How to write a professional resume in 2021 [Ultimate guide]
It is a dream of every job seeker to get a good job in a good company. A professional resume is a document that you will definitely need for that. So if you want a reply from every job you apply for, you need to get your resume done in the right way.
If you do not set up your resume properly, you will not get job opportunities no matter how long you wait. Does your resume also receive fewer replies from companies? Or do you not get a single reply?
So you may already be wondering how to write a professional resume that will turn the heads of professional hiring managers. Well, you have already come to the best source on the internet to learn about it step by step.
In this article, we will fully teach you how to make a resume correctly.
10 simple steps to write a professional resume
- Pick the right resume format and layout
- Add your personal information and contact details
- Write a resume summary or objective statement
- List your work experience and key accomplishments
- List your relevant educational qualifications
- Mention your top relevant skills (soft and hard skills)
- Insert additional resume sections such as languages, certifications, projects etc.
- Design the layout of your resume
- Write an impressive cover letter
- Proofread both documents
How to create a resume that lands you a professional job
First of all, think about how you make your resume. If you are thinking of creating your resume using a basic text editor or graphic designing software, think about it again.
Because it can make your work a thousand times more difficult as well as time-consuming. Also, even if you make a small change to your resume, it may still be a big change in your resume layout.
So instead we suggest using an online resume builder. Priwoo has a top-notch resume builder. So now you are a single click away from one of the best resume builders on the internet right now.
01. Pick the right resume format
There are three main types of resume formats such as reverse-chronological, functional, and combination. The resume format you want to use will vary depending on the job you intend to apply for and your experience level.
Picking the right resume format is a crucial factor when it comes to making a perfect resume. So let’s see how to choose the perfect resume format for you depending on your experience level.
01) Reverse-chronological resume format: This is the most popular resume format among the three. This is best suited and used by experienced job seekers who have plenty of relevant skills and experience. Here your latest work experience is listed first.
02) Functional resume format: Also called skills-based resume format. This is best suited for job seekers with a lack of relevant experience, recent graduates, and those who have an idea of switching their careers.
03) Combination resume format: If you are a person with a set of transferable skills that would be useful for different fields and also have a great deal of experience, a combination resume format is an ideal format to build your resume.
Now you can get a simple idea of which of these three resume formats is right for you.
However, the majority of recruiters and HR professionals in the career industry recommend the reverse-chronological resume format. Keep in mind that this resume format is actually more suitable for building a professional resume. Due to that reason, in this article, we are going to focus on this specific format.
The next thing you need to do is find out which sections are mandatory to include in a resume. Accordingly, we suggest that the following sections should be included in a professional resume.
- Resume header (Contact Information)
- Professional Resume Summary (or Objective)
- Work Experience (and Achievements)
- Optional Sections – Languages, Certificates, Publications, Hobbies, etc.
Let’s now discuss how these sections can be professionally highlighted in a resume.
02. Add your personal information and contact details
No matter how successful your resume is written, your hiring manager will come across difficulties in contacting you if any of your contact information is incorrectly listed here.
So make sure to double-check that your information in this section is accurate and up-to-date.
Let’s see what kind of information to be included in a resume header.
Your name (first and last)
Job title: This can be either your current position or the desired position.
Email address: A recent study shows that using a professional email address could earn you more job opportunities rather than when using an unprofessional email on resumes.
Location: This will give the idea to recruiters whether the candidate is from a nearby location or will the company need to sponsor their relocation.
LinkedIn URL: Up-to-date LinkedIn profiles could always increase the value of an applicant.
Other than these you could also insert the following optional details in your resume contact information section.
- Relevant social media profiles (If and only if they are maintained professionally)
- Personal website/blog
Also, there is some information that shouldn’t be included in your contact info section.
Date of birth/age: If you add your DOB in the resume it could lead to ageism which will badly impact your job search.
Unprofessional email address (Recommend: firstname.lastname@example.org | Not recommend: email@example.com)
Headshot/resume photograph – In some countries you are not allowed to insert resume images or pictures as it could discriminate against you. Especially in the United States.
03. Write a resume summary / objective statement
The resume summary is sometimes also called a summary of qualifications, resume profile, summary statement, career summary, etc.
If you are not a recent graduate or a candidate looking to switch careers, you can use a resume summary. If not, you should use a resume objective instead.
So, what’s the difference between a resume summary and a resume objective?
