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          How to Write a Resume

          By Resume Genius

          Let’s face it. Writing a resume is a daunting task. While the resources providing writing tips are many, few actually provide a step by step process on how to write one. However if you want to write it on your own, we commend your courage and are here to guide you through the process.

          Free downloadable resume templates, HR-approved.

          Resume samples and guides written by professionals.

          Learn which resume format you should use.

          Browse through our cover letter examples

          Table of Contents

          First, let’s review what a resume isn’t.

          Think of your resume this way: It’s an advertisement, and YOU are the product. Your goal is to get hiring managers to buy into what you’re selling – which means giving you an interview. To accomplish that, you need to see it as your marketing tool, your trusty belt buckle of tricks. Without it you are powerless. However, simply having a one isn’t enough to get you an interview.

          When you finish with your resume, don’t forget to write a matching cover letter. Download one of our cover letter templates and get started.

          Think about it — everyone has advertisements. Why should anyone buy into yours? Hiring managers have the difficult task of wading through the ads to find the right fit for their company.

          Much like the flashing neon signs along the Vegas Strip, hiring managers are attracted to well-formatted resumes with attention-grabbing details. Studies show that, “8 out of 10 resumes are discarded with only a 10 second glance.” So in order stand out from the crowd it’s important that yours markets your skills in a way that demonstrates that you can successfully perform the duties of the job.

          “A guiding principle of the résumé writing profession is that there are no hard and fast rules.”

          To help you do this, we’ve written easy-to-follow steps on how to write a resume. Before we get into the steps it should be noted that there is no certified way to write one. There are some who insist otherwise, but even certified professional resume writers will admit that, “a guiding principle of the résumé writing profession is that there are no hard and fast rules.” With that being said, below are some tips and guidelines to help you write one that best presents your career goals.

          Step 1: Choose From 3 Formats

          So you are staring at a blank page on your computer wondering, “Where do I start?” Hundreds ask this same question every day and the reason is most likely due to the fact that there is no standard rule for formatting a resume.

          Your formatting decision comes down to 3 choices: Reverse-Chronological, Functional, and Combination. Each format has their own advantages and disadvantages. Below, you will find which one is best for you.

          I. Reverse-Chronological

          This is the more traditional format and is what you are most likely to come across. Chronological format is flexible and can be used for applicants with any level of experience.

          I should use if:

          • I want to show a vertical career progression.
          • I want to apply to a job in a similar field.
          • I want to promote my upward career mobility

          I shouldn’t use if:

          • I have major gaps in my employment history.
          • I am changing my career path.
          • I change jobs every few months.

          II. Functional

          While chronological places emphasis on career progression, a functional format focuses on your abilities and skills. Since it heavily emphasizes the applicant’s qualifications, functional format is more suitable for those with an expert level of experience.

          I should use if:

          • I have gaps in my employment history.
          • I am changing my career industry.
          • I want to highlight a specific skill set.

          I shouldn’t use if:

          • I want to highlight my upward career mobility.
          • I am an entry level candidate that lacks experience.
          • I lack transferable skills

          III. Combination

          As you can probably guess the combination format merges bits and pieces from both chronological and functional formats. Like the functional format, it focuses on specific qualifications, yet the body of the document contains professional experience similar to chronological format. This format is generally reserved for those with a great deal of experience in a particular industry.

          I should use if:

          • I want to highlight a developed skill set within a specific career.
          • I want to change my career path.
          • I am a master of the subject I am applying to.

          I shouldn’t use if:

          • I want to highlight my education.
          • I lack experience.
          • I am an entry level candidate.

          If you are still not sure what format is best for you, then check out our in-depth resume format guide.

          Step 2: The Order of Information

          Before delving into what information you should add, it’s important to remember that the information you include will largely depend on the format you choose. With that being said, below is a general guide to what information you should add and the order in which you should add it.

