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Browsing through the internet, you might have come across the phrase that “A single sheet of paper cannot decide my future.’

While every individual has a right to their opinions, if that sheet of paper is your resume, it sure can have a significant impact on your job prospects. While there is no denying the fact that your professional success ultimately depends on you, your qualifications, and skills, an effective resume goes a long way in helping you get your foot in the door and make an excellent first impression.

No matter if this is your first job or you’re an experienced professional who has recently upgraded office productivity skills with an online course, we will help you create an effective resume that can grab the attention of employers.

Here are the 5 steps you should follow-

1. Selecting a Resume Format

Even before you start writing your resume, you need first to select the right format. The content, as well as its presentation, is crucial in a resume. The correct format plays a significant role in helping you improve the presentation part of your resume. There are basically three different resume formats- Functional, reverse-chronological, and combination.

  • Functional- The functional format is ideal for people who do not have a lot of work experience or want to switch to a different career. This format mostly highlights your skills and qualifications.
  • Reverse-chronological- People with work experience mostly consider this format. It highlights work experience that is relevant to the position you’re currently interested in.
  • Combination- The combination format is preferred by people who have plenty of different skills. If you are applying for a position that requires expertise in multiple fields, this can be the right format for you to talk about each of them.

Out of the three, the reverse chronological format is the most popular. The majority of the HR managers are also used to this format.

2. Resume Layout

Apart from the format, the resume layout also has a role to play in the overall presentation of the resume.

Is the resume too long or too short? Is it cluttered or organized? Is it able to captivate the reader or boring? All of these things depend on the layout of your resume.

Here are a few things that can help-

  • The length of a resume should ideally be a single page. Go for two pages only if you believe that the second page will add more value to the resume.
  • Section headings should be highlighted. For instance, you can use H2 for section headers.
  • The font should be easy-to-read as well. While you can try to be unique with a font, like Overpass or Ubuntu, avoid fonts like Comic Sans as it does not look very professional.
  • The font size matters too. Resumes are generally written in font size 11-12 pt. The section titles can be in 14-16 pt.
  • Save your resume in PDF format. While Microsoft Word is popular too, it often messes up the formatting.

Also, nowadays, you might see a lot of creative and modern resume layouts. If you are applying for a tech job where innovation and imagination are valued, you can be a bit more creative with the layout. But it is better to stick to the traditional layout for jobs in sectors like banking, legal, finance, etc.

3. Adding Contact Information and Personal details

Now that we’ve worked out the basics of the resume let us start working on the content. The contact information and personal details are critical in every resume. But some details are a must in every resume, some others are optional, and then there are some that should be avoided.

Take a look-

Necessary Details

  • Name
  • Contact number
  • Email address
  • LinkedIn URL


  • Address (unless required)
  • Personal website
  • Resume title


  • Photo
  • Alternative email/contact number
  • Date of birth (unless required)

Make sure that you cross-check all these details twice or even thrice to avoid misspellings or errors.

4. Resume Objective or Summary

The resume objective or summary is where you make your first impression. Remember that the first impression is critical and often results in immutable opinions. So, it is better to create a good one.

While you might spend hours and days on your resume, HR managers generally spend not more than 5-6 seconds on scanning resumes. So, you’ve got just a few seconds to make an impact. A resume objective or summary is the first step of the process.

A resume summary is like a brief overview of your career in 2-3 sentences. Unless you’re a recent graduate or switching to a different career, you should compulsorily add a resume summary. It should talk about your job, experience, top achievements, and desired goal.

A resume objective, on the other hand, is for communicating the objective of a resume. This also is generally 2-3 sentences long and is commonly used by fresh graduates or people switching to a different career path.

5. Work Experience and Education

Now is the time to add the most vital component of your resume- work experience and key achievements. The ideal format to enter work experience is as follows-

  • Job title
  • Company name, city, and state
  • Employment timeframe
  • Key responsibilities
  • Key achievements
  • Keywords (more on this below)

If you want to enter multiple job entries, go in the reverse chronological order. The details above should be written in bullet points.

Your education should follow this experience section. The same reverse-chronology format should be used here with your most recent education listed at the beginning, followed by other qualifications and degrees.

A few tips for writing this education section-

  • If you have a university degree, there is no need to mention high school
  • GPA should only be mentioned if it is very impressive
  • If you’re a recent graduate with no work experience, replace the experience section with the education section

What are Resume Keywords?

Most of the larger companies now use ATS (Applicant Tracking System) to fast-track the hiring process. These systems search for keywords in resumes and score them accordingly. The keywords are nothing but job-related nouns that describe the hard and soft qualifications and skills required for a job.

The ATS searches your resume for these keywords. For instance, if a company is looking for a “Digital Marketer in London” with expertise in “Social Media Marketing,” the terms “Digital Marketing,” “London,” and “Social Media Marketing” will be considered as the keywords by the ATS. If you have relevant skills and experience, you can add these keywords to your resume.

Writing an Effective Resume

While there are other elements of a resume, like hobbies, languages, awards, projects, etc., they are not as crucial as your contact information, personal details, resume objective/summary, work experience, education, and the overall appearance of your resume.

Now that you have a better idea about these elements, you’re better prepared to create an effective resume. Use these simple steps for building a resume so that you can send it to recruiters when requested or if you’d like to apply for your dream job.