How to Write a Resume

Resume Writing Guide From Start to Finish

Resume Templates

Resume writing is no easy feat but with this super simple guide full of tips and advice on how to make an outstanding resume, you’ll have a winning resume ready-to-go in no time.

Resumes are defined as accounts or summaries of a person’s education, professional experience, qualifications, and skills typically used as part of a job application. Although this may sound easy to do at first, professionals and first-time jobseekers alike can find it quite difficult.

This is where a resume writing guide is the ideal tool to lead you through the process and give you insider’s expertise on how to do a resume that will land you an interview for your dream job!

How to start your resume?

Making a resume for a job interview or a resume for a first job is tricky but far from impossible and you’ll find tips and advice on how to do just that in the following guide on how to write a resume.

What you need to know to write the perfect resume is all in the details but the first and most important thing to remember is that a resume is a document advertising you. That means you need to choose the most relevant and significant facts about your career history, abilities and even your personality and present them in the best possible way to showcase your strengths and aptitude for the job at hand.

It may be complicated to understand how to market yourself on your resume but this is essentially the task you need to master because the purpose of a resume is to convince the potential employer to want to give you an interview, meet the person behind the resume and learn more about how you can take on the role that is being offered and get the best out of it, for the company and yourself.

It is vital to remember that everyone has a resume, everyone needs a resume and the only way to ensure you get a callback for the job you want is to stand out of that crowd, grab the attention of the hiring manager with your resume and tell them clearly and concisely why you deserve the opportunity on offer.

What makes a good resume?

Everyone and anyone can learn how to make a resume but the difficulty lies in knowing how to make a GOOD resume.

One of the most important aspects of what makes a resume stand out is the readability factor. That means that if, when the resume arrives on a potential employer’s desk, there are errors or too much information in a small space or the layout is badly formatted, it will simply be thrown straight into the trash due to its poor readability.

The readability of a resume is vital to ensuring the hiring manager at least considers your candidacy.

Another highly influential aspect of a good resume is the type of resume format that you use to construct it. As there are various types it is important to consider the options and choose the resume structure that best fits your profile.

This is very important because using a resume format that doesn’t focus attention on your virtues or one that does not downplay any possible disadvantages of your professional character could possibly hinder your jobsearch more than help it.

When you need to prepare a professional resume, student resume, graduate or entry level resume, or a resume for a specific job role or if you’re writing a resume for a first job, it is also crucial to remember that you are not the only person doing so. Therefore you need to put a lot of effort into creating a descriptive and intriguing resume which will stand out among the many hundreds of applicants.

Tips for writing a great resume

A great resume is the best personal branding a candidate can ask for. Check out these tips and guidelines for writing a great resume.

A key top tip for producing a winning resume for all kinds of profiles is by focusing clearly and specifically on the needs of the employer. This means using the job advertisement to tailor your resume and the information portrayed to fit the skills and experience that the specific post requires.

Under no circumstance does that mean lie! Simply using your personal and unique abilities and achievements you sell your candidacy to the potential employer making use of keywords and phrases from the job description.

How to make resume main sections

The following is a step-by-step guide to how to make a resume with the most important tips and tricks for getting the most out of your professional experience and other details to convince the potential employer that you’re the ideal match for their vacancy.

STEP 1 : Choosing the right format

As described in resume formats, there are 3 different types of resume layouts which suit different profiles of jobseekers and different sectors or industries.

The basic structure of a resume must be taken from one of these 3 resume layouts: Chronological, Functional or Combined.

The way to choose your resume format is by reading about each different style and looking at the various advantages and disadvantages to find out which resume structure best suits your professional needs and experience.

  • Chronological resume – Best for jobseekers with a steady growth in one sector throughout their career.
  • Functional resume – Ideal for jobseekers who have been self employed or have holes in their job history.
  • Combination resume – Perfect for jobseekers with a specific skill set or those looking to change career paths.

For a more in-depth introduction to the resume styles, read our guide to resume formats and get a clearer idea of how to format a resume correctly according to your preferences.