          I. Contact Information

          The contact information section is pretty self-explanatory. This section does not require a label (Contact Information or Contact Details). When listing your contact details you should follow this order:

          • Name (largest font on page, middle initial is optional)
          • Mailing Address
          • Telephone Number (Check that you have an appropriate voicemail message)
          • Email Address (make sure it’s appropriate, don’t use your sexypanda45@gmail.com account.)
          • Link to online portfolio (optional, ensure it is relevant to the position)
          • LinkedIn Profile

          Here are 3 different examples of how you can format your contact information section (pay attention to the yellow highlights):

          Professional Format

          Classic Format

          Executive Format

          Also, be careful not to accidentally add the contact information in the header as applicant tracking systems may not be able to read it.

          II. Choose a Resume Introduction

          Like formats, job seekers have 3 choices for their resume introduction: a qualifications summary, career objective, and professional profile. The goal of all three are to gain the attention of an employer by highlighting your skills and experience that will help their company. However, the method through which each introduction achieves this goal differs. See below:

          Qualifications Summary

          With regards to format, the qualifications summary is a bullet point list (ranging from 4 to 6 points) of your most outstanding career achievements. Avoid using generic statements and try to list your skills in a way reflects your unique voice.

          I should use if:

          • I am applying to a job that requires a rigid set of abilities.
          • I have a wealth of experience in the industry.
          • I possess multiple skill sets.

          I shouldn’t use if:

          • I lack experience.
          • I am an entry level candidate that lacks specific skill sets.
          • I lack measurable achievements.

          Career Objective

          A resume objective, also referred to as a career objective, is a 2-3 sentence statement that provides an overview of your skills and experience. This resume introduction is best for entry-level candidates.

          I should use if:

          • I am an entry-level applicant.
          • I do not have in-depth experience in the industry.
          • I am a recent college graduate.

          I shouldn’t use if:

          • I have a wealth of industry-specific skill sets.
          • I am changing career paths.
          • I am writing a cover letter.

          Professional Profile

          The professional profile is a combination of both the career objective and qualifications summary. It is also the most flexible of the three styles as it can be formatted as short paragraph of bullet-point list.

          I should use if:

          • I have had major achievement in my past experience
          • I am applying to a position in the same industry
          • I have a special area of expertise in my field

          I shouldn’t use if:

          • I am an entry-level applicant
          • I am recent college graduate
          • I lack measurable of accomplishments

          Finally, when deciding what skills to add to either of the two, try to target skills specific to the job you are applying for. Don’t just simply copy and paste skills right out of the job description, but instead try to use words common in the industry.

          III. Professional Experience

          The section is the core of your resume, where you are tasked with proving the skills you have listed in the qualifications summary or career objective. When it comes to labeling this section some use “Relevant Experience,” or “Work Experience” as an alternative to “Professional Experience.”

          Remember to list your work experiences in reverse chronological order and only list experience that is relevant to the job you are applying for. For each company create a heading including the company’s name, city & state, your title, and the dates of employment (month and year). If you are still currently working at a company, you can simply write “month, year-Present” for the employment dates.

          A general rule is that each experience have around 3-5 bullet points of your main duties and achievements.

          3 Parts of a strong bullet point:

          • 1 st : Action Verb (should always be first)
          • 2 nd : Quantifiable Point
          • 3 rd : Specific and relevant job duty

          Trained 5+ cashiers , managing their cash limits and guaranteeing quality customer service at all times.

          Example #2:(Note that the Quantifiable Point does not need to come immediately after the action verb)

          Spearheaded the development of the first media kit amalgamation for all company projects , increasing national sales by 8%.

          The above bullet points are great examples because they use action verbs to help to snatch the attention of hiring managers. Here is an endless list of action verbs to help get some inspiration. When writing your past experiences don’t forget to write your action verbs in past tense.

          Adding a quantifiable or measurable point to each experience will give the hiring manager confidence in your abilities.In addition each of your job duties should be specific and listed by decreasing importance.

          IV. Education

          Having a solid education section helps to display the foundation of your knowledge and expertise. Depending on your professional experience, you may want to consider switching the order of the professional experience and education sections.

