
  • Developed
  • Initiated
  • Administered
  • Directed
  • Instituted
  • Advised
  • Documented
  • Maximized
  • Planned
  • Boosted
  • Enhanced
  • Mentored
  • Promoted
  • Campaigned
  • Established
  • Motivated
  • Resolved
  • Coordinated
  • Executed
  • Negotiated
  • Revitalized
  • Created
  • Facilitated
  • Organized
  • Secured
  • Delivered
  • Formed
  • Supervised

 

STEP 6

Create a resume skills section to highlight your strengths

When writing a resume, you must include at least one bulleted list of skills, no matter what resume format you use. Include a mix of hard skills and soft skills to show recruiters that you are well-rounded.

When thinking about what to put on a resume skills section, aim for an average of six to eight of your top strengths, as long as they are relevant to the job you want. 

If you are changing careers or applying for your first job without work experience, focus on transferable skills like communication and critical thinking, which can apply to almost any job.

Hard Skills Mobile

Soft Skills Mobile

STEP 7

List your education accurately

An important step in learning how to write a good resume for a job is learning how to list your education credentials. Here’s what goes on a resume education section:

  • If you did not attend college, display your high school diploma or GED. 
  • If you attended college or graduate school but did not complete a degree, then add the name(s) of the schools you attended and your courses of study.
  • Add your anticipated date of graduation, if you have one. You don’t need to include the graduation year if you graduated more than 10 years ago. 

Every resume education section should include the following information:

  • The name of your university, community college or school. Only include high school if you’re a high school student or didn’t attend university.
  • Location of the school: Write the city and state.
  • The month and year you graduated. If you still haven’t graduated, then write the expected graduation date.
  • The type of degree you received or expect to receive and the program. For example, a “Bachelor of Science in Nursing” or a “Bachelor of Arts in English.”

For example:

Columbia University, New York, NY
May 2014
Bachelor of Science in Social Work

You may also include:

  • Your GPA if it is higher than 3.5, and you just graduated college, or it’s required. Otherwise, you shouldn’t add it.
  • Relevant coursework. If you have not graduated or have recently graduated but don’t have work experience, then add a bulleted list of relevant coursework you’ve completed.
  • Honors, scholarships and awards such as Dean’s List or Rhodes Scholarship if they were recent. Always provide the full name of the award and the year you received it.

STEP 8

Add relevant certifications, licenses and training

Some jobs, like nursing, accounting and teaching, require candidates to have certifications and licenses. Some job seekers go the extra mile and get additional training or certificates to establish their expertise in their chosen fields.

When making a resume, create a separate resume section for certifications, licenses or professional training you have completed.

Here’s how to make a good resume certifications section for any additional training. 

Directly below your education section, list:

  • The title of the certification, course or license.
  • Name of the certifying agency or body.
  • The date you obtained each certificate. 
  • The expiration date of your certificate (if applicable). If you have not yet finished the course, write “In Progress” with the expected date of completion.

Consider the examples below when writing your resume. 

How to write a resume certifications section

Example of current certification:

Lifeguard Certification

American Red Cross, June 2021

Expires: June 2023

Current Certification Mobile

Example of “in progress” certification:

First Aid Training (In Progress)

American Red Cross

Expected date of completion: Feb 2024

Progress Certification Mobile

How to write a resume licenses section

Beauty Operator License

Board of Barbering & Cosmetology

Expires: 2024

Registered Nurse – License #000000

California Board of Registered Nursing

Expires: 2024

License1 Mobile

License2 Mobile

Make a resume with My Perfect Resume

Our Resume builder can help you write the perfect resume. Start Now!

STEP 9

Include optional resume sections if you have them

How do you make a strong resume? Effective resume writing is more than just making sure you have all the basics. Add optional sections, like volunteer work, awards, honors and publications.

If you have published work or have received relevant awards that will help you further highlight your accomplishments, then you should include them — they won’t hurt your chances but help you stand out. 

