Key Guidelines on How to Create a Professional Resume

September 04, 2015

Professional resume sitting on a laptop

Resume writing is an ongoing process and will likely continue throughout your career. A great resume is the key to any job search and it can also determine whether or not you get the right job. The time spent producing your professional resume will be rewarding.

It can be difficult to sell yourself to employers, especially if you have not taken the time to discover your talents. Your objective should be to clarify who you are professionally and what you offer your potential employers.

No matter how it’s shared and exchanged, your resume is a simple and readable profile that outlines your entire working life. We may use different ways to communicate and share data in the future, but the information contained in your resume will always have value.

Here are some general guidelines you can use:

Keep your resume simple and relevant. Make it readable

Clear, simple messaging usually plays a powerful role in the success of a resume and the result of a job search. Employers have to read dozens, if not hundreds, of resumes for each position. Be respectful of their time and keep your resume simple and relevant. You don't have to list every duty you have ever had in a job role, unless it's an important keyword for the open position, and unless you have a very long career.

Many applicants have heard that a good resume can fit on one page. It’s better for a resume to be readable and long, than short and hard to read. Put some attention into what your resume says and what you share when applying for your next great job. Are your skills, experiences and talents relevant to the job you are applying for? Does your resume show this? It takes time and effort to answer those questions.

Format your resume correctly

A well-written, clear and concise resume brings to light your professionalism and improves the chances of getting an interview. Employers and filtering softwares are only interested in certain resume sections, and if these sections don’t exist at all or are not placed where employers expect to find them, your resume will not make it very far through the hiring process.

Chronological formats are the most commonly used formats and preferred by most candidates and employers. This format lists your experiences chronologically, and it is the best way to showcase your experiences while promoting all of your accomplishments and skills.
Your choice of fonts is also important. Choose the proper type and your resume will be easily read by anyone who needs to view or scan it. Filtering softwares usually don’t know how to process images and special fonts, and these actions can make your resume difficult for the system to sort and categorize. Use simple fonts and stay consistent. Don’t randomly bold and underline words.

Before you forward your resume to employers check and then recheck it again for grammar and spelling errors. It’s essential in a job search.

Tailor your resume to the job description

One of the most important conditions of resume writing is tailoring each resume to each specific job opening. Also, tailoring your resume is one of the best ways to draw attention to it for various reasons. First, potential employers will probably see you as a qualified candidate when everything on your resume is relevant. Second, some employers are impressed that you took the time to customize your resume, which is a great benefit for your interview prospects. By using the following steps, you can show them you did your homework:

Read the job posting and description carefully

When you are looking at the job descriptions and decide which ones to pursue, the first few points listed in the requirements section are the most urgent information to focus on. If you don’t have a job description, look for similar jobs online. Observe any particular skills the description outlines and possible projects you could be working on.

When you are looking at different jobs, make sure to read each description carefully before customizing your resume. Two jobs in the same domain, even ones with the same or similar title, can call for different requirements and skills.

List your relevant accomplishments, skills, and experiences

While looking over the job description and requirements stop when you find an accomplishment, skill or experience that you have. Write them down. Remember that they don't just come from jobs you have had, they also come from volunteer work, temporary jobs, unpaid work, relevant hobbies, and more. You are not limited to your former jobs. If you don't have confidence in your skills and if you are unable to demonstrate your accomplishments, writing a resume can be quite a challenge.

Match your information to the job description using keywords

Those specific skills and qualifications a job post requests that you have can be called as job keywords. Generally speaking, these are educational achievements, credentials, certificates and work experiences. Learning how to use them in your resume is important, if you want to be noticed as a candidate. Employers and scanners use software programs and resume databases to search for those candidates matching the keywords they target.

Introduce keywords into your resume sections in a way that is natural. You must make sure that your resume reads easily. Use action verbs as a way to bring more life to the qualifications, and include what only applies to you.

Never lie in your resume

Candidates who try to deceive potential employers by attempting to lie in their resume generally discover that the only person they have deceived is themselves. There is a big difference between using inspiring words to highlight your resume and putting false information in your resume. The employee - employer relationship is one that is built upon trust. There are honest ways to deal with employment gaps, lack of relevant experience, incomplete degrees or dismissals from previous jobs that will not damage your reputation and your chances of getting a new job.

Sections to include in your resume

Make sure your resume includes everything employers need to be convinced that you are the right candidate for the position. Employers will expect to see certain sections in your resume no matter what, so be creative. These sections are the essence of a great resume and should not be forgotten unless they are unrelated to the open position. Include the following sections in your resume:

  • Resume Title
  • Personal Information
  • Summary
  • Experience: Job History, Duties, Accomplishments, and Related Skills
  • References
  • Skills & Languages
  • Education
  • Licensure & Certifications
  • Additional Information: Affiliations & Memberships, Honors & Awards, Training & Courses, Projects, Publications, Presentations, and Volunteer work
  • Interests
  • Requirements

Read our detailed advice on what information you should include in each section, and get the complete picture on how your resume should look like.

Protect your Identity

Get the job without revealing your personal data. There are times when it’s ok to hide sensitive information. Your resume should not contain any reference to your social security number, your credit score, your professional license number, your ethnicity, your marital status, the number of children you have or your religion. Also, under no circumstance should you share your bank account information or your personal account passwords with any possible employer.

Some of the above information can be provided to an interested employer in person upon request.

Resume Updates are Important

The importance of maintaining an up-to-date resume helps you to review your personal goals. As time goes by, if you don't update your resume constantly, you may forget things such as the date on which your position changed, or your work field changed. You never know when that type of detail is important. When you will go to that important interview, you will be qualified to answer all the questions asked about the jobs you have listed.

Use your resume to tell your story. Happy job hunting!

About the author
Michelle D

This article was contributed by Michelle D. She is a casual writer, exceptional manager, mother of a ridiculous amazing child, and a great person to have coffee with.

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