How to Build a Resume: Tips and Tricks
November 17, 2020 • 6 min read
Cliché as it sounds, a first impression may actually be the last impression in many cases. Even before a phone screen, your resume forms a hiring manager’s first impression of you. It’s important to get the resume right. Just as a well-crafted resume can help you get an interview call, a messy, incomplete resume with poor spelling and grammar can leave a hiring manager unimpressed.
Learning how to build a resume is the first step toward getting a job. While many people turn to professionals for creating an attractive resume, others find it easy and effective to use online resume builders. You don't have to reinvent the wheel and design a resume from scratch. In this post, we will share some useful tips for creating a resume that gets your foot in the door.
Resume Building Tips 101
Before we delve into the details, here are some resume tips and tricks to get you started. Keep in mind that small details can be the difference between a resume that impresses and one that ends up in the reject pile.
Keep Your Resume Job-Specific
There is no harm in creating a generic resume, but for specific applications, have a job-specific resume. Depending upon the job requirements, you may use either of the resumes. It might take some more effort, but a job-specific resume, tailored to highlight relevant qualifications and experience, can pay off. Literally.
Rocket Resume can help you build professional, impressive and tailored resumes that present your skills, achievements and professional qualifications in the best light. Using our online resume builder will save you time and help you learn what pieces of information should go on your resume and those that should not. All you have to do is to add your personal information and make changes under headings according to your job requirements.
Resume Formats and Fonts
A chronological format works well if your work history is consistent and linear. If you frequently move from job to job or you have gaps in your resume, a functional resume that highlights your skills and experience might be the better choice. Alternatively, you can also blend the two forms of resumes and highlight the best of both with a combination resume.
The resume format that fits your particular situation depends on your career level, experience and the description of the job you're applying for. Review the sample resumes from your industry and similar employment situations for inspiration.
Make sure your resume is easy to read by using common fonts. An employer or HR manager does not have time to read countless resumes built using fancy fonts or styles. Choose serif fonts like Open Sans, Times New Roman, Georgie, Bell MT and Garamond in font size 12 for the best readability.
Keep Your Resume Brief
You have some flexibility, but it's best not to stray too far from traditional resume formats. If it conveys all the information a potential employer needs to make a decision, try to keep your resume to one page. For long work histories or when you're applying for a senior-level position, two or more pages may be needed.
Grammar, Spelling and Accuracy are Critical
Of all the resume building tips, this may be the most important. After you've added all the information, proofread your resume multiple times. Look for errors, misspellings, grammatical errors and repetition. Also, carefully review the formatting options, including the font style and font size. Review the employment and academic record for accuracy.
For the grammar check, you may find several tools and software. Make sure your final copy is accurate and error-free. No matter how sound your resume is, providing incorrect or incomplete contact information may cost you an opportunity. Provide multiple contact numbers in case you miss a call or your cellular network is down. If you have a LinkedIn profile or a personal blog relevant to the job, you may include those links as well.
Your Resume Organization Can Be as Important as Its Contents
When you're thinking about how to organize a resume, a common question is how to arrange sections of a resume. Should employment/experience always go first or education? The arrangement of resume sections varies from job-to-job and industry-to-industry. The best resume organization advice is to lead with the section that a potential employer will be most interested in.
If you've recently graduated, have little to no employment experience, the education section may be your best lead. When you've been in the workforce for a while and can show a history in the same industry, your employment section will be the most relevant. If you have hard skills that match the position you're after, but in different industries, leading with highlights of your experience will get potential employers' attention.
Employment and Experience
For most industries and positions, the employment/experience section is the most important part of your resume. Break the details down into subheadings and use bullet points when appropriate to make the resume easy to digest. For each job, list the details, including your supervisor’s name, the company you worked for and the position you held.
Mention the responsibilities you had and how you worked to achieve company goals. Highlight any major achievements and any key role you played in the company’s success. Be objective: include numbers and concrete goals (e.g., achieved x% quarterly revenue target).
In the Education section, provide a detailed academic record. Provide accurate information and include degrees, certificates and other academic experiences and achievements. The details that are most relevant for your job application should be included and listed first (e.g., if your industry cares about GPA, include your GPA). It may be useful to break the educational information into subheadings and bullet points to make the section easy to read and understand.
If a skill is better described as a past responsibility, include that in the experience section instead. Just like other resume sections, the skills section should be relevant to the position you're seeking. Highlight your hard skills. Don't forget about soft skills like adaptability, active listening, and emotional intelligence. For some positions, soft skills can be even more important than technical knowledge. No matter what the job, highlight your interpersonal skills for a well-rounded resume that stands out.
The professional summary section may be the first section to catch the eye of a potential employer. This is the place to explain your career goals, summarize your achievements and highlight your strengths. Use the professional summary section to establish how your qualities make you the ideal candidate for the job.
Other Achievements Not Already Listed
If you have accolades or achievements not related to your education and work experience, add them under a separate section. For instance, if you were associated with a charitable organization or had an affiliation with a relevant program, mention it. These accomplishments can set you apart from other qualified candidates.
How to Structure a Resume for Easy Scanning
Increase how long a recruiter spends looking over a resume when you make it easy to scan. Anything you can do to make your resume easier to skim and digest will put you in a better position to get that interview. Here's how:
Make sure to include keywords mentioned in the job description and relevant to the role in your resume where appropriate. If this seems intimidating, don't worry—Rocket Resume can help you find the best keywords.
Aligning a resume on the left gives it a uniform and structured look. It also improves readability because the eye naturally returns to the left margin after each line of text.
Align Dates and Locations to the Right
Keep supporting content like dates in a separate column aligned to the right. This formatting keeps the most important information front and center.
Use the Same Size Font
Besides your name, use the same font size across your resume to improve readability. You can also use italics, bold and other attributes, but do so sparingly.
Put the White Space to Work
White space makes your resume easier to read and gives it a crisp look. You can also use white space to highlight important information.
When you're ready to build the perfect resume, Rocket Resume has the tools you need to land a job you love. Build the perfect resume today for free and start polishing those interview skills—you're going to need them!