How To Write A Resume In 2020


A resume is a very important aspect for every person in any career. It is a breakdown of a person’s skills and experience. It is the first impression of every professional in their line of work. How then does one create the best first impression of their career? How can you write a good resume? This article is a guide on how you can create a good resume. 

Resume format

A good format is what appears first in the eyes of a reader before the person can even start to read through a resume. With advanced technology and advancements in other sectors, there are numerous resume formats today. It is therefore important that you select a good format as you begin writing your resume and not just downloading a template and filling in your information. There are a number of resume formats that are standard and very professional that you could select from. The reverse-chronological format is a good format. It is a traditional resume format that many employers find professional, and in as much as it is very common, it is a creative design that you can very well use to create a good resume. 

There is also the combination format which you can use to highlight transferable and acquired skill. This format is good for professionals with vast experience and career leaders though it is not very common. The other format is the functional format or the skills-based format. This format is good for beginners in a career as it emphasizes your skills over no experience. 

The reverse-chronological resume format is, however very common and is very effective as most employers familiarize with it. This format puts emphasis on your work responsibilities, your experience and work background. In this format, you will first write your very recent position and continue down with the others in that order to the very first one, thus the name reverse-chronological order. This format is a standard format that is easy to read through and even scan.

Personal details and contact information

As a professional, know what information is basic to give and the information that you can hold back as not very relevant. In a good resume, there are key details you must include; some may appear personal. For personal details, including your first and last name, the second name is optional. 

Also, include your phone number, the one people can easily reach you through, preferably your personal cell phone number. With the current trends, it is also very important that you include an active email address as most formal communication is done via email. 

To boost your resume, consider including your LinkedIn profile link as it is the most preferred professional’s social site. The profile should be clean and very professional as it should tell the viewer your strength and boost your resume.

Other contact details may include a postal address, this is quite old-school and is optional, though there are countries that prefer the mailing system and so it depends on your jurisdiction as well. Also, create a good professional statement for yourself and have it introduce you on your resume. Links to your social media links should only be added depending on your line of work or the application you intend to submit. Some may be relevant, while some may not be relevant. 

If you are a designer or social media marketer, for instance, it may be necessary to have good professional sites and include their links on your resume. You could also include a website or blog site links if they are relevant to your career.

Avoid contact information such as your date of birth unless asked to include it. A second email or phone number will also lead to confusion, so avoid it as well. Photos on a resume are not recommended unless requested by an employer. 

Resume heading or title

Most employers have very little patience with perusing through resumes. In about 7 seconds, an employer knows whether to consider your application or not. With this in mind, it is important, therefore, that you have a great professional statement to introduce your resume. One that with capture the attention of the employer. A very detailed and professional statement about you. 

This appears at the top of your resume, and this is how to create a good professional summary statement. Highlight your key strengths in the statement; let your statement say that you are a dependable professional with years of experience in delivering good results.

When mentioning your experience, including statistics or analysis of the success you have achieved, you could include final remarks that state you are looking for more opportunities to advance and grow. Avoid talking only about your experience as a good professional summary should include results and accomplishments. 

In case you have no experience, use an objective statement in the place of a professional statement. State the skills and experience you have that are relevant to this specific position. State the relevant job position you held and advisably mentioned the company. Include your accomplishments and most importantly, how this experience will help you serve in the new position. 

In an objective statement, it would be wrong just to write your skills and experience, especially since they are irrelevant to the position. Remember an objective statement would be trying to convince an employer to hire you without any experience. Statistics of your achievements help to boost the statements because numbers show focus and excellence. 

Work Experience and Achievements

The most important part of any resume is the experience section. Your introductions must have led the HR officer to want to know more if at all, they are looking at your experience section and so you need to make it worthwhile. You should write the experience section in the format below:

  • Job Title—As you include each job experience, start with the title you held as it makes it easy for potential employers to peruse and find. The title should be written in bold and with slightly increased font than the rest of the content.
  • Place and location of work— following the title held should be the company name and the location of the company. You cannot conceal this information as it is evidence that you really know where you worked. Remember also that working in a certain company that is known for good products or services could be a big boost for your resume.
  • Employment period— then include the period of employment after the company name. State the month and year, exact days can be omitted but not the month and year. 
  • Key Responsibilities— List your main responsibilities in the job. They could be many so do not list all your day-to-day duties like composition or so, be specific on the main tasks that are relevant to your career and also that are key in the job you intend to apply for. This is what the employer is looking for to see that your previous experience is relevant to the position they are looking to fill.
  • Keywords— when structuring the experience section, use key and specific words that capture the attention of the reader. Include words that would please the HR and that are mainly relevant to the position you are applying for. 

