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How to build a good resume

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Subject: Career question for you
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John’s Answer

Hi Shannon,

Let’s face it: writing a resume can be intimidating. And the pressure to make it really sing can make the prospect of putting fingers to keyboard that much scarier.

First things first: let's define a resume. A resume is a summary of your work history, skills, and education. A resume is the most requested document in any job search — followed by the cover letter, of course. In fact, recruiters scrutinize job candidates' resumes more closely than their cover letters. So let's move on to how to structure a GREAT Resume alright.


At the top of your resume, always include a header containing your name. Your contact info (typically your phone number, personal email address and sometimes links to social profiles or personal websites) should be at the very top. After all, you don’t want there to be any confusion over who the resume belongs to, or make it difficult for recruiters or hiring managers to reach out to you.

The professional summary is a brief, one- to three-sentence section featured prominently on your resume that succinctly describes who you are, what you do and why you’re perfect for the job. Focus on the value you could bring to a potential employer. It’s worth noting that a professional summary isn’t an absolute must-have — if your resume is missing one, it probably won’t be a dealbreaker — but it can be a nice way to give time-pressed recruiters and hiring managers a quick, high-level overview of why you’re the right person for the job.

This critical section of a resume is where you detail your work history in a consistent and compelling format. The Work Experience section should include company names, locations, employment dates, roles and titles you held and most importantly, bullet points containing action verbs and data points that detail the relevant accomplishments of each position. This portion is essential for recruiters and hiring managers, who look to absorb information about your career experiences and connect your skills to what they’re looking for in a potential hire. Recruiters are often flooded with resume submissions and have to carefully source and identify quality candidates in a crowded pack — so make sure your work experience stands out.

*Note: Resumes are fluid, so if at this time you do not have any work experience, highlight your volunteer experiences, internships, awards and hobbies. Again, it shouldn’t be too long — you don’t want it to detract from your skills — but it can be a good way to provide a more well-rounded picture of who you are.

Once relegated to the bottom of resumes as an afterthought, the skills section has become more and more important as recruiters and hiring managers increasingly look for candidates with specialized backgrounds. Rather than making the folks reading your resume hunt through your bullet points to find your skills, it’s best to clearly list them. If they see right away that you have the ability to get the job done, they’re much more likely to take your resume seriously.

Since many jobs require a certain level of education, it’s important to mention your academic credentials on your resume. However, this section shouldn’t take up too much space. In most cases, simply listing where you went to school, when you attended and what degree you attained will be sufficient.

Below are 5 Design & Formatting Tips Shannon.

John recommends the following next steps:

Tip 1. Proofread Everything
Tip 2. Emphasize Your Contact Information
Tip 3. Use Columns to Maximize on Space
Tip 4. Make the Content Easy to Scan
Tip 5. See Tip #1

Thank You Brooke. “I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.” – Edward Everett Hale John Frick

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Irene’s Answer

Hi Shannon!
Congrats for preparing to apply to jobs soon! Please keep in mind the following advice:

- It is key that you tailor your resume to each specific job you are applying to.
-Do your research about the opening and tailor your resume to that specific job post.
-Do your research about the company and tailor your resume to that specific company values
-If possible, do an informal interview with someone at that company that has a similar role to the one you are applying to. You can search on LinkeIn and send a message explaining that you are a student and you are interested in learning more about their journey, about their role, about how did they get there, what does the company look for in candidates for that role, etc. It is very important that you prepare for this informational interview and you show your interest. After this, don't forget to send a thank you note.

Good luck!

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Manoj’s Answer

Hi Shannon,
Job of your resume is to get you an interview call.
Here are few tips to build good resume
- Short and succinct, 1 page if possible
- Summaries your strengths, expertise/specialties, skills and relevant expertise at top - this should be so impactful that reviewer should get curious to know more about you and go through rest of the resume. If this summary fails to appeal reviewer, they won't spend time in reading rest of the resume. Reviewers would spend ~ 20-30 seconds to review it.
- Customize resume for each opportunity, I know it can be time consuming, however, its worth.
- Highlight relevant experience, use key words from job description
- Include achievements,transferable skills

Also consider having a cover letter. Its equally important. Highlight how your qualification, experience, degree/certificates matches the job requirements.

Best luck!!

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Fernando’s Answer

Hi Sharon,

A good resume can really go a long way when looking for a new job/position. The specific sections of your resume will vary based on your particular field and position being sought, but in general terms, the structure should be: (1) your name, and contact information (e.g., phone number and email address), (2) summary of experiences (education, work experiences, volunteer/leadership experiences) and skills, which could all be broken down into its own sections as well. Again, the structure of these will likely depend on the industry and type of position that you are pursuing. When writing your resume I would recommend keeping in mind the following:

(1) Use clear, sans-serif font (examples are Calibri, Helvetica, Arial) and typically 12 points. Use color only if submitting electronically, or if the resume will be printed in color as well, otherwise stick to black font.
(2) Keep the document short and concise, using brief bullet points to describe your experiences and keeping the overall length of the document to a single page
(3) Be as quantitative as possible when talking about your experiences to showcase the specific impact of your work (for example, I designed system X that resulted in Y% performance improvement)
(4) Try to be specific with the tools you used for each of the experiences you listed (for example, include programming languages, software, or any other tools that you used). This will give recruiters a better idea of your skill set.
(5) Once more, be mindful of the audience reviewing your resume, as well as the standards and expectations pertaining to your particular field.
(6) Include any useful links where recruiters can find more detailed information about yourself, your background, and experiences (for example, personal website/blog, LinkedIn, GitHub, etc.). These links are typically included in the personal information section, next to your contact information.

