Are you a new graduate drafting your professional resume for the first time? Are you about to return to the work force after a long absence? Maybe you’ve been actively employed for many years, and it’s been so long since the last time you looked at your resume that you may as well start a new one from the beginning. No matter your circumstances, these eight simple resume tips can help you get started.
Tips by Resume Section
- Most job seekers edit their resumes dozens of times before sending them out to employers. But before you can start editing, you’ll need a rough draft. Here are a few suggestions for your basic layout and first steps.
- After you’ve created a balanced heading that includes your contact information, begin the body of your resume with a brief, opening summary. Your “Summary” section should be a few lines long and should paint a clear picture of who you are and what you can do. Use this section to provide readers with a quick, meaningful overview of your professional goals and the unique talents you can offer to a potential employer.
- Your “Education” section should list your college degrees and industry training. Include graduation dates and degree titles for these credentials, but don’t list or discuss your high school education.
- Your “Experience” section is very important, no matter where you are in your career. This section should include your relevant experience and accomplishments. Mid-career professionals should focus on both of these; each entry should include a job title, followed by a description of responsibilities and a list of quantifiable accomplishments. Responsibilities may include entries like, “Managed seven direct reports.” Accomplishments may include entries like “Led sales team to 8% percent annual increase in new operations.”
- New graduates with a limited work history should focus on accomplishments instead of professional positions held. Each entry should still be clearly stated and quantified, if possible. Some examples might include the following: “Served as captain of the university debate team during two consecutive national championship victories,” or “Led fellow members of the Photography Club in volunteering effort, constructing seven new homes for Habitat for Humanity.”
- A “Skills” section can help you round out your central message and clarify what you have to offer. Keep this section short and use it to list foreign languages you speak, programming languages in which you’re fluent, and unique accomplishments unrelated to your job history, like books you may have published.
General Resume Tips
- Regardless of the sections you decide to include in your resume, here are a few general tips that can help you showcase your talents and draw attention to your most meaningful skills.
- Keep your resume short. One page is standard and ideal, and usually provides enough space to describe five to ten years of experience. If you need a little additional room, that’s fine, but don’t exceed two pages.
- Once you’ve completed a first draft, step away from it for a while so you can return with fresh eyes for the proofreading process. After you’ve edited your resume carefully, hand it off to someone else. A friend, family member, or professional editor can catch the mistakes you may have missed.
- After your resume is complete, attach it to an email as a Word file and send it to yourself in a test run. This can help you check for file access or readability problems. One final note: Always send your resume as a PDF file, which is easy to do from Microsoft Word. A PDF file is essentially a snapshot of the document and won’t depend on the recipient having the right version of Microsoft Office or the font you used. Sending a Microsoft Word document may mean that your careful formatting may be lost and your resume may appear as a jumble of messy lines or strange symbols and spacing. First impressions are crucial. Provide employers with a clean, controlled visual experience right from the start.
LiveCareer (www.livecareer.com), home to America’s #1 Resume Builder, connects job seekers of all experience levels and career categories to all the tools, resources and insider tips needed to win the job.