Begin with the most recent job and include the other in order to the first job you held. This order is the order earlier discussed, reserve-chronological order. This is a very common order, and it is easier for employers to peruse through your work experience this way.

Highlight about five points in every experience you list down. The points should appear near the top slightly below the heading or professional statement. It is also okay to place your education history after the professional statement and before the professional experience if you happen to have no work experience or little experience. This is because your education is a better selling point as compared to your lack of experience. 

The experience section is an opportunity to show what you can do and what you can accomplish. Brag about your strengths and show that you can do it. Let your accomplishments accompany your responsibilities and experience. Stating experience alone without showing what the experience has helped you to achieve is a waste. Achievements are very important and letting employers know what you have achieved is what will lead to them calling you for a physical interview. When writing the experience section, have it in mind that employers want to hire people who have the potential to achieve and succeed, so ensure you structure this section very well. 

Also have in mind that with the advancing technology, there are sectors where robots are assuming responsibilities and functions that were once done by human beings. Companies today are using technology to analyze and select candidates during recruitment. This is to mean that without a good resume that fits the open position, you will most likely get no response or call from the company as a shortlisted candidate. When a human being peruses through your application, they may decide to want to meet you and know you more based on your resume. However, a system analyzing application will out rightly just go for what the company is looking for. 

With such, keywords in your application and resume are very important. Such mechanisms include Application Tracking Systems (ATS) that employers use to help identify good candidates. With such a system, keywords are identified from your resume and help the system in shortlisting. Therefore, let your resume be tailored for each specific application and not just any random structured resume that you can send everywhere. Every employer is unique and is looking for an employee is specific skills. Let your resume be good.

Review the advertised job description very well and identify what the advertiser has placed emphasis on. This will help you in writing a good resume for the position. Highlight clearly, probably with bullet points, the duties required that you have previously performed as it creates more relevance to the specific position. Also, ensure that your resume is one page or two pages and not longer than that. Use active and not passive voice when creating your resume to bring out the clarity of the content in it. Powerful words keep the one perusing the resume interested in continuing reading and in even wanting to have a physical interview with you. 

Work experience in your resume

Career senior-level applicants must list 15 years or more of relevant work experience in their resume. Use strong action verbs when introducing every point of relevant experience. These senior-level applicants include managers and other key executives mid- experience level applicants need to have proper job descriptions of all relevant previous posts and more. The more the experience, the better.

If you are an entry-level candidate, list down in your resume, all the work paid done as well as the responsibilities and your5r achievements. Structure this well as an entry-level candidate as you need to look very good to get the opportunity.

For first-time job applicants, mention responsibilities and roles from school or internship. Mention volunteer experience you may have and leadership positions you have held, for instance, in student organizations.

The best way to structure and bring out your experience is by having a good resume template. There are templates that do not bring out the best of your experience.

Education background

The education section of the resume is quite important, and it is quite unfortunate that many think of it as less important. Start this section by having your highest level of education first and in the reverse-chronological order, state the other degrees that you have. It is not relevant to add high school or pre-school history as you obviously would not have taken a degree course without the high school education as a prerequisite. 

The education information should be highlighted similar to the work experience. Begin by stating the period of learning, mainly the month and the year. Then state the name of the learning institution and then finally, the course is taken. Inclusion of honours attained is optional.

Relevant skills

Your resume is a selling point that should be able to market and sell you well, in a very convincing manner. The more experienced you are and the more you know, the better for you. Use acquired and learnt skills to make your resume better. Skills can be classified into two, hard skills and soft skills.

