Everybody can write a resume, but not everybody can do it right. In today’s competitive market, 40% of hiring managers spend less than a minute reviewing a resume, so having a strong and eye-catching resume that perfectly captures your relevant skills and work experience makes the difference between getting called for an interview or not.
To help you shine, we’re going to teach you how to write a resume in nine easy steps, going section by section. We have plenty of visual examples you can use as inspiration, expert resume tips, a list of top skills you can feature in your resume and even how to make a resume if you have no experience, employment gaps and much more.
If you want to jump to a specific part of this article, click on any of the steps below and it will take you there. You can also get straight to writing your document in our Resume Builder and use our built-in guide to make a resume in minutes.
How to write a resume
How to write a resume
Step 1 Before you write a resume, understand how to start a resume.
There are a couple of things you need to do before you start writing a resume. Remember: Each resume you write should be tailored to the job you’re applying for — it’s not a one-size-fits-all document. With that in mind, here are some tips that will make resume writing easier:
- TIP #1To write a professional resume, you need to be prepared. First, make a list of:
- Major accomplishments from previous jobs.
- Skills: soft, hard and technical.
- Details about past employers, date of hire, location, job title and responsibilities.
- Qualifications such as a college degree, certifications or licenses.
- All of this information will be used in your resume writing — having it noted beforehand will save you a ton of time later and will not disrupt the creative writing process.
- TIP #2Find time to dedicate solely to writing your resume.
- TIP #3Sit in a quiet place where you will not be disturbed and can concentrate.
- TIP #4Write and don’t stop to perfect your prose along the way. That will happen later.
- TIP #5When you get it all down, step away for a few hours and come back with fresh eyes to perfect your resume writing.
Now let’s start!
Step 2 Understand the key resume sections.
To know how to write a resume for a job, you must first understand the key sections of every resume. They each serve a different purpose and, based on your experience, might be placed in different areas of your document. You can use our resume examples as a visual guide to see the different ways of writing a resume.
When you write a resume, be sure to include your name, phone number, professional email address and the city where you live.
Summary statement or resume objective
Present your strongest skills, experience and what you bring to the job in two to three sentences. If you’re a first-time job seeker, changing careers or applying for a goal-oriented job, write a resume objective where you also state your employment goals.
In your resume writing, include a bulleted list of six to eight skills relevant to the job for which you’re applying. In some cases, you can use the “Summary of Qualifications” or “Summary of Skills” section to discuss a specific set of skills you learned on the job that qualify you for the new role. Not every resume will have this section — it will depend on your years of experience.
Write a resume work experience section in reverse-chronological order, with the current or latest job at the top. Include accomplishments in concise bullet points.
your education credentials. If you graduated more than 10 years ago, you don’t need to include the graduation year when writing a resume.
List any additional certifications you possess or training you have completed.
Step 3 Choose the right format to write a resume
Let’s talk about your resume format. There are three basic formats, and each determines how your resume is organized based on your years of experience and what you want to highlight in your resume writing. They’re not interchangeable, so choose the one that will benefit you the most before writing a resume.
Chronological resume format
The chronological resume format is the most commonly used format. It’s ideal for candidates who want to focus on their work experience because this section sits front and center. As you can see, the work history goes directly below the professional summary, so when you write a resume with this format, your aim is for the recruiter or hiring manager to see your career progression.
It’s perfect for people with a lot of professional work experience, no employment gaps and job seekers applying to a job that puts a heavy importance on experience.
Functional resume format
The functional resume format is a skills-based resume. You’ll notice that the resume above has additional sections and that it doesn’t present work experience like the chronological format. That’s because this format highlights your skills and training, focusing on the abilities that can make you a great addition to the team, even if you’re applying for your first job.
This format is excellent for first-time job seekers, candidates looking to write a resume with no work experience, people changing careers or those with employment gaps.
Combination resume format
Also known as the hybrid resume, the combination resume format combines the functional and chronological resumes. It has a work history section where you can write where you previously worked and what you did, and a skills list right next to it where you can list your top skills.
It’s ideal for midlevel candidates with some experience in their industry, job seekers switching to a different industry who need to write a resume with transferable skills, and people reentering the workforce.
Step 4 What to include in a resume’s contact information.
