A professional resume is essential for any candidate seeking either to change their current role, move up the career ladder or looking for a new company.
Nowadays practically all professionals know how to make a standard resume but that won’t be what earns you an interview with your preferred company. Now it takes much more than just the standard page-long summary of experience and education to catch the eye of a hiring manager.
Today’s job market is highly competitive and if your resume doesn’t convince potential employers that you’re worth hiring, or at least inviting for an interview, you’ve got no chance!
Within the cut-throat world of work, businesses look for candidates who stand out and quickly catch their attention with real examples of how he or she can contribute as a vital team member.
The process of creating a professional resume has become much more detailed. To get ahead, today’s professionals must have an up-to-date, easy-to-read and comprehensive resume!
In this guide to writing a professional resume, you’ll find practical tips and advice as well as useful templates to use to make a great resume, worthy of a callback.
How to write a professional resume
Need to know how to write a professional resume? What information you should include? Take a glance at the following guide to professional resume writing for some tips on how to easily create a polished professional resume:
When a jobseeker needs to write an effective professional resume, the first thing he or she should do is PLAN!
Just like with other writing tasks, the best idea is to set out everything that will be included in a draft version by listing your work history, education, skills and other areas of interests before filling out the resume template. If you’re not sure about all the sections to include in a resume you can check out our Resume Writing Guide.
If you need a little resume writing inspiration, try answering the following questions to get you started:
- What have I accomplished in my professional or academic career?
- Which of my achievements are relevant to the position I’m seeking?
- Which of my skills have helped me to fulfil my goals?
- What are my most favourable professional attributes?
- Have I taken on any leadership roles in the past?
With these resume building guidelines, each candidate can analyze their needs and tailor the content of their professional resumes to fit the vacancy they’re interested in.
It is vital to have a clear idea of what the resume needs to include before getting started in order to create the best professional resume to catch the attention of hiring managers.
Professional Resume Layout
The next step is to choose the resume style to best fit the individual profile of each candidate. This means considering different professional resume layouts and adapting whichever format to the needs of the applicant.
The type of resume you choose is also important and should be customizable to your needs. The 3 main resume formats can be categorized into the following:
- Chronological – Standard template, ideal resume for those with lots of relevant work experience.
- Skills-based or Functional: Perfect for jobseekers with gaps in their work history.
- Combined: This form is a more modern style apt for candidates with some work experience and lots of potential or those changing career fields.
The best way to emphasize your executive skills and relevant work experience is by using a professional resume template which takes care of the formatting and layout for you. That way, you can focus on making the content as appropriate and engaging as possible to convince the hiring manager to give you a call for an interview.
If you’re having trouble figuring out how to make a resume, why not try using an online resume builder to guide you through the process. A resume maker can help you by offering tips on the professional resume structure as well as provide a range of resume examples to choose from.
What sections should you include?
So that a professional resume can stand out from the hundreds of candidates applying for any given vacancy, it is vital that the jobseeker include various sections which catch the eye of the potential employer.
Here we offer a guide to the most important resume sections to include in a professional resume, whether you choose to use a resume example as a benchmark, save time by employing a resume builder or learn how to create a professional resume from scratch.
OBJECTIVE OR SUMMARY
The very first section of a professional resume is the objective or summary statement which gives the hiring manager their first insight into the character and professional profile.
A resume summary statement however is more common among professionals as it gives a brief description of the individual’s career path including the skills, experience and personal expertise regarding the desired role.
The work experience section is probably the most important part of a professional resume as candidates often have a rich work history to include and develop as part of their profile.
When detailing work experience on a professional resume, each candidate should include the job title, company name, location, dates of employment and also a brief description either in bullet point form or a small paragraph explaining the achievements and responsibilities undertaken in each position.
Knowing how to write the skills section on a professional resume can be difficult but remembering to customize the vocabulary and introduce keywords from the person specification or job description directly into the skills list can greatly improve chances of getting a callback.
It is crucial for jobseekers to include in their professional resume skills section those which are relevant to their preferred industry or position.
It is also imperative to list competencies that can be adapted to a variety of different situations such as being a good team player, an effective communicator or having good time management.
In a professional resume, the education section comes as standard and should always be completed with details of each degree or course completed by the candidate.
This should include not only the name of the diploma but also the institution where it was received, dates of graduation and extra information such as modules studied or projects produced. This will give the potential employer an understanding of the academic background and training of the individual so that they may decide if their profile matches the company’s needs.