Hard skills are well-mastered abilities and knowledge of doing things. They may include Photoshop skills. Soft skills are acquired or self-gained skills such as social skills, those that are learned. When you have both soft and hard skills in your resume, you look more knowledgeable and with important skills for the job. Avoid listing down irrelevant skills and be specific to each job application. Veterinary skills, for instance, are not relevant to a bakery related position. Key skills that are basic could include communication skills, writing skills and more depending on the career and position. 

References

This is an equally important part of the resume as no resume is complete without referees or references. This is simply a list of people who can speak about your experience and how they think of you as a professional. It is advisable to have three references. 

The three should be a faculty or teacher during a degree course, an immediate supervisor and then a colleague who knows you well as a professional. You should state the referee’s name, their profession, place of work or the relationship you have with them and finally their contact information. The contact information should be an email address and phone contact. 

Go for people who know you well, and that can speak good things about you. Avoid giving fake contact information as it is inappropriate for an employer to try reaching your referees in vain. 

Skills you should include in your resume

The skills section is an equally important part of the resume. Employers are motivated to hire you, depending on the skills you possess. Include key skills in your resume as a boost to it and ensure that the skills you include are relevant. You can weigh the relevance of the skills by reading through the job post, especially the job description so as to identify the main wordings and the main skills the employer is looking for. Relevant skills make you more relevant to the recruiting company. Again, the more skills you have, the more useful an employee you are. Basic skills to include in the resume include:

  • Communication skills— communication skills could include social and interpersonal skills, as well as listening skills. You may also mention non-verbal communication skills. 
  • Technical skills— Technical skills are the skills you have that enable you to perform specific tasks such as accounting and computer skills.
  • Job-specific skills— these are the specific skills that the job description requires. Such skills are clearly brought out in the description, and it is important that you mention them in your resume skills section and do not assume that your work experience speaks for itself.
  • Leadership and management skills— this skill simply mean that you are a good leader and that you are good at managing and supervising.
  • Transferable skills— these are mainly for career changers: skills you have had previously and those acquired for your new career.

There are a number of ways to list down your skills on your resume so that the section appears attractive. List about five or six main skills. For job-specific skills and the technical skills, be very specific and highlight them in a way that they are visible to the recruiter so that they do not miss seeing them. 

Also, remember that not every skill should be listed down. If you have a skill that is not relevant for the specific job, there is no need of listing it as it will use up space for a better skill. A very long list also makes the resume make you look confused. 

Additional resume sections

The above-discussed sections are the major and standard sections in nearly all resumes. However, there are other sections that you can include to make your resume more personalized. This you can do provided you ensure that your resume doesn’t go beyond two pages.  

The additional sections can be used to bring out any other additional aspects about you that are relevant and that help in making you look very competitive. These additional sections could include the following;

Hobbies 

When you list down your hobbies, they tell of what motivates you and also of how else you can be of use to the company, other than through your studies and experience. Your prowess in swimming may not seem a big deal to you, but to your employer, it may sound like a good additional skill. Therefore, do not shy away from showing your hobbies out through your resume. 

Volunteer work

Many employers find volunteering as a great aspect of an employee. This aspect has been known to boost applicants’ resumes. Volunteering shows that you are committed and dependable. This also helps the employer know that money is not all you care about as you have volunteered before for experience and to make an impact. This section is also specifically very crucial for entry-level applicants. This can stand out as experience and a great boost.

Certifications and awards

You may have acquired certificates and received awards before, especially those that are relevant to the job and to your career. Go ahead and include them on your resume. They will help in boosting the resume without a doubt.  

Languages

If you speak additional languages other than the national or official language, include it in your resume as a languages section. This helps to make you look more useful as an applicant. Local and especially other international languages are relevant and useful in their own way. You could also include the level of proficiency you have in the stated languages. 

Publications & other projects

You may have written articles for blogs or magazines that have been published. You could include links to your work if published online. You may also add a bibliography section under this of the works you have done that are not published online. This shows additional skills that could be very useful to the company.

