Forty percent of hiring managers spend less than a minute reviewing a resume. That’s why you need a strong and eye-catching document that perfectly captures your relevant skills and work experience to make the cut.
You might be saying, “OK! So how do I make a resume successfully?”
Don’t worry! We’re here to help. In this guide, we will show you how to make a good resume in just a few easy steps and detail exactly what to include in each resume section.
- How to write a resume, no matter your situation, industry or job title.
- What to put on a resume.
- The top skills employers from every industry want to see.
- How to build a resume free and fast with our professional Resume Builder.
- How to start a resume.
- What a resume template is, and why you should use one.
Plus, we’ll provide expert resume-writing tips and professional examples to inspire you.
How to write a resume
Chances are, if you write a resume well, you’ll be booked for interviews for every job you seek.
But how do you make a resume that employers respond to?
Let’s break it down.
STEP 1 Prepare to write a great resume.
Preparation is key to writing a resume that stands out. Having your essential information ready will save you time and ensure you put your best foot forward.
Take the time to review your relevant qualifications and compare them to the requirements for your target job.
Then make a list of your:
- Significant accomplishments from previous jobs.
- Soft, hard and technical skills and match them to the required skills in the job ad.
- Employers’ names, dates of hire, locations, job titles and responsibilities.
- Educational credentials such as a college degree, certifications or licenses.
- Volunteer work.
- Awards and honors.
Pro tip Tailor each resume you write to the target job to make it most effective.
STEP 2 Pick a format.
Now that you’ve prepared your information, here’s a secret on how to start a resume that many job seekers overlook: You have to pick a suitable resume format before you can begin to write a resume.
There are three standard formats. Each uses the same resume sections but organizes them differently, so you should choose the one that highlights the credentials you want to spotlight.
Chronological resume format
The chronological resume format is the most commonly used. It’s ideal for candidates who want to focus on their work experience because this section sits front and center.
It’s perfect for people with a lot of professional work experience and no employment gaps, and those applying to jobs that put heavy emphasis on experience.
Functional resume format
The functional resume 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.
Step 3 Fill out the essential resume sections.
Now you’re ready to write a resume! No matter what format you use, every resume has four essential sections. Let’s walk through each one.
1. What to include in a resume’s contact information
Make sure your contact information is up-to-date and easy to find. Always put it at the top, in the header.
- Full name
- Phone number
- Professional email address
- City and ZIP code
- A link to your professional social media account, website or portfolio if you have them.
2. Decide on a resume summary objective statement
Use a resume objective statement if you are a first-time job seeker, changing careers, returning to work after a long absence, or applying for a new job (such as a managerial role) in the same company.
Whether you use a summary or an objective, it must be compelling, concise and clear.
3. How to make a resume work experience section
Format this resume section by listing jobs in reverse-chronological order, with the current or latest position at the top and display:
- 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
Your work history section should give employers a glimpse into what they can hope to gain by hiring you.
Don’t write a resume job history section as a list of duties, like “Prepared and maintained financial reports” and “Responsible for daily inventory,” because they don’t tell hiring managers anything about how well you can perform in the role.
Instead, for each job, display your work accomplishments in three-to-five bullet points and quantify them when possible. A recent study showed that job seekers who use numbers in their resumes see a 40% boost over the competition.
For example, a teacher might write: “35% of senior class improved end-of-semester test scores by 25% within three months.”
Pro Tip Use action verbs like “Spearheaded project X” or “Oversaw process Y” for impactful resume job history statements.
Resume Action Verbs
4. What to put on a resume skills section
When building a resume, you must include at least one bulleted list of six to eight top skills most relevant to your target job. Focus on transferable skills if you are changing careers or lack work experience.
Pro Tip Show hiring managers that you’re well-rounded by adding to your resume a mix of hard skills, such as accounting, and soft skills, such as adaptability.
These are the top-ten hard and soft skills employers want to see in 2023:
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
10 soft skills for resume writing
- Attention to detail
- Time management
- Active listening
5. What goes into a resume education section
When writing a resume education section, list your education credentials, even if you don’t have a degree.
Here’s how to create 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 must have:
- 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, Bachelor of Science in Nursing or Bachelor of Arts in English.
Columbia University, New York, NY
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.
6. How to include 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 building a resume, creating a separate resume section for certifications, licenses, or professional training you have completed is good practice.
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 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 following examples:
Certifications on resume example:
Example of current certification:
American Red Cross, June 2021
Expires: June 2023
Example of “in progress” certification:
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
Optional resume sections
Things to put on an optional resume section can include 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 can’t hurt, but they can help your resume to stand out.
Only add a separate section for awards, honors, publications or volunteer work if you cannot tie them into other resume sections.
- 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.
Pro tip Be highly selective when adding resume sections for optional qualifications. You only have so much real estate on a one-to-two-page document, and everything you add must count!
Here’s how to create a resume section for an optional qualification:
Below your education section (or certifications section if you have one), write the name of the 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 make a resume awards section:
- George Polk Award for National Reporting (2020)
- Conscience-in-Media Award (2018)
- Clio Awards (2016)
Example of how to create a resume honors section:
- Alliance Pipeline Sports Scholarship (2018-2021)
- Pi Sigma Alpha honor society member (2017-2021)
Example of how to write a resume 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 4 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. Reread your resume thoroughly to ensure that you’ve written everything perfectly — and that all your dates and company names are correct.
