It is no surprise that job seeking and headhunting has become competitive today. With the growing trends of markets, the opportunities lay ahead of them, the skills required and the potential skill sets available, the companies are now beginning to use different HR and management strategies to ensure that they hunt the right candidates. One they have already used is the ATS (Applicant Tracking System) system which eases the CV picking process. This is not the only one. There are many more. That’s where writing a perfect resume matters and why you must know how to write a perfect resume. Alright, after all, how to write a perfect resume then? Keep on reading. We will unveil the top secrets to writing a perfect resume below.
Well, let’s straightaway come down to finding the top factors that you need to consider in writing the resume.
First advice to follow before starting to write the perfect resume
The first thing you need to keep in mind is that you should not right away start writing the perfect professional resume without a clear idea. Rather, we suggest you ask two questions yourself. That’s "What is the position I’m going to apply for?" and, "What makes my resume stand out?" And try to have a simple mapping on your mind as to how to align your resume and make standout with your summary, achievements, and skills sets to the position that you are applying for.
Alright. the next to keep in mind is that keywords because they play a major role in resumes.
Keywords is a must on your professional resume
Keywords and key phrases are the backbone of every great resume. Therefore, start by selecting job-specific keywords that are important to be added to your resume. Be it your previous work experience, qualifications, and skills to put on resumes, or even the cover letter, you've got to use keywords in order to expect high results. However, you need to make sure that you use industry-specific keywords rather than resume buzzwords or over-generalized keywords that may lessen the value. If you do this right, the chances of going through an applicant tracking system is not actually difficult.
OK. Let's now have a look over how to write a perfect resume section-wise.
01. Pick the right resume format
There are three main types of resume formats such as reverse-chronological, functional, and combination. The resume format you want to use will vary depending on the job you intend to apply for and your experience level and specifically the country/location of the job you are going to apply for too. If you want to know more how the resume format varies from country to country, you are invited to read our in-depth article on Best Resume Formats in 2023 to use for any Job in the World
Picking the right resume format is a crucial factor when it comes to making a perfect resume. So let’s see how to choose the perfect resume format for you depending on your experience level.
01) Reverse-chronological resume format: This is the most popular resume format among the three. This is best suited and used by experienced job seekers who have plenty of relevant skills and experience. Here your latest work experience is listed first.
02) Functional resume format: Also called skills-based resume format. This is best suited for job seekers with a lack of relevant experience, recent graduates, and those who have an idea of switching their careers.
03) Combination resume format: If you are a person with a set of transferable skills that would be useful for different fields and also have a great deal of experience, a combination resume format is an ideal format to build your resume.
Now you can get a simple idea of which of these three resume formats is right for you.
However, the majority of recruiters and HR professionals in the career industry recommend the reverse-chronological resume format. Keep in mind that this resume format is actually more suitable for building a professional resume. Due to that reason, in this article, we are going to focus on this specific format.
The next thing you need to do is find out which sections are mandatory to include in a resume. Accordingly, we suggest that the following sections should be included in a professional resume.
- Resume header (Contact Information)
- Professional Resume Summary (or Objective)
- Work Experience (and Achievements)
- Optional Sections – Languages, Certificates, Publications, Hobbies, etc.
Let’s now discuss how these sections can be professionally highlighted in a resume.
02. Add your personal information and contact details
No matter how successful your resume is written, your hiring manager will come across difficulties in contacting you if any of your contact information is incorrectly listed here.
So make sure to double-check that your information in this section is accurate and up-to-date.
Let’s see what kind of information to be included in a resume header.
Your name (first and last)
Job title: This can be either your current position or the desired position.
Email address: A recent study shows that using a professional email address could earn you more job opportunities rather than when using an unprofessional email on resumes.
Location: This will give the idea to recruiters whether the candidate is from a nearby location or will the company need to sponsor their relocation.
LinkedIn URL: Up-to-date LinkedIn profiles could always increase the value of an applicant.
Other than these you could also insert the following optional details in your resume contact information section.
- Relevant social media profiles (If and only if they are maintained professionally)
- Personal website/blog
Also, there is some information that shouldn’t be included in your contact info section.
Date of birth/age: If you add your DOB in the resume it could lead to ageism which will badly impact your job search.
Unprofessional email address (Recommend: firstname.lastname@example.org | Not recommended: email@example.com)
Headshot/resume photograph – In some countries you are not allowed to insert resume images or pictures as it could discriminate against you. Especially in the United States.
