Knowing how to successfully write a résumé is a crucial skill for any job hunter. Consider a résumé as your first impression. This document offers the opportunity to succinctly present your professional self and get you in the door for an interview. While a résumé is incredibly important on the road to employment, it can be tricky to write. Here are some tried and true résumé tips to get you started on the right foot.
Parts of a Résumé
All résumés are different. A résumé should be tailored to fit your individual work history, profession and even style preferences. All résumés must possess these five elements, according to Monster.com.
- Contact information. This includes your name, street address, phone number, email and professional social media accounts. This section should be prominent at the top or side of the document.
- An objective or a summary. Whether you use an objective or a summary depends on your level of relevant experience. Objectives explain what you hope to professionally accomplish. This is ideal for those who are new to the workforce or who are switching job fields. A summary gives a succinct explanation of your relevant professional history.
- Skills. A bulleted list of some kind, this section should note any relevant proficiencies you have. You can include both hard skills (technical-based) and soft skills (those that transfer to many types of work).
- Professional experience. The bulk of your résumé will describe previous jobs and work experience. Each listing should include your job title, the name of the company you worked for, city and state and dates you worked there by month and year. You should include a bulleted list of what you did at each job under its heading. Make sure to emphasize your accomplishments, rather than day-to-day duties. (For the purpose of résumé writing, an accomplishment is anything that saved your employer time, money or resources.) If you can, use numbers and data.
- Education. This section often goes at the bottom of a résumé. However, if your education is particularly relevant to the position you’re applying for and you have no work experience in that area, it may be helpful to move it higher. This section should include the name, city and state of your college, major, if you graduated with honors and GPA.
The Right Words
Résumés require a specific type of writing style. An easy way to master this style is through action words, or vocabulary to describe your work in a professional and competent light. The Muse offers some great examples to make your résumé pop:
- Led a project: organized, headed, oversaw, produced, coordinated
- Helped a project to emerge: built, created, designed, developed, launched
- Saved your employer money: conserved, decreased, yielded, consolidated, lessened
- Increased efficiency or sales: furthered, accelerated, gained, improved, sustained
- Made something better: replaced, merged, overhauled, revitalized, streamlined
- Managed people: aligned, mentored, mobilized, trained, supervised
- Helped customers: informed, resolved, advised, consulted, fielded
- Researched: examined, evaluated, calculated, identified, assessed
- Wrote things: documented, composed, edited, persuaded, corresponded
- Oversaw things: authorized, delegated, monitored, screened, verified
- Achieved something: completed, exceeded, showcased, surpassed, outperformed
Other Helpful Tips
While résumé writing is an art rather than a science, there are other common sense tips that you can use to make sure you get ahead.
- Tailor your résumé to the job you’re applying for. Look at the job description. What words do they use? What competencies do they require? How can your past experiences meet those needs? Adjust your language to reflect these things, particularly in your objective.
- Make the document easy to read. Employers don’t spend much time reading résumés. They skim. Don’t use type smaller than 10 point. Include plenty of white space. Align your employment dates in a column so they’re easy to find. No HR manager should have to work to find the information they need.
- Keep your résumé to one page. Again, no one will read it if it’s more.
- You don’t have to include everything. Remember, a résumé is a document that will help you get an interview for a specific position. Use it to sell the relevant experience you have. Consider leaving out work experience if it’s not directly related the position.
- Don’t lie. This should seem obvious, but sometimes people forget. Not telling the truth about your past work history will most likely come back to haunt you.
Preparing for Success
Writing a successful résumé is just one way to get yourself ready for the workforce. At the University of West Florida, our online degree programs successfully train you to get to the next stage of your career, whatever it might be. With more than 25 online programs at various levels of study, you’ll be able to find the right program for you that’s flexible enough to fit your life.