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How to write an Effective Resume in 2024

Learn the latest trends, essential tips, and proven strategies to showcase your skills and stand out in today's competitive job market.

By 

Synkdup Editorial Team   

|  22 February 2024

How to Write Resume

Wondering how to write a resume that gets the attention of hiring managers. What parts are you supposed to include and which of them are optional? And what does it have to do with a cover letter…?

Well, wander about no more because you have come to the right place.

In this article, we have broken down and explained all the essential parts of a resume and discussed tips to write them well.

What is a Resume and Why Even Write One?

Your resume is basically a potential employer's way to check you out without too much involvement. It is an established convention for employers to ask for one and you are supposed to be able to provide a fully updated resume at any time.

It is a document that provides an overview or at a glance version of your education, work experience, skills, achievements, and other relevant information to your potential employers.

A properly written resume should serve as a marketing tool to showcase your strengths and qualifications and helps set you apart from other applicants. You may have written a stellar cover letter but it is no good without an equally good resume as it is your document the concerned person reads next.

Rather than a tedious and daunting task, you should consider writing your resume as an opportunity to highlight achievements, skills, and experiences that are relevant to the position and demonstrate why you are the best fit for the role.

Especially in today's competitive job market, a strong resume can give you a much-needed edge over other applicants. Employers often receive hundreds of applications for a single job opening, so having a well-written resume that stands out can increase the chances of getting noticed and landing an interview.

Therefore, if you are serious about getting that dream job, it is unnegotiable to put some effort into crafting a resume that efficiently communicates your qualifications, experience, and how you would add value to the organization you are applying for a job in.

Types of Resume Formats

When it comes to professional documents, presentation really matters, and choosing the right layout design for your resume is the first step in preparing an effective resume. The right format makes your resume more readable and also enables you to put your best foot forward.

The most commonly used resume formats are:

1. The Reverse Chronological Layout

This format emphasizes your work experience in reverse chronological order, starting with your most recent position and working backward. This format is one of the most comprehensive and straightforward ways to present your work history to a potential employer.

This format allows employers to quickly see your career progression and how your experience aligns with the requirements of the job they are offering. It is particularly useful if you have a solid work history with no major gaps in employment or if you are seeking a job in a field that values traditional work experience.

2. Functional or Skill-Based Layout

This is a type of resume format that draws attention to your skills and achievements, rather than focusing primarily on your work history. In a functional resume layout, the information is organized by skill or functional area, rather than by job title or chronological order.

This allows you to highlight the hard and soft skills you possess, along with the experience that are most relevant to the job you are applying for, and to downplay any gaps in your employment history or other potential weaknesses.

3. Hybrid/Combination Layout

In a hybrid resume layout, also known as a combination resume, you use features of both the chronological and functional resume formats. The focus is on both your work history and your skills and achievements, making it a versatile format that can be customized to highlight the most relevant information for a particular job application.

A hybrid resume can be a good choice for candidates who want to highlight both their work history and their skills and accomplishments, or who have a varied work history that includes both relevant and unrelated positions.

However, in this format, it becomes even more important to arrange all the parts of the resume in a well-organized manner. Take care that it is easy to read, with clear headings and bullet points that emphasize the most important information.

How To Pick The Right Resume Format?

Out of three formats, the chronological layout is the most widely used one as it makes the most intuitive sense in most cases.

However, in case you have got a whole bunch to put on your resume and are applying for one of the higher positions, you would probably have to resort to a hybrid resume format.

Once you have got the sequence of the parts of your resume down, and come up with a provisional index, it is time to actually start crafting different parts of your resume to suit:

  • The job role you are applying for. Think about what other applicants would write and try to avoid as much of it as you can by being a little creative and original.
  • Your cover letter if one is involved.
  • The company culture which you can gauge from their online presence. Note that even if you find the culture to be very casual and easygoing, you should not take it to mean that you can take informal liberties in the resume.

Now, let’s break down different parts of a resume and explore tips on how to write a resume that gets the attention of hiring managers.

