How the F*ck do you create a resume? Honestly, it’s a great real life question because the majority of people are not properly taught how to write a resume, or taught at all for that fact. Maybe this should be incorporated into every high school curriculum?! IDK just a thought. There is no “one size fits all” for the perfect resume, and the hard part? It is likely that everyone is going to tell you something a bit different and every employer may have a different opinion on your resume. So, in light of graduating and briefly sharing my personal resume on Instagram, I am going to utilize this post to elaborate on my own resume as well as share some tips I have gotten from industry professionals and professors through the process of refining it down for the past couple of years.
I should note that my resume format is suited for a more creative track and everything in this post is what has worked for me. Other industries and employers may not be suited for a resume such as mine, so just keep that in mind. Regardless, some of these tips are generic enough for every resume.
*note: when I printed these resumes (pictured) it printed with some weird bolding, please ignore 🙂
BEFORE YOU BEGIN
Know your audience
The biggest key to how you go about creating your resume is knowing the audience who will be reading it. For me, I will be applying for jobs that welcome creativity, personal branding, and personality. This opens up the freedom to format my resume in a more “non-traditional” way, aka not a boring ass resume that has everything being read from top to bottom with zero pizzaz. However, if you are going for a job that is more straight cut, facts only, than that is something you need to be aware of as well. For me, I want my resume to stand out. Employer’s see thousands of resumes, so if your resume can catch their eye with just a quick glance, chances are, they will take a little more than 5 seconds to look at your qualifications.
Find your own personal brand
While this is more for the people who have the luxury of creativity, this can shine through in all resumes. I strategically chose my font, the black boxes that highlight each category, and even threw in my own logo on top (since it is my name). Everyone has a personal brand, whether you think you do or not. The image you show to the world and people around you is a key element to your own brand. If you are unsure of your brand, ask some people that know you what comes to their mind when they think of you. If you are more whimsical in nature, this can come through in a resume. If you are more chic and polished, that can also come through. People are hiring YOU, as a person. They want to know YOU first and foremost. You can be the perfect candidate based on credentials, but if your personality and vibe don’t fit with a company then they most likely are not going to hire you. Again, this is also based on the industry. Keegan, who is a software engineer, is a good example of this not necessarily being relevant for him and his industry.
Have job listings in hand
You may not be creating your resume with specific jobs in mind – that’s okay! I didn’t either when I first made mine. First begin your resume as generic as possible and when you begin to hone in on what industry you are going for, what types of jobs you are wanting, and then finally what specific companies and rolls you want to apply for, you can begin to dial it in. When you finally are at the stage of applying, print out the job description, highlight key points and skills they are looking for, and if they match up with your own experience and skills add those in word for word.
THE FORMATING SHIZ
Be creative or don’t and just use a template
I know there are some different opinions on templates, but to be totally honest, it takes such a huge step out of having to physically create a format that you want. When I say this, I am talking the nitty gritty of actually creating text boxes, adding little icons, and just the alignment of the page and text, ya know? Microsoft Word (at least this is what I used) can be a pain in the ass. I used a template and it saved me so much stress. The other thing is, if you purchase a template you don’t have to stick with the exact format. You can move text around, realign things, delete things, etc., but all of the necessary components will be there.
This is the template I used – you will notice I changed some things!
This template is V SIMILAR to mine – a fun touch with an image.
This template is almost identical to the one I used – just a bit different.
How long should my resume be?
NO MORE THAN ONE PAGE. Don’t do it, Becky! Even if you have so many skills that fill up 5 pages. Don’t do it. Be concise, be articulate, and give em the most relevant info. Remember, your cover letter can expand on your skills and experience, not to mention the interviews you will get!
Know the importance of each section and where to put them
Every resume should have the following in some regard: Contact information, education (if you have), work experience that is relative to the job you are applying for, and your skills. It is possible that your skills can be found within the descriptions of your past work experience, however it is nice to have a list of your skills for easy detection and reading. This will be different depending on the layout of your resume. For mine, not everything is read straight down the page. If yours is like mine, the most important thing is having the work experience in order of the most current positions. If yours in more traditional, check out this website for help.
THE ACTUAL CONTENT SHIZ (aka the real hard part)
What content should I even include?!