All of our resume templates have a professionally designed resume header for your contact information. Hiring managers need to know who you are and how to get in touch with you, so do it the right way by writing your:
- Full name: Include your first and last name. The middle initial is optional.
- Telephone number: Where you can be reached easily.
- Email address: Make sure it’s appropriate and includes your name.
- Location: Most resumes require the city where you reside, state name and ZIP code.
Optional information you can include when writing a resume contact information header, depending on your industry and career:
- Title: Do you have a professional title? It can be your position or what you do. For example: Social Media Manager, Software Engineer or Customer Experience Manager.
- Professional website, portfolio or blog: Do you have a website that showcases your work or is relevant to the potential new job? Be sure to include it!
- LinkedIn handle: If your profile can add value to your application, include the link but make sure it’s up to date.
What NOT to include in your contact information:
- Date of birth: Unless the job description states otherwise, the hiring manager doesn’t need to know when you were born.
- Unprofessional email address: It’s one of the most common resume mistakes and can be a huge turn-off for employers.
- Headshot: Unless you work in the entertainment industry or the job ad requires it, including your picture isn’t necessary.
Here’s an example of a resume header with the correct contact information:
Step 5 Resume summary or resume objective?
Recruiters and hiring managers review hundreds of resumes a day. The best way to ensure they stick around to read your skills and work history is by writing a resume summary or resume objective that immediately grabs their attention and aligns with what they’re looking for.
But what’s the difference between a resume summary and a resume objective? And which one should you use? Here’s everything you need to know about how to make a resume summary and resume objective:
What’s a resume summary?
A resume summary, also known as a summary statement or professional summary, is a two-to-three-sentence summary of your career and past achievements. It’s ideal for candidates with relevant work experience.
To write a good resume summary, feature your top skills and qualifications, use keywords and phrases found in the job description, and avoid using personal pronouns (I, me or my).
FORMULA TO WRITE A RESUME SUMMARY:
[Soft skills that describe you as a professional] + [job title and years of experience] in [phrase from the job description]. Proficient in [two to three required hard skills or knowledge relevant to the job]. [Additional skills and qualifications to wrap up].
Resume summary examples
If you’re applying for a UX designer job and the employer lists knowledge of Figma and Adobe Creative Suite as a major requirement, you could write:
Or, if a company is looking for a distribution manager with experience leading a warehouse team, your summary could be:
What’s a resume objective?
Also known as a career objective, a resume objective is a two-to-three-sentence summary that features your top skills and experience and explains your employment goals. It’s useful for job seekers who are fresh out of school or applying to their first job, people who are changing careers and candidates applying for a goal-oriented job.
Your resume objective should answer who you are, your objective and your top skills.
FORMULA TO WRITE A RESUME OBJECTIVE:
[What you do] + [experience and top skills]. Seeking [position you’re striving for in the company] to [what you aim to do] with [additional skills and knowledge mentioned in the job description]. [Include a short sentence with soft skills to wrap up].
Resume objective example
Step 6 How to create a resume work experience section
Organizing and writing about your work experience may sound like a daunting task, but just follow these resume writing tips, and you’ll learn how to make a resume work history section in no time.
How to list work experience in a resume.
Your work experience should be written in reverse-chronological order, meaning that your current or most recent job is at the top of the list. For each job, here’s what to include in a resume work history section:
- Your title
- Company name
- Company location (city and state)
- Dates of employment (month and year)
- Three-to-five bullet points with your top work achievements and duties
Only include relevant experience
Don’t include work experience that isn’t relevant to the job, unless the skills you learned directly relate to it. If you are a career professional, you can include up to 10 years of relevant work experience.
Use action verbs to begin your statements.
When describing previous or current job experiences, always start your bullet points with action verbs. Stating “Was responsible for project X …” makes less of an impact than “Managed project X” or “Oversaw project X.” Some other examples of action verbs you can write in your resume include:
Focus on accomplishments instead of daily tasks
Don’t just write in your resume what you did in your previous job — show employers how good you are by highlighting work accomplishments. Did you play a vital role in a project? Did you go above and beyond your regular duties? For example, an assistant operations manager could write: “Set up and improved accounting systems and processes to maximize the effectiveness of operations.”
Use quantifiable metrics to highlight your achievements.