Boost your resume with a good cover letter

The cover letter or otherwise known as the job application letter gives you a platform to talk more about the contents of your resume. This is a formal document in the form of a letter to your potential employer. There are various guides and even templates on how to write a good cover letter. The most important aspect to take note of is that a cover letter should very well match your resume and should speak exactly about what is in your resume. Tell about your achievements and skills and use the cover letter to talk to your potential employer via writing.

Read through your resume well, save it and ensure you forward your resume for an application the right way. 

Having completed the structuring and creation of the resume, take your time to go through it thoroughly before you save it or share it out. Humans are to error, and the resume might have some errors, including spelling mistakes. Read through it and ensure that everything, including the font and size, is okay. You can use Grammarly to help you in proofreading and then have a friend or family member review it for you. 

This helps ensure that the resume is properly reviewed before you can use it. 

Social media

This article discusses the importance of including social media links to your resume, especially professional sites that are relevant to your application and career. You may have an online presence that is shameful like naked or exposing photos on Facebook or Instagram. Ensure to clean up your social sites to look professional before you begin sharing your resume. Employers nowadays reach out to social media to learn more about applicants before deciding whether to consider their applications or not. Therefore, do the clean up before the application and let your social media sites tell good positive things about you.

Save your resume

You most likely used Microsoft Word to create your resume. You can save the document as a Microsoft word document or as a pdf document. PDF documents are good as they are safe from editing. In as much as word documents have been common over the years, most seem to prefer PDF documents. Word documents are good too, especially if the company is using technology such as ATS to peruse through the documents. 

When saving the resume, include your official name as well as the position you are applying for and the title in how you save it — for instance, Lawrence-Font-Accountant-resume.pdf.

Also when it is time to email or send the resume out, go through the job description to be sure of the instructions of application as many companies give instructions on how to apply especially on the subject line. Some require you to mention the position on the subject or to include your name. Ensure you get the instructions well as messing up such a simple instruction could mean that you are not good at following instructions even at work. Employers are very sensitive.

References 

As outlined in the article, references are important. You can omit them in the resume and include a different document for references. This is allowed, especially in current times. All in all, let the references be people who help to boost your resume.

Ensure the resume is easily readable

The resume might be well structured and written, but if the resume cannot be read easily or be easy to scan, no employer will waste time forcing themselves to read it. Ensure that your document is easy to read and scan through. You can ascertain this in a number of ways:

  • Good resume font—a resume should be written in a standard font that will bring out content well in all screens or machines. Good fonts include Cambria, Arial or Times New Roman
  • Use single line spacing as well as font size 11 or 12as that of regular text. You could increase the font size to 14 or 16 for key sections or titles. Your resume margins should also not be very small.
  • Highlight areas and words of your resume that you wish to put emphasis on, using bold text. Italics can be used to show supporting text for mentioned or stated content. Avoid underlining your resume content.
  • Alternate serif with sans-serif, or the other way round, to help complement the normal font of your resume.

Be consistent

Being consistent in your resume is very important. Dates and timings should remain the same, even with future employers. The formats may change but not the key details of your resume. Consistency helps to show that you are honest. If you use bullet points in a section, be sure to use the very same for all sections as using all kinds is not professional. Also, ensure that your resume document margins have the same width on all four sides.

Avoid using the inappropriate verb tenses on your resume. If you are mentioning something in the past tense, be clear with your wording. If something is being stated in the present, then use the present tense.

Share your resume the right way.

When you are sending your resume for a specific application, be sure that your email will be one of the very many others that will be applying for the very same position. Ensure you, therefore, send out your resume in the correct way. 

You can do that by researching who the exact recruiter is, that way you narrow your sending point.

Important points to note

  • Relevance— each content in your resume should be captivating and relevant to the specific job description of the position you are applying for.
  • Have your resume be specific to one job position and a specific company as all employers differ. Do not just send out one resume to every potential employer blindly.
  • Choose correct content— Have a heading and professional statement, use the right tense and active voice. Also, avoid unnecessary content.
  • Be consistent— be consistent in the formatting of the entire document.
  • Double-check— Proofread and check out the document to ensure that all is indeed in order. You can use a friend’s help to make sure.
  • Create a resume online using available online guides and templates. This helps the resume be well guided to end up looking professional. This will also help you select the best format for your resume.