Pro tip Our Resume Builder has a helpful spell-checking tool that scans your document and lets you know of any mistakes.
Formatting errors are also a big turn-off for hiring managers. You can make a resume easy for them to read by following these simple formatting resume tips:
- Keep it short. A resume should only be one-page long unless you have more than 10 years of work experience and need the extra room. In that case, two pages maximum is acceptable.
- Set margins to 1 inch on all sides of your document.
- 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, plain text or DOCX and name it appropriately with “[YourName]-[Desired Job]-Resume.pdf.” Sometimes employers specify in the job description which file type to use; always follow their directions. If they don’t specify a file format, save your resume as a PDF.
- Your resume file name matters! We recommend this formula: First Name-Last Name-Target Job Title-Resume.
And that sums up how to make a resume. When you finish downloading your document, it should look something like this:
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.
Download one to make a resume from scratch, or use a template with our Resume Builder to build a resume in minutes. You can upload your existing resume and edit it with our builder!
We make it easy to create a resume with:
- 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.
- Easy customization: Write a cover letter for every job application and save as many versions of it as you need.
- Multiple download formats: Save and export your resume as a PDF, DOCX or plain text.
Choose an example to guide you through writing a resume that impresses hiring managers, then use our builder to customize it for your target job.
By job title
We offer more than 1,000 resume examples to help you learn how to make a resume for a job in almost every industry.
More resume-writing tips to help you land the job
- Create a resume for every job application and customize it for your target job. The best way to do this is to use 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 perfect 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.
Don’t forget a cover letter
Nice work! You’ve followed all of our advice about resume writing and spent a few minutes building a resume that makes you proud. You’re ready to send it off for your dream job.
Not so fast!
Your application isn’t complete without a compelling cover letter accompanying your perfect resume. Cover letters are vital to job applications because they show potential employers the person behind the qualifications and provide in-depth information about your experience and career goals. And they are a great way to explain employment gaps and career changes.
Not sure where to start? Let us show you how to write a great cover letter with our professional cover letter examples; then, choose a cover letter template and use our Cover Letter Builder to make a professional cover letter effortlessly.
How to make a resume for a job: Important takeaways
Before we officially wrap things up, let’s make sure you are completely clear on how to write a resume that will impress potential employers.
- Prepare for building a resume by listing your critical information, such as past and present employers’ names and addresses, your top skills and best achievements.
- Select the right resume format for you.
- Know how to write a resume summary and an objective statement and use the correct one.
- Customize a new resume for every job you target.
- Make sure your contact information is up to date and you have a professional email address.
- List your achievements instead of daily responsibilities in your work history and use action verbs at the beginning of each bullet point.
- Make your past achievements shine by using numbers to show the results of your work.
- Include keywords and phrases from the job description across your resume.
- Proofread your resume to make sure there are no typos or inaccuracies.
- Use a professionally designed resume template and a resume builder to build a polished resume in minutes.
- Download a resume example that matches your job title and circumstances for inspiration.
- Include a cover letter with your job application.
How to make a resume FAQ
How do I make a resume?
The easiest and fastest way to make a resume is to use one of our professionally designed resume templates with our Resume Builder. We provide tips, advice and tools to help you build a resume that looks good, is easy to read by hiring managers and ATS software, and is properly formatted. Plus, you can download it in multiple formats and save it to tailor to your next job.
How to make a resume with no experience?
If you don’t have work experience, you can still make a resume and get the job! Here’s how:
- Choose a functional resume format. This format is ideal for job seekers without work experience because it focuses on skills over job history.
- Write a resume objective under your contact information. Job applicants without experience benefit from objective statements over resume summaries because objectives explain job goals and emphasize essential skills and traits that match the job.
- Highlight your transferable skills — traits and abilities you can use in various jobs and industries. For example, strong communication skills are just as important for customer service jobs as they are for teaching.
- Lean on your non-work experience as long as it’s relevant to your desired job. Volunteer work, internships, school projects and extracurricular activities can count for work experience if they relate to the target job.
Where can I make a resume free?
You can make a resume for free right here! We’ll guide you through every step. All you have to do is upload your resume or select a template in our builder, answer a few questions, and within minutes, you’ll have a professional resume you can download for free!
How to write a resume on Google Docs?
- Sign up for a Google account.
- Choose a resume template.
- Change the name of the template and fill it in.
- Save it.
There are several pros and cons to each Google Docs template, so make your selection carefully.
We make it easier to build a resume in Google Docs!
- Create a resume using our Resume Builder.
- Import it into Google Docs.
- Edit and save our file.
More resume resources
How to Write a Resume With No Experience + Examples
No experience, no problem. Here’s the perfect guide (and resume example) for how to make a resume when you have no work experience.
Prepare Your Resume for Email and Online Posting
Think you need different versions of your resume for email and online applications? Think again. We show you how to prepare a resume for both.
Interview Questions: Discuss Your Educational Background
Learn how to discuss your education during an interview, plus read a sample answer.