The best resume writing tip? Include numbers. Numbers help recruiters or hiring managers see what you’re capable of doing and what you can bring to the company. Quantifiable metrics are so valuable that job seekers who use numbers in their resumes see a 40% boost over the competition.
So instead of writing something like: “Compiled general ledger entries,” a statement with a quantifiable metric would look like: “Compiled general ledger entries on a short schedule with 100% accuracy” or “Served an average of six tables per hour on 8-hour work shifts.”
Tailor your resume to the job.
We’ve mentioned it before, and it still holds true here: Be relevant to the job you want. To accomplish this, when writing a resume use keywords or phrases found in the job description and adjust your work experience to the new role. These keywords can also be used in other sections of your resume, such as the summary statement and skills list.
But how do you determine the keywords in a job ad? How do you decide what to include in a resume? It’s pretty simple. The employer will describe the type of candidate they’re looking for (creative, team player, etc.), the skills they’re required to possess and the job’s responsibilities. These details are the keywords or phrases that will take your resume writing to the next level.
Here’s an example of a job ad for an Event Manager with potential keywords and phrases highlighted:
We are hiring an Event Manager eager to create experiences and wonderful memories together
As an Event Manager, you would be responsible for our continued growth and success by making sure that contracts are signed, ordering audiovisual equipment and recommending new ideas.
- Promote awareness of brand image internally and externally
- Manage budget, including sponsorships
- Prepare or edit letters, invitations, and monthly and quarterly reports
- Accumulate lost business and cancellation reports for the month-end report
- Make updates to the website
- Order and follow-up on bands and audiovisual equipment or any other outside services
- Coordinate visits from media, including reservations, amenities and special requests
- Be aware of the forecast and budget, be profit-minded
- Oversee hiring and training of new team members
- Prior management experience
- College degree
- Good leadership qualities
- Team player
- Attention to detail
- Profit conscious
- Ability to work under pressure
During your job search, read the job description carefully and note the keywords or phrases that apply to you, and balance them out in your resume writing.
Here’s how a work experience section looks like with keywords and phrases from the job ad:
Sponsorships and Events Manager | Downtown Long Beach Alliance | Long Beach, California
February 2018 – Current
- Perform preliminary research to identify and prioritize new prospects and raise awareness of the organization’s work.
- Manage budget and all external revenue sources, including sponsorship, tickets and concessions.
- Lead team of 27 employees, overseeing hiring, training and professional growth.
- Make updates to the website to show latest events.
Training and Event Coordinator | The Reef Restaurant | Long Beach, California
February 2016 – February 2018
- Recommended workflow and budget improvements, resulting in 62% savings per event.
- Coordinated on-site visits from the media and made sure all amenities were available.
- Cut costs and doubled show volume by working with PR and delivering over 50 effective marketing strategies to optimize outreach.
- Given smooth training execution by coordinating seminar functions, including site selection, scheduling, marketing, reservations, materials, event management and follow-ups.
Event Staff Member | Epic Talent Partners | Long Beach, California
June 2012 – January 2016
- Set up 200+ luncheons and conferences, and organized supplies and displays.
- Oversaw more or less $1,000 and confirmed proper balance of cash boxes following ticket sales, maintaining maximum accuracy after each event.
- Provided general cleaning of venue spaces before, during and after events.
Step 7 Ways to highlight your top skills when writing a resume.
Your job skills section should be tailored to the job. When writing a resume, aim to include six to eight relevant hard and soft skills — and in some cases, a summary of qualifications. Not sure what these are or how to determine what to put on a resume skills section? Keep reading.
What’s the difference between hard skills and soft skills?
A hard skill (or a professional skill) is an ability acquired through practice, education and repetition that is job-specific. Having the ability to operate heavy machinery, knowing how to use specific software and speaking another language all count as hard skills.
A soft skill is an intangible ability or personal trait that isn’t tied to a single job and generally helps you thrive in the workplace, such as being well-organized or a team player.
