How to Write a Resume with Samples

There is no questioning that Job seekers need a resume, in most instances, when they apply for jobs. Today, many cite the rising use of LinkedIn to argue that traditional resumes are quickly becoming obsolete. Nothing is further from the truth; resumes will remain a job seeker staple for decades to come as handing resumes out after meetings or filing a resume for Human Resource’s records is still quite common.

True, digital records are the norm now. However, whether you send a digital or paper copy of your resume, certain guidelines need to be followed for your resume to stand out from the applicant pool.

Resume Basics

Resumes, regardless of the industry they are written for, should follow some basic guidelines to make a good first impression. Resumes do not generally get job seekers a job; these classic documents are what generate interviews (along with cover letters, usually).

There are job seekers who take risks, risks that sometimes pay off: using bold color resume paper, employing unique fonts, or printing resumes on uniquely shaped paper. From my experience, such brazen styles often make a big impression, but the impression is usually that the job seeker is unprofessional and immature. So, from a fundamental standpoint, job seekers should develop resumes that:

  • Use white or off-white resume-weight paper (8” by 11”). Ink often bleeds through lighter paper, which is why several companies sell actual “resume” paper.
  • Use black ink. Other ink colors can be difficult to read against the resume paper background. Additionally, many hiring managers consider bright colored ink as immature.
  • Use an easy to read font. My go-to now is Calibri due to Applicant Tracking System protocols. For a general guide of suitable fonts, I advise clients to use Times Roman 12-point font as the size and clarity standard.
  • Leave enough open space. Be kind to your readers by using bullet points and leaving pockets of space unused on your resume as doing so makes it easier for readers to scan the document. Use of boldfaced words is key here as well. A hiring manager may spend less than 30 seconds reviewing a resume before deciding whether to invite the applicant for an interview or not. For this reason, easy to read resume designs are the way to go.

Applicant Tracking Software (System)

Job seekers now often need to contend with an extra barrier before a human actually reads their resumes. Companies use Applicant Tracking Systems/Software (ATS) that helps filter out the best candidates from the pool of job applicants. The algorithms employed by these systems seeks out resumes that are proportionally filled with keywords relevant to the position the company is trying to fill. Essentially, keywords in a job ad should show up in both your resume and your accompanying cover letter. Keyword issue aside, ATS programming struggles with some design elements, which brings us back to fonts used.

Fonts like Times Roman, previously a mainstay font for resumes, could cause problems in an ATS translating the resume’s content. For this reason, job seekers are advised to use Sans Serif fonts, which are easier for a company’s ATS to read. Personally, I prefer Calibri, but other Sans Serif fonts work as well. A final ATS concern is that dates placed to the left of text sometimes causes problems for ATS, which leads to formatting issues. It is recommended that dates go to the right of associated text:

Line

Acme Incorporated ׀ New York, NY ׀ May 2013-June 2017    

   – INSTEAD OF –

May 2013-June 2017 | Acme Incorporated ׀ New York, NY ׀

Heading

For your resume’s heading, keep it simple. I recommend clients include their name, boldfaced and with a large font size. From there, include mailing address, LinkedIn url (if available), a professional email address, and one phone number. Regarding the “professional” email, I mean to say avoid usernames that are inappropriate (MrCool@email.com or Awesomelady@email.com). Leave the use of such email accounts for corresponding with friends. Your last name and a number are a good option (i.e. Smith200@email.com).

Regarding the phone number, provide the one number that you most often have access to (usually a cell phone). Hiring managers get frustrated when having to choose between two or more numbers on a submitted resume.

Education

Education placement can vary depending on the field a job seeker is in, the length of time since graduation, and the educational requirements of the respective position. Job seekers with a high school diploma should place education as the last section of a resume.

For those positions requiring a college degree, particularly an advanced degree, place your educational history first. For the record, once you complete a college degree, it is no longer necessary to list high school information. Frankly, once you start college, it is safe usually to drop any mention of high school with regards to education as you need a GED or high school diploma in order to go on to college.

