Tips on How to Write a Professional Resume | Step-by-Step Guide

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Resume Writing


Are you applying for open jobs, but don’t have much to show for it?

Are you filling out application after application only to receive an email saying, “Thank you for applying, but we are moving forward with other candidates at this time”?

Maybe it’s time for a Resume Update!

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Don’t feel bad if this is how your job search is currently playing out. We have all been there.

The good news is, there’s a simple fix that comes in the form of sprucing up your resume.

As a former recruiter for some of the top companies in the world, and having screened countless resumes, I’ve learned a thing or two about what employers look for in candidates (specifically within their resume).

Through those years of recruiting, one question was continuously brought up: “How can I craft my resume to impress employers?”

These candidates were sending dozens of applications out each week, but they weren’t hearing back (or, they were hearing a “Thank you, but….”.

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Instead of answering every candidate individually over and over again, I decided to write a quick-hitting, easy-to-follow guide around resume writing advice.

Here’s the Step-by-Step Guide on How to Write a Professional Resume (with the Help of Harry Potter’s Resume):

Step 1: Use the Correct Format

Keep your resume format simple and easy to read.

Reverse chronological order seems to work best, where your most recent experience is at the top and the oldest is at the bottom.

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Reverse Chronological Resume

Step 2: Contact Information

Make sure to use a professional-looking gmail, outlook, or personal domain email address. Skaterpunk73@hotmail.com won’t cut it anymore!

A professional looking email address format looks something like this: firstname.lastname@gmail.com.

There is no need to give your full address on the resume if you don’t feel the need. "City, State" is enough information for the employer if you wanted to leave out street details.

Your contact information should be visible and added to the top of your resume. Be sure to use a clean-looking font. Google the standard font type and size that looks best on resumes. You don’t want to use a fancy font or one that’s too small to read. 

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Step 3: Resume Summary 

Is an objective needed on a resume?

The short answer is NO, an objective is not needed on a resume.

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You should not include a desired position or an objective on your job resume because most managers know you're searching for a job - so it's unnecessary to waste valuable resume space reiterating that.

Instead, replace the "Objective" section with a two to four sentence "Summary" of past accomplishments related to the role you're applying for.

At times, recruiters will skip this section all together so adding extra skills and accomplishments relevant to the job is also a viable option.

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Contact Info/Summary

Step 4: Skills and Tools

Make sure to do your research around the job you are applying for.

What skills do candidates need to possess? What tools/programs should they be proficient in?

Be sure to include these in the “skills and tools” section of your resume. This is not the time to be humble! Play up your knowledge and skills to impress the reader.

Remember, hiring managers want to hire the best, so show them that you are the best!

Note: Locate and mimic the skills/tools under the “Must Have” or “Required” sections of an ideal job posting (use LinkedIn or Indeed).  

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Tools and Skills

Step 5: Relevant Work Experience 

The keyword here is “relevant.” If you are applying for a financial position, be sure to include any work experience you have done that falls into that category. Likewise, choose to leave out any inconsequential positions you have held.

Be creative here; choose your wording carefully to properly tie in your work experience to the job you are applying for. 

Formatting tips to remember: 

  • Add plenty of keywords to your resume relating to the targeted role!

  • Use past-tense words for every role besides your current one on your resume. It's a minor change and often goes unnoticed, but hiring managers and recruiters who look at countless resumes daily will notice.

  • Utilize bullets throughout your resume. The page looks cleaner and breaks the reading up, making it easier for others to read.

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Work Experience


What are keywords in your resume?

Keywords in your resume are words that relate to particular requirements for a job. They are tools, skills, abilities, certifications, and qualities that hiring managers look for in candidates.

One of the first things a hiring manager or recruiter will do when they receive a resume is use the “Ctrl F” function to search for those must-have or required skills (if the ATS hasn’t done so already).

Job-site algorithms also rely heavily on specific keywords to rank your resume.


Step 6: Education

Put your educational background at the bottom unless you are a recent grad, which should then be put at the top.

While there is no specific rule about whether to keep or remove your GPA from your resume, we suggest you don’t add it unless it’s fairly high (about a 3.5 or above).

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Education

Step 7: Awards and Certifications 

Make sure to include any and all accomplishments. This helps you stand out from other applicants, so be sure to puff yourself up in this section. 

