How to Write a Resume: 3 Key Tips

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Writing a resume is a little more complicated than grabbing a template and changing dates, company names and titles. A well-written resume shows who you are, what you can do and why you’d be a perfect fit for the job you are applying for.

When writing your resume keep these three key tips in mind:

  1. Include basic information in a simple format. Simple, straightforward descriptions are appropriate for many of these standard details including contact information, work experience, skills, education and awards/honors.
  2. Don’t overdo it. Flowery or overly descriptive writing is not necessary when it comes to your resume. Write in clear, concise and error-free statements.
  3. Organize your resume into sections with different writing types. Save the storytelling for the cover letter and keep the actual resume and references straightforward.

How Long Should a Resume Be?

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Ideally, your resume should be no longer than one page.

When you add a cover letter or references this extends to one page for each section of the resume.

While this is a guideline, some resumes will be longer. A CV for someone with a long history in academia, for example, might be considerably longer with a list of published studies or articles.

This guideline exists to save hiring managers time. If your resume is more than one page, make sure the most important and relevant information is on the first page. Use reverse chronological order so the most recent jobs and accolades are first.

How to List References On a Resume

You might need to include references with your resume when you apply for certain positions. (This is often stated with the application.)

References do not belong in the resume itself. They should be on a separate sheet. Include three references (unless specifically asked for a different number).

List references with whom you have the closest relationship or work with currently first. When you aren’t sure how to list references, alphabetical order is acceptable. Make sure to include the name, company and title, contact information and your relationship to each person.

How to Use a Resume Template

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A resume template can be a great starter for writing and designing your own resume.

To use a resume template, start by downloading a template in a format that you are comfortable with. Many come in InDesign and Word formats.

Use the visual theme, but add any custom elements that really demonstrate your skills or personality. Changing the color or typography in the template theme is often a good place to start.

Then strip out unnecessary elements or sections that you don’t need in your resume and add your content. Consider moving elements to make sure that the most important parts of your career are front and center.