Why do you need a good resume?
Your resume is a way for you to market yourself and promote your career experience. Creating a resume lets hiring managers see how you'll bring value to their company.
It's important to know that your resume doesn't need to present all there is to know about you. It should summarize the most important aspects of your professional experience. As well as your education, interests and activities - when applicable. We recommend you tailor your resume to the position you're seeking. This means highlighting specific accomplishments and skills to the job you're applying for.
In this guide, we'll walk you through the following sections to help you craft the perfect resume:
- Understanding the basics of creating a resume
- Breaking down the resume layout and formats
- Maximizing information on your resume to provide the most value
What tools should you use to build your resume?
Tip: Use an online resume builder. Don't use Microsoft Word. Always use an online resume builder. You'll never have to worry about finding files and you can export your resume as a PDF.
So you’re ready to get started on your resume. The most obvious of choices is to open up Microsoft Word, create a new document and get writing. If you haven’t already done this before, formatting in Microsoft Word is a painful experience.
You'll end up with an ugly resume template that has poor legibility and incorrect margins. Or due to the lack of design options, you’ll end up with a resume that looks standard and boring. In both cases, the chances of potential employers overlooking your resume are pretty high!
Crazy isn’t it? You've spent years building job experience but have to use Microsoft Word to tell that story. And if you can’t navigate around complicated tools, it'll lead to poor results. You might miss the opportunity to land your dream job. That doesn’t sound fair, and it isn’t.
Why should you use a resume builder?
Luckily, there are other options that exist. We’ve created the fastest and easiest resume builder available online. With a variety of pre-existing templates that are professional and field-tested. And there’s no messing around with font sizes, margins or colors. We’ve taken care of all that for you.
The benefits of using an online resume builder like the one we’ve created are much higher. Here are some of the top reasons to use a resume builder:
- Hosting your resume online (in the cloud)
- This means you can access your resume at any time and anywhere. Your resume will always be available through our website. You'll never worry about having the right computer programs installed. Or finding files on a messy desktop.
- Creating unlimited resumes at no cost
- We manage it for you and make finding your resumes super easy, so you never have to worry about things getting lost. Go ahead and create unlimited versions of your resumes!
- High-quality resume designs
- This is where we specialize. Our design team has tested the exact elements required for perfecting resume templates. We sweat the details so you never have to. We’ve spent countless hours choosing the most appropriate font and color combinations. Including ones that pass the stress tests of relentless Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS).
The other benefits of using Easy Resume’s online resume builder are:
- Download your resume as a PDF. We recommend this file format so your resume always looks consistent.
- Share a direct link to your resume. We’ll even host it for you at no cost.
- Get exclusive access to guides, tutorials, and tips from career and industry professionals.
Understanding the 3 types of resume formats
Let’s break down the different types of resumes that employers generally look for.
- Reverse Chronological
Tip: When in doubt, use a reverse chronological resume format. - About 95% of resumes use the reverse chronological format. Hiring managers are used to this as it lets employers see how your career has progressed.
1. Reverse Chronological Format
The most common is the Reverse Chronological format. It’s the most used and formatted to tell the story of your work experience in a chronological way. Employers prefer this format, as it gives them a historical overview of your career. Including the different job titles and responsibilities that you’ve had.
When should you use a reverse chronological resume template?
- You have had a lot of prior work experience. This means either the number of jobs or the amount of work experience you’ve had.
- You want to show how your career has progressed. For example, if you started as an associate and worked your way up to a senior-level position. The reverse-chronological format is a great way of showing your progression.
What if you have gaps between your work experience?
This is a very common question that we often receive. It’s usually in the form of:
“I’ve been out of work for 6-7 years after a certain life situation (i.e. having kids). The last job I had was in 2012, but recently I'm starting to apply for jobs again in 2019. What’s the right resume format for someone like me?”
First of all, no worries. This is a very common situation and happens with many people. As a hiring manager, having a gap like this can lead to questions and uncertainty about your resume. Which is why we recommend that you use a combination format.