This could be anything from an academic award you received in college to a developer certification earned online. 

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Accomplishments


“There is an 88% rejection rate when you include a photo on your resume.” (business2community)


Step 8: Review

Look over your resume and ask yourself the following questions: 

  • Is it clean? Does it look attractive/professional? (Check font, spacing, etc.)

  • Is it easy to read? Does it flow nicely? 

  • Is there any inconsequential information that you can remove? 

  • Are keywords included? 

  • Is it relevant to the job you are applying to?  

  • If you were the hiring manager, would you find your resume interesting, or would you throw it in the junk pile? 

  • Is it direct and to the point?

  • Don’t forget to proofread for errors - Any misspelled words or incorrect punctuation to be found by the hiring manager will be a definite ding! 

Image Credit -  LiveCareer

Image Credit - LiveCareer



Other Resume Writing Tricks 

  • Add Results: Some of the most beneficial bits of information to put on a resume include the following: key statistics, facts, and the results obtained through past roles. Anyone can say they're a "hard worker" or "reliable," but actual results from past roles can prove it. 

    • Hiring managers and recruiters love numbers, so give them what they want! For example, give them facts with numbers and details. Did you manage a team of 10 employees? Include that information: Managed team of 10; grew revenue from $1K to $5K; closed 25 deals; etc.

  • Fonts: The best font for a resume is a clean one. You don’t want any frilly, fancy, difficult-to-read fonts. Make sure your resume looks clean, attractive and professional. 

  • Keep it short: Unless you have 10+ years' experience or many contract roles to effectively fill up your resume, keep it around 1-3 pages, max.

  • Properly name your resume file: Name your resume "FirstName-LastName-Resume" - that's it.

    • Never submit it with an unprofessional or cumbersome file name such as “hopingtolandajob_version73.” This won’t make you look professional, and it will be a definite ding on your application.

    • You also don’t want to name it something too generic, like “resume,” because then it could potentially be lost in the shuffle. Stick with something like “Jane_Doe_resume.”

  • Submit your resume as a PDF: When emailing your resume, always submit it as a PDF, never as a Word doc. Word docs can lose their formatting in the transfer, but PDFs typically keep their original format. This will ensure that the employer sees your resume in the way you intend, not with jumbled, unattractive formatting. 

  • Review, Review, Review: Review it a final time before hitting “send.” The initial resume review from a recruiter generally ranges from 6-10 seconds. Give your resume a short look prior to submitting it and ask yourself if it will stick out to the employer. Make any last-minute changes necessary. 


What is a letter of intent for a job?

Letters of intent are similar to cover letters as they include information around why you are qualified for a position. They are used as a general introduction to personalize your application and connect the hiring manager to your resume.

They make it easy for the recruiter/employer to see exactly what your qualifications are and what you can bring to the table that a regular application lacks.

The letter of intent helps sell yourself to a general role and tends to be less focused on a particular position - where a cover letter should be customized for each application.


Do you put references on a resume?

No, do NOT add references to your resume.

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While it’s important to have people who can vouch for your skills and abilities, offering a list of references on your resume is a waste of space.

If the hiring managers ask for references, send or upload a separate page with a list of references.

This list should include each reference’s name, title, company, phone, and email address.


CONCLUSION: How to Write a Resume

Phew! That was a lot - lets recap.

  1. Use a Reverse Chronological Format

  2. Add Basic Contact Information

  3. Skip The “Objective” Section Add a “Summary” Instead

  4. Beef It Up With Skills And Tools

  5. Add Relevant Work Experience

  6. Don’t Forget Your Education

  7. Add Any Awards Or Certifications That Are Relevant

  8. Review, Review, Then Review Again

Writing your resume and following the steps above could mean the difference between an interview and having your resume tossed in the junk pile.

Utilize some of the tips and tactics along with your own techniques to win over that next job opportunity.

Remember, the goal of the resume is to get an interview, so be sure to talk yourself up and include information that helps you STAND OUT from the rest. There is a lot of competition out there, but keep trying and revising your resume until you craft one that is sure to be noticed. 

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If some other quick-hitting resume tip has worked for you in the past, please feel free to share by commenting below.

Best of luck in your job search!


Title: How to Write a Professional Resume | Step-by-Step Guide

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