How to
Write a Resume


The resume is the most important career marketing document you’ll ever use. Without it, you will have very little success in your job search. This guide shows you how to write your own resume for generating more responses during your job search process.

write a resume pen icon

A résumé is used by job seekers and career explorers around the world. The purpose of the resume is to present your qualifications to recruiters and hiring managers in a clear, organized and concise manner. Hopefully you will learn from this resource compiled by us here at Brand Red Resume.

The desired outcome is to create a summary of qualifications that helps its recipient evaluate your candidacy and determine how well your skills and experience do the following:

The True Purpose of Your Resume

Your resume serves multiple purposes. As your way of publicizing your professional competencies to recruiters and hiring managers, your resume must effectively market who you are as a developing professional or student and what you have to contribute to the recipient’s organization. That’s why the true purpose of your resume is to secure an interview by generating interest about your candidacy among recruiters and hiring managers.

This purpose means that your resume can be submitted in combination with your application to potential employers, graduate programs, internship programs, scholarship programs and professional associations.

The First Step in Writing Your Resume

Before you are able to write an effective resume to distribute to recruiters and hiring managers, you have to know more about your goals and objectives. By focusing your resume to the opportunity you are looking to obtain, you are likely to have better results after distributing your document. A few questions to help you get started with writing your resume are outlined below.

Who do I want to see my resume? The reason you are writing a resume is to gain the attention of a recruiter or hiring manger within a certain organization. The more you know about this person, the better you are able to tailor your resume content and the greater your chances are of catching their attention.

What are my recipient’s expectations or needs?

resume ideas

Every person you send your resume will have their own set of criteria for evaluating your document. This means that they will also have their own expectations and/or needs. If you are not aware of what these expectations and/or needs are, you will have a hard time putting together a resume document that elicits responses.

What response am I trying to elicit? Depending on who your recipient is, you want to have a clear plan for how your resume should elicit the response you need to achieve your goal. For example, if you are sending your resume to a professional association, the response desired is being granted membership. Or, if you are sending your resume to a potential employer, the response desired is being called in for an interview. Play close attention to the details of your resume that will have the most impact on potential responses and build from there.

How are my qualifications different from or better than my peers’? It’s the age-old question: Why should a company hire YOU over other candidates? You won’t always be the best candidate a recruiter or hiring manager comes in contact with; so, obtaining your desired response will depend on how well you ‘pitch’ your qualifications to your resume’s recipient. By successfully doing so, the recipient will see how you are the best fit for the role – regardless of if you have more credentials or experience than your peers.

The Sections of Your Resume

There are multiple sections to a resume. On average, most candidates complete 4-5 of these sections as a way of making their resume full and attractive to recruiters and hiring managers. Here are 11 of the most common sections of a resume document. You can decide which of these sections will work best for helping you achieve your career and membership goals:

  • Résumé Heading
  • Personal Objective
  • Education
  • Employment Experience
  • Volunteer Work
  • Professional Associations
  • Certifications and Licenses
  • Transferrable Skills
  • Publications and Research
  • Honors and Awards
  • Professional References
Separate Résumé Content

Filling Out Your Resume Sections

When you’re ready to begin filling out your resume sections, keep in mind that each section (and what you include in the section) is completely optional. Remember: The more information you provide on your resume, the better a recruiter or hiring manager will be able to value your candidacy.

Completing Your Resume Heading

Your resume heading is the section where you identify who you are. This section commonly includes the following information: Your name, physical address, current email address, contact number, school email, school address, website and custom LinkedIn URL.

It is not necessary for you have all of this information in your resume because it will not all pertain to you. So, fill this section with the information you have and make sure it is organized and legible. You name should always be bigger than the rest of the information.

Here is a Sample Resume Heading for your review.

resume heading example

Completing Your Personal Objective

This section of your resume can be in either statement or paragraph format. Depending on the industry and type of position you are trying to enter into, you need to determine how you want to focus you career goals so that it is attractive the resume’s recipient. The desired outcome is to summarily present your qualifications and justify your interest in advancement with your career and personal goals.

Here is a Sample Resume Objective for your review.

resume objective example

Completing Your Education Section

The education section of your resume should include the higher education and professional education programs you have successfully completed or are currently completing. In most cases, recruiters and hiring managers prefer to see the location and enrollment dates associated with the program, the area of concentration, and your final GPA.