2. Functional Format
The second type of resume format is the Functional or Skills-Based resume. This can be common for students and recent graduates starting to apply for their first job.
When should you use a functional / skills-based resume template?
- You’re a student or recent graduate applying for jobs for the first time with no prior work experience.
- You’re looking to make a career change.
Reasons why this is common for students and recent grads is due to their lack of prior experience. Given the fact that they’re starting to enter the workforce and apply for their first job. It’s well understood amongst employers that students won’t have a huge depth of work experience. There are other ways to let them know what you can help bring to the role you’re applying for by showcase the list of skills that you excel at.
It usually depends on the role you’re applying for. But there are some common ones that you can try to focus on like: Communication, Organization, Customer Driven, Effective Listener, Teamwork, etc.
What else can you add to your resume besides skills?
We recommend adding some extra activities for your career. Even if you haven’t attained any professional work experience yet. The few ways you can do that as a student is:
- Find internships
- Help volunteer at student-led or non-profit organizations
- Participate in extracurricular activities
- Take on side-projects
Not only will you have more examples of experience to show on your resume. You can show employers how much initiative and leadership you’ve performed on your own. This helps you stand out much better than a candidate who only lists generic skills.
For example, instead of only listing skills like:
An employer might prefer to move forward with a resume that looks like this:
- Summer Intern at XYZ
- Volunteered for non-profit at XYZ
- Ran student organization for XYZ
What if you’re unable to get any kind of experience?
Fear not, your chances towards landing your first job can still be within grasp. We recommend taking an approach that explains the skills you’ve acquired. And how you’ve applied them in real-world settings.
Here’s an example of adding depth to your skill sets:
- Demonstrated effective teamwork and leadership in various class projects by taking the initiative to organize group’s goals, objectives, and tasks.
- Received consistent praise and admiration from course professors and team members as being highly collaborative, an effective communicator and group leader with clear presentation skills and abilities.
- Meticulous about even the smallest of details. Always taking the extra effort towards making sure that filenames, folder hierarchy and labeling are descriptive, versioned, tagged and easily discoverable.
- Received constant praise from past and present team members who were able to jump into any collaborative project and accurately trace back previous versions to see how decisions were made.
Do you see how this can be more effective than listing out a set of skills? Taking this approach will let employers know that you’re not only listing skills. But have also demonstrated how you were able to apply these skills and put them into action.
3. Combination Format
The final type of resume that we mentioned earlier is the Combination or Hybrid format. This combines concepts from both reverse chronological and functional/skills-based formats.
We recommend this format for jobs that expect relevant experience and technical skills. An example might be a Graphic Designer who has experience working in design agencies. As well as necessary skills like Branding, Sketching, Illustration, and Adobe Creative Suite.
Take a look at our in-depth guide on how to select the right resume format.
Choosing the best resume template
Now that we know which software to use and the most common resume formats, let’s break down the actual template. This is the make-or-break deal. Picking the right resume template can be the deciding factor if a hiring manager gives you a call. Or if they skip past your resume and never bother to read it.
Our mission here at Easy Resume is to make sure that never happens to you! We’re working hard to make sure your resume is high quality and presented in a way that will impress recruiters.
When speaking with hiring managers, we found that 78% of the time they skip your resume is because of the design. Again, we don’t think that’s fair.
Here’s a checklist to use for your resume
We always use this checklist whenever creating any new resume template.
Use a clear heading structure
Incorrect: Don’t make all headings and body copy the same size.
Correct: Do use typographic hierarchy by using varying heading sizes and font weights.
Use legible, friendly and professional font combinations
Incorrect: Don’t use quirky and eccentric fonts like comic sans or papyrus.
Correct: Do use professional fonts that are easy to read and familiar. Fonts like Georgia, Helvetica, Calibri, and Cambia.
Use an ample amount of spacing
Incorrect: Don’t go overboard with spacing. Using a lot of white-space might spark joy, but not when your resume becomes three pages long because of it.
