An excellent resume has the power to open doors.
Your resume describes your qualifications and what makes you unique. To stand out among other applicants, you need a resume that markets your strengths and match for the job.
A great resume:
- Grabs the attention of employers and recruiters
- Sells your strongest skills and accomplishments
- Shows how you’re a match for a position or project
- And most importantly, gets you a job interview!
Understanding the basics of resume construction makes starting easier.
Once you’ve completed your research and settled on a job target, it’s time to put your resume together. Since your resume is organized in sections, learn what these sections are and why they’re important. If you want to see examples to help picture how to write each section, view our walk-through sample and other sample resumes.
Manage where your resume goes for an effective job search.
You’ve invested time and effort to create a great resume. The next step is to get it into the hands of people who can hire you, or influence hiring decisions.
At different points in your job search, you may contact employers directly, make connections through networking, or search electronically for opportunities.
In this section, find tips to market your resume at different stages of your search:
- Write effective cover letters
- Network your resume
- Distribute your resume at job fairs
- Post your resume wisely
Next, to hone your online presence, learn how to make the most of the Internet in your job search.
Learn details about each section of the resume and what to include.
One of the best ways to learn how to write an effective resume is to study examples. Below, find a section-by-section example for Beth Smith, an administrative assistant who wants to move into work as a project coordinator.
Start writing with a focus on the key messages you want the reader to take away from reading your resume. Then showcase your strengths in every section, and order the sections to your advantage. Find key details for each resume section here:
Top portion of resume
Header, or contact information
Headline and summary
Skills and abilities
Check out these additional sample resumes for a range of styles, formats, and fields.
Find resume samples that feature different formats, fields, and levels of work experience.
These real-life samples use a variety of formats and approaches. Each starts out with a summary or profile that quickly communicates who the writer is and what he or she offers. View top resume strategies for more ideas.
Krista Ann Brown, Certified Nursing Assistant
Krista uses a functional format to highlight her strong skills in caring for the elderly and vulnerable adults. Her role as a kind, caring professional shines through this resume.
John Grant, Supply Chain Manager
John uses a chronological format to highlight his strong experience in manufacturing and material requirements planning. Because those skills are important to his job target as a supply chain manager, he highlights them throughout.
Meg McDonald, Paralegal
Although Meg’s last two assignments were temporary, they support her target of working as a paralegal, so she uses a chronological focus. Note her keyword-rich qualifications list, which highlights functions she handled as a paralegal.
Michael Jones, Public Relations position
Michael is a journalism and public relations graduate seeking an opportunity in public relations. The one-page format allows him to emphasize his recent degree while still promoting his internships with top firms in the area.
Mary Ann Johnson, Healthcare Writer/Editor
Because she has impressive, consistent work experience in her field, Mary Ann uses a chronological format. She also emphasizes the health care organizations she has worked with by providing a brief description of each in italics.
Also, visit this walk-through sample resume for Beth Smith, an administrative assistant seeking a project coordinator position. Learn what she includes in each section and why.
I keep sending out my resume, but nothing is happening. Any tips?
Your resume may need to do a better job selling your strengths. Here are some great resume writing strategies to make your resume stronger. Also, you may need more effective marketing ideas.
Should I include an objective? I’ve heard conflicting opinions.
Career experts differ on the need for an objective. But if you do use one, make sure it’s directed to the employer, and specific, not self-serving, or general. For a good example, see the first draft page.
I’ve read that most employers prefer a chronological format. Should I use one?
Employers want to see your employment history, so always include it. However, if your work history isn’t the strongest selling point, a chronological format may not be your best approach. Learn what format is right for you.
I’ve just created a LinkedIn profile. Do I still need a resume?
Yes. While it’s true that your LinkedIn profile is similar to a resume, and that you can even convert your profile to a resume – you still need a traditional resume. Learn why.
Where can I find good examples of resumes?
Try Googling “resume samples”, and find resume books with examples in libraries, American Job Centers, and college career centers. And view a walk-through sample and other samples to see different formats and occupations.
I’m in the process of changing careers. What does this mean for my resume?
You’ll need to convince employers that what you’ve done in the past relates to their needs. Learn how to identify your transferable skills and communicate your accomplishments.
Is it okay to use a testimonial in my resume, or is that inappropriate?
Your resume is a sales document that sells you, so a testimonial can work well. Be sure to ask for permission first. To see a testimonial that’s been integrated into a resume, view the top portion of this sample resume.
I’m trying to fit my resume onto one page and it’s not working. Any advice?
You may need to use two pages, which is quite acceptable for experienced professionals. In fact, if using one page is making your resume crowded and hard to read, your resume may get passed over for that reason. Just be sure it’s all necessary. See our guidelines on designing your resume.
I’ve heard it’s good to have a plain-text resume. How do I make one?
A plain-text resume, also sometimes called an ASCII (American Standard Code for Information Interchange) resume, may be required when a resume site or tracking system can’t read your Word-formatted resume. For instructions and a sample, see this section on resume design.
Highlight your best points with these resume writing methods. It’s easy to create a resume that looks like everyone else’s. But to win that interview, you need to go beyond the standard approach. Here are four strategies that will get your resume noticed:
Sell yourself and your brand
Identify your transferable skills
Highlight your accomplishments
Use keywords effectively
Increase the reach of your resume using online sources.
In today’s competitive business world, employers are always looking for talented people—like you! And they increasingly use social media to find applicants.
In this quick introduction, learn basics about how to get online and what you can do with networking tools like LinkedIn. You also learn why, despite all the new tools, you still need a resume.
Need some personal assistance for your resume?
Looking for more help with your resume? Try these resources:
- Take one of our resume writing workshops!
- Your public library is also a great resource for resume and job search books; many offer free resume-writing and job search workshops. Locate your local public library.
- Most colleges and universities have career centers. Current students and graduates are generally eligible for free career counseling and resume-writing help. Some centers offer the same services to the public for a small fee.
- A professional resume writer may be able to help, but check to confirm the writer’s credentials before hiring them. To learn what to look for and find local resources, visit the National Resume Writers Association.