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What to Know About Writing a Resume

Debra Auerbach, CareerBuilder writer

Whether you’re a recent graduate applying for your first job or a workforce veteran who has held the same job for years, you may need some help – or a helpful reminder – on what a resume should look like and what should be included.

To start, there are a few different resume formats to consider – chronological, functional and a combination of both. For the purposes of this article, we’re referencing chronological, which is the most commonly used format.

Also, there’s no one-size-fits all approach to resume writing. It’s always important to customise your resume to fit your experience, as well as the industry and job description.

Now that we’ve gotten those disclaimers out of the way, here’s a rundown of what to include in your resume – section by section.

Contact information
The header of your resume is where you should include your basic contact information: name, address, phone number (the number you can most easily be reached at), and email address. Depending on your industry, you may want to also include your Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and/or Instagram URLs/usernames.

Professional summary
A professional summary is a concise, one-two sentence overview of your skills and work experience. This is often most beneficial for experienced workers, because it’s a way to recap your diverse capabilities at the top of your resume.

Example: Marketing professional with more than 10 years of experience in online, interactive marketing and advertising in a B2B capacity.

Summary of qualifications
This section can be in addition to, or in replacement of, the professional summary. (Remember: Resume real estate is precious so only include both if you truly have something unique to say for each section). This is a list of five or six bullets highlighting your strengths and biggest accomplishments.

Example: Exhibit excellent analytic skills and possess strong attention to detail, which allowed the recovery of almost 500,000 in misallocated resources during the year-end close.

Professional experience
This is the “meat” of your resume; it’s where you list out your work experience, in reverse chronological order. Generally, your most recent job should take up the biggest space on the page. The exception would be if a previous job aligned more closely with the position you’re applying for.

When writing your bullets, avoid just stating your job responsibility. Instead, include quantifiable achievements that were a result of your work.

Example: Managed team of 15 accounts payable specialists and improved productivity by 15 per cent with smaller lag time between invoicing and payment.

Education and training
If you’ve just graduated, it’s OK to include your GPA and any coursework relevant to the positon. If you’re a few years out of college, ditch that information and keep it simple, listing the college you attended and its location, the degree(s) you graduated with and years attended (although including “years attended” can sometimes date you). Also add any additional schooling or certifications received, especially if you’ve attained skills that will help you be successful on the job.

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