Contact info: Name, phone number, email address (use your most professional one, not firstname.lastname@example.org from when you created it in elementary school), linkedin handle, your city and state, and website/portfolio site if you have or find it applicable to add.
Education: School you attended along with the year you graduated (or expected grad month/year), along with your major(s). I also included a couple scholarships on mine, however that is not necessary. Some people also will include their GPA. For me, I personally think anything above a 3.7 is worthy enough for the resume, but I think most people will put theirs on above a 3.5. Up to you and your chosen industry.
Experience: This is the place to have work experience, leadership experience, and even volunteer experience if you have. Some people like to separate these out, however it really depends on you and what stage in your career you are in. For sure list everything in order of your most recent or current position(s), which is technically reverse chronological order.
Not enough experience to fill the space or even anything that is relevant? Well, you may want to consider an internship or something to add on however usually you can find something! Are you apart of clubs at school? Were you apart of a sorority or fraternity? Have you done group projects? Have you babysat? Have you worked in the service industry? Have you volunteered anywhere? I know you have many skills, often it is trying to remember where you formed them.
Too much experience to fit on the page? Choose the most relevant and current experiences. Your job as a hostess at the age of 16 is not necessary, ya know? Also, it’s a good rule of thumb that if any of your experience is from high school, just leave it out. There is a point when some of your past experiences are not as relevant anymore.
Skills: For my skills section I chose to list them in their own section as well as build them into the descriptions of each of my experiences. This is important so listen up! Make sure you are identifying skills stated on the job application and matching them up with your own skills. Don’t lie, it won’t get you far, but be intentional about using the skills they are looking for. Also, don’t include skills not relevant for the job. For example, if you are applying for an accountant position, don’t be putting that you are a master of TikTok video editing.
The magic of KEY words
Many resumes get filtered through an algorithm and if your resume doesn’t have the key terms they are looking for, they will filter you out. I like to physically print out and highlight the skills, experience, and verbs they use in the job description and make sure I am adding in the ones that are relevant to me word for word.
The magic of action words aka verbs
Use your words intentionally. If you need to, look up synonyms for verbs that are a bit more complex than “good.” LOL. This site has a list of helpful words to get you started. Typically you will start each bullet point of your experience descriptions with a verb.
People like numbers, so show them %’s, #’s, and cold hard stats
This is a recommendation my former professor gave me who works at Amazon. When you can, use percentages and numbers. For example, say you worked for Nordstrom and you were able to increase their sales. By what percent were you able to increase their sales over what period of time? Another example: say you were a social media manager and you increased the brand’s traffic/engagement. Include the percentage in which that traffic increased over the period of time using the metrics each platform gives, you can also ask your boss or manager. Last example: say you delivered a project successfully under budget numerous times. Include the percentage in which you were underbuget along with the percentage of time in which you were able to achieve that, i.e. Efficiently delivered 6 personally managed projects 30% under budget on average. Get the point?
What tense am I supposed to be using?!
For experience(s) you are currently in, talk in present tense. For past experience(s) talk in past tense.
Should I use personal pronouns?
Write in first person and leave personal pronouns out, they are not necessary and frankly make it a little weird.
Should I add my GPA?
For me, I personally think anything above a 3.7 is worthy enough for the resume, but I think most people will put theirs on if it is above a 3.5. Up to you and your chosen industry (some industry’s don’t give a shit and some do). I didn’t put my 3.49 GPA on mine. No Cum Laude for me. LOL
We live in a world where everything is online, I don’t need hard copies!!
Yes, Becky, you do. You may not use them often, but it is good to have a few on hand. Some employers think it is unnecessary, but some expect you to be prepared. Print them on glossy cardstock paper. I printed mine at Fedex and was very happy with how they turned out. It makes it feel like you went the extra mile, ya know? V professional. Also makes it harder for them to crumple up and throw in the trash – It’s all about the little details 😉
Utilize school resources
Edit, edit, and edit some more
Get multiple opinions
Have someone in your industry look at your resume
Personalize your resume per every potential employer
I hope these tips were helpful in some way! If you have any additional tips or information that you would like to share, please leave a comment below 🙂