Simply, a resume summary is where you can summarize your key achievements, relevant experience, and skills. This will help the recruiters to decide whether the specific candidate is the right pick for their job opening within the six-second resume scan.
It is a short paragraph that consists of 3-4 sentences that describes the summary of your career. The resume summary presents the trailer of your resume. The rest of your resume provides proof for the trailer. However, use relevant action verbs and quantified metrics such as percentages and years to increase the quality and the relevance of your resume.
On the other hand, a resume objective is used to express your intention behind getting into a new field or job. This is best for entry-level candidates as they have not much to show with their experiences and achievements.
But if you are an entry-level candidate, you can highlight your existing skills and describe how the company will benefit from those skills. This will drive recruiters crazy to hire you.
04. List your work experience and key accomplishments
The resume work experience section is the most important section in a typical resume. Also called the professional experience section. This is the best place to highlight your previous work experience with the achievements gained.
There are a few tips to make this section stand out from the others. First, let’s look at what kind of information you need to insert into this section.
- Job title/position: When recruiters scan your resume, at a glance you have to let them know that you have the relevant experiences. So make it bold or increase the font size by 1-2 points than the rest of the entry.
- The company name and the location: Mention the previous company’s name and the location (city and the state).
- Dates employed: The standard format of mentioning dates in a resume is mm/yyyy. No need to put the exact dates.
- Key achievements: As your resume is viewed by a career expert you don’t need to list what you did. Recruiters and employers do know what you did. So they want to know how you did them and what you have achieved. That will be the point to impress your prospective employer. So try to point out 3-5 bullet points of key achievements with quantified results.
A strong bullet point always consists:
An action verb
Specific job duty and the skill used to do it
Below is a good work experience section example for you to get inspired:
Sales Manager | RDE Technologies, New York
January 2009– September 2019
- Received Employee of the year 2012 award for increasing the customer transactional rates by 35%
- Supervised a team of 10 employees who had exceeded the sales targets by over 15% each year.
- Promoted into a senior position in 2015 after Maintaining and increasing the sales rates by 10% each year.
Tailor your work experience to the job advert
With the development of the technology, larger to mid-sized companies get the help of ATS to streamline their hiring process. Tailoring your work experience section to the job advertisement is a great trick to outsmart these applicant tracking systems and increase your job winning chances.
To tailor your resume, go back to the job advertisement and search for resume keywords relevant to your job duties and experience.
If you’ve seen the tasks you performed and the skills you have in the job description, copy those keywords and paste them into the work experience section.
How much experience should be included in a resume?
As a rule, having more than 15 years of experience in a resume is not recommended. The other thing is that if you have years of experience and incorporating them all into your document will extend the length of your resume unnecessarily.
Below is how much experience people should mention in their resume depending on various experience levels.
Candidates with no experience: You might have no experience to show. If so, try to fill it up with your volunteer experiences or work experience with various organizations etc. Or else you could leave the work experience section empty and focus on other sections.
Entry-level applicants: List all the experience you have up to date.
Mid-level professionals: Mention only the work experience that is relevant to the job you are going to apply for.
Senior professionals: List only your last 15 years of relevant work experience. Who cares how you started your career if your most recent experience is CEO?
05. List your relevant educational qualification
Some employers still give priority to educational qualifications over experience. So the resume education section is also a very important section of a professional resume.
We will tell you now some tips to make the resume education section stand out.
- List the educational qualifications in the reverse-chronological order. This means you need to place your highest degree first and other degrees after.
- If you are a university graduate, don’t include details about your high school.
- When mentioning your degree, mention the full degree name without the acronym. It is not a rule. But it is a best practice to follow in good resume writing (Recommend: Bachelor of Science in Marketing Not Recommend: B.Sc. in Marketing).
- Don’t mention the GPA if it is less than 3.0.
- Don’t forget to add honors and awards if there are any (E.g.: Summa Cum Laude).
- Adding relevant coursework and extracurricular activities could make your resume stand out from the crowd.
Here’s are some examples for good resume education section:
MA Literature in English (2019)
University of California, CA, USA
GPA – 3.75
BA literature in English (2015)
Columbia University, NY, USA
GPA – 3.66
Visit our resume education guide for an in depth guide.
06. Mention your top relevant skills
The skill section is also mandatory to be in your resume. Many employers like to recruit talented and skilled candidates for their organizations. So the resume skill section is the best place to convince the employer that you are the right person for the job.
