The ultimate goal of a resume is to convince an employer to interview you. How do you create a resume that is clear, meets the expectations of the employer, and is persuasive? In this article, we provide tips for first-time job seekers as well as for seasoned workers.

First: What is a resume?

If you’ve done a lot of job interviews, you can probably skip this section. So what is a resume? It is a document that describes your accomplishments and your abilities. A resume is traditionally (and optimally) about one page long (it may extend to two or three pages depending on your work history), and is suitable to hand to any employer. It’s a quick way to explain who you are, what you’ve done, and what you’re capable of.

A resume is not a CV, which is much longer and charts your education and employment history in detail.

How to create a great resume

There are 5 rules for crafting a resume that does its job successfully:

  • Summarize
  • Be confident
  • Be businesslike
  • Be concise


A resume is a summary. There’s no need to go into fine details on any point. Furthermore, you should keep every sentence in your resume clearly focused on your accomplishments and your abilities. Anything else is off topic.

Be confident

From an early age we’re trained by parents and teachers to be humble, and so many of us are uncomfortable showcasing our achievements in a straightforward way. That said, a resume is not the time for humility. Managers don’t have time to wade through false modesty. Say why you are a great choice, and say it with confidence.

Be Businesslike

Do not use informal language, and keep your sentences tight. In fact, most of your resume should not be complete sentences in paragraphs but rather short, bulleted statements that convey only what they need to.

Be concise

A resume should be as short as it can be. As stated, one page is traditional, but nowadays two pages may be expected for job seekers with long careers behind them. You should err on the side of leaving unimportant information out. You should not, for example, include information about positions you held more than 10-15 years ago unless they are relevant to your current career path.

One other thing to keep in mind: Prospective employers may not read all the way through your resume. They may just skim it for words that match what they’re looking for. So make sure your resume contains words that match the job description you’re aiming for and that these words jump out at the reader.

The writing process

Writing a great resume can be difficult, especially if writing isn’t your forte. However, it need not be a significant roadblock to seeking a new job. Just start with a first draft, be as clear as possible and think about what an employer might want to know about you. Then, once you aren’t staring at a blank page, you can refine it.

If you’re having trouble, you may also stop by the Smart Business Resource Center and ask for help. We offer free assistance to job seekers who want to make great resumes.

A great resume is one of the first steps in getting a great job. They’re also rare. If you demonstrate professionalism and ability when creating your resume, you will  impress the very people you need to impress.

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