Correct: Do keep your margins tight but spaced even enough that your text isn’t hugging the borders of the page.
Use 1 page
Incorrect: Don’t try to write your entire life story with every single job responsibility you’ve ever had. Recruiters on average spend about 7-8 seconds skimming through resumes. If it's two pages, the chances of them not spending even more than 2-3 seconds reading the second page is pretty low.
Correct: Do keep your information brief, relevant, and clear. If you REALLY need another page, make sure it’s valuable information. Otherwise, choose the right template that can fit the most words on a single page.
Use bullet points
Incorrect: Don’t write very long paragraphs about your work experience. Remember, your resume is a summary and a brief overview of your career. Your resume is not an autobiography of everything you’ve ever done.
Correct: Do use 3-4 bullet points to briefly describe your responsibilities. Feel free to add more bullet points if you have worked at only one or two jobs to fill up some more space.
Overview for writing a resume
Whew, that was a lot of information. Let's quickly summarize what we've learned.
1) Always use an online resume builder, instead of Microsoft Word
- It’s always better to use an online tool instead of Microsoft Word.
- Creating a resume template on Easy Resume will allow you to access your resume at any time. And access to unlimited resumes and a great selection of professional design templates.
2) There are 3 types of resume formats
- Reverse Chronological -This is the most common. Use it if you have a lot of work experience and want to show your career progression over the years.
- Functional - If you lack work experience, use this format to emphasize your skill set. It’s great for students or recent graduates entering the workforce for the first time.
3) Follow our resume design guidelines
- Utilize clear heading hierarchy, don’t make all fonts the same size. This will help your resume be easy to parse. Remember, recruiters spend an average of 6 seconds scanning your resume. Highlight the most important sections!
- Use legible fonts that are easy to read. Using professional fonts will make your resume more legible. Choose from fonts like Georgia, Calibri, Garamond, Arial, Helvetica, Cambria, Times New Roman, Verdana, Trebuchet, Gill Sans, and Tahoma
- Use white-space conservatively. If you rely too much on white-space, you might end up with a 2-3 page resume. Keep your margins tight but spaced evenly to make it easy on the eyes for the reader.
- Use 1 page. As previously mentioned, hiring managers and recruiters spend an average of 6 seconds. They might look at hundreds of resumes and applications every week. The chances of them reading every single page from top to bottom is pretty slim.
- Use limited amount of color depending on your industry. Hiring managers need to notice the right parts of your resume. Using the right amount of color on your resume can help.
- se bullet points. As previously mentioned, hiring managers and recruiters spend an average of 6 seconds. They might look at hundreds of resumes and applications every week. The chances of them reading every single page from top to bottom is pretty slim.
Resume sections and details
Let’s take a closer look at the resume itself now. Resumes are typically broken down into the common sections:
Common sections to add on your resume
Resumes tend to have some common sections that employers are used to seeing. Here's a list of what's generally expected as best practice:
- Heading / Name
- Additional Contact Info
- Your Objective
- Your Education
- York Work Experiences
- Your Skills
Of course not all people are alike. There’s no one-size-fits-all model for resumes. Depending on your job, you might want to include more unique sections. Remember any information you include on your resume should have valuable insight into your experience. Employers want to know why you would be a great hire.
Other sections to include on your resume
If you don't have enough information for the sections described above, you can try to add some of these sections below. Keep in mind that you should only add it if it's relevant to the position you're applying for.
As you can see, there are many sections to add depth to your resume. So don’t be alarmed if you’re lacking skills or experiences, there are other ways to let employers learn of your potential.
Tip: Only add information that’s relevant to the job you’re applying for. As a best practice, always remember that the most valuable details is the information that recruiters are specifically looking for in the job description that you’re applying to.
Let’s break down each of these sections and how to add the most value to them.
Adding contact information
Information about yourself is a critical element for your resume. It provides a brief description of who you are, where you're based and how to get in touch with you.
The most necessary contact information to add on your resume
There are quite a few ways to add your contact details, but here's what's most necessary.
