How to Write a Resume (Examples Included!)

Job seeker in an interview, illustrating how to write a good resume

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Romy Newman
Romy Newman
June 23, 2024 at 11:24AM UTC

Are you applying to countless jobs every day and still not getting any interviews? It might have nothing to do with your qualifications, and everything to do with how you’re presenting them on your resume.

Most people think they know how to write a resume—isn't it just a simple document listing your skills and past experiences? Well, not exactly. The reality is that many job seekers struggle to craft a functional resume that truly stands out to potential employers and lands them an interview

Recruiters and hiring managers are regularly flooded with thousands of resumes from candidates all competing for the same position. Yours should be good enough to grab their attention. So what's the secret to writing a professional resume that becomes the chosen one? 

We’ve created the ultimate step-by-step guide on how to write a good resume, including tips and practical examples. 

How to write a resume: Your complete guide

You may have already made the mistake (yes, really!) of throwing all your experiences, achievements, and certifications into your resume. We get the logic behind it—the more you share, the better your chances of landing an interview, right? Wrong. Your resume should be tailored to highlight the most relevant information for the role you're seeking.

Take a look at these tips and tricks on how to structure it:

1. Master the professional resume format

This is the first step to writing a good resume. Each section presents an opportunity to showcase why you're the perfect fit for the job, so choose their organization and content wisely. 

These are the standard sections for a professional resume in 2024:

  • Header: Right at the top of your resume, it includes your name and contact details: email, phone number, and LinkedIn profile. For safety reasons, don't give your house address; simply list your city and state.

  • Summary: Think of this as a brief presentation of your qualifications and skills. You can also mention what you're looking for and how you'd contribute to the company.

  • Experience: If you're an experienced professional, prioritize this section. As the name suggests, it's where you showcase your most relevant experiences for the role.

  • Education: Following your “Experience” section is your education—school or college and graduation date. If you're an entry-level candidate and don't have formal work experience, your education should come first.

  • Skills: To round out your resume, include a skills section where you can list any relevant skill sets you have. It could be software knowledge, interpersonal skills, languages you speak—the possibilities are endless.

Optional sections:

  • Awards: If you've received any relevant recognition for your work, consider adding an awards section. While this is most commonly used by professors, scientists, or writers, it's not limited to them. 

  • Certifications: Got any certifications that could boost your resume? Include a section to highlight them. Certifications are an excellent way to demonstrate you have specific skills or knowledge essential for the role you're applying for.

  • Volunteer work: If you lack prior work experience, you can add a section for volunteer work or extracurricular activities on your resume. This can serve as a replacement for the traditional “work experience” section.

It's recommended to keep your resume as simple as possible, ideally with just one column or a maximum of two. Avoid incorporating graphics or pretty much any element that might confuse the recruiter or an applicant tracking system (ATS). Don't experiment with creative fonts either—stick to a professional and straightforward one, such as Arial size 11.

2. Start with a strong and concise summary

Your resume summary should be strong enough to catch the recruiter's attention, but it doesn't need to delve into your entire life story. Keep it concise, with two to three sentences, focusing on your most relevant skills, achievements, or expertise.

How to write a resume summary: Example

SUMMARY

I'm a versatile content writer with five years of experience in writing for blogs and websites. I've worked in a variety of industries, including beauty, sports, health, and tourism. I'm skilled in SEO, creative copywriting, and editing, and my goal is to apply my content writing skills to help XYZ achieve its engagement goals.

3. Use reverse chronological order for experiences

Your experience should always be listed in reverse chronological order. Meaning your most recent experience should come first, followed by the least recent. If a recruiter sees an experience from 10 years ago in the beginning of your resume, they're unlikely to keep reading. 

Remember to include the name of the company, your role there, and your start and end dates. Your responsibilities should be listed in bullet points for clarity, and you want to include some action verbs and power words. For example:

WORK EXPERIENCE

Content Manager

XYZ Company — Jan. 2022 - Jan. 2024

  • Lead an email marketing campaign that increased the conversion rate in 25%

  • Created a new visual identity for all social media platforms, increasing engagement in 10%

Content Writer

ABCD Company — June 2019 - June 2021

  • Wrote the company's blog and website applying SEO strategies that increase page views in 10%

  • Wrote content for the company's news letter applying storytelling strategies, increasing the conversion rate in 12%

4. Include your most recent and relevant education

If you're an adult looking for a job, it's safe to assume you've completed kindergarten. Our point: You don't need to put your entire education history on your resume. Instead, focus on the most recent or relevant education. For instance, if you're a college graduate, highlight that. If you only have a high school diploma, that's enough.