          For instance, college or high school students that lack seasoned professional experience benefit from emphasizing their education by placing it before the professional experience section. In addition, if you possess a wealth of professional experience then it is appropriate to keep this section short and sweet.

          Here are the main points to include in your education section:

          • The names of your university, community college, or technical school(Don’t include high school unless you did not attend college)
          • Location of the schools (city, state)
          • Date of graduation (month, year)
          • Degree(s)
          • GPA (only include if your GPA is above 3.0, round up to the first decimal place , and use this format: GPA: 3.5/4.0)

          Here are three examples of how you can format an education section (pay attention to the yellow highlighted areas):

          Education Sample 1- High School Graduate

          Education Sample 2- Community College

          Education Sample 3- University Graduate

          How to Make a Resume: A Step-by-Step Guide (+30 Examples)

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          For most people, writing a good resume is tough, and it takes time. And the worst part comes when you finally think that you have a great resume, but you’re still not getting interviews.

          Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could figure out how to make a resume that would get you an interview almost EVERY time you applied for a job?

          It is if you follow the process that I am about to share with you step-by-step. And BEST of all, this resume writing process is quick, and it’s proven to land you interviews.

          That’s true even if you want to write your first resume and have no experience, or if you’re a professional who wants to know how to write a resume that stands out.

          Here’s what you’re going to find:

          • How to write a resume for a job with examples for every section.
          • Quick but little-known tips to follow to get up to 10x MORE INTERVIEWS.
          • Answers to all of your questions about how to make the best resume for a job.
          • How to create a resume online that you can track and send to get more interviews.
          • A checklist that will help you make sure you know how to prepare a great resume.

          Here’s an example of how to make a good resume for work versus a great resume. What’s the difference? Is it the way it looks?

          Not only. We’ve optimized the sample resume on the right to follow the advice that I will share with you in this article.

          Want to save time and have your resume ready in 5 minutes? Try our resume builder. It’s fast and easy to use. Plus, you’ll get tips and right vs. wrong examples while writing your resume. See +20 resume templates and create your resume here.

          This is what you need to do, to write a resume that gets you the job:

          Decide Whether You Need a Resume or a CV

          Hello, blank page. Now, what?

          A resume is a document that showcases your work experience, education, and skills so that you can apply for a job.

          What’s the difference between a resume and a CV?

          Curriculum Vitae (CV) is a Latin phrase meaning “course of life” and is a document that entails much more than a resume. Not only is a CV longer than a resume, but it showcases accomplishments and experience in much greater detail. It’s the ideal document for academics.

          If you know for a fact you need to write an academic CV, head on over to our dedicated guide: Academic CV: Example, Template & Writing Guide

          And finally, if you’re a student applying for a scholarship, you might need a scholarship resume. Write one that gets you the funding with help from this guide: Scholarship Resume (Template & Complete Guide 20+ Examples)

          Want a quick way to make sure your resume will hook every recruiter and get you that interview? Get our free checklist and learn what makes a job-winning resume: 46 Things You Need To Do Before You Send Your Resume.

          Once you know if you should write a CV or resume, it’s time to choose the right format.

          Choose the Right Resume Format to Stand Out

          What does a resume look like?

          There are three types of professional resume formats:

          Most job seekers choose the reverse-chronological resume format. Here’s what a sample resume looks like written in the reverse-chronological format:

          How to Write a Resume: Your Checklist of Resume Tips

          Written by Corey Wainwright

          How to Write a Resume

          1. Write your name, email address, and phone number at the top.
          2. Verify that your email address and related contact information sound professional.
          3. Include the jobs that are most relevant to your target industry.
          4. Describe each company, job title, your responsibilities, and your accomplishments. Be specific!
          5. Summarize this experience in a separate “Key Skills” section.
          6. Copy your text into a resume template that fits the tone of your industry.
          7. Verify that your text is aligned, consistent in format, and clickable when linking to samples.
          8. Incorporate keywords that automated resume scanners might look for.
          9. Proofread for grammar, brevity, and specific action verbs.
          10. Convert your resume to a PDF file.

