Writing your resume can feel overwhelming. After all, summarizing your career on a one-page resume doesn’t come naturally to most people.
Like many things in life, getting started is the most difficult part. In this guide, we walk you through how to start a resume, so you can move your job hunt forward.
Table of Contents
You might think you should start your resume by writing an introduction, but you should actually leave it until last. Here’s how to start writing your resume:
1. Write every section except the resume introduction
A resume introduction shortens the most important aspects of your experience into a concise pitch to the hiring manager. So, write the other parts of your resume first. Then, decide which points from each part to include in your resume’s introduction paragraph.
Here are the sections to write before starting your resume introduction:
2. Read the job description again
The first step in writing a good resume is to reread the job description. Hiring managers list the exact qualifications they’re seeking in job ads, so ensure the information on your resume corresponds to the listed requirements.
Another reason to reread the job description is to find skills-related keywords for your target job. Many companies use applicant tracking systems (ATS) to automatically delete applications that don’t include the skills they need.
Here’s a job description with keywords applicants should add to their resumes highlighted:
So, mine the job ad for keywords to add to your resume, and include them in a natural way.
3. Compile relevant information
Once you’ve written the majority of your resume and studied the job description to see what skills and experience the hiring manager is looking for, compile the most impressive information from your career.
List accomplishments relevant to the target job, as well as any hard and soft skills listed in the job requirements, (e.g., computer skills, language skills, communication skills, and interpersonal skills).
If an achievement you’re proud of isn’t related to the job you’re seeking, cut it.
Next, you need to choose the best resume introduction. Here’s how to pick and write the best type of resume opening for your situation:
You have four resume introductions to choose from: the resume summary, professional profile, career objective, and summary of qualifications.
Follow our “How To Choose a Resume Introduction” flowchart below to discover which resume intro maximizes your chances of getting hired:
Now that you’ve picked your resume introduction, let’s look at how you can adapt it to effectively promote your experience and skills.
Below we describe each resume introduction and show you how to write each one. You’ll also find several resume introduction examples at the bottom. Click the resume introduction our flowchart recommends to get started:
Customer service representative with 5+ years of experience in telephone customer service, including sales, tech support, and customer care. Familiar with major customer service software and conflict resolution, and possess a positive attitude. Aiming to use my proven skills as a member of [Target Company]’s expert customer service team.
Career objectives are great if you’re just entering the workforce or only have 1–2 years of experience. A good career objective tells the hiring manager what you’re looking for, what you have to offer, and why you deserve the position.
A career objective has four basic parts:
- Years of work/internship experience and the job duties performed
- The major qualities, skills, and abilities you have that were advertised in the job ad (you must be able to prove these skills in the professional experience section)
- Relevant degrees, licenses, and certifications you hold
- A closing statement describing your objective (i.e., how you plan to use your qualifications to help the company)
Summary of qualifications
- Conversational in English and Spanish, being able to serve Spanish-speaking customers
- Outgoing and charismatic personality, easy to work with
- Spearheaded initiative to retain clients, resulting in a 47% decrease in cancellations
- Winner of the “Fastest Learner” award from Scottrade at Utica branch in 2017
- Fast and accurate typist (70 wpm)
A summary of qualifications (also known as a qualifications summary) is best if you have numerous skills or achievements and are switching industries. A qualifications summary contains 5–6 bullet points emphasizing your:
The order of the bullet points is up to you. However, we suggest listing the most relevant and impressive first to attract recruiters’ interest.
Track record: 5+ years of experience in telephone customer service
Typing: Fast and accurate typist (70 wpm)
Customer service: Received an average 85% customer satisfaction rating
Leadership: Managed a team of 7 junior customer service representatives
A resume summary is the right option if you have many work-related accomplishments to showcase. Resume summaries are also versatile because they can be used if you’re seeking work in the same industry or are trying to enter a different one.
When writing your resume summary, you can use a 2–3 sentence paragraph or 5–6 bullet points with subheaders. Include a keyword (usually a relevant skill or achievement) and a sentence outlining your accomplishments. Tie all the information in your qualifications summary together with quantifiable data, like statistics, to support your claims.
Client-oriented customer service representative with 5+ years of experience in inbound telephone customer service. An expert in Kayako, having trained several new hires to use the software. Can memorize entire line of company products and services, including prices and discounts. Received an average 85% customer satisfaction rate.
A resume profile (also known as a professional profile) is a mix of the best of a career objective and qualifications summary. Your resume profile should include four main points:
- Years of experience
- Specialty or job duty you excel at
- Transferable skills
- Career achievements