Resume Guide and Resources
A professional resume is the document employers will review to determine how well you fit a job, so making a resume that is well-rounded and eye-catching is essential to get hired. Fortunately for you, we have a Resume Builder and all the tools you need to create a resume that takes your career to the next level.
What is a resume?
A resume is a one to two-page document that formalizes and summarizes your work experience, skills and education. When you submit a resume for a job application, you’re showing employers what you’re capable of doing and the abilities you possess that allow you to fulfill the job responsibilities.
Whether you’re attaching a resume to an email or filling out a job application that asks you to submit a resume online, having a complete professional resume at the ready is crucial.
The components of a professional resume
Keep this simple: just your name, a professional email address, and your city and state of residence. Your resume header can also include links to a portfolio website or online job networking profile, like LinkedIn.
A professional summary should explain your top abilities and work experiences in two to three sentences. A good resume summary is an elevator pitch that communicates your value and strengths as an employee and compels an employer to keep reading.
In reverse-chronological order (current or most recent job first), list your work history with your job title, company and dates of employment. Using only three to five bullet points under each resume work experience entry, highlight notable work achievements. Examples of successful projects and contributions make a bigger impression than just simply listing daily tasks.
To write the best resume skills section, find the required skills from the job posting, match them to your own abilities, and list them in bullet points. Feature a mix of hard skills (e.g., specific software programs or training-based knowledge) and important soft skills, such as attention to detail or good communication.
Present your most advanced education credentials (e.g., college degree or high school diploma) in reverse-chronological order, along with the name of the institution where you earned your credential. If you have advanced training in areas that are related to the job you’re applying for (e.g., a software certification), list these courses under this resume section as well.
The top resume formats
The effectiveness of your resume not only depends on its components but also on how you organize them. What is a resume format? A resume format emphasizes your career accomplishments or skills by laying them out in different orders. The right format for you will depend on your years of experience, skill level and how your qualifications match the job.
These are the main three resume formats:
Chronological resume format
Despite being the most common resume format, the chronological resume is best suited for job seekers who have substantial experience. The layout accommodates an extensive job history section, while also listing in-demand skills.
Functional resume format
5 tips for making a resume
Tailor your resume for the job application.
Before you write (or update) your resume, look through the job description. Note the skills required for the role and its responsibilities. Match your own experiences and skills up with these requirements and feature them in your resume.
For more tips on how to tailor your resume for the job, see our article How to Create a Targeted Resume.
Nail your professional resume summary.
Remember, the resume summary is your first opportunity to make the right impression with your resume, so emphasize your best qualities up front. Explain who you are as a professional, and the top abilities and accomplishments that show why you’re the right person for the job.
Create a resume that shows how you use your skills.
Listing major skills such as “loan application management” is important on any professional resume, but for more impact, show them how good you are at what you do. Explain how you put your skills into action in your work achievements or responsibilities. For example: “Managed loan applications for 50+ clients a week for the credit union.”
For more on including accomplishments, see our article How to Include Accomplishments on Your Resume.
Make an impactful professional resume with action verbs and numbers.
Your word choice can help you better present your skills and experience. Use active verbs (e.g., “managed” or “led”) and numbers in your resume (e.g., “Improved company efficiency by 50%” or “managed team of 15 junior employees”) to give your accomplishments more context.
Give your resume the right look.
All the right content in your resume can mean little if it has a sloppy or confusing layout. Use a professional resume template as a foundation and avoid unusual fonts or design flourishes that might throw off recruiters (or the tracking systems they use to scan job resumes).
Choose from the best resume templates
Making a resume isn’t just about having the right content — it’s also about having the right presentation. Our resume templates page features dozens of options, include free resume templates.
- Our resume templates are preformatted, so you don’t have to think about applying the correct margins, font size or font type.
- They are designed by experts and cater to a number of different jobs and industries.
- Our templates are easily customizable. You can move, add or remove sections to create a resume that fits your needs.
Great for jobs that emphasize efficiency and reliability. Create a resume with a crisp layout that presents your credentials clearly.
Stand out from the crowd with unique designs. Making a resume that emphasizes your artistic side is easy with our templates.