How Long Should A Resume Be?

The ideal length of a string varies depending on multiple factors. Ideally, a resume should be no longer than 2 or 3 pages in length. One exception may be the resume of a teenager, which is unlikely to reach the 2-page mark and typically does not exceed one page. A resume that is either too long or too short may be less appealing and, at times, even seem unprofessional.

The most common factor that tends to influence the length of one’s resume is the individual’s level of experience. Those who are more experienced will generally have more items to list out, which can lead to them exceeding conventional limits. They will have greater work experience and likely have acquired more skills to put on their resume. If you feel your resume is too long, consider shifting some of the information over to the cover letter.

Parts of a Resume and How to Draft Them

A well-drafted resume has the following integral parts:

  • Personal info and contact details
  • Summary/Objective
  • Work Experience
  • Skills
  • Qualifications

To write an effective resume, you need to pay individual attention to each of these parts and, once again, tailor them according to the job you are applying to.

i. Personal Details and Contact Information

The personal information and contact details you put on your resume all need to be accurate and up to date. The key elements of your personal information include:

  • Full Name: Your name should be the first thing on your resume, in bold and larger font size than the rest of the text. Do include your middle name if you have one.
  • Phone Number: Provide a phone number that you check regularly and make sure you have a voicemail set up. Also, specify if it's a mobile or home phone number.
  • Professional Email Id: Never use your personal email id in this section.
  • Address: Provide your current residential address including state, city, and zip code.
  • Link to your LinkedIn profile: Though optional, it is highly recommended to provide a link to your LinkedIn profile, work portfolio, or relevant websites/social media handles.

Here are some things you should leave out of this section:

  • Date of Birth: Unless explicitly asked for, do not include your date of birth on your resume as it's not relevant to your qualifications for the job.
  • Marital Status: Your marital status is also not relevant to your qualifications and should not be included in your resume.
  • Gender, Race, or Ethnicity: Employers are prohibited from making hiring decisions based on these factors, so it's best to exclude them from your resume.
  • Religion and Politics: Your religious and political affiliation is not relevant to your qualifications for the job and can be seen as potentially discriminatory.
  • Headshot: It's generally not recommended to include a photo on your resume, as it could be seen as potentially discriminatory.

By leaving out this information, you can ensure that your "Personal Details and Contact Information" section is relevant, concise, and appropriate for the job.

ii. Summary/Objective

The Summary or Objective is a brief section in your resume that highlights your key skills, experiences, and achievements. It's typically placed at the top of your resume, just below your name and contact information.

The purpose of this section is to give the employer a quick overview of what you have to offer and make them interested in reading the rest of your resume.

A well-written resume summary or objective statement should be concise, easy to read and highlight your most impressive qualifications. It should be tailored to the specific job you're applying for and showcase how you can add value to the company.

Here are some tips for writing an impressive resume summary:

  • Keep it Concise: A resume summary should be no more than 3-4 sentences long.
  • Highlight Your Achievements: Use specific examples to showcase your accomplishments and how they can benefit the company.
  • Showcase Your Skills: Highlight your top skills that are relevant to the job.
  • Tailor it to the Job: Customize your resume summary to the job you're applying for.
  • Use an active voice: Write in an active voice to make your summary more engaging but avoid the use of words like “I” and “my”.

iii. Work Experience

This is a very important section of a resume unless the posting is for a fresher job as it is usually the section the resume reviewer spends the most time reading. It is best to list the job titles you have held in reverse chronological order, i.e. the latest job first.

Under each job you list in this section, you should include the following parts:

  • Job Title: Start with the job title, including the position held, the department, and the name of the company or organization.
  • Dates of Employment: List the dates of your employment, including the start and end dates, for each job you've held.
  • Company Name and Location: Include the name of the company or organization where you worked and where it is situated.
  • Job Description: Write a brief summary of your responsibilities and duties in the role.
  • Achievements: Provide specific examples of your achievements and contributions to the company or organization. This could include any awards or recognition you received, projects you worked on, or metrics you improved.
  • Skills: Highlight any skills you used or developed in the role that is relevant to the job you're applying for.