I hope you find these tips helpful, and best of luck!

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Donna’s Answer

Hi Shannon,

What a great question. Lots of good answers here so far. I just wanted to chime in with networking locally, There are professional resume writers out there that will volunteer their time for high school and young college aged people. Also check with your local job service or unemployment office, they are a great resource as they keep up on what's current.

Good Luck!

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Madi’s Answer

A good resume showcases your experience, specialty, education and training, licences/ certifications if they're applicable in your area of work, some volunteering/ pro-bono experience (shows your commitment and passion for the area of work that you don't mind doing unpaid work) and some really good references to back up the aforementioned achievements.

Start with a good professional summary highlighting your skills, including soft skills. Then illustrate your experience (most recent first) in a chronological order, then your pro-bono/volunteering/ internships experience, then comes your education and training/ certifications, any language skills. Make sure you have your name, email and contact number in the header and your full address in the footer. Check out the following free resume-building sites:

Madi recommends the following next steps:

Check out TopResume.com
Resume Templates from Zety.com and Novoresume.com
Glassdoor.com is also a good resource

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Vinodini’s Answer

Great question and a very important one! I worked at my University's Career Services for two years when I was in college, and it was not only an amazing opportunity but helped expose me to all the resources available at school! I definitely would recommend that you reach out to your Career Services at your university or school!

Some quick tips I learned:
1. Stick to one page! Nothing more!
2. Rank your experiences by how relevant it is to the role! Assume they only read the top half of your resume!
3. Customize your resume for each role! Mirror the language and words of the job description

Good luck!

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Bhumip’s Answer

Here are some useful tips Shannon.

(1) Focus on your aspirations, strengths and achievements

(2) Backup your claims with solid evidence

(3) Be short, focused, honest and succinct

Hope you find these helpful.

All the Best.

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deirdre’s Answer

Hi Shannon! Resumes are very important as the first and sometimes the only impression a company will have of you. Make sure to take your time and build it out with a lot of detail, focusing on achievements. Double check your grammar and spelling. Ensure the format is one where a company can read it easily and pull out the important parts in 10 - 15 seconds. Keep it to one page. Best of luck!

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Donna’s Answer

Hi Shannon,

What a great question. Lots of good answers here so far. I just wanted to chime in with networking locally, There are professional resume writers out there that will volunteer their time for high school and young college aged people. Also check with your local job service or unemployment office, they are a great resource as they keep up on what's current.

Good Luck!

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Riley’s Answer

I think building a resume is all about making it seem like you know what you're doing. By this, I mean that one of the biggest mistakes would be making it more then one page (if you absolutely must, do not print it double-sided) and including information that is completely extraneous. Keep your resume short and to the point, only including things that make you seem like a qualified professional. Also, choosing a mature layout and font will help you look better at companies. For this, you can find some layouts online and copy what you think looks the nicest.

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Rodolfo’s Answer

3S: short, simple, straight forward. TY.

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Angela’s Answer

Hello Shannon - Congratulations on the effort you are making to invest in your career development and working towards positioning yourself in the best possible way for those first impressions (assuming you'll be submitting resume virtually.)

There isn't a specific answer for this and I'm curious to see what other advice people provide through this forum. I personally love this topic and will provide you with some easy to digest bullet points for you to leverage:
- I'm sure you have plenty of things to highlight from your collegiate and professional experiences but you only have 1 page. So read the description and requirements of the job you are applying to very carefully and where possible make sure you are using this 1 page to highlight all of the experiences you've had that are most relevant to this role. Ex: role is asking for a team player - include a bullet point that talks about a time you had a strong team engagement with good results.
- Use key words. A lot of these resumes are being read by machines and not actual humans and these will look for specific words so make sure (where possible) you are using some of the words the job description is asking for.
- Ensure your bullet points talk about what you did and what was the OUTCOME or results of your efforts; preferably with numbers. Ex: Called 20 customers per day to offer our services and was able to turn 2 of those calls into purchasing customers.
- Be specific. When possible mention specific amounts, regions, solutions, etc. Ex of what NOT to do: Worked on campaigns with many customers in different places.
- Simple things to keep in mind: Always start sentences with an action verb, make sure you have no spelling or grammar mistakes, don't go over the 1 page, make sure your dates are accurate, I wouldn't include a personal objective at the top but instead go straight into your professional and collegiate achievements and background.
Most importantly make sure that this 1 page can capture the essence of who you are and what you're career has been about. Never lie or make things up just so it "looks good" because if you pass to the interview stage, you will probably be asked about all these items in detail so make sure you know exactly what you're talking about.
I hope this helped and I wish you the best in your career!!