STEP 2 : Starting a resume

To begin a resume you will need to apply a heading with your name and contact information which stands out and is memorable.

Followed shortly by your choice of introduction: a resume objective, summary statement or qualifications summary depending on the resume format you choose. This introduction is fundamental to grab the attention of a potential employer.

The top third of your resume must be eye-catching and intriguing because this is how you will grab the attention of the potential employer. It is vital to demonstrate your worth as a business asset by demonstrating why you personally would be the perfect fit for the role and the company.

TOP TIP: Remember to use action verbs throughout your resume.

Remember you also don’t need to start from scratch and could use ResumeCoach’s resume builder or even find yourself a resume template which could serve as a basis for your unique resume.

STEP 3 : Other Practical Tips for Resume Writing

Once you’ve got your base, it’s time to start getting your resume into shape with these expert tips on how to mould your resume to suit your needs.

  • To optimize a resume, you should research well the position offered and the general company rules and environment. This way you will have a good understanding of the characteristics and attributes that the hiring managers are looking out for. Use this information to your advantage by highlighting your skills using strategic keywords taken from the job description or company branding.

Remember that, nowadays, some companies employ Applicant Tracking  System (ATS) to review all resumes they receive before those selected are reviewed by a hiring manager. An ATS is a type of software used by some businesses to refine their search and save time by eliminating all those resumes that do not complete the requirements.

  • Ensure not to overuse keywords from the job advert but do make your professional qualities clear and emphasize your industry-specific skills.
  • Use the active voice to describe job roles and responsibilities in a chronological resume format or in your skills’ examples for a functional or combination resume layout.


To learn how to make a good resume doesn’t come from school, nor work, nor necessarily with experience thus it is important to do the right research and include the appropriate sections.

Although this may sound ambiguous the additional sections on a resume can vary greatly due to the needs and career history of each applicant.

Along with the three main sections to include in a resume, it is recommended to tailor your resume to your personal profile by adding other subheadings where you can develop the relevant information.

The following are some possible additional sections for how to make your resume stand out and attract attention as a unique and creative resume:

In each of these resume sections it is advisable to include names and dates as well as a brief description where possible. This information could be beneficial to your application as it allows the employer to get to know a little more about you and creates an image in their mind of the character of the person applying, as opposed to simply having a list of professional achievements.

STEP 5 : Finalizing a Resume

Finally with the base of your winning resume completed, you can use the following advice to ensure nothing has been left to chance.

  • If you have chosen to use a resume builder or resume templates then you will at least save yourself the need to format your resume with alignment, margins, spacing and the general page set-up. However, if you choose to create a resume from scratch remember to review all these aspects and ensure that you have a left-hand margin and aligned text throughout.
  • When it comes to learning how to make a good resume, to ensure the best readability possible, it is advisable to take care with the font type you choose to use and the other font characteristics such as bold, italic or underlining. These should be used to bring attention to certain facts or areas, such as in headings or differentiating between details.
  • Maintain the same structure throughout and do not use more than 2 varying fonts.
  • Last but certainly not least, PROOFREAD your resume! This means re-reading and editing your resume as necessary until you are very satisfied with the results. It can also be very helpful to ask a peer or mentor to take a read through to help you with any suggestions for a resume or to catch mistakes that you may not have seen.

Now, with a complete effective resume, along with your professional cover letter, you can begin applying for the job of your dreams.

Resume Length: How long should a resume be?

What is the ideal length for a resume? This topic of debate can confuse some jobseekers but here are the basic rules to follow for how long a resume should be.

Given the minimal time that a hiring manager spends reviewing each resume that he or she receives, it is important to keep them as brief and to-the-point as possible.

Relevance is key!

Resume Lenght

Employers are divided on the perfect resume length question and you will find differing opinions on the subject depending on the job role you’re applying for.

The most widely-accepted length for a resume is one A4-page of text and information as well as one A4-page for a cover letter to accompany the application.

Any extra information, certificates or references can be separately attached.

This does not mean of course that you cannot write a longer resume, only that a simple guide to resume length would be to maintain a 1-page template and work from this.

