How to Build a Professional Resume

How to Build a Professional Resume

Resumes (or CVs), are a key tool when applying for your dream job. Resumes summarize your objectives, skills, experience and accomplishments. They also allow you to highlight your career story.

Since resumes are one of the first things recruiters see, you want to ensure yours is organized, tailored to the job, error-free and unique. There are numerous ways to achieve this. Below, I share an overview on how to transform your resume for the better. For a more detailed checklist with professional tips and examples, download my FREE Resume Writing Guide

Resume Design 

Your resume should always look appealing to the eye. Having too much or too little information, unprofessional fonts, bright colours and more can hurt your chances of having your resume read.

Isometrics business document

You should always stick to two fonts and two font sizes (one for headers and one for the body). 

Best practices for fonts:

  • Professional fonts: Cambria, Calibri, Arial, Times New Roman and Helvetica
  • Best font sizes: 14-16 pt for your name and section titles and 11-12 pt for regular text
  • Text formatting: bold your name and section titles and use italics in regular text for emphasis

*Tip: if you use Word or other similar program, browse their library of free resume templates

Content & Structure

Ideally your resume should be up to two pages long. It should also be organized and tailored to the job you're applying to. This is achievable by using keywords listed in the job posting.

At least five keywords should be included throughout your resume as it ensures your resume gets picked up by automated applicant tracking systems.

isometric key icon

While the structure of each resume varies, I always recommend that you use the inverted pyramid method (reverse-chronological) and begin with the most important information first. 

Note other resume formats exist and can be used to help guide your resume design. Whichever design you choose, make sure to keep the design and content consistent.

*Tip: stick with traditional resume designs unless you are in a creative field

Below is a suggested resume structure:

  1. Contact Information: Include your name, title, contact details and social links. It's best to include LinkedIn, as well as a link to your blog and/or portfolio in this section.
Isometric contact info icon

*Tip: don’t include your complete address in your contact details, as employers may assume that you live too far from the office or are not willing to relocate

  1. About Me/ Personal statement: You only have a few seconds to impress recruiters. By including a short career summary at the top of your resume, you quickly let recruiters know your job and years of experience, top achievements and career objectives.

*Tip: two to three sentences are a good length for this section

  1. Experience: List all relevant work experience, including internships. Jobs in other industries may be included as long as the skills and tasks are transferable. The experience section is where you sell yourself. As a general rule, you want to include work experience dating back to the last 10-15 years. 

*Tip: list chronologically, from the most recent experience to the least recent. Include employment dates and location (city) 

Underneath each experience, you should include two to three bullet points with details of your daily tasks and accomplishments. Here, you want to get specific by answering the questions WHAT, HOW and OUTCOME (metrics). By doing this, you highlight your skills, but also prove how you used them to reach company goals.

In addition to using job post keywords, use active verbs and quantitative statements throughout your resume.

Best practices when using power words:

*Tip: begin each bullet with a power verb and use the right tense. If it's a past job, use past tense

Instead of created try… + Instead of lead try...

  • Designed
  • Crafted
  • Developed 
  • Produced
  • Directed
  • Supervised
  • Managed
  • Mentored
  1. Skills: List a mix of hard and soft skills relevant to the job you're applying for.

Hard skills are more specific and can include:

  • SEO & Content Marketing
  • Computer technology like Google Analytics
  • Content Management Systems (CMS), such as WordPress
  • Agile frameworks like Scrum

Soft skills include abilities like:

  • Teamwork
  • Communication
  • Leadership 
  • Customer service
  1. Education: Place your highest degree first and any other degrees in chronological order.
Education icon. Isometric illustration of education vector icon for web

This section is also a great place to include any courses, honours and awards received. 

*Tip: don’t include your GPA score unless it’s perfect as it may be used against you

Other Resume Elements to Consider

Every resume is different. To make yours unique, you may want to refine it with some of the elements below:

awards isometric icon
  • Awards & Achievements: any major life accomplishments or licenses should go here
  • Languages: recommended if you're 100% bilingual in two or more languages or your job requires linguistic skills
  • Publications: mention news article contributions and publication mentions
  • Projects: include any relevant special projects here

Need more inspo? Check out some resume samples on Indeed.

Editing your Resume

You should always proofread your work by reading it aloud - no one likes typos or errors! Another easy method is to print out your resume and double check it by pen. Writing tools like Grammarly may also be beneficial for editing purposes.

via GIPHY

If you still have doubts, you can ask a friend/family member or hire someone to proofread your work before submitting to job vacancies.

Have specific questions on writing a resume? Let me know in the comments. In the meantime, best of luck on your job search!

Don't forget to download my FREE Resume Writing Guide for additional tips!

xo,

Aissatou

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