          I can’t think of many tasks people dread more than writing a resume. There are so many little things you need to add, rephrase, check, double-check, triple-check . and yet, somehow, your resume still goes out with your name as “Corey Wainwrite” from “HubStop.” It’s anxiety-inducing.

          So, I did what I do when I’m anxious: I made a list of all the little things you need to do when writing and editing your resume.

          Here’s my checklist of resume tips — and I wish you the best of luck with your job search.

          The Ultimate Checklist of Resume Tips

          I’ve divided all the must-do tasks into four sections and did my best to order them chronologically. Some could probably exist in more than one section or be completed in a different order, so I’ve ordered items where I thought they most naturally fit during the resume-writing process.

          Is Your Contact Information Professional? Things to Check:

          Have you included your basic contact information — including your name, email address, and phone number — at the top?

          Is your email address professional? (e.g. sara@gmail.com vs. sarabear@gmail.com)

          Is your email address associated with a familiar domain, like Gmail? (Outdated domains can be a red flag for tech-savvy companies.)

          Do your resume details align with your LinkedIn profile? (Hiring managers will likely review both.)

          Have you included links to social media profiles, portfolios, and a personal website if relevant?

          Have you audited your social profiles to ensure no unprofessional content is available to the public?

          Have you customized any communication within your resume that addresses the company or hiring manager by name?

          If you’re sending your resume as a Google Doc, have you granted the recipient the proper permissions to view it (or opened up permissions to everyone)?

          Is Your Resume Written for the Industry? Things to Check:

          Are you writing in a tone that matches that of the company to which you’re applying? (For instance, while still writing professionally, you might use a different tone when applying to work at a new tech startup versus an established accounting firm.)

          Have you customized your resume for the specific job to which you’re applying? (Highlight work experience and skills that are relevant to the position — don’t just write down every job you’ve ever held.)

          Do you have a clear objective at the top of your resume that is company-focused, rather than you-focused? (You don’t need one, but you do need a “Key Skills” section that summarizes who you are and what you can offer the company.)

          Have you included both accomplishments and responsibilities under each job? (Both should be easy to ascertain when scanning your resume.)

          Have you used numbers and metrics where possible to better convey your success? (For example: “Generated 150 marketing-qualified leads.”)

          Do you illustrate career progression? Is it clear that you were promoted, gained additional responsibility, or switched jobs laterally to acquire more skills?

          Have you listed not only the names of companies, but a short description of what each company does?

          Have you included your tenure at each company?

          Have you included relevant information about your education?

          Have you added anything that points to your personality or interests outside of work?

          Does your unique value proposition shine through? (E.g., something that makes you stand out from other applicants, or highlights that you’re uniquely qualified for the position.)

          If relevant for the position, have you included links to a portfolio or samples of your work?

          Have you included reference names and their contact information, or simply, “references available upon request”? (Both are okay — just be sure to use at least one to indicate that you even have references.)

          Is Your Resume Properly Formatted and Designed? Things to Check:

          Have you used a resume template so the layout of your resume is visually appealing and easy to read? (Get 10 free templates here.)

          Is your resume too creative? (For instance, if you’re applying for a creative position and have formatted your resume as an infographic . is it really simple enough to read, or is it best to save that creativity for your portfolio?)

          Have you selected a clear, easy-to-read font? Is your name clearly stated at the top? (It’s a good idea to make your name slightly larger than all other text — employers read many resumes every week, and you need to be memorable.)

          Have you made use of common formatting conventions that makes content easier to read, such as bullet points and header text?

          Has your formatting remained consistent across all positions? (For example, if you’ve bolded job titles, are all job titles indeed bolded?)

          Are your margins even?

          Are all items properly aligned? (For example, if you’ve right-aligned dates, are they all lining up in tandem with one another?)

          Are all links you’ve included clickable?

          Have you converted your resume to a format that allows all recipients to read it as intended, without downloading specific fonts or needing special software? (A PDF format is recommended.)

          Is Your Resume Edited and Polished? Things to Check:

          Have you included keywords in your resume? (If you’re submitting to an automated system, it might be critical to getting past filters. Be sure your resume directly reflects some of the software and skills mentioned in the job description.)

