How to Create a Resume in Microsoft Word (Step-by-Step Guide)
If this is your first time creating a resume in Microsoft Word, the process may seem overwhelming. Luckily, this article is here to help! In this step-by-step guide, we will cover how to create an effective resume from start to finish using Microsoft Word.
There are two primary methods for making a resume in Microsoft Word:
From Scratch: This gives you the ultimate creative control. However, it also requires you to familiarize yourself with all of Microsoft Word’s tools and layout options. Building a resume from scratch can be more time-consuming but also more customizable.
From a Template: Microsoft Word offers several pre-made resume templates. By using these, all the formatting and layout creation is handled for you. You simply have to fill in your own information.
To use a template, go to File > New and then select a template from the Resume and Cover Letter section.
How Should I Format My Resume in Microsoft Word?
The format you choose will depend on your experience level!
There are 3 basic resume formats to choose between:
Reverse-Chronological: Details your most recent job and works backwards from there. This format focuses heavily on work experience.
Functional: Focuses on skills and education rather than work experience. This is a good option for recent graduates or applicants with minimal work experience.
Hybrid/Combination: Combines elements of both the Reverse-Chronological and the Functional. This is a good option for applicants with gaps in their employment history.
First, let’s make sure you can navigate the Microsoft Word ribbon!
The ribbon is the toolbar found at the top of the screen.
It should look something like this:
The main parts of the ribbon you should familiarize yourself with on the Home tab are Font, Paragraph, and Styles.
These are how you will edit the appearance of your text and headers.
You should also familiarize yourself with the Layout tab.
This tab is where you will adjust your margins and add columns!
Once you have taken your time to figure out where all of your tools are, it’s time to begin building your resume!
Important Note: These steps detail how to create a resume in Microsoft Word from scratch. By using one of the program’s pre-made templates, you can bypass many of these steps and simply fill in the pre-made format.
Step 1: Create Your Layout
Let’s begin by visiting the Layout tab.
Here, you can set your margin size and decide if you want to use columns.
Here is a breakdown of these two elements:
We recommend using 1-inch margins on all sides.
This will give you enough white space to keep your resume looking neat without sacrificing too much space.
It will also ensure your formatting looks good on printed versions of your resume.
Columns and Sidebars:
From the columns tab, you will find five options:
The One, Two, and Three options are how you will create separate columns.
The Left and Right options are how you will create sidebars! Sidebars are useful because they leave more room for the main text and sections.
From the Home tab, you can edit the following elements of your layout:
Choose between left, center, or right alignment.
We recommend using the left alignment.
Whichever you choose, it is a good idea to keep your alignment consistent across the board.
We recommend using 1.15 – 1.5 line spacing for the body text.
For section titles and headers, use 1.5 – 2.0 spacing to help them stand out from the rest of the text.
Use a simple and highly legible font. Try to use only 1-2 fonts throughout your resume.
We recommend the following seven fonts:
Times New Roman
Step 2: Make Your Title Header
Your title header should contain the following information:
Your Job Title
Professional Social Media Links
Use an H1 header to write your name at the very top.
Use the Normal style to write the rest of your information (see “How Do I Add Different Sections of the Resume on Microsoft Word” below for more information on header styles).
Resume Objective: I am a copywriter with over 5 years of experience. working with corporate clients. I am seeking the position of Head Copywriter at your company, bringing with me over 10 major corporate clients.
Once you have completed steps 1-6, look back over your resume and make sure you have included all of the key sections.
You should also take some time to consider what additional sections you could include.
Here are the key sections every resume should have:
A title header with your name and contact information
An objective or summary statement
As we have covered, the order of these sections will vary depending on the format you have chosen.
However, each of these sections should always be included in your resume.
There are also some additional sections to consider adding.
Here is a quick list of extra sections that can add some extra flair to your resume:
Awards and achievements
Unpaid experiences, such as volunteer work or internships
How Do I Add Different Sections to a Resume on Microsoft Word?
The way to create different sections on your resume comes in two parts:
Use an H2 header to create the section titles (Work Experience, Education, Skills, etc.)
Use the Normal style to create the body of text below the H2 header
Here is a breakdown of how to use the H1, H2, H3, and Normal styles within your resume:
Select the Styles window from the Home tab.
From here, you will have options to create headers.
Your heading options are as follows:
Heading 1: Use this heading as your largest title. This is what you will use to write your name at the top of the page. Use a bolded font between 16 to 20 pt in size. Use 1.5 to 2.0 line spacing to help the title heading stand out.
Heading 2: Use this heading to create your section titles. Use a bolded font size between 14 to 16 pt. in size. Make sure these headings are smaller than your title heading. Use 1.5 to 2.0 line spacing to help these headings stand out from the rest of the text.
Heading 3: Use this heading to create your job titles. Your job titles should be only slightly bigger than the rest of the text. Use a bolded font between 12 to 14 pt. in size. Use between 1.15 to 1.5 line spacing.
Normal: Use the Normal style to create the body text underneath the heading. Use a regular font between 11 – 12 pt. in size. Use between 1.15 to 1.5 line spacing.
What are the Pros and Cons of Using Microsoft Word to Craft Your Resume?
Microsoft Word is a handy tool to have, especially if your computer comes with the program pre-installed.
Here are 3 pros and 3 cons to using Microsoft Word to create your resume:
Total Creative Control: When creating a resume on Microsoft Word directly from your computer, you have total control over the design and format.
More ATS Friendly: Applicant Tracking Systems are designed to read .doc files, the file format used by Microsoft Word.
Can be Edited by Recruiters: If you are using a recruitment agency, a Microsoft Word file can be easy to edit by recruiters before sending it off to employers.
The Microsoft Word Learning Curve: If you are unfamiliar with Microsoft Word, there can be a pretty steep learning curve that can cause you frustration.
Time Consuming: Building a resume from scratch can be highly beneficial, but also highly time-consuming. This can become problematic if you need to create a resume quickly.
Temperamental Templates: Microsoft Word offers tons of free resume templates. On the surface, this is super useful. However, these templates can be tricky to use. One wrong move can mess up the formatting in a big way and be an even bigger headache to try and fix.
Why Should I Use an Online Resume Template or Resume Builder?
By using a resume template from an online provider, such as Easy Resume, you are more likely to find a template that fits your exact needs.
Plus, online resume templates and resume builders often have more design elements that are easier to use compared to Microsoft Word.
Ed is a co-founder of Easy Resume. His background in scaling teams at tech startups over the last decade has given him extensive experience and knowledge around how to hire top talent and build successful teams. He enjoys mentoring, coaching, and helping others reach their career goals. When he's not writing about career-related advice, he's playing with his dog, Lilo, or going on long hikes in upstate New York.
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