- Your First & Last Name. You may use a preferred name if that's what you'd rather go by. So for example, someone named "Robert" might prefer to go by a nickname like "Bob". You may also optionally include your middle name or initial.
- Your Email Address. Your email address is necessary if employers want to be able to reach you. Email is generally the most common way that recruiters use to get in contact with applicants.
Always use a professional email address.
Incorrect: Don't use an email address that sounds like you're still in grade school. Something like email@example.com will not look professional on your resume.
Correct: If you don't already have one, create a professional email address with your name on a service like Gmail. An email like firstname.lastname@example.org sounds much more professional.
- Your Phone Number. Adding a phone number will let recruiters know that they can also reach you via phone call if that proves to be more convenient for them. If possible, use your work or cellphone number instead of your home number.
- Your Location. Adding your location lets employers know that you'll be able to physically make it to work. It's preferred that you list your city and state. Some people like to add their full mailing address. However, based on our research, we learned that it's not always important to add in your entire street address.
Let employers know where you're based, not your exact address.
Incorrect: Don't list your entire mailing address like 305 Main St, Apt#25. It's not always necessary. If an employer needs to know your mailing address, ask them and only provide if required.
Correct: You can simply list your city state and sometimes zip code, for example: New York, NY 10010. This will let employers know that you live and work in this geographic location. If you need a work visa or are looking to relocate, be sure to call that out.
Secondary contact information to add on your resume
- Your Website or Blog. If you have a website or a blog, feel free to add it on your resume. Having a website can add to the professionalism of your experience.
Unnecessary contact information for your resume
- Your Photo or Headshot. Adding a photo to your resume is a bit of a controversial topic. While it's not always recommended, and most ATS (Applicant Tracking Systems) will ignore it - some countries like South Korea may prefer it. However, in most cases, it's not necessary.
- Your Date of Birth. To avoid any kind of age-based discrimination, it's best to leave your birthday out of your resume.
Adding social media profiles
If you have accounts on social networks, you might want to include them depending on how relevant it is. This will let employers know that you're active and knowledgeable about commonly used platforms online.
- Linkedin is the most popular platform for networking amongst professionals. We recommend that you create a Linkedin profile if you don't already have one.
- If you use Twitter for professional reasons, adding your Twitter handle can be a good way to show off your personality and interests for topics that you like to talk about. However, if you use it purely for personal reasons, you shouldn't add it.
Tip: Only add social media profiles if they showcase your professional experience. Normally, you shouldn't add your personal social media profiles on your resume. Unless you're using social media networks like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest to demonstrate your expertise and interests, there's no reason to include them on your resume. For example, if you're a web developer, you might want to include your Github or if you're a designer, you can include a link to your Behance portfolio.
Writing the perfect resume objective
Your resume summary or objective gives employers a very brief overview of your goal and what kind of position you're looking for. It should always be at the very top of the resume. Usually placed directly below your name and contact information. It's always important to leave a great first impression. Remember, hiring managers are spending only 6 seconds scanning your resume.
Here are the key pieces of information that your resume objective should include:
- Your Job Title = e.g. Server
- Your Experience (in years) = e.g. 10+ Years
- Your Achievements = e.g. Managed parties and events upwards of 250+ guests and maintained customer satisfaction rate above 98%
- Your Desired Goal = e.g. Looking for new opportunities to bring expertise to fine-dining establishments
- Your Desired Goal (Personalized) = e.g. Looking to gain new skills and further develop fine-dining expertise at an upscale establishment like Janes Riverside Restaurant
Personalizing your resume objective to the specific company you're applying for can be a great way to make a first impression. We highly recommend tailoring each resume objective to the specific job and company you're applying to.
Follow these tips to write a great resume objective
This checklist will help summarize your experience into a resume objective that leaves a good first impression.
Avoid writing your resume objective in first person.
Incorrect: I am a server and have lots of experience working in various restaurants. I love working with customers.