          Have you edited it for brevity? (Try to keep your resume to about one page per 10 years of job experience, if possible.)

          Have you removed irrelevant job experiences?

          Is each section of your resume ranked in a way that highlights your skills and what you have to offer the employer? (For instance, if you’re a recent graduate with internships in different fields, you might list your most relevant experience at the top, instead of ordering everything by date.)

          Have you edited out generic action verbs in favor of more specific ones? (For instance, “managed” instead of simply “worked.”)

          Have you made use of a thesaurus to prevent monotony?

          Have you found more professional alternatives to unprofessional-sounding terms? (“Tasked with,” for example, can make you seem less proactive than someone who “coordinated” various projects regardless of who told them to.)

          Are your special skills all truly special? (While speaking a foreign language is indeed noteworthy, these days, it might be redundant to mention that you’re proficient in Microsoft Word or capable of using email.)

          Have you done a sweep for annoying jargon or business babble? (Everything should be clearly articulated, so it’s easy for the hiring manager to quickly understand what you do.)

          Is everything 100% true? (If you write that you’re fluent in a foreign language on your resume, you should be prepared to speak that language during your interview. If you say you like baking, you should be ready to explain which ingredients you need for certain dishes.)

          Have you conducted spelling grammar checks?

          Finally, have you asked a friend who hasn’t read your resume before to provide a final glance for errors, inconsistencies, or confusing phrasing?

          If you’ve checked the boxes of all the resume tips that apply to you, you should be ready to submit your application.

          Writing Your Résumé (CV)

          Highlighting Your Skills and Experience

          A good resume will get you ahead of the competition.

          Whether you’re applying for a new role in your current organization or looking to change career, you need a great résumé (or CV) if you’re going to get the interviews you want.

          Your résumé is your chance to highlight your accomplishments, and communicate how you can use your expertise to help someone else. So you must make sure that it’s clear, concise, and up-to-date.

          And with some organizations receiving hundreds of thousands or millions of résumés every year, it’s important that yours stands out and actually gets read.

          So, what’s the best way to create your résumé? A quick online search yields literally millions of results telling you how to write a good one. Which approach should you use?

          In this article, we’ll look at how you can create an effective and compelling résumé. We’ll cover layout and content, as well as how you can use the Internet to further sell your skills and experience.

          In this article, we’ve included the tips and strategies that we feel are most effective for writing a résumé. However, there are no set rules, and there are plenty of different opinions on the right way to format, write, and style your résumé. So use your own best judgment, depending on the role you’re applying for, and the culture and best-practices in your region.

          Building Your Résumé

          Some recruiters claim to read résumés in as few as 10 seconds, due to the volume of applications they receive. (Many companies receive several hundred résumés for just one position.) Therefore, your résumé must be easy to understand, clear, and to the point. Recruiters need to find key information quickly, or they might just toss the résumé into the rejection pile. Keep this in mind when you’re putting it together!

          It’s also important to remember that your résumé’s purpose isn’t necessarily to land you a job; rather, it’s there to get you an interview.

          Layout and Key Content

          Here are some simple rules that you can follow when you write your résumé:

          • Put your name and contact information at the top of the page, much like a header. Your name should be centered and in bold, 14- to 16-point font. You should also include your phone number, email address, and mailing address in the header.
          • Under your header and contact information, include a brief summary of your skills, accomplishments, and qualifications as these relate to the role you’re applying for. This means that you need to do some research into the position to determine what’s most important to the employer, and then customize this brief summary with these elements in mind.

          Then list your work history, using a reverse chronological order. That is, put your present position first and then work backward. (Try to include all of your recent work history, and explain any gaps in employment – otherwise it may look as if you’re hiding something.)

          For each role, write out the full company name and include your start and end dates, including the month and year. Then include a brief outline of your key responsibilities and your accomplishments in the role, again, in relation to the position that you’re applying for.

