Writing a resume from scratch isn’t easy - especially if you’ve never written one. Although most of the time they’re a singular document between you and a job, most people put off writing and optimizing them because it’s just a daunting task. Here’s a guide on how to get started; if you’re looking to optimize and get the most out of your resume, check out some of our other articles here focusing on how to get the best resume possible.
I personally recommend starting off either finding a decent template online or getting some ideas off of peers’ resumes and the internet. If you’re feeling ambitious and want to just create your own, start off with your name and contact info, and then create a few sections to highlight your education, experience, and leadership opportunities.
These sections can vary heavily based on the field you’re looking to enter - for example, a computer engineer recruiter is looking for someone with coding experience, so your entire resume will be constructed around your projects and academics regarding computer science. The formatting will vary between a corporate job versus a graphic design job, so check out our article on formatting here. I recommend you use a traditional serif font, or sans serif as long as it’s easy to read. My favorites are Times New Roman, Helvetica Neue, and Arial.
Once you have your headers filled out, give a one sentence description of every job position or project you’ve worked on, and be sure to include your position at the organization and the timeframe you worked there. Under that, start writing down some bullets to encapsulate your accomplishments quantitatively. It’s important here to use strong verbiage and to try to be concise - you probably don’t have much space to work with, so make use of the space you have!
This is by far the hardest thing to do when writing a resume - making use of the space you have and formatting it to look professional. Most of the time, you’ll want to throw tons of bullets with a lot of numbers under each job title, but you have to consider what the recruiter is looking for. The recruiter wants someone who can articulate what they’ve accomplished, while being concise and impactful. Start off every bullet with a strong verb and eliminate all “the’s”, “they’s”, and “their’s” - if you read each sentence, those filler words are not necessary. Also, never use a pronoun. Most of the time, resumes sound like they're written in 3rd person because all of the pronouns are eliminated as well. Recruiters know that the person completing all of this is yourself, so don’t clutter your professional document with unprofessional pronouns.
The content you put in these bullets must be effective - if it’s irrelevant to the job you’re applying to or just filler, then eliminate it. If your resume ends up being short, that’s still better than filling it up with useless information to the point where the recruiter has nothing valuable to reference. Also, add metrics to your resume. It’s very professional when you have the exact amount of sales, products, customers serviced, or whatever subject you managed.
Alongside that, mention the specific skills you have - if you know how to use Adobe Illustrator, make sure to note not only that you used it on a few projects, but your proficiency level as well. Some graphic design firms may ask for a portfolio too, so have that ready before you submit your resume. Sometimes if applicable, resumes look best if your experience section is seperate from your projects section, where you put your metrics for experience in its respective section, then your proficiencies and skills mixed into your projects/leadership section.
Alright, time to take a look over your resume.
First of all, make sure there are no grammatical or formatting errors - your resume should be clean-cut and easy to read at first glance. Second, peruse your sections and bullets. Are there unnecessary “the’s” or “I’s”? Recruiters are already spending enough time reading resumes - so remove all the fluff words and try to be concise as possible. Third, make sure you’re describing your experience quantitatively.
The big important numbers cannot be passed up, so make sure you include enough information to prove your worth to the audience. Now, once you feel comfortable with the document, print it out and have a few people look over it. Before they go in detail, have them skim and point out the most important metrics or words to you - these are what most recruiters will see while just looking over your resume quickly. You want to make sure that if you have a vital metric in your bullets that a recruiter will stop and say “Wow, this candidate is not messing around,” rather than them completely missing it.
Once you feel that your big hitters are highlighted properly, spread your resume to every family member and friend with a job and have them really proofread and give intense feedback about it. You’ll find that they’ll have a lot to say and that you missed quite a lot, but most of the time the comments are consistent. Although you have to take their edits with a grain of salt, make sure every comment they make is taken into account. Your resume is a potential lead into your next job, so you better make the most of every word.
As you can tell from this article, writing a resume isn’t easy - not to mention the countless revisions you’ll have to make as you gain more experience and apply for different jobs. If you’ve come across this article, you’ve probably seen some of the services out there that write resumes for you - and they’re expensive.
But look no further than Backlight! We are a startup founded by college students that utilizes AI alongside professional copy editors to deliver impactful resumes for a fraction of the price that our competitors do. We have templates for every industry and our process is super simple - just fill out a form and we do the rest! Be sure to check us out if you’re too stressed or crunched for time to write your own resume; our service is affordable, reliable, and a definite big step toward securing that dream job of yours!