Here are some top skills to include in your resume:
10 hard skills for resume writing
- Data analysis (data visualization, programming skills or statistics knowledge)
- Cybersecurity (risk identification and management, or computer forensics skills)
- Programming (HTML5, Java development and other programming languages)
- Marketing (SEO, email and social media marketing or Google Analytics)
- Accounting (Microsoft Excel, QuickBooks and other accounting software)
- Design (UX design, Adobe Creative Suite or photo editing)
- Writing (content writing, copywriting or creative writing)
- Cloud computing (Cloud architecture, networking or data management)
- Specialized machinery (forklift or backhoe)
- Foreign languages
What’s a summary of qualifications?
A summary of qualifications, or summary of skills, consists of a couple of short sentences where you talk about the top set of skills you learned on a job and the accomplishments that qualify you for the new role. This section is used on functional and combination resume formats only, and it’s best for junior to midlevel job seekers because it allows you to expand on what you can do despite not having a lot of work experience.
Consider the following examples of skills sections with a mixture of soft skills, hard skills and a summary of qualifications:
Bank teller skills section example:
Example of a single skills section with bullet points:
- Transaction processing
- Account systems and software
- Banking laws and regulations
- Account analysis
- Strong communication skills
- Customer relationship development
Example of a standalone summary of qualifications:
- Proven experience of consistently maintaining a balanced cash drawer and processing deposits and withdrawals.
- Focused on applying bank security policies and keeping the confidentiality of bank records and clients’ information.
- Excellent customer service and problem-solving skills; answer questions and assist customers with issues and requests.
Medical receptionist skills section example:
Example of a single skills section with bullet points:
- Medical billing and coding
- Infection control procedures
- Patient care
- Time management
- Insurance claims
- HIPAA guidelines
- Medical records management
- Account management
Example of a summary of qualifications and skills list together:
Summary of qualifications:
- Proficient in serving patients by greeting and answering questions, scheduling appointments, and maintaining records and accounts on MS Office suite applications.
- Experienced in practicing urgency at all times with patient’s and doctor’s time.
- A team-oriented and patient-focused individual with excellent interpersonal and communication abilities.
- Medical office administration
- Prehospital care
- EMR & EHR software
- Filing and typing
- Positive and upbeat attitude
Step 8 What to put on a resume education section.
Write your academic credentials with the latest one at the top. If you have more than 10 years of work experience, it’s unnecessary to include the year you graduated. If you lack professional experience or work in a field that places great importance on academia, your education section should highlight your trajectory and accomplishments correctly.
Here are the basics on how to write a resume education section:
- The name of your university, community college or school: Don’t include high school unless you’re a high school student or didn’t go to university.
- Location of the school: Write the city and state.
- Date of graduation: Include the month and year. If you still haven’t graduated, then write the expected graduation date.
- Degree(s): List the type of degree you got and the program — for example, Bachelor of Science in Nursing or Bachelor of Arts in English.
- GPA: Only include your GPA if you just graduated university, the number is higher than 3.5, and it’s vital to the job you’re applying for. Otherwise, it’s not necessary.
- Relevant coursework: If you have recently graduated and don’t have work experience, you can write relevant coursework you took in a bulleted list to show that you possess the knowledge needed to work.
Now let’s show you a couple of examples:
High school diploma on resume example:
Example of standalone education section:
Berkley High School
Philadelphia, PA – 06/2020
High School Diploma
Example of education section with extracurricular activities:
- Central High School
- Trenton, NJ – Expected in 06/2022
- High School Diploma
- Youth Foreign Language Association (2019-present)
- Yearbook Writer (2020)
Associate degree on resume example:
Example of standalone education section:
Harrisburg, PA – 05/2016
Associate of Science in Health Services
Example of education section with relevant coursework:
- Henry Ford Community College
- Dearborn, MI – 06/2021
- Associate of Applied Science Computer Programming, Specific Applications
- Web Scripting with Python
- Java Programming
- Project Management for Windows
- Management of Information Systems
Bachelor’s degree on resume example:
Example of standalone education section:
National Louis University
Bachelor of Science in Business Administration
Example of education section with relevant coursework:
- Rider University
- Los Angeles, CA – 06-2021
- Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design
- Digital 3D Design
- Web Applications Programming
- Motion Graphics
- Principles of Electronic Commerce
Master’s degree on resume example:
Note: If you went to graduate school, you can include the bachelor’s degree below your latest academic degree. But remember, if you graduated more than 10 years ago, you don’t need to include the date.