Summary of Qualification/Professional Profile

After the resume heading and education section, take time (and space) to highlight your skills and professional achievements that connect well with the job ad you are applying to. If a hiring manager only spends 10-20 seconds reviewing your resume, it is vital that the first information she examine is a listing of your experience which makes you a viable candidate for the position. For those early in their career, using a ‘Summary of Qualifications’ is sufficient to the task. In such a section, use bullet points to highlight relevant skills and accomplishments that match well to keywords in the job ad.

For seasoned professionals, using a ‘professional profile’ is often the better way to go. Between three to four sentences in length, professional profiles provide an overview of a job seekers accomplishments and proficiencies. Again, adapt a professional profile to include keywords relevant to the job sought. This means modifying your professional profile or summary of qualifications each time you submit a resume.

Core Competencies

When applying for a job requiring specific technical or personal skillsets, I often include a ‘core competencies’ section where I list relevant client abilities and strengths. I position this section under the professional profile or summary of qualifications. Again, incorporating key skills (keywords) listed as “required” in a job add will help a resume standout, particularly when it is processed by Applicant Tracking Software.

Professional Experience

This is the section of a resume that individuals usually fail to make impactful. The problem is that many (if not most job seekers) simply list the duties they performed at each job. Consequently, resumes are often boring and sound repetitive. While listing duties relevant to the job you are applying to is helpful, it is more important to list your career achievements as they relate to the job being applied for.

Having statistics to list is one way to make your resume stand out along with any completed certifications relevant to the field you are in. Take for instance the following two examples of an individual applying for an assistant manager position:

SAMPLE A

Acme Incorporated ׀ New York, NY ׀ May 2016-Present

Assistant Manager

  • Processed employee time sheets.
  • Supervised staff during operations.

SAMPLE B

Acme Incorporated ׀ New York, NY ׀ May 2016-Present

Assistant Manager

  • Implemented customer appreciation program, which led to a 10% increase in customer retention rate.
  • Completed Business Leadership certificate program (Bellwood University).

 

Which of the samples listed makes the better impression? Sample B by far.

Miscellaneous Experience

Those fresh out of high school or college may not have relevant experience as of yet, younger job seekers often starting out in service industry positions (restaurants, retail sales, etc.). In these instances, the listed professional experience will not be directly related to the job applied to.

For entry level positions, employers understand this; listing any work history is important. That said, I again urge job seekers to list any achievements or awards they received in their service industry positions as doing so could help you stand out from the other candidates who similarly have no relevant experience.

SAMPLE A

Acme Restaurant ׀ New York, NY ׀ May 2018-Present

Cashier

  • Responsible for point of sale operations.
  • Cleaned restaurant.

 

SAMPLE B

Acme Restaurant ׀ New York, NY ׀ May 2018-Present

Cashier

  • Responsible for point of sale operations.
  • Awarded ‘Employee of the Month’ honors for January, March and July of 2019.

Again, Sample B provides a more impactful entry for the job seeker’s resume, it’s focus on achievements. Achievements are ultimately what helps a job seeker stand out and get an interview. For those lacking achievements, move forward seeking to accomplish achievements at every job.

Technological Proficiencies 

Technology is integral to most careers and positions. To that end, including a section to list software and other technology you are proficient in can be key, particularly for tech-focused jobs. For the record, some resume writers/professionals argue Microsoft Office programs are not necessary for inclusion in such a section.

I wholeheartedly disagree. Many businesses employ programs like Excel to sort and curate company records and client information. The problem is that many professionals of all ages are not skilled in Excel or Access, and many employers are listing that skill as part of a job add.

Resume Samples

Sample Resume Letter

Download This Resume Sample in Microsoft Word

Resume Samples
Download This Resume Sample in Microsoft Word

Conclusion

The format of resumes may not have changed much in the last two decades, but ATS programming certainly requires job seekers to be mindful of how they structure their resumes. Likewise, as the Millennial Generation is the largest generation in history, there is often a lot of competition for jobs, which makes highlighting “achievements” more important than ever. As a final note, make certain you have your resume proofread by at least three other people, preferably HR professionals or certified resume writers. All the achievements in the world would still lack impact if the resume is filled with typos and grammatical issues.