What is the best way to structure my resume?
This is a question that plagues job seekers every single day. Should the resume be one page or two? Should I list my education first? How do I organize my past jobs? Where do my skills go? Does my prospective employer need to know about my high school javelin-throwing career?
The answers to those questions (in order) are:
- One page resume
- Not unless you just graduated
- By date, in reverse chronological order
- Underneath your recent employment, or maybe in a skills section formatted on the side of your resume
Putting together your resume will always seem more daunting than it actually is. The key is in attacking it step-by-step. Rather than writing a tome about your last job, start smaller. In fact, before writing anything (except for maybe a tweet) it’s helpful to create an outline. That’s what we are going to do here.
Let’s outline the structure of your resume. We can fill in the blanks later.
FIRST THINGS FIRST: THE LENGTH
This isn’t English Literature and your resume doesn’t need to be “a minimum of five pages.” So go ahead, widen those borders and decrease the size of your font.
With the resume, quality is always going to outweigh quantity.
While resume-length is a hotly-contested issue in the job search sphere (hey, we get our dramatics where we can,) we think it’s always best to go for the one-page resume.
So, relax and take comfort in the fact that you only need to write one page. Let’s make this real estate count.
There’s a false claim that writing your name correctly when taking the SATs will earn you 200 points. While that’s been proven untrue, providing accurate contact information on your resume is crucial.
Typically, you will want to include your name, phone number, email, LinkedIn profile, and portfolio website (if applicable) at the top of your resume. Depending on space, you may also include your address, but that’s up to your discretion.
If you are a space-saving, formatting genius, you might find an area in the top left or right corner to insert this pertinent information. Wherever you decide to insert your contact information, make sure that it is correct and that it’s very prominent.
It’s who you are, so it’s pretty important.
REVERSE TIMELINE OF JOB EXPERIENCE
Here we are—already in the nitty-gritty.
This might be the most important part of your resume, so let’s make it count. First of all, we always list experience in reverse chronological order. What is reverse chronological order? Well, that job you’re sitting at now? That should be listed first, followed by the job you had before, and so on.
Rather than listing jobs along with your day-to-day responsibilities, break outside of the box a little bit.
Rather than explaining that you collate paper, write emails, and oversee tasks, explain what real impact you made during your tenure. Did you implement a new filing system that increased productivity team-wide? Maybe you met and exceeded your sales quota month over month. Use this section to brag a little.
Make sure to highlight the value you have brought to your roles. List key achievements alongside every job you list on your resume.
Speaking of which, if you’ve held a half a dozen jobs, you don’t need to list them all. Include the most recent positions you held—and make sure to list at least one impressive key achievement at each position.
Some resume writers might advise you to keep education off your resume. That’s easy for you to say when you’re not still paying off student loans. List your education experience—include any undergraduate, graduate, or Master’s program. If you have achieved a ton of degrees, edit your list to the most recent or applicable.
If you have earned certifications that are applicable to the job for which you are applying, add those too.
Now let’s get to writing!