A good fit for cutting-edge industries and jobs. We have plenty of free resume templates that show you’re up on current trends.
Top resume examples for every job and industry
A resume example can give you a great head-start on composing your own resume because it shows how you can format your information and gives you ideas on what to include. We have professional resume examples for a variety of jobs and industries so you can see what applicants in your field write — just select from these popular categories, or go to our resume examples page for hundreds of more examples.
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How our Resume Builder can help you
Professionally designed resume templates
We provide a wide range of employer-ready resume templates to quickly create a resume for all types of jobs.
No matter what job you’re applying for, we’ve got you covered — get expert suggestions on skills and experiences you can include to make a professional resume.
We walk you through each section of your resume, with tips on how to effectively fill out your document within minutes.
Create a resume for different job applications
Build and save as many versions of your resume as you need, and download them in all the major file formats, including Microsoft Word and PDF.
Pair your resume with a professional cover letter
Create a unified “look” for your job application by using our Cover Letter Builder to create a cover letter that matches the design of your resume. We have a detailed guide on How to Write a Cover Letter, as well as dozens of cover letter examples and cover letter templates you can use.
What makes a good resume?
A professional resume answers the most crucial question of all: What makes you the right person for the job? Gear all your work history, skills and qualifications to answer this question, topped off with a strong summary that states your best attributes. A good resume should also have the right “look,” with a streamlined layout and a length of no more than two pages.
What are the most common resume mistakes (and how do I avoid them)?
- Simple errors or typos: Few things turn off a recruiter faster than a professional resume with an easily avoidable mistake. Always review your document a few times before sending it in — you can also send it to someone you trust so they can review it.
- Being generic or vague: It’s easy to create a resume where you present yourself as a “superior” employee, but what does that mean, really? You’re better off using specific job achievements and examples to show how good you really are. In the same vein, avoid generic terms like “best in class” and “outside the box.”
- Copying and pasting keywords: While getting keywords into your resume is critical, just copying and pasting them from the job description into your resume can backfire if the employer notices. Try to present skills and experiences of your own that address keywords. For example, if the job calls for “ability to make quick decisions,” bring up an example of a responsibility or situation from your work history that shows your effectiveness in this area.
- Including irrelevant personal information: A professional resume isn’t the place to list your personal interests or hobbies. However, you can feature extracurricular activities, volunteer work or projects, as long as they involve skills that are necessary for the job.
- “Stretching the truth” or outright lying: Sending a resume for a job application with false information can lead to serious consequences. Avoid this at all costs.
What is ATS and how can I be sure my resume is ATS-friendly?
Applicant tracking systems (ATS) are used by employers and recruiters to scan resumes and grade them with a “thumbs-up” or “thumbs-down” based on their content. To create a resume that passes the ATS test, make sure your layout is straightforward and readable (no strange headings or graphics) and that your resume addresses the specific requirements of the job.
How long should a resume be?
Generally, a resume shouldn’t be longer than a page — unless you have 10+ years of work experience. In this case, your resume can be two pages long. In today’s job market, 40% of hiring managers spend less than a minute reviewing a resume.
To keep your professional resume the right length and make it eye-catching, use short, bullet points and phrases rather than over-verbose sentences, focus only on relevant work experiences from the past 10 years, and narrow your skills list to around six to eight critical abilities.
What is NOT a resume?
We’ve explained in detail what is a resume, but let’s go over what it isn’t.
- A comprehensive overview of your entire career: Resumes should feature the specific traits and experiences you have that directly apply to the job you’re applying for, rather than a laundry list of everything you’ve ever done. When making a resume, only feature the most relevant information.
- A list of references: While having professional references who can vouch for your work history and ability is important, they don’t belong in a resume. Create a separate document for your references instead and have it ready for the moment the recruiter or hiring manager requests it. For more on this topic, visit our article References on Your Resume 101.
- A document about your personal goals: A professional resume is less about your personal aspirations and more about the value you can bring to a company. Focus on skills, qualifications and experiences that address what the job needs. You can save more personal details and career goals for your cover letter.
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