Most standard resume templates are one page long.

If you have a long and relevant work history or many projects or have attended many seminars or conferences, you may need to extend certain sections of your resume and as long as the information is suitable to the application, it is perfectly acceptable to submit a longer resume.

Remember that if you are not able to expand as much as you would like to on your resume, you also have the professional cover letter which allows you to go into more detail on certain subjects or elaborate on specific projects, skills or experiences.

What not to include on a resume

The following are some of the dos and don’ts to consider when writing a resume and also the information that should NOT be included on a resume.

  • Do not use generic statements or cliché phrases in your resume. Be creative and original to make your resume as personalized as possible.
  • Do not include unrelated information or experiences.
  • References– Generally it is not necessary nor recommended to include references or contact information for referees on your resume. It is more advisable to have a separate document available with this information to send if and when requested.
  • Do not choose fonts which are difficult to read or are informal.
  • If you choose to include grades or a GPA, we recommend only doing so in the case that your GPA is above 3.0.

If you’re not sure whether or not to include certain activities or seminars, publications, awards etc. or you feel you do not have the space, you could make reference to them in your accompanying cover letter.

If you use a resume maker it is easier to know what to include on a resume as the standard instructions or the tool for building a resume guides you to include only the relevant and correct details.

Resume Templates

Resume templates are an excellent tool for jobseekers to use to create a winning resume without having to start from scratch.

There are different types of resume templates for different sectors, positions, levels of experience and even the resume format can change depending on the candidate profile.

You can find resume samples for students, resume templates for professionals or even resume examples for entry-level jobs to help you create an effective resume that is tailored towards your level of job searching.

Resume examples allow applicants to customize their resume using the sections available which will attract attention from potential employers interested in their experience and knowledge.

You can get resume templates of all types of resume structures with the most common being the chronological resume format, followed by the combination resume layout and the skills-based, functional resume format.

Of course, if you need a little more guidance than simply downloading a resume sample from the web, you could try an online resume builder to help take you through the process step by step and offer you practical advice on how to write each section of a resume so you don’t get stuck.

Cover Letter

A cover letter is essential for any good job application and a great opportunity for candidates to expand on their experience, skills and achievements.

No job application will be considered complete and professional without an effective, well-written cover letter. It is therefore vital that all candidates also spend time and effort to compose a cover letter that will go hand-in-hand with the finished resume.

Cover letter included in the resume

It is possible that for first job resumes, it’s not necessary for the applicant to have a detailed cover letter but it can never go amiss when it comes to applying for a job.

However, for any entry-level and professional job vacancies, it is essential that the jobseeker craft an error-free cover letter to accompany their finalized resume which further develops their profile and allows the employer to get a sense of who they are as a worker and as an individual.

This permits them to build in their mind an idea of that candidate and how they will fit in the business. It is important to bear that fact in mind when writing the cover letter for any position.

A cover letter must be well written with formal but understandable language, no spelling or grammatical errors and be informative without going into too much detail. This can sound like a challenge but once you have your ideas clear about which job you’re applying to, it is much simpler. Just like any resume, a cover letter must be tailored to the specific role, business or sector you’re applying for.

Similarly to a good, concise resume, a cover letter should not exceed one A4 page and should include only details that are relevant to the position on offer. Do not go off topic!

In a cover letter, applicants should explain how they are the right fit for the position, giving evidence and even quantifiable examples of how they as an individual with their knowledge, experience, qualifications and skill set are the ideal candidate.

TOP TIP: Think of the cover letter as an extension to the resume simply by explaining in your own words while always using formal language what has led you to believe that this role would be right for you.

This is why it is important to remember to first ensure you have a winning resume either crafted by you using a resume template or by creating a resume with the help of an online resume creator with guides, tips and expert resume advice.

ResumeCoach can help you build your resume with even more tips and career expert advisors, with the online resume maker or our guides to individual resume sections.

Last modified on July 6th, 2020

Jobless due to COVID? Let Resume Coach help you get your next job ASAP.