A resume or CV is essentially a marketing document that boasts a product you know more about than any other: yourself. Updating your resume is often the first thing you do when searching for a job.
Not only do you need to have a personal file on hand, but you’ll also need to create an online resume so that you can easily get found by professionals across the web.
To give you the best resume advice possible, we spoke with the recruitment experts at Wix - who see hundreds of applications per day - and asked them for their top resume tips.
How to write a resume that stands out
01. Choose the right format
When creating a resume, keep in mind that first impressions are critical. Research suggests that most recruiters scan a resume within 6 seconds before deciding to reject or move forward with a particular candidate.
Visual features like format and style - such as in these beautiful graphic design resume examples - are the first things recruiters notice. Generally, a terrible looking resume appears as a warning sign, discouraging recruiters from reading it further.
Before you begin adding details to your resume, think about the format you’ll want to use. As you can see in these resume website templates, different kinds of professions tend to benefit from different formats. The bottom line is that the format you choose is clear to read and highlights the most important elements.
Here are some additional resume tips to consider when it comes to format and layout:
Organize your sections. Order your sections by relevance. The standard is to start with your professional experience and place your education section immediately below. Within each section, place your main points in reverse chronological order. Conclude with additional information such as languages and skills.
Make it skimmable. Your resume should be easy on the eyes. Avoid overcrowding the page by selecting an 11 or 12 pt font size, with adequate spacing between the lines.
Emphasize important sections. Use bold font to break up your resume into clearly defined sections, or to highlight key points. Consider putting your section headings, job titles, and company names in bold, larger font size, or in a different typeface.
Use bullets. Divide your descriptions into bullet points to make the information easily digestible and a breeze to skim read.
Keep it short. Aim to fit your resume on a single page. More information isn’t always better; in fact, a longer resume may give recruiters the impression that your CV is unfocused and unedited.
02. Add your contact information
As you consider the question of how to write a resume, it’s easy to overlook a tiny but critical piece of information: your contact details. Make sure your contact information is clearly visible at the top of the document. Similar to a business card, this section should include your name, phone number, email address, and mailing address, as shown below:
500 Terry A Francois Blvd, SF, CA 94158
Cut down on confusion by using only one phone number and one email address. We suggest creating a new email address specifically for your job search, preferably using a custom email address for a truly professional look, and including only your cell phone number.
03. Write a compelling experience section
The most important step of writing a resume is building your experience section. Remember that your experience will always be broader than what your resume can encompass. You can’t have it all on paper. Choose which aspects to emphasize based on their relevance to your desired job and career goals.
As you build this section, keep these resume tips in mind:
Stick to a consistent format. Be sure to include your job title and company name, the years you worked there, and a description of your role.
Speak their language. As you describe your previous roles, think about which specific skills your recruiters are looking for. Often, these skills are reflected as buzzwords, or key terms or phrases associated with your industry or position. You can find these terms simply by checking the job descriptions of the roles you’re applying for. If you’re a digital marketing professional, for instance, you’ll want to include relevant online marketing terms such as “A/B testing,” “content marketing,” or “local SEO.”
Start with a verb. Recruiters indicate that they prefer seeing your achievements written in an active rather than passive language. Instead of writing, “This job required creative thinking and problem solving,” write, “Found creative solutions to problems such as [...]” You - not your workplace - should be driving the action. This shows you take a proactive approach to your work and bring a valuable skill set to your team.
Talk like a leader. In addition to using active language, choose words that show your leadership and initiative. Whenever relevant, write “managed” in place of “participated in.” Instead of “contributed to,” opt for “created” or “developed.”
Add numbers. Quantify your achievements whenever possible. This highlights your success, adds credibility to your descriptions, and shows you take a goal-oriented approach toward your work. For instance, if you’re an events manager, specify how many events you organize per year, your budget range, and the number of attendees (e.g., I organized 6 conferences with 5,000+ attendees, managing a budget of over 500K USD annually).
Show progression. Sometimes, you don’t have numbers to show. In these cases, emphasize your professional development. Give examples of the skills you gained and the responsibilities you took on in your various roles.
Make it concise. Recruiters say the last thing they want is a grocery list of everything you’ve ever done. Not only is this a big job interview mistake, but it’s also a resume no-no. Curate your experience so that it’s easy to gain insight into your top skills and talents. If your entry-level or student jobs aren’t relevant to the position you’re seeking now, you’re better off excluding them from your CV.
04. Share your educational background
When figuring out how to write a resume, keep in mind that the most important details should always be higher up on the page. While some people place their education section before their professional experience, we recommend putting it afterwards, since your work experience is more relevant to recruiters.
That said, feel free to place your education section before the experience section if you graduated fairly recently, or if your educational background is particularly impressive.
If you’ve earned a Bachelor’s degree or higher, there’s no need to include your high school information. If you’ve earned multiple degrees, list your highest level of education first - for example, your Masters before your Bachelors.
If you earned any awards or accolades that indicate excellency (such as Dean's List), do mention those as well.
05. Include additional details
Some job applicants aim to make their resumes stand out with creative color palettes, images, descriptions of their personality types, and more. Is that a go or no go?
To answer that, ask yourself whether those additional details increase your odds of getting accepted to this particular job. If the answer is no, skip it. In general, the cleaner and more concise your resume, the more professional it appears.
Here are our recommendations:
Skills. It’s important to list any relevant professional abilities, whether they’re website design skills or coding expertise. Take note of any specific programs you’ve mastered, such as Photoshop or Excel. If you speak multiple languages fluently, be sure to include those as well.
Images. Adding a picture of yourself is a no-go. It has no relevance to your job qualifications, and a busy recruiter won’t be paying attention to it anyway. Save the images for your personal website instead.
Hobbies. If you love painting, baking, running marathons or playing guitar, feel free to add your hobbies if they make your personality shine. That said, don’t include your hobbies if they only add further clutter to an already full resume.
Volunteer work. Volunteering for your community or any nonprofit work within your industry tends to make a good impression. If you do volunteer work, we recommend that you mention it briefly on your resume.
Personal statement. A personal mission statement is a few sentences that describe your interests, skills, and strengths. There’s no black and white answer about whether to include it on your resume. If you’re applying to a large or very attractive company that gets thousands of resumes per day, recruiters are unlikely to read your personal statement. However, if you’re applying for a smaller company, a personal statement may be useful.
06. Review and edit
After writing your resume, read it out loud to make sure that the sentences flow smoothly and that there are no spelling or grammar mistakes.
In addition, read over your descriptions to double check that each line brings value to your resume as a whole. Are your statements clear and active, without oversharing? Are each of your points unique? Look for meaningful synonyms to avoid repetition and make every point compelling.
Finally, make sure your formatting is consistent. Your typography - including the spacing, font size, bolding, and headings - should be styled consistently throughout the page.
07. Expand your digital presence
Building your professional online presence is a critical part of the job application process. In fact, research has shown that 93% of recruiters will Google you before inviting you to an in-person or video interview.
After working hard on writing your resume, don’t limit it to a printed sheet of paper. Put yourself online by adding the information to your LinkedIn profile, as well as creating a resume website.
Whether you’re looking to develop your career, finally make that job change, or even apply to Wix, creating a professional website will help you tell your story in full. By making a website of your own, you can take your resume a step further and add links, blog posts, a complete portfolio, and more.