It is generally recommended to use the active voice in this section and you may freely use words like ‘’I’’ and ‘’My’’. You should also try to use numbers and figures, e.g, ‘’ … increased the website’s traffic by 20%’’.

You should also try using strong action words like achieved, exceeded, implemented, initiated, optimized, streamlined, resolved, and collaborated in this section.

iv. Skill-Set

The Skill-Set section of your resume is where you list the specific skills and competencies you possess that are relevant to the job you're applying for. This section allows you to showcase your abilities and qualifications and helps the hiring manager quickly assess whether you have the skills necessary to perform the job successfully.

You first need to review the job description and identify the key skills and qualifications required for the position. And then, you need to tailor your Skills section to highlight the skills you possess that match those requirements.

This section should include not only the skills strictly related to your pacific profession such as coding, writing, cloud computing, MS Office, Google Analytics, and so on but soft skills as well.

Soft skills refer to a set of personal attributes and interpersonal qualities that enable individuals to effectively collaborate with others in the workplace. These skills are not typically job-specific but rather are transferable across a range of professions and industries.

Some soft skills you can include in your resume, irrespective of the job role include:

  • Problem-solving
  • Critical thinking
  • Adaptability
  • Communication
  • Leadership
  • Time Management

But, you should also take care not to overdo it with the list of soft skills. As a general practice, first, enlist all your technical skills and then add an equal number of soft skills to go with them.

v. Educational Qualifications

The Education section of your resume is where you list your academic qualifications, including degrees, certificates, and diplomas. It is best to list your education in reverse chronological order, starting with your most recent degree or qualification.

The primary components of this section are the name of the institution, the degree or qualification earned, the field of study, and the date of graduation. Your GPA is also to be included in this section but, if it is lower than 3.5, it is better to just leave it out. It is also recommended to leave out your diploma if you have got a university degree

If you have taken courses that are relevant to the job you're applying for, you can list them in a separate section or include them under your degree program. And if you have completed any additional training or certification courses after your degree, you should list them in a separate section as well. You may also include extracurricular activities if they are relevant to the job role.

Additional Sections

In addition to these core sections of a resume (Contact Information, Summary/Objective, Work Experience, Education, and Skills), there are several other sections you can include to enhance your application and showcase your qualifications. Here are some additional sections you may want to consider:

  • Professional Certifications: If you hold any relevant certifications or licenses, you can create a separate section to highlight these credentials.
  • Volunteer Work: If you have volunteered in your community or for a non-profit organization, you can create a section to showcase your volunteer experience and the skills you developed through those activities.
  • Projects: If you have worked on any relevant projects outside of your regular work experience, you can create a separate section to highlight those projects and the skills you developed through them.
  • Publications: If you have published any articles, reports, or other materials relevant to the job you're applying for, you can create a section to showcase your published work.
  • Languages: If you are fluent in any language other than English, you can create a separate section to highlight your language skills.
  • Awards and Honors: If you have received any awards or honors related to your profession or education, you can create a separate section to showcase those achievements.

The additional sections you include in your resume should be relevant to the job you're applying for and help support your qualifications for the position. Including too many sections or irrelevant information can detract from the overall effectiveness of your application.

How To List References On Resume?

References may not be mandatory to list when writing a resume, but they can give you an edge if you make it to the later stages of the recruitment process. A good reference vouches for you and puts in a good word to the recruiter about you. They can be a college professor or a former boss. Ideally, it should be an individual with whom you are on good terms with and who believes in your abilities.

Just like any part of the resume, it is important to follow the appropriate format when listing out references. Typically, one or two references should be enough. It is best to avoid listing out more than five. It is considered best to list references separately in the resume on a new page at the end of the CV. List them out in the below format:

Name
Current Role
Name Of the Organization
Contact Number
Email address
Description: In one or two sentences, explain your working relationship with this person.

