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How to Write a Resume

How to Create a Professional Resume

Job hunting is stressful – we won’t deny that – but creating a resume that will work for your job hunting needs doesn’t have to be so hard.

Creating a good resume comes down to understanding the differences in resume styles and what information is required for each. Today, we will take a look at the three main types of resumes, the information you will need for your resume, and the best way to assemble your resume.

There is a lot of information, but this in-depth look at resumes will serve as a great reference sheet to guide you through the resume creation process.

To begin figuring out how to build your resume, you need to think about your work history and your future goals in tandem.

What experience do you have? What skills have you honed? Where would you like to see yourself implementing those skills professionally?

Once you have a general idea of your goals, you are ready to learn about resume types and move toward creating your resume.

Choosing a Resume Style – Functional, Chronological, Combo

Now that you have assessed your values and discovered your job search goals, let’s take a look at the basic types of resumes and how they fit into your plan. 

The three resume types we are discussing are functional, chronological, and combo.

A functional resume focuses less on your job experience and more directly on your skills and competencies. This type of resume is especially useful for those entering a new field or starting with little to no work experience.

Who can benefit from a Functional resume:

  • Working professionals looking to change fields
  • Stay-at-home parents rejoining the workforce
  • Those with only volunteer or school experience

A chronological resume is considered a standard or traditional resume. It focuses on your work history – most recent first. This resume type is popular among older, more traditional employers.

Who can benefit from a Chronological resume:

  • Those applying to more conservative jobs
  • Those applying to a job where specific work experience lengths are required

If you are equally interested in displaying your experience and your skills and volunteer-work, consider a combination resume, which blends both a functional and chronological resume.

Consider your Layout

Once you have settled on the style of resume that will work best for you, you can begin to focus on the layout for your resume.

For a chronological resume, you will want to stick to a simple, straightforward layout that leads with your header and work history.

How to Write a Resume

In this example from Zety, you can see that the focus of the layout is on presenting your data clearly and with a heavy focus on work history and your career goals.

For a functional resume, you apply the same, easy-to-read layout style and focus on your skills and competencies.

How to Write a Resume

In this example from, you can see that the resume opens with an objective just like a chronological resume, but quickly shifts into skills, qualifications, competencies, and then work history. This is to show that your skills fit the position you are interested in, regardless of your work history.

A combination resume is a more modern style of resume. It focuses on blending your skills and your work history in a way that brings attention to them equally. This is done by creating a unique layout that draws the eye to individual sections of information.

How to Write a Resume

In this example from Zety, you can see that the left of the resume offers a traditional, chronological resume, but the eye is separately drawn to the right of the resume where you can see a breakdown of skills and competencies.

Where to Find Layout Templates

  • Paid sites like
  • In the Microsoft Word template catalog
  • From free template websites like
  • Build your own in document creation suites like Canva or Adobe Illustrator

Personal Information

All resumes need a personal information section. Your name should always be the largest, boldest text on the resume. You never want to be passed up for a job because a manager couldn’t quickly find your resume in a pile.

In addition to your name, your personal information section needs to include your:

  • mailing address (remove before posting resume online)
  • phone number
  • email address

Objective/ Headline

Objectives and headlines are the leading information found under your personal info and are included in all forms of resume. If you are pulling your resume template from an older source like Microsoft Word’s catalog, you may find that objectives are the suggested choice to start your resume.

Objectives, which are a simple statement about your career goals, are considered outdated and unnecessary in modern resumes. In general, unless it is specifically requested that you include an objective (it won’t be), you should opt for a headline instead.

A Headline is effectively a synopsis of your resume. You want this short (no more than 5 sentences) ode to you and your skills to provide just enough detail to let a manager know, “Hey, this resume shouldn’t go in the preliminary trash pile.”

A good standard for your headline is to include your length of experience, your special skills, any applicable certifications, and any of their specific “preferred” skill requests that you match.

Work History – What to Include

With your personal information and headline out of the way, it is time to focus on the body of your resume. First, we will take a look at the information you should include in the “work history” section of your resume.

