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Writing a Great Resume Made Easy

By Tim Brugger - Updated Jun 26, 2017 at 7:29PM

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Getting in the door is job No. 1 for those seeking employment, and that requires a strong resume.

Before we walk through the resume-writing process step by step, a few considerations are in order. Having reviewed literally hundreds of work histories over the years, I've noticed that some things tend to work, and others, not so much. First, use a non-white though muted color, slightly thicker than printer paper stock. Nothing flashy or cardboard-thick, just not plain or flimsy.

Resumes are ideally one page in length, certainly not more than two pages. Assume the hiring manager is sifting through a stack of work histories, so three- or four-page resumes will likely get pushed to the side. Also, indent consistently, with or without an actual border, on both sides as well as top and bottom. If not, a resume tends to look cluttered, even if it's isn't.

Two women in a job interview.

Image source: Getty Images.

Start at the top

What are the key points you want to ensure jump out? It starts with your name, which is in bold and centered at the top of the resume. By using a font larger than your address, phone, and email -- which are centered below your name and not in bold -- your name will pop.

Next comes your "title," which is a brief synopsis of your professional background. An example of a title would be, "Senior Financial Services Professional." This is also bold, centered a few spaces below the contact information, and the same larger font used for your name.

What's your ideal position?

Next up a couple of spaces down, in "normal" font size but also bold, is your professional objective. In other words, what type of position are you looking for? Be sure to -- tactfully -- include a few strengths you bring to the table.

For example, say you're (Side note: avoid using apostrophes as I just did) looking for a leadership position, that would look like this, "Professional Objective: Secure a leadership position requiring a varied skill set across multiple business functions: financial acumen, client service, operations, and team building." Or some derivative thereof.

The meat of the matter

Now it's time to highlight work history. First include the name of the company in all capital letters, also bold but the same font size as most of the resume. Next comes company location, both city and state, followed by the month and year of your start and end date, all in bold letters. If you're still employed there use "current" in lieu of an end date.

Next briefly explain -- a sentence is ideal -- what the company does, what company's primary function is. Then your title at the company, and a bulleted list of one sentence descriptions of your responsibilities, particularly those that coincide with your targeted job opportunity. The bullets should be slightly indented, again to help your experience and attributes stand out.

Now lather, rinse, and repeat for each of your past roles. For those of us who have been around a while there's no need to go back to when you were delivering pizzas in college, 15 to 20 years is plenty. If your work history spans beyond that and is pertinent, then a brief sentence or two highlighting those roles is warranted.

Icing on the cake

Do you hold any licenses, designations, or other type of extended training, either in-house or from a specialized school? If so, in the same bold, smaller font include something akin to the following: "Licenses, training, and professional affiliations (assuming all apply, if not simply use those that do)

CPA ● XYZ Institute graduate ● Fluent in Spanish ● Member of Women's Entrepreneur Club"

Next on the docket comes education including any degrees, certificates, or honors along with the school and where it is located. Though "Education" is in bold, the specifics are plain text.

Final thoughts

Remember what the objective of a resume is. It's not to tell your life story, or even every particular of your professional history, but rather to pique the interest of the hiring manager or team enough to get you in the door.

Lastly, ask a friend or family member to review the completed resume to get their first impressions. Is it clean and easy to read? This type of feedback can help you get a sense of what, if any, slight "tweaks" might be needed. Good luck in the interview!

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