Correct: Dynamic and engaged server with over 10+ years of experience who loves to provide warm and friendly customer service.
Quantify your achievements.
Incorrect: I worked many catering events and parties, and provided good customer service.
Correct: Managed parties and events upwards of 250+ guests and maintained customer satisfaction rate above 98%.
Be clear about your desired goal.
Incorrect: I'm looking for a new job to get better at managing people and stores.
Correct: Looking for new opportunities to further develop hospitality and personnel management experience at fine-dining restaurants.
Putting all this together, a bad example of a resume objective might be the following:
Bad example of a Registered Nurse's objective
I am an experienced registered nurse, that has worked at large hospitals with experience taking care of patients and providing medical expertise. I'm looking for a position to help grow my nursing career.
Let's turn that into a better example of a resume objective, based on our guidelines:
Good example of a Registered Nurse's objective
Experienced and veteran RN with 12+ years of experience taking care of patient health. Skilled in providing high quality patient care in ER situations under intense pressure. Hired and trained a staff of 27 nurses and nurse assistants. Looking for a new role to bring empathetic care to the patients at Lincoln Hospital.
Take a look at our guide on how to write a killer resume summary or resume objective to learn more.
Summarizing your job experience
Your resume experience section is the most important aspect of your entire resume. It's a summary of your career experience and progression that outlines your responsibilities and achievements.
This is the section that you'll most likely spend most of your time on. It's good practice to make sure you consistently jot down any new experiences you've had, even if you're not looking for a job.
For example, if you recently landed a $200,000 deal by bringing on a new client at your firm, write that down somewhere you can remember. Over time, you'll have dozens of bullet points you can copy over to your resume when you are ready for a new job.
Here's a simple example of work experience
Server, Red Lobster
November 2018 - Present • New York, NY
- Greeted incoming guests and directed them to comfortable seating.
- Memorized and informed guests of daily menu specials.
- Made recommendations about food and beverages as well as other services provided by the restaurant.
- Provided exceptional and friendly customer service by taking food and beverage orders and entering them in our PoS system.
Here are the key pieces of information that your resume objective should include:
- Job Title = e.g. Server
- Company Name = e.g. Red Lobster
- Start & End Dates = e.g. November 2018 - Present
- Location = e.g. New York, NY
- Responsibilities & Tasks = e.g. Made recommendations and answered questions about our food, beverages and other restaurant functions and services.
This is a simple example, but it can be improved by adding more detail.
Follow these guidelines to really maximize your career experience
These principles will make your resume look more professional, relevant and attractive to hiring managers. This is where most job-seekers have the toughest time when writing their resume.
We highly recommend emphasizing your experience section with these guidelines:
- Focus on achievements and outcomes. Instead of just writing about all of the tasks you did. Try your best to quantify some of the most key and impactful achievements you've made at the company. Using actionable verbs can help.
- Use keywords from the job description. If you're applying to multiple jobs, make sure you tailor each resume to the job description. A great way to tailor your resume is to use keywords from the job description itself. Not only will this feel more relevant to recruiters, but it significantly increases the chances of your resume passing an ATS which scans for common keywords.
- List only key responsibilities. Your experience section isn't meant to be a huge list of every single task you've ever done. Try to narrow your responsibilities to the ones that most relevant ones.
Here's a better example of work experience
Server, Red Lobster
November 2018 - Present • New York, NY
- Implemented Happy Hour pre-dinner special that drove an extra $7,500 in weekly revenue.
- Trained and onboarded 6 servers to help increase waitstaff.
- Promoted to Team Lead after receiving exceptional feedback from repeat customers.
- Made food recommendations to customers that helped increase ordering by up to 15% for select items.
Adding skills to your resume
Showcasing skills on your resume lets employers understand the variety of your strengths. While skill sets can vary, the best approach is to use keywords from the job description to show how your skills are relevant.
In general, there are two types of skills you should consider adding to your resume.
- Soft or Transferable Skills
- Hard or Technical Skills
What are soft skills?