Avoid listing out details like the company address or the address of the reference. Recruiters are unlikely to mail them anything; hence, it is unnecessary and increases the length of the document without really providing much value. Also, make sure font size, spacing and other such elements remain uniform throughout the article, including

What To Avoid When Composing A Resume?

When it comes to documents like cover letters and resumes, it is just as important to know what not to do as to know what one should do. There are a lot of common mistakes that can be avoided by candidates to ensure their resumes are more effective.

Blindly Copying From AI Tools

A lot of candidates who are new to the job market use artificial intelligence to get an idea of how to compose a good resume. However, some take it a step too far and blindly just copy-paste all of it. This should be avoided at all costs.

Many companies have online tools to detect AI-generated content. If they detect your content to have been copied, it will surely hinder your chances of being hired greatly. Also, companies will likely conduct a job interview where the recruiters interact with you in person and see if you live up to the hype on your resume.

An individual who has relied solely on artificial intelligence to compose their resume will likely struggle in the job interview stage. Hence, it is best to avoid blindly relying on artificial intelligence. Rather, one should read articles on resume formats and how to compose them while also studying samples. They can also ask for suggestions from people they know.

Lying On A Resume

This is another mistake that a lot of candidates make. It is usually done out of desperation and should be avoided. If discovered, it will create a negative impression in the eyes of the employer. Lying on a resume may get you to the job interview stage, but beyond that, it will be hard to hide major details. Companies will usually put your abilities to the test before hiring you. Hence, it is best to avoid lying, especially about important details on any documents, while applying for a job.

Mentioning Irrelevant Details

It is important to make sure you tailor your resume and cover letter to match the role you are applying for. Avoid listing too much information that does not connect well with the job title. A lot of candidates make this mistake and simply add information for the sake of it without providing any value to the intended reader. To do this, make sure you go through the job description thoroughly when composing your resume.

Resume Example For An Entry-Level Application

Here is an entry-level resume example to help you understand the fundamentals of composing a CV when applying for a job.

Vanessa Morgan
735521598
vmorgan@email.com
374 Main St, Anytown, USA 37425

Summary/Objective:

A content writing fresher possessing internship experience and looking to get their career off to a positive start. Aspire to join an organization that matches my ambitions and offers great learning opportunities while also providing stability to my professional life.

Work Experience:

Content Writing Intern, XYZ Company, Anytown, USA (2023)

  • Created content in various forms, like articles, social media posts, marketing materials, etc.
  • Performed research on relevant topics to ensure good quality content was produced.
  • Collaboration with the marketing unit to help achieve organizational objectives.
  • Learned while on the job to help contribute to the functioning of the company.

Skills:

  • Competent at editing and writing
  • Good Research abilities and attention to detail
  • Possess an understanding of SEO and CMS practices
  • Can work individually or as a team member

Qualifications:

  • Bachelor's degree in English
  • Certificate in Content Marketing

Additional Information:

  • Written for multiple online publications
  • Published an independent blog

References:

  • Martha Gallaway

Senior Content Writer
XYZ Company, Anytown, USA
Contact Number: 7463267915
marthag@email.com
She was the head of the content writing team and supervised my work regularly.

Resume Example for a Middle-Level Job Application

Check out this resume example to get an idea of how all the above-mentioned parts come together in a well-drafted resume.

Ben Johnson
7006772933
Benj@email.com
123 Main St, Anytown USA 12345

Summary/Objective:

A highly skilled and creative content writer with 5 years of experience creating engaging content for various digital platforms. Seeking a position in a dynamic organization where I can leverage my writing skills and experience to drive business results.

Work Experience:

Content Writer, Anytown USA (2018 - Present) - ABC Company

  • Created high-quality content for various digital platforms, including blog posts, articles, social media posts, and marketing materials.
  • Conducted extensive research to ensure the accuracy and relevance of the content.
  • Coordinated with the marketing team to develop content strategies that aligned with the company's objectives and goals.
  • Monitored and analyzed the performance of the content and made recommendations for improvements.