However, this is not the only section that can mention your skills. You can highlight your skills in the resume summary as well as in the work experience section. But in the skills section, you will have the opportunity to directly mention your soft skills and hard skills.
What is the difference between soft skills and hard skills?
People Skills is another name for soft skills. They are more personality-centric traits. And these skills are not measurable. Here is a list of a few soft skills.
- Strategic thinking
- Problem solving
- Time management
- Stress management
- Decision making
- Critical thinking
These are quantifiable abilities of people that will be worth having to complete job-related tasks. This can be also known as “technical skills.” Generally, the hard skills required for a job are listed under requirements in the job advertisements. If you see a skill in the job description that is with yourself, be sure to include it in your resume skill section.
Here’s a list of some popular hard skills in 2021 that is worth having in your resume too.
- Video Editing
- UI / UX Design
- Language skills
- Graphic Design
- Project Management
- Accounting and Finance
- Business and Data Analysis
- Server Maintenance
- Marketing (SEO/SEM)
- Cloud and Distributed Computing
- Database Management and Software
- Electronic and Electrical Engineering
- Civil Engineering
- Photo Editing
Mixing at least 10 such hard skills and soft skills and incorporating them into your resume will further strengthen your candidacy for sure.
Here’s a great example of a resume skill section:
07. Insert additional resume section
Now we have discussed the key sections that should be included in a professional resume. But in addition, you can use the optional sections to make a resume more compelling and competitive.
If you use optional resume sections effectively, it’s not a difficult thing to get hired faster.
So don’t forget to use the following additional sections to give your resume a boost.
If you’re proficient in another language, HR managers will definitely be more interested in you.
Even if language skills are not required for the job, you can still get indirect benefits by including them. Remember that when listing language skills in your resume, don’t simply list the languages but also show your proficiency level in each language.
Language proficiency levels could be as follows:
- Native or bilingual proficiency
- Full professional proficiency
- Professional working proficiency
- Limited working proficiency
- Elementary proficiency
Certifications and awards
Have you completed relevant courses in your industry and have relevant certificates and licenses that have a higher value in your field? Then make sure to create a separate section as “Certificates” and insert them into the resume.
Adding these kinds of information to your resume could make you stand out in the field.
Hobbies and interests
Do you feel that your resume doesn’t have enough information? Don’t worry. Include some of your hobbies and interests in a separate section. Sometimes it can even be an advantage to you. Who knows if you and your prospective employer will have the same kind of interests?
08. Design the layout of your resume
Once you have selected the right resume format and done with the resume content, all you have to do is take care of the resume layout.
There are several factors you need to consider when it comes to the resume layout. A proper resume layout will undoubtedly increase the legibility of your resume. So it is also an important concern when building a professional resume.
Below you can see how to properly format a resume layout.
- Resume length: As professional resume writers we always recommend you limit your resume to one page. But if you believe that you have more significant values to show, it is ok to go for a second page. But do not extend the resume more than that.
- Clear section titles: Make the section headings easy to identify. For that, you can use bold text with a higher font size.
- Margins and white-space: Use effective margins and white-space. Avoid making resume margins too small as it could lead to difficulties with reading your resume.
- Font: Choose a professional resume font always when you create your resume that is easy to read and recommended by industry experts.
- Font size: 10-12 points font size for normal resume text and 14-16 points for section titles.
- Save your resume as a PDF file. No one can alter the formatting of your resume after you submit the resume in a PDF file format.
- Consider using Priwoo resume templates to get a better and professional look for your resume with a few different layouts.
09. Write an impressive cover letter
Now you know the correct way to write a winning resume. The next step is to create a matching cover letter. Is it mandatory to attach a cover letter with a resume? Yes, we strongly suggest you submit a tailored cover letter whenever you apply for a job.
It is very important to know how to write a cover letter correctly as it will definitely give you more job opportunities.
10. Proofread both documents
Before submitting your job application, make sure to double-check and proofread it. You can use tools like Grammarly to check if the resume and cover letter are grammatically correct.
This will allow you to correct any grammar errors or typo errors in your documents and submit a professional job application.
Also, you can ask your friend or a family member to recheck your documents. This will help to identify any other mistakes and make it an error-free document. Then you’ll be able to submit your job application like a boss.
Now you know how to create a professional resume to land your dream job in 2021. You don’t need to hire professional resume writers anymore as you’ll be able to do it with yourself.
Create your resume content as mentioned above and start making your winning job application with our free resume builder.