Boston University Graduate School of Arts & Sciences
Boston, MA – 06/2017
Master of Fine Arts in Literary Translation
Cheyenne, WY – 06/2015
Bachelor of Arts in English
Doctorate degree on resume example:
Drexel University College of Arts & Sciences
Philadelphia, PA – 06/2016
Ph.D. in Physics
New York, NY
Bachelor of Science in Physics
Law degree on resume example:
Examples of standalone education sections:
Washington State College of Law
University of Tampa
Bachelor of Science in Nursing
Example of education section for a recent law graduate:
Chicago-Kent College of Law
Juris Doctor with Honors – 05/2021
- Top 11% — GPA: 3.56/4.00
- Moot Court Honor Society Member
- Dean’s List (2018-2021)
University of Wisconsin
Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering
Step 9 How to write a good resume certifications, licenses and honors sections.
Don’t treat these resume sections as an afterthought. While they may seem the easiest to complete when resume writing, they require just as much of your attention.
Certifications and licenses section.
Some jobs, like nursing, require candidates to possess specific certifications and licenses to be hired. Other times, job seekers voluntarily acquire additional certifications that might not be mandatory but further establish their expertise.
Whatever your case, when you write a resume you should add a licenses or certifications section below your education with:
- Title of certification
- Name of certifying agency or body
- Date of obtainment
- If applicable, list the expiration date of your certificate
- If applicable, write it in as “In Progress” with the expected date of completion
Consider the following examples:
Certifications on resume example:
Example of current certification:
American Red Cross, June 2021
Expires: June 2023
Example of “in progress” certification:
First Aid Training (In Progress)
American Red Cross
Expected date of completion: Feb. 2022
Licenses on resume example:
Beauty Operator License (2019)
Board of Barbering & Cosmetology
Registered Nurse – License #000000
California Board of Registered Nursing
Things to put on a resume’s awards, honors and publications sections.
If you have published work or have received relevant awards that will help you further highlight your accomplishments, include them!
You have different ways of approaching these additions to your resume. It all depends on their importance and how much space you have:
- 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.
- If it’s relevant to a specific job, you can include it in your work history section as a bullet point.
- If you have the space, create a separate section for awards, honors or publications under your education section and list them with the year they were received in reverse-chronological order (with the latest on top).
Here are some examples:
Awards on resume example:
Example of academic awards in the education section:
New Horizons University
Austin, TX – 06/2021
Bachelor of Arts in Communication
- Dean’s List (2018-2021)
- Bighley Communications Award (2020)
Example of professional awards in the work history section:
Lead Copywriter | Grand Rapids, MI
Mar 2018 – Current
- Write advertising copy for five retail brands’ online content, adhering to employers’ overarching brand identity and personality.
- Edit content produced by senior executives, modifying the text to conform to company-wide branding standards and publication guidelines.
- Collaborate with two creative directors and copywriting associates to complete all phases of campaigns.
- 2021 Cannes Young Lions Award Silver Winner
Example of awards section:
- George Polk Award for National Reporting (2020)
- Conscience-in-Media Award (2018)
- Clio Awards (2016)
Honors on resume example:
Example of academic honors in the education section:
ORT Technical Institute
Skokie, IL – 06/2021
Bachelor of Science in Psychology
- Honors: Summa cum laude, GPA 3.9/4.0
- Sharon Stephens Brehm Undergraduate Psychology Scholarship (2017-2021)
Example of honors section:
- Alliance Pipeline Sports Scholarship (2018-2021)
- Pi Sigma Alpha honor society member (2017-2021)
Publications on resume example:
Example of publications in the education section:
Waleska, GA – 06/2021
Bachelor of Science in Astrophysics
- “Fundamental frequencies in the Solar System,” AstroFans (2019).
Example of publications section:
- “The Unidentified Bands and Atomic Hydrogen,” Astronomy & Physics, Vol. 650, March 2020.
- “Making the Sun,” Nature Astronomy, 860-862, November 2019.
- “The Duality of Black Holes,” Astronomy Now, Vol. 20, June 2019.
Step 10 Proofread, check your formatting and save.
Typos and grammatical errors are the most common mistakes in resumes — and a deal-breaker for about 70% of hiring managers. Reread your resume thoroughly to make sure that everything is written correctly. Our Resume Builder has a helpful spell-checking tool that scans your document and lets you know of any mistakes.
