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How to Write a Resume

Writing a resume might seem like a huge challenge. With Ginger, this process becomes much simpler. Sample resumes, explanations of different resume types, and other tools including cover letter samples are available here, along with informative resume tips designed to help you put your best foot forward and get the job you want most. Ready to get started? This section contains writing tips, resume dos and don’ts, and much more.

Resume Writing: Our Tips

Resume writing can be challenging for everyone. What information should you include and highlight? Are there things you should leave out or de-emphasize? What about structure? The first step of building a resume is to determine your objective. Spend some time thinking about this before you even sit down to write. Once you have an objective in mind, sit down with an old-fashioned pen and paper or your favorite electronic device, and come up with a clear, concise statement that says what kind of job you want. This way, you can ensure that the rest of the content in your resume points to that objective. Second, follow these resume building tips. Professionals who prepare resumes for others follow exact formulas to ensure their clients’ resumes are noticed, thus increasing the potential for interviews. Use these writing tips to give your own resume a polished, professional look:
  1. Put yourself in the resume reader's shoes

    HR professionals often see hundreds of resumes each week, and they delete or discard the ones that are messy, poorly organized, or difficult to read.
  2. Make it clear

    Strive for clear, concise wording that piques the reader’s interest. Do not go into detail about all of your accomplishments. Keep in mind that the purpose of the resume is to get you an interview.
  3. Use action words

    Use action words throughout your resume. Words like developed, prepared, managed, monitored, presented, and succeeded will help your resume stand out from others.
  4. Use bullets 

    Use action points with short sentences in the body of your resume. Don’t use fancy bullet points. Simplicity and functionality are more impressive.
  5. Match the needs of the company

    Match the needs of the company doing the hiring. Job descriptions always include certain key words that tell you what the company is looking for in its employees. If you have a long work history, feel free to leave out information that doesn’t seem pertinent and include only the information that highlights work experiences that are relevant to the job you are applying for. Keep in mind that while this strategy pays off, you will need to prepare resumes to match different jobs that you are interested in.
  6. Highlight your strengths 

    Build a resume that highlights your strengths. In addition, highlight details that are relevant to the potential employer in question. Most resumes are read in 10 to 30 seconds, but putting strong, relevant information in will hook the reader and increase your chances of landing an interview.
  7. Use Positive Language

    Use Positive Language when writing a resume. Avoid negativity and irrelevant information. If you do some duties in your current job that are unrelated to your objective, leave them off your resume. Focus instead on the ones that are a match.

Tips for Structuring Your Resume

When structuring your resume, work to make it interesting and enticing. The goal is to have potential employers feel as though they’d like to meet you in person.
  • Choose the resume format that works best with your work history. Learn about chronological, functional, and combined resumes and choose the structure that makes the most sense.
  • Do not crowd the page. Leave some white space to enhance readability.
  • One page is usually enough. If your resume is two pages, it might be too long. Check to see if there are any parts you can leave out.
  • Use a font that’s easy to read. Times New Roman, Arial, and Calibri are safe choices. Choose a letter size between 10 and 12 points. Anything larger or smaller than that runs the risk of looking unprofessional.
  • Take advantage of resume templates. Ginger’s resume templates make it easier to structure your resume. Try them on for size.

General Lines for Resume Headings

While there is no single best way to design, format, and prepare resumes, certain formatting conventions provide a clean, professional look that makes the resume stand out. Some of the best ones to use follow. Keep in mind that you don’t need to use all of these. Pick the ones that best match your objective and previous experience.
  • Your name
  • Objective or resume title
  • Work Experience (Chronological reverse order)
  • Professional Experience
  • Career Summary
  • Education
  • Volunteer Positions
  • Awards
  Feel free to use a slightly larger font size for these headings than for the rest of your resume’s text. You can also place them in bold and/or center them. If you have centered your name and contact information, center the resume headings, too.

Resume Writing Dos and Don’ts

When learning how to write a resume, you may have visited a variety of websites, read books on the subject, and obtained professional resume tips. If you followed every single piece of advice you received, your resume might end up being several pages long! The most important thing to remember is that you should tailor your resume to the job at hand. If you’re applying for different jobs, make several versions of the same resume and consider taking some time to build resumes using different formats. While this takes a lot of work, it isn’t so difficult once you’ve organized all of your information, and you will find you get more interviews by tailoring your objective and relevant experiences to specific jobs. Keeping this particular tip for how to write a resume in mind, here are some additional dos and don’ts. Use the advice that makes the most sense to you.
  • Be relevant. Your resume should be concise and easy to read.
  • Don’t include too much information on hobbies and interests. The exception to this rule? If you are applying for a job that revolves around a certain hobby or interest of yours, highlight your experience.
  • Include a cover letter. A short cover letter introduces you and your resume. It allows you to show a little personality while demonstrating that you are willing to do what it takes to succeed.
  • Don’t include a photograph of yourself. Unless photos are requested, they have no place in a resume.
  • Make your career objective stand out. Tell an employer specifically what you can do for them in the few short words you use to create your objective.
  • Don’t downplay achievements. In the body of your resume, spell out achievements using action words. If statistics are available, use those.
  • Neatness counts. If using a word processing program isn’t your forte, consider having a professional format your resume for you. A poorly structured, badly presented resume will almost certainly end up in the trash.
  • Don’t use flowery prose. Your resume is a summary. Keep it simple.
  • Stress past accomplishments. Focus on making statements that draw the reader in. At the same time, be succinct.
  • Don’t include personal references. If you like, you can state that references are available upon request.
  • Use white, buff, or beige paper. Choose good quality 8 ½ x 11-inch paper in a neutral shade. Do not use loud colors, and be sure to stick with black type.
  • Don’t include a salary history or reasons for leaving previous positions. In addition, do not mention lawsuits, worker’s compensation claims, or other negative incidents.
  • Align your type to the left. This will ensure that your resume looks neat. Justified text blocks puts strange little spaces between words, giving your resume an awkward appearance.
  • Don’t ever lie on your resume. This particular piece of advice needs no further explanation. Just don’t do it.
  • Include a variety of ways you can be contacted. Include a good email address, a mailing address, and at least one telephone number.
  • Don’t use an unprofessional sounding email address for business purposes. Create a new email address if you don’t have one that is suitable.
  • Think in terms of accomplishments when writing your resume. These are more attractive than uninspiring lists of job duties.
  • Don’t use expressions like “Responsibilities included,” Responsible for,” or “Duties included.” These sound more like job descriptions than accomplishment oriented resume language designed to sell you to a prospective employer.
  • Emphasize transferable skills. This is particularly important if you are looking for a career change, or if you have only a little work experience.
  • Don’t emphasize job activities and skills you don’t want to do in the future. Even if these are strengths, why mention them if you’re looking for a change?
  • Do list team sports if you’re a new grad or college student. Many employers look for team players and seek athletes because of their competitiveness and drive.
  • Don’t forget to proofread carefully. Typos and misspellings are undesirable in any type of writing and are deadly on a resume.