How To Write An Outstanding Resume: You just graduated from the university or maybe you are tired of your present job and you want to make a career change, it usually starts with an outstanding resume. It is important to know that a resume isn’t a log of your job history or a summary of your skills and it won’t automatically get you a job.

Think of it as an advertisement and YOU being the product. The aim is to get hiring managers to buy what you are selling and this means eventually giving you an interview. Always see your resume as your marketing tool as hiring managers are attracted to well-written resumes with attention-grabbing details.

However, sometimes recruiters may ask for a Curriculum Vitae (CV) which is completely different from a resume. So let’s state the clear differences between a resume and a CV so that we don’t get confused.

How To Write An Outstanding Resume

What is a CV? What is a Resume?

A resume is a brief summary of personal, educational, professional experiences used for job applications. Its layout is supposed to be selective and concise. This takes about a page and maybe a maximum of three pages for higher levels and senior roles. 

A CV is a detailed summary of professional and educational histories used for job applications. It usually outlines your entire educational and professional history, along with major accomplishments, publications, and other credentials. This takes about two or more pages.

Now that we know the differences, next time we can learn steps to writing a great CV but for now, let’s follow the steps to writing that great resume.

Step 1: Pick the resume format that suits you

There are three formats for writing a resume: Reverse-chronological, Functional and Combination.

Reverse-chronological resume format is the most popular resume format and it is ideal for people with plenty of work experience that is relevant to the role which they wish to apply for. It is generally more flexible and can be used by applicants with any level of experience.

Functional resume format is used if you lack relevant work experience like being a student/recent graduate, or you are looking to make a career change. The skills-based format is usually a good choice.

Combination resume format is a great choice if you have a diverse set of skills and work experiences that you feel are relevant to the desired role. It is the merging of reverse-chronological and functional formats. It is usually reserved for those with a great deal of experience in a particular industry.

Now that you have carefully chosen the format that suits you, let’s move on to step 2

Step 2: Set up your contact information 

It is important to know that the information you include will largely depend on the format you have chosen. The contact information should always be near the top. The kind of information you should include and the order in which to add it is as follows:


Mailing address

Telephone number

Email address (make sure it is appropriate and not something like [email protected])

If you have an online portfolio, you can add the link, this is usually optional

LinkedIn profile (most people don’t have one but a serious person looking for a job should have one as this is where you are free to upload all that you are and the other things you might be unable to put in your resume and this might impress hiring managers)

Step 3: Select and write a winning resume introduction

Resume introductions are written with the sole aim of gaining the attention of the prospective employer by highlighting relevant skills and experiences. There are three formats to writing an introduction: Career objective, Qualifications summary and Professional profile

Career objective is usually a 2-3 sentence statement that provides an overview of your skills and experience. This format is usually best for entry-level applicants

Qualifications summary is a bullet point list with at least 4-6 points of your most outstanding career achievements. List them in a way that reflects your unique voice

Professional profile is a combination of both career objective and qualifications summary. It is the most flexible of the three as it can be written as a short paragraph of the bullet point list.

It is important to target the skills and experiences specific and relevant to the job you are applying for. 

Step 4: Highlight your relevant work experience

This is the core of the resume as you are to prove the skills you have indicated in your introduction. This section is usually labeled as “Relevant Experience” or “Work Experience” or sometimes “Professional Experience”. Be sure to list experiences that are relevant to the job you are applying for. For each company, create a heading which includes the company’s name, city, and state, title held and the date of employment which includes the month and year. 

A general rule is that each experience has around 3-5 bullet points of your main duties and achievements. A strong bullet point is divided into three parts: Action Verb (which is always first, and is based on the industry and skill and usually in past tense), Quantifiable point (this gives the hiring manager confidence in your abilities) and Specific and relevant job duty (should be specific and listed by decreasing importance).

An example is Trained (action verb) cashiers (quantifiable point), managing their cash limits and guaranteeing quality customer service at all times (specific and relevant job duty).

Step 5: Create an Education section

A solid education section helps to display the foundation of your knowledge and expertise. There are times when professional and educational sections can be switched. For instance, a fresh graduate will benefit more by emphasizing on the educational section first as he or she lacks seasoned experience, then the professional experience section follows and otherwise for someone who has a wealth of experience. Here are the main points to include in this section.

Names of the university, community college or technical school (high school can be included if one didn’t attend a college)

Location of the schools including city and state

Date of graduation including month and year


GPA (if above 3.0 and written as 3.5/5.0, optional)

Step 6: Use a range of hard and soft skills in your resume

Hiring managers are always on the lookout for skilled individuals. It is always good to spread your various capabilities throughout your resume; this will catch the eye of the recruiter.

What are hard skills? What are soft skills?

Hard skills are usually used to keep it concise. They are concrete, quantifiable abilities. Language fluency, competency using software or being able to operate heavy machinery are examples of hard skills.

Soft skills are more personality-centered traits. Things, like being a team player, or having a great attitude, are examples of soft skills. 

A great resume should have a wide spread of both skills. It should have a balance of both hard and soft skills. 

Step 7: Include key certifications, publications, awards and honors

By this stage, your resume should be almost complete. Adding certifications or licenses depends on your industry. If your industry requires certifications be sure to include it in your resume. You can add publications if you have published articles that are relevant to the job application.

List the articles by publishing dates and choose the referencing style that is appropriate to your discipline.  Adding awards and honors helps you stand out from your competition. You can add grants, academic honors, scholarships, volunteer positions, professional affiliations, whichever you might have.

Step 8: Style your resume

Finally, the hard part is over. You have all your content typed out, now it is time to give the resume some finishing touches. I know you are already popping your collar but your resume is not complete yet without a suitable style. The resume should be one page but if you have relevant experiences you need to show the employer go ahead and make it an extra page but nothing more than that.

Choose easy to read font style and size and endeavor to use the same font throughout, change sizes in descending order for your name, headers and bullet points. This means the name is 24 in size, the body header is 12 and the bullet points is 10. Add strategic lines and use effective margins. 

Step 9: Write a matching cover letter

A cover letter usually gives you the chance to connect with a hiring manager better than the resume does. You have successfully pulled through and produced a great resume, why not try same for a cover letter. Combining that awesome resume with a great cover letter doesn’t sound like a bad idea at all. 

Step 10: Proofread your resume

After compiling and putting together, it is advisable to go through again (more than once) to check for omissions and mistakes. Thereafter, save in different formats like a word document or pdf. You can then go ahead and submit your application.

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