Remember: The details you include in this section are optional, but more details will work in your favor in the long-run. Also, if your final GPA is less than 3.0, you may not want to include it in this section.

Here is a Sample Education Section for your review.

education resume section example

Completing Your Employment Experience

The most common concern candidates have is having either too much or too little employment experience. A rule of thumb here is to include employment experience that is relevant to the goals you are trying to achieve with your resume. This means you will need to include employment experience that is either identical to the new role you wish to obtain or has provided you with transferable skills that will benefit you in the new role. Also, this section is perfect for listing any internship programs you have completed.

Remember: Include healthy details about your employment experience. Saying something like “Responsible for a team of 9 nurses” is far less attractive than saying “Responsible for the management of membership and team building for a group of 9 nursing professionals”.

Gaps In Your Employment History?

Gaps in your employment history will not always negatively affect the way recruiters and hiring managers value your candidacy. Read our article “11 Tips for Managing Gaps in Your Employment History” and learn how to manage your time unemployed and upgrade your employ-ability while doing it.

Here is a Sample Employment Experience Section for your review.

employment section of a resume example

Completing Your Volunteer Work

This section may or may not be applicable in your situation. If it is, you want to list the volunteer experience you have as a way of illustrating your interest in civic engagement. Your volunteer work will not always be directly related to the role you are pursuing, but it helps the recruiter or hiring manager learn more about your personality and character.

Here is a Sample Volunteer Section for your review.

volunteer section of a resume example

Completing Your Professional Associations Section

Depending on how long you’ve been a part of the working world, you may or may not have gained membership into any professional associations. This section is commonly used by more experienced candidates who have at least 10 years of employment experience. Still, however, do not discount the professional associations you may have been a part of during your time in a higher education program. You can include your fraternity or sorority here, as well as your involvement with academic-related groups.

Here is a Sample Professional Associations Section for your review.

associations section of a resume

Completing Your Certifications and Licenses Section

This section of your resume will be dedicated to any certifications or licenses you have earned. Remember, this section is completely optional. Some candidates choose not to use this section because they either do not have any certification or licenses or their certifications or licenses are related to a completely different industry.

Here is a Sample Certifications/Licenses Section for your review.

certifications section of a resume

Completing Your Transferable Skills Section

The skills you’ve picked up along the way won’t always be directly related to the employment positions you advance into. However, you may have more transferable skills than you are aware of. Skills such as strategic decision-making and effective communication are transferable skills that can be applied to pretty much any role you take on throughout your career.

Remember: If you decide to use the Transferable Skills section on your resume, be sure to list all applicable skills for the recruiter or hiring manager to review.

Here is a Sample Transferable Skills Section for your review.

transferrable skills section of a resume

Completing Your Publications and Research Section

The publications and research section of the resume is used by less than 10% of the candidate population. In many cases, this area is only used by executives and Doctorate-level candidates. If this section does not apply to you, move forward with completing the next section of your resume. If this section does apply to you, be sure to include approximate or actual dates and other members involved in the research or publication.

Here is a Sample Publications & Research Section for your review.

research section of a resume

Completing Your Honors and Awards Section

Throughout your development, you will likely come across opportunities to earn honors and awards in recognition of your skills and accomplishments. You will use this section of your resume to present recruiters and hiring managers with solid justification of your ability to go above and beyond the efforts of your peers.

Remember: The Honors and Awards section of your resume is specific to your professional and academic accolades. Do not include honors and awards from the secondary education level.

Here is a Sample Honors and Awards Section for your review.

awards section of a resume

Completing Your Professional References Section

This section of your resume is vital in proving your credibility as a qualified candidate. Recruiters and hiring managers use your professional references as a decision point for determining how well your candidacy aligns with their criteria and expectations for the role you are trying to obtain. You are encouraged to use this section in every resume as a way of building credibility.

Remember: The references section of your resume should include the following information about your professional references: Their name, professional title, direct contact number, and place of employment.

Here is a Sample Professional References Section for your review.

references section of a resume

Other Information about Writing Your Resume

When it comes to personal information, the data you disclose will be related to one of the above sections. When writing your resume, you will not need to include any personal information that may aid in selection bias on the part of the recruiter or hiring manager. This includes information such as your birthdate, height, and ethnicity.

Conclusion

Remember, your resume plays a vital role in your career search and is integral to your career marketing strategy. Use this guide to help you write your resume.


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