          Overall, you’ll want to structure everything you write on your résumé with your prospective employer in mind. Recruiters may not care about your career objectives or your carefully written executive summary; they just want to know how you can help them accomplish their goals.

          Sometimes it may be appropriate to use a non-chronological approach for writing a résumé. Just be aware that experienced recruiters may view these with suspicion, as they’re often used to hide information.

          Adding More Value to Your Résumé

          As well as the basic rules above, you can also add more value to your résumé, and help it stand out, with these further tips:

          • When describing your accomplishments in your career, avoid adjectives. Instead, use strong action words such as “launched,” “analyzed,” “negotiated,” “implemented,” and “completed.” (A quick search online will yield hundreds of action words that you can use in your résumé.)
          • Be as specific as you can when highlighting your achievements – your prospective employer wants to see the results of your past work, and the difference you made in your last role. For example, how much money did you save your department? How many new sales did your plan produce?
          • Avoid clichéd descriptions and overused buzzwords. For instance, phrases like “client-oriented,” “great communication skills,” or “ability to think outside the box” often mean little. You should also avoid other clichéd adjectives such as “highly-skilled,” “excellent,” or “outstanding.” Focus on clear, concise, and simple communication .
          • Some recruiters scan résumés and search for terms and keywords that fit their job opening. To get past an initial HR screening, use specific keywords relevant to your qualifications and the open position. Look at the job-opening summary or advertisement for relevant keywords to use.
          • Avoid fancy fonts and too much use of highlighting, bold, and underlining. Stick to an easy-to-read font, like 10- to 12-point Times New Roman or Arial.
          • Don’t include personal information, such as your hobbies, interests, or family situation unless these specifically relate to the role. You can discuss these subjects during the interview, if relevant.
          • Avoid using graphics or pictures, again, unless these actually relate to the role you’re applying for. (Graphics, for example, may be relevant for some creative positions.)

          Statistics and numbers grab attention, and they’ll do more to highlight your accomplishments than a dozen adjectives.

          For instance, the phrase “Reduced departmental expenses by 25 percent” or “Increased client retention by 30 percent” are more likely to mean something to potential employers. Put any numbers or statistics in bold to catch the eye.

          Final Checks

          Once you’ve finished the final draft of your résumé, take some time to proofread it carefully. (Reading it out loud helps here!) If you submit a résumé with typos or poor wording, the employer will question your attention to detail and professionalism. If you can’t communicate well in your résumé, a potential employer will assume that you can’t communicate well at all!

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          How to write a resume

          Your resume (sometimes called your “CV”) is your most important tool when applying for a job. It doesn’t matter how qualified you are, or how much experience you have – if your resume is poorly presented or badly written, you’re going to have trouble getting the job you want – or even an interview.

          Taking the time to work on your resume is really important. The information on this page offers some tips and advice on how to make your resume the best it can be.

          The purpose of a resume

          Your resume is a marketing tool. It needs to demonstrate:

          • That you are employable
          • How you meet the job and the organisation’s requirements
          • That you have the right qualifications and education
          • That you have the right experience and skills
          • That you have the right level of professionalism for the job

          How long should my resume be?

          There is no set length for a resume. A resume varies in length depending on your experience and education. If you haven’t worked much before, one or two pages is best, but three pages is okay if you’ve got a lot of study and work behind you.

          Make sure you don’t pad out your resume. If your resume is only one page, as long as it’s well-presented it might get better results than a two-page resume full of unnecessary information.

          More information about the length of your resume can be found on each of the resume templates on our Sample resumes and Sample cover letters pages.

          How should I order my resume?

          Generally it’s always good to present the information on your resume in this order:

          1. Contact details
          2. Opening statement
          3. List of key skills
          4. List of technical/software skills
          5. Personal attributes/career overview
          6. Educational qualifications
          7. Employment history/volunteering/work placements
          8. References/referees

          Not everything in this list must appear on your resume every time, and the order can change from application to application. For more information about each of these sections, check out “What Your Resume Should Include”, below.

          The most important thing is to get the most useful information across first. For example, if your education history is not specifically related to the job, put it toward the end of your resume, behind the information that is related to the job.