5. Tailor your skills for that particular role

While you may have a lot of skills, not all of them will be relevant to every job you apply for. When writing the “Skills” section of your resume, prioritize those that align with the job description.

This section should be simple and to the point, presenting your skills either vertically in bullet points or horizontally with commas. Make sure to add both hard skills (technical abilities acquired through education or work experience) and soft skills (interpersonal abilities).

It should look like this:

SKILLS

  • Creative writing

  • SEO

  • Content strategy development

  • Editing

  • Teamwork

  • Problem-solving

Or this:

SKILLS

Creative writing, SEO, Content strategy development, Editing, Teamwork, Problem-solving

Bonus resume writing tips: What experts have to say

Wait, there's more. Here is some expert advice to help you make your resume stand out and land the job you want: 

Add relevant keywords throughout your resume

Employers typically have their recruiting departments build databases of resumes using their ATS. They navigate through their database by searching for specific terms related to the job they’re hiring for. These terms are known as keywords.

“Keywords are an essential part of how we sift through the thousands of resumes we receive,” says Jenna Mucha, Talent Community Manager for Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

So, what kinds of keywords should you include? You want to use ones that are essential to the role. So, create a skills-based resume that highlights your accomplishments by choosing keywords directly from the job description, especially those mentioned more than once.

“Also check out similar job postings from other companies, that way you can anticipate or include terms that go beyond the posting,” Mucha says. “You should even check out the LinkedIn profiles of other people who are in similar roles.”

Your keywords should be ideally in several places throughout your resume, not only in your “Skills” section. “This provides credibility, but also increases the relevancy based on the way the software performs searches,” says Christy Childers, Global Employer Brand Manager for Dropbox. “You can also remove company jargon, especially in job titles. While staying true to your past experience, it's okay to change the specific job title to ensure you're using one that is used more widely.”

Substantiate your experience with achievements

“Keywords are important,” Childers says, “but quantifying your experience alongside those keywords to add credible context and to differentiate yourself is equally as important.” This is not just an exercise in copy/paste. You’ll need to substantiate why your background represents the skills that the keywords call for.

“Instead of listing ‘excellent negotiation skills,’ try adding some context to prove it, such as ‘demonstrated excellent negotiation skills which resulted in an 80% close rate and #1 Account Executive in the Western US Region,’” Childers says.  

If you aren't in a data-driven environment, use the results of a project to demonstrate your skills. “Instead of writing ‘attention to detail,’ you could include an example such as ‘demonstrated attention to detail in launching the first-ever global leadership development program from start to finish improving internal promotions by 35% across 3 continents,’” she says.

Adapt your resume for each job you’re applying to

“You should absolutely adapt your resume for each job you’re applying to,” Mucha says. “Review the job description and incorporate keywords directly from it, and  don’t overlook things that you think are obvious and implied in your background.” 

Childers uses Microsoft Excel as an example to back up Mucha’s point. “Some people think Microsoft Excel is a given in today's environment,” she says. “However, if the job description lists Excel one or more times—and you indeed have substantial experience with it—you need to include Microsoft Excel on your resume.” 

That said, you should definitely not write in keywords if they don’t accurately describe you. Honesty about your work history and fair representation of yourself and your achievements must come first. Deceiving a prospective employer will ultimately be a waste of both her time and yours.

Apply “beyond” the job

Once your resume ends up in a company’s database, Mucha says it can often surface for other open positions. That means you should incorporate keywords that come up in verbiage about the company itself. For example, some companies pride themselves on “innovation.” For others, phrases like “team player” or “collaborative” are important.

And there are some keywords that work well for almost any job or position, such as “results-oriented,” “motivated,” and “launched” (and never underestimate the importance of a good action verb!). There are some great online resources for these types of keywords, and there are also some keywords you should stay away from, such as “synergy” or “go-getter.”

Of course, great resume keywords are not a substitute for a great work background or employment history. That said, with a better understanding of how your resume is being evaluated, you’ll have a much better chance of getting to present your background in an interview. 

