The Right Ways to Write a Resume

First impressions are incredibly important, and that’s certainly true when you’re applying for a job. Hiring managers are typically sorting through a huge number of resumes and making your way through that first layer of scrutiny can be one of the hardest parts of getting hired. There’s no one singular way to write a resume, and what hiring managers are looking for can vary wildly depending on the sector, but there are a few important considerations you need to keep in mind regardless of what job you’re applying for. If you’re trying to put together a resume, pay close attention to these tips, and click here to look at examples of resumes in your field.

Whether you’re an experienced executive looking to transition to a new company or a student just out of school trying to find an entry level job in your preferred industry, there are five things that absolutely have to be on your resume. You can let these components serve as the skeleton of your resume and then build out additional components in accordance with the job you’re applying for.

Contact Information

This may seem like an obvious necessity, but it’s one that’s too often neglected. Even the best resume doesn’t count for much if your prospective employer can’t get in touch with you. A name, city, state, phone number, and email address are absolute essentials. But as social media becomes more important, it can be worthwhile to include your social media accounts, blog, or personal website as well.

A Strong Headline

Before you get into the meat and potatoes of your skills and experience, you need to make a pitch to the hiring manager on who you are. A strong resume tells a story and opening your resume with a brief summary can help unify the content that follows and grab the attention of the manager. This should take the form of a crisp paragraph between three and five sentences in length.

Job Experience

A listing of your prior work experience is critical, but one mistake that people often make is focusing on every single task they performed at a given job. Your professional experience should highlight the sort of accomplishments that make you a strong fit for the job you’re applying for, so focus on results that can be quantified in numbers and percentages whenever possible.


Short and sweet is the name of the game here. Unless you’re just out of school, your educational summary should be there as a point of reference rather than serving as the primary context for hiring. But it should still be positioned prominently, and you should absolutely highlight any special honors you may have received.

Important Skills

It’s important to find a balance between technical responsibilities and “soft skills”. The Application Tracking System is the main interface employers use when trying to find employees with skills that match open positions, and it can be a great place to start when you’re looking on where to focus.

Keeping Things Lean

Overloading the hiring manager with too much information won’t do you any good. The most effective resumes get right to the point. Before you send out your resume, give it a thorough examination and ask yourself if any information is extraneous. Most final resumes should weigh in at two pages or less. Ideally, a resume can be condensed to a single page, but a second page can be used for specialized resumes or if you have relevant information beyond the five essentials.

Picking a Template

There’s no one-size-fits-all format for designing a resume, but four common formats have come to be accepted in the professional world. While you can potentially get creative with your design and make the final product your own, these are the general standards for resume creation.

  • The chronological resume is the most commonly used, and it gets right to the point. By listing jobs with the most recent coming first, it tends to prioritize the most relevant skills, and the familiarity of the format makes it easy to scan.
  • If you’re new to the job market, pursuing a career in a new field, or trying to cover up a gap in employment, the functional resume is a strong choice. Instead of prioritizing work experience, the functional resume zeroes in on individual skills agnostic of their application in the field.
  • A combination resume combines the best parts of a functional and chronological resume, giving top billing to your skills but also providing the work history that most employers expect to find.
  • A targeted resume is more time intensive because it’s focused on the expectations of a particular opening, but it’s a great way to catch the attention of a hiring manager. It’s best reserved for the positions that you really have your mind set on, because creating a targeted resume for every potential opening can be an exhausting task.

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