References on the Professional Resume
References are used by employers to gain an insight into what kind of worker the candidate is. Recruiters contact previous employers or colleagues of the applicant in order to solicit from them their professional opinion of the conduct and character of the jobseeker.
Although in the past it was common practice to include references in a professional resume, it is no longer the case unless strictly specified in the vacancy. Generally people limit themselves to adding a final sentence indicating the possibility of “references upon request”.
It is now becoming more and more acceptable to simply await the request for references from the company and then send the contact information for your chosen references.
Tips for writing the perfect professional resume
As well as the main sections that you should include, the following are some other important aspects to consider for professional resumes to showcase your skills and abilities in the best way possible.
Professional Resume Headers
- The subtitles or headers in a professional resume must be short, easy-to-understand and brief titles used to categorize different sections and enable the reader to focus on a specific area of expertise as required.
- The categories you choose to employ in your resume are of the utmost importance because an employer will quickly skim your resume in just a few seconds to see what catches their eye, so the more relevant and unique, the better.
For example, for a project management role, the employer may be more inclined to review a candidate’s work history and the projects that they have overseen in the past rather than interest themselves directly with the education or volunteer experience of the individual as they may be less pertinent.
Professional Resume Keywords
Some executive hiring managers use what is known as ATS (Applicant Tracking System) software which allows a computerized program to filter through the resumes sent for a specific vacancy and offer a pre-selected list to the human resource department in order to facilitate the first phase of elimination.
Using keywords in your professional resume can greatly improve your chances of making it through this first phase.
Professional keywords can include verbs, nouns and even adjectives to describe tasks and responsibilities you have taken on in the past which could be similar to those in the new role, skills which are required or desired for the vacancy or knowledge and expertise in a certain area which is necessary or preferred by the employer.
The generally-accepted norm for the length of a professional resume is one A4-sized sheet of white paper. There are of course exceptions if and when necessary.
As well as your winning professional resume, applicants are advised to send along additional documentation to provide evidence of their activities and accreditations.
These additional documents can include anything relevant to your chosen position such as a portfolio of previous work for creative types, a letter of recommendation from a previous employer, diplomas from any courses, extra academic achievements or training certificates.
These days not only can you send your comprehensive application complete with cover letter and other items right through the internet, but you can also often get digital copies of all of the above including a digital resume or linking to a social media page.
For executive roles, these documents can be as long as necessary but you should also remember that hiring managers receive hundreds upon thousands of applications and therefore try to keep things as brief as possible to maintain the potential employer’s interest.
Cover Letter for a Professional Resume
A cover letter represents an opportunity for the candidate to introduce themselves to their potential employer through a personalized letter accompanying their resume.
It is advisable to use the cover letter to detail anything that may need explaining from your resume, such as gaps in work history. You can also take this chance to go more in depth on a subject or specific experience that you feel is of significance to the role at hand.
Like the resume, the cover letter is a spokesperson for you and your career therefore you must ensure to format it well and create a good structure, with no errors or spelling mistakes, truthful throughout, highlighting your strengths and adapt it to the role or company you’re applying to.
It is essential to send a cover letter accompanying a professional resume for each job vacancy. Without the cover letter, it is possible that your application will not even be considered in certain companies or for specific positions, thus it is of vital importance that you work just as hard on writing a winning cover letter as for your professional resume.
For more tips and advice on making a cover letter, take a look at our blog.
Professional Resume Templates
For a specially designed professional resume template, take a look at our library of resume samples to find one which suits your profile and experience.
It can be difficult to build your own professional resume from scratch without a clear idea of what you need to include in a resume or how to complete each section which is why using a professional resume template saves time and energy which you can then dedicate to getting prepared for your next job interview!
Resume examples help jobseekers by not only saving time on creating a resume layout from nothing but also by offering suggestions as to how to fill out each area on the resume with sample job responsibilities or extra activities which could be relevant to your profile.
Using a resume sample for your professional resume can offer an insight into how to write a resume that catches the attention of potential employers through the sections it includes or inspire you to write a resume objective or summary statement based on the examples it gives.
For jobseekers looking for a new professional resume template, we have an array of effective resume examples which have been designed and selected by HR specialists.
Candidates can also make their winning resume online by using ResumeCoach’s resume creator where they can find online resume help and tips.
Last modified on July 6th, 2020