How to write a resume: Examples

Below, we will bring all the tips together and see how they fit in these two resume examples. Think of them as an illustration of what your resume should look like:

Example #1: Experienced professional

MARIAH SMITH

555-123-4567

[email protected]

New York, NY, 12345

LinkedIn.com/mariahsmith

PROFESSIONAL SUMMARY

I'm an experienced content manager with five years of experience in writing and editing articles for blogs and websites. I've worked in a variety of industries, including travel and tourism. I'm skilled in SEO, creative storytelling, and have certifications in web content writing and editing.

WORK EXPERIENCE

Content Manager

XYZ Company — Jan. 2022 - Jan. 2024

  • Led an email marketing campaign that increased the conversion rate in 25%

  • Created a new visual identity for all social media platforms, increasing engagement in 10%

Content Writer

ABCD Company — Jun. 2019 - Jun. 2021

  • Wrote for the company's blog and website applying SEO strategies, leading to an increase of page views in 12%

  • Edited content for the company's newsletter applying storytelling strategies, increasing the conversion rate in 15%

Freelance Content Writer

The X Company — Oct. 2019 - Jun. 2021

  • Wrote the company's blog and website applying SEO and storytelling strategies, increasing page views in 10%

  • Created a new content strategy for the company's newsletter, increasing the conversion rate in 18%

EDUCATION

Bachelor of Journalism

New York University, New York, NY

SKILLS

Web content writing, Content creation, SEO, Storytelling, Content editing, Teamwork

CERTIFICATIONS

Web content writing and editing, SEO Academy - 2021

Example #2: Resume with no experience

CLARA BENSON

555-123-4567

[email protected] 

New York, NY, 12345

Linkedin.com/clarabenson

PROFESSIONAL SUMMARY

Motivated and hard worker high school graduate. Eager to use my communication and problem-solving skills as a sales assistant at XYZ Company. As a former volunteer at City Library, I'm used to interacting with the public and handling communications over the phone and email.

EDUCATION

New York High School 

New York, NY

Graduation date: January 2024

GPA: 3.8

Relevant coursework: Communication skills, Business management

VOLUNTEER EXPERIENCE

New York City Library 

Volunteer

New York, NY

January 2023—January 2024

  • Collaborated with the team of volunteers to update the library's website and social media, increasing the number of followers and the engagement rate in 10%

  • Developed a new system to track the being lent to students, resulting in a decrease of 5% in non-returned books

  • Led the poetry reading sections, being responsible for all the administrative work, such as registration of participants, receiving them at the library, and reporting the number of those present and absent

EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITY

Coordinator

Theatre Club

December 2022—January 2023

  • Handled the club's communication with the members via email and social media

  • Used problem solving skills to negotiate the use of the theater room for meetings

  • Coordinated the club's auditions, bringing in 20+ new members in a year

RELEVANT SKILLS

Email management, Phone etiquette, Public speaking, Conflict resolution, Teamwork, Communication

Resume template

Not quite there yet? If what you need is a resume template, search no more. Just copy and paste our template below into a blank page on Google docs, then fill in the blanks with your information. Don't forget to spellcheck and proofread before sending it out. 

YOUR NAME

Phone | Email | Location (City, State, ZIP)

LinkedIn or Online Portfolio (Optional)

PROFESSIONAL SUMMARY

[Explain your years of experience, your skills and achievements relevant for the position, and what you're looking for in your next role in 2 to 3 sentences]

WORK EXPERIENCE 

[Note: If you never worked before, substitute this for internship, extracurricular activities or volunteer work]

Title                          

Company Name

Start Date - End Date                                                                      

  • [Action verb] + [what you did] + [general outcome or quantified results]

  • [Action verb] + [what you did] + [general outcome or quantified results]

  • [Action verb] + [what you did] + [general outcome or quantified results]

Title                          

Company Name

Start Date - End Date                                                                      

  • [Action verb] + [what you did] + [general outcome or quantified results]

  • [Action verb] + [what you did] + [general outcome or quantified results]

  • [Action verb] + [what you did] + [general outcome or quantified results]

Title                          

Company Name

Start Date - End Date                                                                      

  • [Action verb] + [what you did] + [general outcome or quantified results]

  • [Action verb] + [what you did] + [general outcome or quantified results]

  • [Action verb] + [what you did] + [general outcome or quantified results]

EDUCATION

Degree Type                         

Institution Name

SKILLS

[Relevant skill], [Relevant skill], [Relevant skill], [Relevant skill], [Relevant skill]

AWARDS or CERTIFICATIONS (OPTIONAL)

[Title] + [Institution Name] + [Date]                                  

[Title] + [Institution Name] + [Date]

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