03. Write a Resume Summary | Design a persuasive opening summary
Build a strong summary statement for introduction. It is important to relate your introductory statement to the role you want to obtain, sell your best attributes, and be strong. They wish to look for the ‘WOW’ factor when they read an introductory statement. They want their attention to be strained, to convince them that you are the best choice for their job, and to make them want to read the rest of your resume. Simply, this is a short paragraph that consists of 3-4 sentences that describes the summary of your career. The resume summary presents the trailer of your resume. The rest of your resume provides proof for the trailer.
If you want an in depth idea about resume summary, head over to the complete resume summary guide
However, use relevant action verbs and quantified metrics such as percentages and years to increase the quality and the relevance of your resume rather than resume buzzwords or clichés
Note: Do not only make a resume logical statement if they have not been clear enough already. Keep in mind you need to answer what the employer wants and needs, not just what you want from them.
Want to explore more action verbs? Visit our article "Boost your resume with 200+ resume action verbs"
04. List your work experience and key accomplishments
The resume work experience section is the most important section in a typical resume. Also called the professional experience section. This is the best place to highlight your previous work experience with the achievements gained.
There are a few tips to make this section stand out from the others. First, let’s look at what kind of information you need to insert into this section.
- Job title/position: When recruiters scan your resume, at a glance you have to let them know that you have the relevant experiences. So make it bold or increase the font size by 1-2 points than the rest of the entry.
- The company name and the location: Mention the previous company’s name and the location (city and the state).
- Dates employed: The standard format of mentioning dates in a resume is mm/yyyy. No need to put the exact dates.
- Key achievements: As your resume is viewed by a career expert you don’t need to list what you did. Recruiters and employers do know what you did. So they want to know how you did them and what you have achieved. That will be the point to impress your prospective employer. So try to point out 3-5 bullet points of key achievements with quantified results.
A strong bullet point always consists:
An action verb
Specific job duty and the skill used to do it
Below is a good work experience section example for you to get inspired:
Sales Manager | RDE Technologies, New York
January 2009– September 2019
- Received Employee of the year 2012 award for increasing the customer transactional rates by 35%
- Supervised a team of 10 employees who had exceeded the sales targets by over 15% each year.
- Promoted into a senior position in 2015 after Maintaining and increasing the sales rates by 10% each year.
Tailor your work experience to the job advert
With the development of the technology, larger to mid-sized companies get the help of ATS to streamline their hiring process. Tailoring your work experience section to the job advertisement is a great trick to outsmart these applicant tracking systems and increase your job winning chances.
To tailor your resume, go back to the job advertisement and search for resume keywords relevant to your job duties and experience.
If you’ve seen the tasks you performed and the skills you have in the job description, copy those keywords and paste them into the work experience section.
How much experience should be included in a resume?
As a rule, having more than 15 years of experience in a resume is not recommended. The other thing is that if you have years of experience and incorporating them all into your document will extend the length of your resume unnecessarily.
Below is how much experience people should mention in their resume depending on various experience levels.
Candidates with no experience: You might have no experience to show. If so, try to fill it up with your volunteer experiences or work experience with various organizations etc. Or else you could leave the work experience section empty and focus on other sections.
Entry-level applicants: List all the experience you have up to date.
Mid-level professionals: Mention only the work experience that is relevant to the job you are going to apply for.
Senior professionals: List only your last 15 years of relevant work experience. Who cares how you started your career if your most recent experience is CEO?
If you want an in depth idea about resume summary, head over to the complete resume experience section guide
05. List your relevant educational qualification
Some employers still give priority to educational qualifications over experience. So the resume education section is also a very important section of a professional resume.
We will tell you now some tips to make the resume education section stand out.
- List the educational qualifications in the reverse-chronological order. This means you need to place your highest degree first and other degrees after.
- If you are a university graduate, don’t include details about your high school.
- When mentioning your degree, mention the full degree name without the acronym. It is not a rule. But it is a best practice to follow in good resume writing (Recommend: Bachelor of Science in Marketing Not Recommend: B.Sc. in Marketing).
- Don’t mention the GPA if it is less than 3.0.
- Don’t forget to add honors and awards if there are any (E.g.: Summa Cum Laude).
- Adding relevant coursework and extracurricular activities could make your resume stand out from the crowd.