Soft skills (sometimes known as "transferable skills") are self-developed skills that will be valuable to employers to many different types of jobs. Some examples of these include communication, teamwork, organization and leadership. Listing soft skills is recommended if you're thinking about a career change where your skills would serve both industries.
For example, there might be a job that requires candidates to be very strong in teamwork skills. If you’ve worked in team settings, and enjoy collaborating with other group members, this is a skill that you might want to call out.
Here's a list of common soft skills:
- Taking Initiative
- Problem Solving
- Attention to Detail
- Time Management
- Critical Thinking
- Decision Making
What are hard skills?
Hard skills (also known as "technical skills") are specific skills that are learned to perform a certain task or master a craft. These skills are often completed during your job, and sometimes require specific education or training to learn and master. For example, some technical skills can include computers or hardware for jobs like a Web Developer or an IT person.
Adding technical skills to your resume will let employers know how you can solve different challenges using these skills you've acquired. We recommend using your career experience, as described above, to show real examples of how you applied your hard skills at your job. Make sure to keep them relevant to the job you're applying for.
Here's a list of hard skills for specific roles:
- Ruby on Rails
- HTML & CSS
- Cross Browser Testing
- Adobe Photoshop
- Adobe InDesign
- Adobe Illustrator
- Database Management
- Google Analytics
- Microsoft Excel
We have come up with a list of over 100 skills that you can include on your resume.
Listing your education
The education section of your resume is an important call-out for showing your school experience and the degree(s) you've received. It's important that the education section of your resume is relevant to fit the position you're applying for.
Here's an example of the information you should add for your education.
- School / University Name = e.g. Harvard University
- Degree & Major = e.g. B.F.A in Arts & Literature
- Minor = e.g. Minor in Spanish
- Years Attended = e.g. Fall 2004 to Spring 2008
- GPA (optional) = e.g. 3.8/4.0 GPA
- Honors (optional) = e.g. Magna Cum Laude
The most important information to include is your degree (multiple if you have more than one), the schools you attended and during which dates. If relevant, providing more specific pieces of information like your major and minor can also help.
Tip: Always be truthful on your resume. It's not worth lying on your resume. Employers will quickly find out whether you're telling the truth or lying during an interview if they ask specific questions that you are unable to answer. Same goes for your Education. Employers can request a transcript to verify that your school information is correct.
You'll notice we also added GPA and Honors as optional. For GPA, it's not necessary nor required, and should be generally avoided unless you have a high GPA (greater than 3.8). Adding honors and achievements is also likely to be ignored by recruiters. Only add it if you have plenty of extra space on your resume. Otherwise save that space for more important and relevant information.
Additional sections for your resume
Now that we've learned about the most important sections to add on your resume, let's explore some other ways to demonstrate your full potential to future employers.
Remember, there's no one-size-fits-all model. Every person, every situation and every job is different. Your resume should be tailored based on a variety of these circumstances.
Here are some sections you can include on your resume:
Keep in mind, that you should only add these sections if 1) you have extra space or 2) it's very relevant to the job you're applying for.
- Hobbies & Interests. This is a great way to show off your individual personality. Employers often care about maintaining company culture. Showcasing your different hobbies and interests can be a great way for them to get to know you, before even meeting you! Our advice on how to include hobbies on your resumes will be helpful.
- Languages. Do you speak multiple languages? This is a skill that can become useful, even if it isn't required for the job. When listing languages, you may also write a proficiency level (native, fluent, basic) to show how skilled you are at communicating in that language.
- Volunteering Experience. If you spend time volunteering at different organizations, this can demonstrate to future employers that you're mission-driven and passionate about solving problems for others. If you're a student, acquiring volunteer experience can be a great way to substitute (with real impact!) for any lack of work experience.
- Certifications & Awards. Have you received any certifications and awards that celebrates achievements you've made in your career? If it's relevant to the job you're applying to, then this could be a great way to level up your expertise and skills. Take a look at our guide on including achievements and awards on your resume as well as including certifications on your resumes.