Writing a resume from scratch can seem overwhelming. When well written, it can be the ticket to your dream job! If done wrong, you could get an immediate slam of the door.
To help you out, we had a top Professional Recruiter who has placed hundreds of employees, at both small businesses and Fortune 500 companies, write a step-by-step guide to make a standout resume from scratch. Happy resume writing!
“As a Professional Recruiter, I have seen the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to resumes. I have also had in-depth conversations with hiring managers as to what they look for in a candidate’s personal branding material. To help you get a leg up, I have included some industry tips and tricks below.“
How to write a resume from scratch
- Resume length should be 1-2 pages
- If you have been working in your industry for 3+ years, only include your relevant industry experience; If you have recently started working, or are switching industries, include all of your past work experience regardless of the industry
- As a recruiter, we spend, on average, 6 seconds looking at a resume before making a decision, so make sure the relevant information (your job titles, years of experience, core competencies, etc.) will be spotted at first glance
- Poor grammar and spelling is the fastest way to get disqualified; If you don’t put the time and effort into making your resume perfect, it shows us that you are okay with settling for mediocrity
- Don’t spend too much time on your soft skills; Anyone can write “good communication” and “works well in a team” on their resume
- If applying to positions online, make sure your resume is ATS-Optimized
Keep your formatting simple, professional, and clean. Here are some basic guidelines.
- Use Arial or Times New Roman, 10 or 11pt font
o Arial 10pt font is proven to be the easiest to read on mobile devices
- Keep your formatting consistent; If you bold your section titles, make sure they are bold everywhere
- Differentiate the style of text to make the document easier to read; For example, in the professional experience section, bold the company name, bold and italics your position title, italics the dates of employment, and leave the location of employment and responsibilities in normal text
- Properly utilize the page and don’t leave too many gaps, spaces, or unused white space
- Don’t get crazy with colors, pictures, colored paper, or the like; This comes off as unprofessional, not creative
Everyone’s resume will be slightly different, based on your profession, but here are the general resume sections you should consider including.
First & Last name; Centered at the top of the page
Directly under your name, write your professional title (ex. Project Manager, Hairdresser, Bartender)
Contact Information- Under your position title;
Phone number, physical address, email, link to LinkedIn profile
Profile- Instead of an objective;
Include a “Professional Profile” section; This should contain a few sentences giving a brief overview of your background, including profession, years of experience, types of companies you have worked in, and areas of specialty
Summary of Skills:
Under your professional profile, include a list of your core competencies (Ex. Resource allocation, team management, scheduling, performance reviews)
Include your company name, office location (city and state), dates of employment, a brief overview of the company, your day-to-day responsibilities, and any notable achievements
Include the institution name, degree received, dates of study, and areas of specialty
Training/ Certifications/ Licenses:
Special industry training, certifications, or licenses; Include the name of certifying institution, name of training or certification, date received, and date of expiration
The purpose of the resume is to peak an employer’s interest enough to call you. Don’t give everything you have done away because if you do, you don’t have anything more to impress them with in the interview.
Your resume should focus on metrics and key achievements. If you are in sales, tell us your annual revenue or what percentage of your sales quota you typically hit. If you are a hairdresser, tell us how many clients you serviced a day. We also want to hear about any awards you won or milestones that you hit.
For your professional experience section, don’t write a passive list of job responsibilities. Instead, use action verbs that really make us picture you doing the job. To help you with this, picture yourself at work and narrate what you did, from when you came in to when you clocked out. Write everything as if you are describing yourself doing the work. You can go back and cut out irrelevant details later.
Check and Doublecheck
Grammatical errors, inconsistent formatting, and spelling mistakes are fatal when it comes to resumes. Make sure to check and double-check your work.
Pro Tip- I also suggest asking a friend (or stranger) that is unfamiliar with your work to look over your resume for 6 seconds. Then have them tell you what they think you do. You might be surprised by what they picked up!