Freelance Writer, Freelance (2016 - 2018) - XXX Company

  • Worked with various clients to create compelling content for their websites, blogs, and social media channels.
  • Conducted research on a wide range of topics to produce informative and engaging articles.
  • Developed and maintained positive relationships with clients to ensure satisfaction and repeat business.

Skills:

  • Excellent writing and editing skills
  • Strong research skills
  • Knowledge of SEO best practices
  • Familiarity with content management systems
  • Experience with social media platforms
  • Capability to perform well as a team member as well as independently
  • Strong attention to detail

Qualifications:

  • Bachelor's degree in English
  • Certificate in Content Marketing
  • Proficient in Microsoft Office Suite
  • Familiarity with Adobe Creative Suite

Additional Information:

  • Published articles in various online publications
  • Member of the American Writers and Artists Inc.
  • Volunteer writer for a non-profit organization's blog.

References:

  • Robert Martin

Senior Content Writer ABC Company, Anytown, USA Contact Number: 7563463936 rmartin@email.com He was the head of the content writing team and supervised my work regularly.

Resume Example for a Senior-Level Job Application

Here is a senior-level resume example that can be studied to help you compose a good resume of your own.

Alfred Simpson
7420876260
alfredsimpson@email.com
756 Main St, Anytown, USA 75694

Summary/Objective:

A well-seasoned veteran in the realm of content writing who is aiming to take on a new challenge. Possessing 15+ years of experience in creating and editing content for various platforms, both in print and digital formats. Looking for a senior role in a company that offers me a chance to take on greater responsibility and advance in my career.

Work Experience:

Last three job titles held:

Senior Content Writer, Company X, Anytown, USA (2019 - Present)

  • Produced content in various forms, like marketing materials, articles, social media posts, etc., for various platforms.
  • Performed research on relevant topics to ensure good quality content was produced.
  • Collaboration with the marketing unit to help achieve organizational objectives.
  • Supervised the work of junior content writers under me.
  • Mentoring junior content writers and helping them develop for the company's good.

Senior Content Writer, Company Y, Anytown, USA (2016-2019)

  • Wrote content for digital platforms.
  • Worked with the marketing department to help set and attain targets for the company.
  • Monitored the work and performance of junior content writers.
  • Researching important subjects to ensure the accuracy of information.
  • Guiding subordinates in the department

Content Writer, Company Z, Anytown, USA (2014-16)

  • Composed various types of content for the company. Both digital and print content are included.
  • Reported to senior content writer and followed their instructions.
  • Researching various sources and information to establish credibility and accuracy.

Skills:

  • Competent at editing and proofreading
  • Versatile writer who can write various types of content
  • Good Research abilities
  • Shows great attention to detail
  • Understands SEO practices
  • Knows how to operate Content Management Systems
  • Able to operate individually or as a team member

Qualifications:

  • Bachelor's degree in English
  • Certificate in Content Marketing
  • Adept at operating Microsoft Office programs
  • Can Operate Adobe Creative Suite

Additional Information:

  • Written for multiple online publications
  • Published an independent blog
  • Volunteer writer at multiple non-profit organizations

References:

  • William Atherton

SEO Department Manager
Company X, Anytown, USA
7042685672
williamathers@email.com
He was the head of the SEO team, and he coordinated with me regularly.

  • Marcus Rasmus

SEO Head
Company Y, Anytown, USA
7455295208
marcusrasmus@email.com
He managed the SEO-related operations in the company and worked closely with me on various assignments.

  • Elena Matthews

Senior Content Writer
Company Z, Anytown, USA
7574985752
ematthews92@email.com
I reported it to her, and she verified my work before it got published.

These are all the main parts of a resume and even if you are going to do the bare minimum, you have got to include at least all of these parts to avoid coming across as unprofessional.

And when you make it through to the interview round, remember not to contradict anything you have said in your resume, and the best way to ensure that in the heat of the interview is not to lie on your resume. Hope you found the article helpful and best of luck with your job search!

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