You should also make it easier for hiring managers to read your resume by following these formatting resume tips:
- Make sure that it isn’t longer than a page (unless you have 10+ years of work experience. In this case, it can be two pages long).
- Keep the margins at one inch on all sides of your resume.
- Use appropriate fonts, like Times New Roman, Arial or Helvetica.
- Stick to a font size between 11-12 on the body and 14-16 on headers.
- Choose between single or 1.5 line spacing.
- Save your resume as a PDF or a DOC and name it appropriately with “[YourName]-[Desired Job]-Resume.pdf.”
And that’s it! That’s how to write a resume. When you finish downloading your document, the final product of your resume writing should look something like this:
How to make a resume with no experience
Writing a resume with no experience is possible. If you organize your information correctly and highlight only what employers want, you can make a resume that no employer will turn away from.
When you don’t have experience, you might want to consider using a functional resume that focuses on your skills and highlights your unique strengths. This is also the perfect opportunity to write a resume objective that clearly states your goals of employment.
When it comes to experience, think outside the box. You can write in a resume any relevant internships, personal projects or extracurricular activities (such as volunteer experience or a club) that may have given you some form of experience or skills — they’re valuable! You can also highlight your educational achievements, such as awards or honors. Did you write articles for the school newspaper? Did your club arrange and host a fundraising event or donation drive?
You can present yourself as a well-rounded candidate if you organize your information correctly, despite not having experience. Just take a look at this high school student resume example and how the contents of the resume sections read:
How to write a resume for a career change
After a lot of consideration, you may have decided that you want to change career paths and do something different — and that’s exciting! But before you jump into it, you might want to sit down and update your resume. Here’s how to make a resume for a career change:
First, we suggest changing your layout to a combination resume format if you haven’t already. Then, you need to read the job description well and compare your current skills to the ones they’re requiring. Find transferable skills to highlight and feature only previous work experience that is relevant to the new job in your resume writing.
You should also consider switching your summary statement or professional summary to a resume objective. This will allow you to quickly summarize your top qualifications and make your career-change goals clear.
How to make a resume with
an employment gap
Employment gaps are periods during which you didn’t have formal employment. Whether planned or not, addressing these gaps correctly when writing a resume is extremely important to ensure the employer has the right first impression of you.
First and foremost, consider writing a cover letter – it will give you a chance to explain why you have that gap in the first place. We have cover letter examples for an employment gap and more at your disposal if you need inspiration.
Now, as for your resume, we highly advise using a combination resume template to write a resume with an employment gap. Why? Because the focus on your skills and work experience will be equal, so the gap won’t necessarily be as noticeable. This resume format also allows you to include a “Summary of Skills” that you can place above your work experience and bring more attention to your top qualifications.
If your employment gap takes longer than a year, you can include what you were doing as part of your work experience. But you should only do this if you gained relevant skills during this period — and keep it brief.
For example, you can write that you went on sabbatical and then use three bullet points to expand on the new skills you learned or the certifications you gained. You can also do this if you were a family caregiver or volunteered for an organization and learned or did new things as part of your new responsibilities.
Most importantly, don’t get discouraged if you have an employment gap. Life happens. Organize your information and use this resume example as a foundation to write your resume:
Key resume writing takeaways
We’ve given you expert advice on how to write a resume, but before we officially wrap things up, let’s make sure you have everything you need to know on how to make a resume that stands out. Be sure you’ve followed these resume writing tips:
- Selected the right resume format for you.
- The contact information is up to date, and you have a professional email address.
- Checked the job description to tailor the resume to the job.
- Made a list of your skills to feature your top skills and experience in your resume summary or resume objective.
- Wrote work achievements instead of daily responsibilities in your work history and used action verbs at the beginning of each statement.
- Included keywords and phrases across your resume.
- Highlighted the right skills in your resume skills section.
- Proofread your resume to make sure there are no typos.
Complement your resume with a perfect cover letter
Applying with a cover letter will help you look more professional and enthusiastic about the job opportunity.
A cover letter is a blank canvas where you can complement your resume and market yourself, providing extra details about your history and who you are. You can also include further context on specific projects or work achievements and give hiring managers insight into your personality and how you can be of value to the company.