Only create a separate section for awards, honors, publications or volunteer work if you cannot tie them into other sections of your resume.

  • If the award, honor or publication is tied to your degree, you can include it as a bullet point in your education section below the university or high school name.
  • You can include it in your work history section as a bullet point if it’s relevant to a specific job.
  • If you have the space, create a separate section for awards, honors or publications under your education section. List them as bullet points in reverse-chronological order with the year you received or published them. 

Volunteer work can add value to a resume because it shows that you are willing to help others and have passions outside of work. These traits are impressive to employers and can help you stand out from candidates who do not have volunteer experience. 

Format this section the same way you formatted your work history section, with a clear heading (“Volunteer Experience”) and your volunteer position titles with a few bullet points describing your responsibilities. 

However, if you have minimal or no professional experience, you might consider adding relevant volunteer experience to your work history section. Make sure to include “volunteer” in the job title for clarity (i.e., “Volunteer Program Manager”). 

Below your education section (or certifications section if you have one), write the name of the optional credential followed by one to five bullet points listing the names of the certificates followed by the dates earned or published.

Example of how to format the volunteer experience section on your resume

Volunteer Experience

Habitat for Humanity, Volunteer Builder, 2018-present

  • Worked on construction projects to build and repair homes for low-income families.
  • Collaborated with a team of volunteers and Habitat staff to complete projects on time and within budget.

American Red Cross, Volunteer Blood Donor Ambassador, 2017-2018

  • Assisted with blood drives by welcoming donors, registering them, and providing information about the donation process.
  • Helped to ensure a positive donor experience and encouraged repeat donations.

Example of how to make a resume awards section

Awards

  • George Polk Award for National Reporting (2020)
  • Conscience-in-Media Award (2018)
  • Clio Awards (2016)

Awards Section Mobile

Example of how to create a resume honors section

Honors

  • Alliance Pipeline Sports Scholarship (2018-2021)
  • Pi Sigma Alpha honor society member (2017-2021)

Honors Section Mobile

Example of how to write a resume publications section

Publications

  • “The Unidentified Bands and Atomic Hydrogen,” Astronomy & Physics, Vol. 650, March 2020.
  • “Make the Sun,” Nature Astronomy, 860-862, November 2019
  • “The Duality of Black Holes,” Astronomy Now, Vol. 20, June 2019

Publications Section Mobile

STEP 10

Proofread, check your formatting and save your final product

Typos and grammatical errors are the most common resume-writing mistakes — and a deal-breaker for about 80% of hiring managers. When making a resume, reread it thoroughly to ensure that you’ve written everything perfectly and that all your dates and company names are correct.

Formatting errors are also a big turnoff for hiring managers. You can make a resume easy for them to read by following these simple formatting resume tips:

  • Keep it short. A one-page resume is sufficient unless you have more than 10 years of work experience and need the extra room. In that case, it is acceptable for your resume to be two or three pages long.
  • Set margins to 1 inch on all sides of your document. If you need to fit additional content onto the page, you can reduce the margins to as little as half of an inch.
  • Use appropriate resume fonts, like Times New Roman, Arial or Helvetica.
  • Stick to a font size between 10-12 points for the body and 14-16 points for the headers.
  • Choose between single to 1.5-point line spacing.
  • Save your resume as a PDF or DOCX file. Sometimes employers specify in the job description which file type to use; always follow their directions. PDF is a great option if they don’t specify a file format.
  • Your resume file name matters! We recommend this formula: “[Your First Name]_[Your Last Name]_[Resume].pdf.” You might consider incorporating the company name or job title into the file name for specificity and to keep your files organized.

And that sums up how to write a professional resume. When you finish downloading your document, it should look like the example below.

How To Write Resume Example

How to make a resume free and fast

Start your resume on the right track with a professional resume template. Our expertly designed templates organize your job credentials correctly in all three standard resume formats and they meet the latest applicant tracking system (ATS) requirements. See how to make an ATS-friendly resume for additional guidance from career advice experts.  

