How to Write a Resume in 7 Easy Steps

Example of a general resume

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Start with our resume writing tips

Every list of resume writing tips will tell you the same thing: Start with your contact information. Your name, phone number, email address and, if applicable, links to your website and LinkedIn profile. Then list all the jobs you’ve had.

The top of the page is valuable real estate. If you want the reviewers to give your resume more than a quick scan, you need something up there that’s going to make them want to keep reading.

Back in the day, resumes had an objective statement just below the contact info that explained the type of job a candidate was seeking. Today, many hiring managers and recruiters expect to see a short, snappy paragraph that’s more like a profile. Think of these important two or three sentences as your 30-second elevator pitch: They should quickly summarize your experience and training, and highlight your relevant skills for the role you’re seeking.

How to format a resume

This study shows that formatting a resume is extremely important to land your next job. This article details all the best practices for formatting your resume and discusses some standard resume formats.

1. Left-align the content

It might be tempting to justify your bullet points and other content as it makes your resume looks neat and clean. But due to uneven spacing between the words, justified format decreases readability.

2. Use 1-inch margins

If you need more space, you can reduce them to a half-inch margin but don’t make them any smaller than that. If the margins are too small, it will make your resume look extremely busy to the reader — resulting in readability issues.

The standard margin is one inch on a normal Google doc or Microsoft Word document. So, if you are thinking about what would compel someone to shrink the margins, the answer is: to fit everything on one page.

While it’s good to keep your resume short and to the point, you don’t have to stick to one page only. According to Zety, hiring professionals are 1.4 times more likely to pick candidates with two-page resumes for entry-level roles. So if you need to add another page to your resume without any fluff or unnecessary details, it’s okay to do so.

The end goal is to format your resume in a way that’s readable and looks easy on the eye. Playing around with margins to fit more content on a single page won’t accomplish this goal.

3. Select a professional font

It would be best to stick to professional and easy-to-read fonts like Times New Roman, Arial, or Calibri. You need to choose a font that doesn’t distract from the qualifications and achievements on your resume.

To break up your resume into sections, make your name and section headers larger and more prominent. You should also use bold, italics, and underlining formatting to break up the text, highlight specific sections, and make the document easy to read.

4. Divide information into clear sections

Make sure to differentiate each section with a header that stands out from the rest of the text. Your header should also clearly state the intent of the area. For example, for your skills section, your header can be ‘Relevant Skills,’ or for the experience section, you can add ‘Work Experience’ or ‘Relevant Experience.’

You might be tempted to add other sections to showcase your achievements, like standardized test scores, but it’s better to stick to relevant information that shows your relevant skills for the job.

Kushaan Shah, Lifecycle Marketing Manager at Grammarly, suggests sticking to things that show you are competent at a job and says, “Adding your standardized test scores or Enneagram and MBTI scores don’t show the recruiters whether someone is capable of doing the job they are applying for.”

5. Use bullet points

In addition to action verbs, adding hard numbers will also double down on the impact you made while working in each role. For example, mention the revenue generated, dollars saved, the number of sales you made, or the customers you helped.

Amanda Natividad, VP of Marketing at Sparktoro, focuses on metrics when writing work accomplishments and says, “Don’t tell stories, show KPIs. Save the storytelling for your interview, where you tell the stories behind the metrics.”

Use the past tense when talking about your past work achievements. But suppose you are listing down job responsibilities and accomplishments in your present job. In that case, you should write it in the present tense, i.e., ‘managing a team of 10 people,’ ‘working on increasing blog traffic to 100k monthly visitors,’ etc.

David Fano, CEO of Teal — a platform that helps professionals speed up their job search, shares how to write metrics and says, “[The thing you affected + by how much and how long + “doing” and/or “resulting in” statement = solid achievement] is a great formula to come up with action-oriented metrics.”

6. Keep it short

When working on your resume, it’s best to remember that the shorter it is, the better. Win Shi Wong, Digital Marketing Manager, says, “Less is more, and the recruiter will thank you. Make it easy for them to extract the important information from your resume.”

Remember to focus on all the necessary details that make you stand out from the competition. Anthony Garone, the author of Winning the Job Search, says, “The goal of your resume is for a human being to read it and want to talk to you or learn more about you.”

7. Reconsider adding your headshot

Studies show that ethnic-sounding names receive fewer interview offers. Taneasha White, a writer and sensitivity reader, shares, “Adding your photo to a resume might result in similar discrimination, potentially based on identities such as your perceived racial and ethnic background, religion, or assumed sexuality or gender identity even though none of these pieces of your identity negatively influence your qualifications for employment.”

What’s the best resume format to use?

Reverse chronological resume format

In a reverse chronological resume, you list your work history with the most recent job title at the top. It also includes a resume objective or summary before the work experience section.

This resume template emphasizes work history, so it’s most effective for candidates with a lot of experience in the field. Through this format, you can showcase your work history front and center, which can help catch the employer’s eye immediately.

Pros and cons of using a reverse chronological format

Functional resume format

The functional resume format focuses on an applicant’s skills. While the reverse chronological format highlights the work experience, a functional resume emphasizes the candidate’s skills and qualifications.

Erin Riska, a Talent Acquisition Expert, believes functional resumes do the job better and says, “Functional resumes make the best sense when you consider that a great resume is a marketing document; a highlight reel. But chronological format continues to reign supreme, primarily out of fear and unexamined expectations on the part of hiring teams.”

Pros and cons of using a functional resume format

Combination resume format

In the skills summary section, list down all the skills relevant to the job and give examples of past achievements and work experiences where you gained these skills or utilized them.

Pros and cons of using a combination resume format