Here’s an example for good resume education section:
MA Literature in English
University of California, CA, USA (January 2023 – Present)
GPA – 3.75
BA literature in English
Columbia University, NY, USA (January 2015 – December 2018)
GPA – 3.66
06. Mention your top relevant skills
The skill section is also mandatory to be in your resume. Many employers like to recruit talented and skilled candidates for their organizations. So the resume skill section is the best place to convince the employer that you are the right person for the job.
However, this is not the only section that can mention your skills. You can highlight your skills in the resume summary as well as in the work experience section. But in the skills section, you will have the opportunity to directly mention your soft skills and hard skills.
Few examples for soft skills are,
- Strategic thinking
- Problem solving
And below are some examples for hard skills
- Video Editing
- UI / UX Design
- Language Skills
Mixing at least 10 such hard skills and soft skills and incorporating them into your resume will further strengthen your candidacy for sure.
Here’s a great example of a resume skill section:
If you want to explore more on the skills to put on resumes and what skills that you can mention on your resume, read our in-depth article on Must-Have Skills to put on your Resume2023
07. Insert additional resume section
Now we have discussed the key sections that should be included in a professional resume. But in addition, you can use the optional sections to make a resume more compelling and competitive.
If you use optional resume sections effectively, it’s not a difficult thing to get hired faster.
So don’t forget to use the following additional sections to give your resume a boost.
If you’re proficient in another language, HR managers will definitely be more interested in you.
Even if language skills are not required for the job, you can still get indirect benefits by including them. Remember that when listing language skills in your resume, don’t simply list the languages but also show your proficiency level in each language.
Language proficiency levels could be as follows:
- Native or bilingual proficiency
- Full professional proficiency
- Professional working proficiency
- Limited working proficiency
- Elementary proficiency
Certifications and awards
Have you completed relevant courses in your industry and have relevant certificates and licenses that have a higher value in your field? Then make sure to create a separate section as “Certificates” and insert them into the resume.
Adding these kinds of information to your resume could make you stand out in the field.
Hobbies and interests
Do you feel that your resume doesn’t have enough information? Don’t worry. Include some of your hobbies and interests in a separate section. Sometimes it can even be an advantage to you. Who knows if you and your prospective employer will have the same kind of interests?
Keep your resume eye-catching
Build a resume that is eye-catching. There is no excuse for you for not using/having a modern resume format that is visually enticing. Mind it that even with simple tools or programs like Microsoft Word, formatting matters. Therefore in order to be reader-friendly and eye-catching, you will need to pay extra attention on designing your resume format/layout. Also, remember to select a font that is easy to read and use plenty of white space. Do not attempt to load a one-page resume with everything. Because if it is, the manager or a senior opens the resume, they will not spend any of their time looking through it to find the data they need if it is a crowded, jumbled mess. A messy resume is probably going to be the end of their interest in recruiting you. However, if the structure, style, resume fonts and sizes, and layout/format of your resume are attractive and simple to read, they would be more likely to read through the rest of the document and learn about your job experience, accomplishments, and skill set. However, pay extra care when you try to add colors to your resume as a wrong color selection may bring a bad impression on you. Therefore, getting an understanding of the best colors to use on resumes is highly recommended.
09. Write an impressive cover letter
Now you know the correct way to write a winning resume. The next step is to create a matching cover letter. Is it mandatory to attach a cover letter with a resume? Yes, we strongly suggest you submit a tailored cover letter whenever you apply for a job.
It is very important to know how to write a cover letter correctly as it will definitely give you more job opportunities.
10. Proofread both documents
Before submitting your job application, make sure to double-check and proofread it. You can use tools like Grammarly to check if the resume and cover letter are grammatically correct.
This will allow you to correct any grammar errors or typo errors in your documents and submit a professional job application.
Also, you can ask your friend or a family member to recheck your documents. This will help to identify any other mistakes and make it an error-free document. Then you’ll be able to submit your job application like a boss.
You may be one who has been seeking a perfect resume for freshers or for a professional job shift, new job or any. But whoever, you may be, we believe that you have got a fine idea about how to write a perfect professional resume now. To see perfect resume examples2023 and how they have been shaped with these resume writing tips in our work, look at our website’s resume samples.
Having said all these, you will have to be careful if you are going to apply for a job in a different country because, different countries look for different aspects in resumes often. Under such circumstance, we would suggest you to read "International Resume Formats" too, and adapt your resumes and apply these tactics.
People who read this also read about; Top 7 Hacks to Tweak Your Resume Instantly