          Check out the resume templates on our Sample resumes page. for examples of how you might want to order the information on your resume.

          Do I need to change my resume for each application?

          You need to tailor your resume to every job application so that it responds to the specific requirements of the job you’re applying for.

          You might not need to change much, but you do need to make sure your opening statement, your key skills and your personal attributes all respond to the needs of the role, based on the job ad (if there was one) and the research you’ve done into the job.

          You should also tailor your resume to show how your work experience specifically meets the needs of the job you’re applying for.

          How to tailor your resume

          Ways that you can tailor your resume include:

          • Using your opening statement to link your experience and education to the organisation and the requirements of the job
          • Listing your most relevant key skills first
          • Including examples of achievements that meet the advertised requirements of the job
          • Including specifically relevant key words and phrases throughout your resume (see “Keywords” in “What Your Resume Should Include”, below)

          What your resume should include

          There are a number of things that every resume should have on it. Check out the resume templates on our Sample resumes page to get an idea of what each of these sections should look like.

          Contact details

          Make sure you include your name, email address and a contact phone number on your resume. You don’t have to include your home address, although there might be some situations when doing so would be a good idea.

          Don’t include your contact details in the header of your resume. Recruitment software sometimes has difficulty reading information in headers or footers, so it’s a good idea to avoid headers altogether.

          You can put your contact details in the footer of your resume, but if you do, you must make sure they’re also in the main body of the document.

          Opening statement

          An opening statement is a summary of who you are, where you’ve studied and/or worked, and what you bring to the job. It should be about six lines long and written in first person without the personal reference (i.e., don’t say “I did this” – say “Did this” instead).

          Your opening statement should start with one sentence about who you are and what you bring to the job, then describe the skills and attributes you have that suit you to the job.

          For some examples of opening statements, check out our Sample resumes and Sample cover letters pages.

          Key skills & strengths

          Your resume should include a list of between 10 and 15 skills that link your experience to the job you’re applying for.

          If the job you’re applying for was advertised, either the ad or the position description may provide a list of skills and experiences that are essential for doing the job. It may also provide a list of “desirable” skills and experience. Your list of key skills & strengths needs to respond to all of the items on the “essential” list and as many items as possible on the “desirable” list.

          When putting together this list, think of things you’ve done or learned to do as part of:

          • Jobs you’ve had
          • Your studies
          • Any work placements you’ve done
          • Any volunteering you’ve done

          For examples of the kinds of skills you might list, check out our Sample resumes page.

          Technical/software skills

          This is a short list of the names of software or technology you know how to use. Examples might include:

          • Word processing or spreadsheet software
          • Programming languages
          • Tools (e.g., cash registers, EFTPOS)

          Personal attributes

          If you haven’t got much work experience, a list of personal attributes can be another way to demonstrate that you’re the right person for the job.

          Things you could include in this section might include ways you can demonstrate that you are reliable, honest, trustworthy or quick to learn new things. Check out our 8 job skills you should have page to see a few of the things that employers are commonly looking for.

          You can include between three to five personal attributes, but make sure you don’t include them instead of your key skills.

          Educational history

          Your Educational History only needs to show your highest level of education. You don’t need to include your results, unless showing them proves how well you’re suited to the job.

          If you can, you should also include a few bullet points listing your academic achievements (e.g., school or class captaincies, awards you’ve won, or groups you’ve been part of).

          Employment history

          When providing your employment history, start with the your most recent job and go backwards from there. Give the position title and the dates you worked there.

          If you haven’t had a job before, you can use other things to demonstrate your experience, including:

          • Work experience you’ve done through school
          • Work placements or internships that you’ve done through university or TAFE
          • Volunteer work you’ve done

          For each job provide a list of the things that you achieved while in that job, and the significant contributions you made to the organisation. Make sure that these achievements and contributions match the key skills and strengths listed earlier on your resume.

          For examples of how you can do this, check out our Sample resumes pages.


          Your resume should list two people who can positively recommend you as an employee. Ideally your references will be people that you have worked with before. Provide their name, their position title, and a way that they can be contacted.