Use a professional resume template with our Resume Builder to build a resume in minutes. You can also upload your existing resume to instantly reformat it to one of our templates. 

Our Resume Builder makes it easy to make a resume quickly and easily with the following features:

  • Job-specific phrases and skills: No matter the job you’re applying for, we provide the best words to help showcase your job qualifications. 
  • Step-by-step guidance: Get expert advice at every step to help you present your best self and get the job. 
  • ATS resume checker: Our ATS resume checker scans your resume for common errors and provides personalized feedback on optimizing your resume.
  • Easy customization: Write a cover letter for every job application and save as many versions of it as you need. Use our cover letter templates for a matching resume and cover.
  • Multiple download formats: Save and export your resume as an Adobe PDF (.pdf), MS Word Doc (.docx) or Plain Text (.txt) file.

Effective resume examples by job title and circumstance

Choose an example to guide you through creating a resume that impresses hiring managers, then use our builder to customize it for your target job.

Examples of how to write a resume for popular jobs

Explore professionally made resume examples to help you learn how to make a resume for a job in almost any industry.

Samples of how to write a resume for special circumstances

Example of a resume for someone with no work experience

How To Write Resume No Experience Example

Career change resume sample

How To Write Career Change Resume Example

Employment gap resume example

How To Write Employment Gap Resume Example

Searching for remote jobs? Our sister company, FlexJobs, updates listings daily. Find verified remote jobs—from remote transcription jobs to remote nursing jobs, and everything in between. And, if you’re considering an opportunity in the Great White North, check out how to write a Canadian resume.

Expert resume-writing tips to help you land the job

How do you make a resume that gets past ATS software and wins the hearts of hiring managers? Follow these simple tips for success! Want more tips and tricks from career advice experts? Read about what to put on a resume to get hired fast.

 

  • Create a resume for every job application and customize it for your target job. The best way to do this is to use resume keywords or phrases in the job description and adjust your work experience, skills and summary or objective to the potential employer’s needs. 
  • Find time to dedicate solely to your resume. Writing a resume is pretty straightforward, but it takes time and focused effort to make a resume for each job that rises above the competition. 
  • Write and don’t stop to correct your resume along the way. When you get it all down, step away for a few hours and return to it with fresh eyes to refine your resume writing. 
  • Include only relevant experience in your work history section and required skills that you know are relevant to the job at hand.
  • Include up to 10 years of work experience for any job you target. See U.S. resume format best practices for additional guidance from career advice experts. 

Create a matching cover letter 

Nice work! You’ve followed all of our advice on how to write a proper resume. So now you have a great resume and you’re ready to apply for your dream job. Not so fast!

You need more than the perfect resume to get an interview. Your job application isn’t complete without a compelling cover letter to complement your resume. 

Not sure where to start? Explore our professional cover letter examples, then choose an expertly designed cover letter template that catches your eye.

Once you have the perfect template picked out, you can use our Cover Letter Builder to make a compelling cover letter in a matter of minutes.

Key takeaways

  1. Prepare by gathering information on your past employers and key achievements from each role.
  2. Select the best resume format to showcase your skills and qualifications.
  3. Write a customized resume for every job you apply for.
  4. Include keywords and phrases from the job description throughout your resume.
  5. Ensure that your resume is error-free by proofreading it thoroughly and asking a trusted friend or family member to review it.
  6. Use our Resume Builder and professionally designed templates to make a resume in minutes.
  7. Get inspired by our resume examples for different jobs and circumstances.
  8. Include a compelling cover letter with your job application.
 

FAQ

How we reviewed this article

Since 2013, we have helped more than 15 million job seekers. We want to make your career journey accessible and manageable through our services and Career Center’s how-to guides and tips. In our commitment to bring you a transparent process, we present our Editorial Process.

Sources

Rate this article

How to Write a Resume in 2024

Average Rating

4.5/5 stars with 858 reviews

Related Content