Chronological resumes need to show a grander focus on your work history. You need to focus your work history on the jobs that best illustrate your work proficiency.

Ask yourself:

  • How much experience does this position require?
  • What jobs have I worked that fit the position’s prerequisites?
  • How can I explain my work duties to best exemplify that I have the proper experience?

These questions will help you decide which positions from your work history are most important and which job duties you want to highlight.

If you have more than enough work experience and want to know how much to include, remember that your resume should be one page. With this in mind, trim your list down as needed, ridding yourself of the oldest and/or shortest positions first.

A functional resume doesn’t rely on job history to inform the employer of your proficiency. This means you can limit your work history information to the most vital of details if you have a work history to include at all. 

A combination resume should focus on both work history and skills equally, so follow the parameters for a chronological resume.

Skills and Proficiencies

No matter which resume-style you choose, skills and proficiencies are important. However, for functional resumes skills are even more important because they create the basis for your entire resume.

So how can you easily figure out your skills?

Well, one way is to look at job listings for the job you already do and the job you want and look at the skills they are looking for.

Do any apply to you? Great! Make a list of all the skills from those lists that you can use.

Next, think about your soft skills. Soft skills are direct reflections of your emotional intelligence and natural abilities. These are things like:

  • Confident
  • Friendly
  • Conflict management
  • Good negotiator
  • Active listener

For a great list of soft skills to consider including, check out Resume Genius.

Education and Certifications

This may come as a surprise, but the “education and certification section” of your resume is one with a lot of rules you may not know.

Here are the basic rules:

  1. List your most recent education first.
  2. Only list accolades (valedictorian, clubs, etc.) if you have graduated in the last 3 years
  3. Don’t list any accolades that are politically or religiously motivated unless your targeted job specifically entails that political or religious party
  4. You can list college experience even if you didn’t graduate. Simply detail the credit hours you have completed and your intended major.
  5. High school or GED should be the last listed school.
  6. If you have a trade school certificate list, it above your high school education. If you have more than one trade school certificate, create a new section labeled “Certifications” or “Licensures.”
  7.  Though it is by no means required, if you are over 40 and afraid of revealing your age upfront, you can leave graduation dates off your education.

Interests and Hobbies

The “interests and hobbies” category is reserved for Functional and Combo resumes.

The purpose of this section is to highlight details about your interests and activities that help give an employer an impression of your natural abilities and behaviors.

For instance, a piano player tends to have good discipline – someone interested in history tends to be well-read and intelligent.

These sections are important for those with little to no applicable work history because they offer an alternative way to peek into what you can offer an employer.

For a good list of interests and hobbies that look good on a resume, check out Indeed’s list.

Resume Dont’s

  • Make your resume more than one page long.
  • Use fancy, difficult to read fonts.
  • Create your resume without reading the job description first.
  • Speak in first person (I, you, my, we).
  • Include a photo of yourself – unless you’re applying for a modeling gig.
  • Include obvious skills that take up space (e.g. Microsoft Word, typing, email, etc.)
  • Include links to personal social media pages that might get you in trouble.

Resume Do’s

  • Include keywords straight from the job description.
  • Speak in an active voice.
  • Use quantitative examples of your success (e.g. “Outperformed my sales quote by 20% monthly).
  • Include a link to a well-crafted LinkedIn page in your “personal information” section.
  • Use a grammar checker or hire a proofreader to double-check your work.
  • List multiple positions at a company to show your career advancement.

A Quick Recap

It’s true – a good resume is the difference between applying for a job and getting an interview, but don’t let creating a resume intimidate you.

All the vital information for a resume is available to you if you know where to look. Focus on the great things you offer and the needs of the company you are applying for and use those points as a basis for the rest of the resume.

With all the fantastic resume builders and template resources available, the only thing you need to bring to the table is a knowledge of your skills, the job you want, and the difference between the three main types of resume.

It’s always a good time to advance your career, and we’re here to offer you all the tips and guidance you need along the way.

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