          For more about references, check out our How to choose a referee? page.


          A testimonial is another good way to prove that your skill and experience is what the employer is looking for.

          Getting a testimonial can be as easy as asking a colleague, teacher or previous employer to write a couple of sentences about you. Ideally the people you get testimonials from should also be included in your references.

          You can include any testimonials you get as part of your educational history or your employment/volunteering/work placement history.

          Usually it’s enough to include one or two testimonials in your resume. Any more than two is probably too many.

          For examples of testimonials, check out our Sample resumes page.

          A lot of recruitment agencies use software that scans applications for key words and phrases. Applications that don’t use the right keywords tend to be automatically rejected.

          Key words and phrases that this software looks for can include the names of:

          To make sure your resume has the right key words and phrases, check out the job ad and make a list of the words and phrases it uses. If you don’t have a written job ad to refer to, you can use a job search engine to find other ads for similar jobs and see what kind of keywords those ads use.

          Once you have a list to work from, start adding those words and phrases to your resume. Good places to add keywords include:

          • Your opening statement
          • Your list of key skills
          • Your educational history
          • Your employment history

          For examples of how to use keywords on your resume, check out our Sample resumes page.

          What NOT to put on your resume

          Here are a few things not to include on your resume. Note that there may be circumstances when including some of the following information shows that you’re a good fit for the job. If that’s the case, including that information would be a good idea.

          Private information

          You don’t have to provide any personal or private information on your resume. There’s no benefit to be gained from providing information that could be used to generalise about you as a potential employee.

          Your resume doesn’t have to include:

          • Your birthdate
          • Your gender
          • Your address
          • Any ailments or disabilities
          • Your health status

          A possible exception to this might be when providing this information would give your application an advantage (e.g., if the employer is looking for someone young, or a female applicant). In these situations, consider including such information if you think it would strengthen your application.

          Typos or factual errors

          Submitting a resume or cover letter with spelling mistakes will guarantee you don’t get an interview. You should spellcheck your resume before you send it, but you should also get someone else to read it as well and check for mistakes you might have missed.

          Double-check everything that you include in your resume. If you mention the company’s name, make sure you get it right. If you mention the name of places you’ve worked before, make sure you get that right. Mistakes on resumes are worse than typos.

          You should also consider getting your resume looked at by someone professional. Check out “Reviewing your resume”, below.

          Images and graphics

          Don’t include images or photos on your resume. Not only are images disliked by recruiters and HR professionals, they can also create problems with recruitment software.

          Content in headers

          Many resumes only feature the applicant’s name and contact details in the header of the document. Some recruitment software is unable to read information in headers and footers. If you do include information in the header and footer of your resume, make sure you include it in the body of the document too.

          Fancy formatting

          Stick to easy-to-read fonts and formats. This makes it easier for recruiters to review your resume. It also means any recruitment software that reviews your resume can easily read the information. Good fonts to use include:

          Don’t use large headers to break up the sections of your resume. Use a 10- or 11-point font for your main content and a 12- or 14-point maximum for headers.

          Information in tables

          Some resume templates present information in tables to help with layout, but some recruitment software is unable to read tables. Your resume should only be formatted using line breaks and simple formatting (like setting multiple columns across the page).

          PDF versions of your resume

          Some recruitment software can’t read pdfs. Unless a job ad specifically says to provide your resume as a .pdf, you should always only submit your resume in word format (.doc or .docx).

          Reviewing your resume

          Having someone else review your resume is extremely important. Make sure you use someone who will actually tell you if they think something isn’t right. People you could ask include:

          • Co-workers
          • Former employers
          • Teachers
          • Career guidance counsellors
          • Your parents or guardians

          The Career Development Association of Australia has a list of professional organisations that can review your resume for a fee. They have also developed a resume review checklist that can help you to make sure that you check over everything on your resume and get it right the first time.

          Resume templates

          For examples of ways to apply all of the above advice when you put together your resume, check out our Sample resumes page, where you can download some resume templates to use to create your own resume.

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