Writing the Professional Resume: A Professional’s Advice

The resume is the door to your interview process. When you are trying to get a career started, or you are thinking of changing careers, if your resume does not speak concisely, and clearly to a prospective hiring manager, that door will be closed before it gets a chance to be opened.


Writing resumes for a living for over 10 years has taught me one thing, and that is, if you do not know what you are doing with this important document, get professional help. It is one investment that you will have a positive return on throughout your working lifetime.

Before you Begin

Unlike any other document that you must prepare, the resume is branding you, it is selling you. This is the mindset that you must take on when you begin this document.

You only have 6-10 seconds to keep the interest of the person reading about you, and like a marketing campaign on television, you do not want them to turn the channel as soon as they start at the top. To avoid this, do the following before you begin:

  1. Create a chronological outline of your work history, beginning with the present and going back 5 years. Anything beyond 5 years is not useful
  2. Read the job posting thoroughly, making a list of the keywords that you must include in your resume. (This is important-do not skip this step)
  3. List the relevant skills that you have that are needed for the job posting only. You only have 2 pages to fill. You must be concise and relevant to be valuable to the HR manager.
  4. Pre-create a bulleted list of your skills and how you used them to help perform your job functions. Include the numbers, percentages, and data that was derived from your input. Hiring managers love to see the numbers.
  5. Gather 2-3 references to have them ready in case they are requested. Make sure you get permission from the references before using their names and phone numbers on your resume.
  6. Be honest with yourself. Do you need a friend to help you? If so, get one now. Some of us find it hard to write concise wording about ourselves. It’s okay to need help. But choose someone that will be objective and truthful.

Your Online Footprint

If you are online and belong to various social media groups, if necessary, clean up your online presence.

We got a request to do a young lady’s resume, and when looking her up online found some questionable photos of her over her Spring break. If we could find them, so can your future boss.

The reputation of a company must be your main concern when trying to get a position. The hiring managers are trained to look for your online presences to see what they are getting when hiring you.

If you are not online, get online. Just as important as having a clean online presence, is having one at all.  You become more valuable when a company can see how you interact with the world. This is especially important to companies that sell products to the masses. You become a gateway to your friends and network for more sales. We suggest the following sites to join:

  1. LinkedIn
  2. Facebook
  3. Twitter
  4. Monster.com
  5. Careerbuilders.com

Your email address reflects you. A professional company wants their employees to reflect a certain level of professionalism, and this includes your email address. When we were in college we may have come up with some cute names like sugarhotstuff@, or muscleman@, but those types of handles have no place on a professional resume.

We suggest using your first and last name, or the combination of your initials, such as RDavis5@, to update your professional email address. You don’t have to get rid of your old one. You may have a lot of friends associated with that one. However, use the new one for professional purposes.

Web Pages for Creatives

Many graphic designers that we built resumes for have been successful by having their own website. If you have skills that can be shown through your portfolio online, do so. There is software today that you can use to help build a website at little or no cost depending on the content that you upload.

Then after building the website, you can add the link in your resume. HR managers can easily look over what you have done and determine if they can use your skills.

Those online have a better chance of landing an interview than those that do not have an online footprint, so get busy making sure that yours is up to par before attempting your resume.

Writing the Resume

Now that all the incidentals are out of the way. Let’s talk about powerful content that will make hiring managers make that call to bring you in for an interview. Earlier we mentioned keywords. Keywords are what the hiring managers will use to determine if your resume is what they are looking for.

Be careful with this step. Take the list that you compiled when you read the job posting and integrate them into your resume’s upper half on the first page if possible. Using action words, not just a list of duties, begin telling a story of what you did, how you did it and what was achieved when you did it.

Some action keywords include words like:

Authorized, acted, budgeted, built, calculated, commissioned, deferred, discussed, entered, evaluated, endorsed, formed, guided, graphed, hired, headed, improved, instilled, judged, justified, lectured, listened, modified, maximized, negotiated, networked, observed, oriented, persuaded, procured, quoted, queried, remedied, reviewed, secured, supported, tabulated, tailored, targeted, utilized, unified, updated, valued, visited, witnessed, won, and many more.

Do not get in the habit of repeating the same words, you do not want to sound redundant. Mix it up, remember you are selling yourself to a human being that does not want to be bored to the point of not reading the rest of your presentation.

Your Future in The Company

Be honest about your achievements, and stick to the relevance of the job posting. Do not turn your resume into a story about how bad your past job experiences have been or try to talk negatively about your past employers.

This is an opportunity to only discuss your future and your future with the company that you are applying to. Include the things that you enjoy doing the most from the list of things in the job posting.

If available give details of the types of jobs you have done that are parallel to what they are listing as qualifications

Objectives v. Summaries

Things have changed in this category. Not many companies want or care to know what your objectives are if they are not specific to the job you are applying for. Many applicants are now using a summary instead of an objective for this category.

Just give a summary of what you are looking forward to doing for the company. Visiting their website and getting an idea of what they are about is a good way to make an offer of your services in the summary.

Formatting and Design

Correct grammar throughout your resume is a no-brainer. No one wants a sloppy resume on their desk. It will end up in the trash never to be seen again. Remember, you are selling your brand, yourself. Present yourself as a neat, well put together professional, and you will get results.

Designs for resumes can be found in your Words software or offered as an additional service if you decide to use a professional resume writer. A professional will custom make your resume so that it stands out from the hundreds of templates that are offered free online.

A professional resume should have strong font structure and color choices. Everyone is getting away from the old Times New Roman font and going for fonts like Segoe UI, Calibri, and Courier New. They transfer seamlessly across all software.

The Interview

If you have made it to the first interview, congratulations. Hopefully, it is only one, but if not that is okay too. Everyone gets nervous when having to be interviewed by a prospective employer but with the following tips you should be fine.

  1. Research the company before your interview: if you know them well, when asked about why you want to work there, you will be equipped with knowledge of what they represent.
  2. Prepare your portfolio- make sure it is neat and in order. Take out anything that you do not want to be presented.
  3. Prepare questions for the manager, they look forward to your inquisition as well.
  4. Smile-this will stick with the manager. Do not walk in their office like a scared kid, you are a professional, stand up straight, extend your hand and smile big.
  5. Listen to what is being said- think of it as a tennis match, and you are matching everything they throw at you with a comeback because you heard what they said.
  6. When answering questions, be modest but confident. Leave any cockiness you have at home. It is not welcomed.
  7. If possible, find out some interesting things about the person that will be interviewing you. What have they accomplished that you admire? What sports do they like? Knowing this information can be a way to break the ice with them when you come into their office.
  8. Develop a dialog from the questions that are being asked by asking your own questions at the end of your answers.
  9. Show that you are thoughtful by not jumping into answering too soon. Take a moment to absorb the question that is being asked.
  10. Practice your interviewer’s name so that you get it right when you meet them, and if necessary, ask them when they call you what is the correct pronunciation.

You are now ready to develop your resume and get hired. Just like anything worth having, it may take hard work. Before you sit down to write your resume, make sure you have at least 3-4 hours of time to do it right. In case if you do not have such amount of free time you always can find professional writers for resume on the web. Good luck!

Author: Veronica Wright

Hi, I'm Veronica from Resumes Centre. I'm here to share all my struggles and experience about daily routine and give you as much career tips as possible.