How to Write a Great Resume

Even though the Internet is changing a lot about the way we look for jobs, the reality is that many hiring managers still look at resumes. Your resume might be in digital format, but it’s still a resume, and writing a great resume to use for your next job search will help you hopefully land an interview. While you still need to be qualified for the job, a well written resume can get your foot in the door.

Where Should You Keep Your Resume?

First of all, it’s worth noting that your resume might need to be available in different formats. If you have a LinkedIn profile, then you probably have filled out a lot of the information you use on a resume. This can be an advantage as you move forward with creating a resume. Make sure that your LinkedIn profile is up-to-date and filled in, since someone might check your profile before asking for a more formal resume.

Additionally, in this digital world, you might need to keep your resume online as well. If you have a professional website, you can create a page labeled “resume” and use that for online hiring managers who just want a link to your online resume.

Finally, be sure that you have a file saved that can be used as a “hardcopy” resume. Save your resume as a Word document that you can print out if you need to bring a resume to your interview. You should also be able to save your resume as a PDF, just in case you are asked to email it to a potential employer. Just make sure you save a template in Word format so that you can continue to tweak and tailor your resume as needed.

How to Write a Great Resume

Resume Keywords and Tailoring

These days, you need to make sure that your resume describes you as the ideal candidate for a particular job. Read the job description so that you know what to emphasize as you create a resume. Use keywords so that a hiring manager (or a software program) can quickly pick out the cues that you are right for a position.

You might need to move certain items around to highlight different aspects of your career or education, depending on the job requirements. Also, remember to start your bulleted points with action words. Rather than saying something like, “I was responsible for creating pilot programs,” write something like, “Created several pilot programs that were eventually picked up.”

When you can start with action words that show your accomplishments, it’s easier to naturally incorporate keywords and focus on the most relevant items.

More General Resume Writing Tips

If you have at least five years of relevant experience, put it first on your resume. If it’s related to the job you’re seeking, put your most recent job first and use reverse chronological order from there. If you’ve just recently graduated and have only a couple years experience, place your education before the experience. This way you will attract the reader with your most important information first. When writing about previous jobs, or accomplishments at your current job, use past tense. Only use present tense when discussing your current job duties or hobbies (if you must have them on your resume).

Your resume should be one to two pages long. If you do need to have a two-page resume, make sure the most important facts are on the front page so that you grab the reader’s attention. Many hiring managers stop reading after a few seconds, and probably won’t make it to the second page. You need to impress immediately.

Make your resume easy to read by using white space. You don’t want to cram too much text onto one page. If your resume looks a little heavy on text consider using that second page, or better yet, remove some of the nonessential information like unrelated jobs and hobbies. You don’t need to include everything on your resume. If you’ve had a long career with a lot of success, only include the most relevant information that shows you in your best light.

Have someone look over your resume. Not only can fresh eyes proofread it for spelling and grammatical errors, but they can also offer an opinion of the overall look of your resume. It might even be worth to pay a resume professional for tips on making improvements, or working with a career coach.

Include a cover letter with your resume that specifically speaks to the job posting that you’re applying for. Do not include references with your resume; bring them with you and provide them after a successful interview. In some cases, you might be asked to provide references before the interview. Include these as a separate page, rather than as part of your resume or cover letter. You also shouldn’t put “references available upon request” on your resume since it’s expected that you’ll have them available.

While it might take some time to perfect it, having an impressive resume just might lead to getting the job you want.


Written by Tom Drake

Tom Drake is the owner and head writer of Canadian Finance Blog. While you’re here, consider signing up for the RSS feed or email subscription. Both deliver the latest articles directly to you! You can also follow me on Twitter for all the latest posts or to send me any comments or questions!

6 Responses to How to Write a Great Resume

  1. Aside from the basic skills and experience that an HR person will use to vet your resume as either “yes” or “no”, you need to show that you will be the kind of employee they seek – dedicated, giving 101%, creative, etc. Find out what are the traits that the company looks for in an employee (some value creativity most, others value team participation most, for example) before sending in your resume.

  2. Write for the job you are applying for. Highlight the most important skills, projects and responsibilities you have head, it will really help out a lot and then you can explain more in person.

  3. Consider writing a well polish summary too rather than a objective, we all know you want the job. A 3-5 sentences summary will do. Some thought in how to write a resume. Just keep it clean and professional. No grammar errors, no I and me statement, and use specific figures when you can. Keep your qualification relevant to the position you’re applying to.

  4. I personally like to think of a resume as a product brochure. The candidate being the product and the brochure (resume) talks about the qualities, features, advantages and befits (FAB) of the product (candidate). So I think one must try and make a resume which mentions your strengths and explains how they could be of advantage and benefit to the recruiting company.

    And just as a marketing company will continuously keep updating and fine tuning the brochure, the candidate should continuously fine tune the resume. It does not really matter whether you are looking for a job or not – your marketing collateral must be always ready and up dated – you never know when you may need to face competition

  5. It’s true how little regard recruiters and employers give the stacks of resumes they receive on a daily basis. It gets to the point where every piece of paper begins to look like the rest, you have to stand out from the bunch and get them to take notice, enough so that it will leave them wanting to know more.
    Good Article

  6. While you’re learning how to make a resume, let’s talk about design. The old adage of “less is more” works here. Snazzy designs or colorful paper makes your resume stand out in a bad way, not a good one. The focus should be on the content, so sections about your education and any relevant achievements you’ve earned in your career should be listed. You don’t have a great deal of words to work with; resumes are best when kept to a page or two at the most. Therefore, keep everything relevant to the job you’re applying to and focused on the objective, that being to get the interview.

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