How to Write a Resume for the First Time, According to 25 Experts

What are the best ways to write a resume for the first time?

We asked experts to share some valuable insights.

Table of Contents

Ron Auerbach, MBA

Ron Auerbach

Educator | Career Coach | Job Search Expert | Author, Think Like an Interviewer: Your Job Hunting Guide to Success

For many, if not most people, the first time you create a resume, it’s challenging. Why? That’s because you may have no idea where do you even begin?

For others, it’s equally challenging but for a different reason. They know where to start but cannot think of much to put on there. So their resumes end up being very sparse and not overly impressive. Let’s begin with the basic sections.

Have your contact information

This is where you list who you are, which should be the biggest thing on your resume by the way. That will help it scream out that it’s your resume. And in a pile of other applications, having your name big and bold will help it stand out more.

You should include your name, address, phone number, email address, and even a social media address such as LinkedIn if you’d like.

So you want to include various ways employer and recruiters can get a hold of you should. FYI, just your name should be big and bold, not the rest of your contact information! Why? It’s because you want to draw lots of attention to this being your resume and not somebody else’s.

So a classic resume mistake is to make your entire contact section the same size. No, your name needs to be the biggest thing on your entire resume. And your contact information goes at the very top making it the first section of a resume.

In terms of formatting, you can have everything on separate lines or group some items together.

It all depends upon how much space you’d like to devote and which visual layout most appeals to you. For instance, you can have your name and address on totally separate lines. And in the fourth line have your phone on the left, email on the right, and LinkedIn address in the middle.

List the various skills and capabilities you possess

This can really take some thought because you might not think of a lot off the top of your head. FYI, asking others who know you to assist is very helpful.

For example, having your family and/or friends give you their opinions about what skills and capabilities they think you have or are good at would be. This gives you a sense of how other people see you.

Mixing your own view of yourself with an outsider’s view of you can be very helpful here.

They might see something you miss or feel you’re not that good with but they feel you are. Now with this section, you want to make it easy to read. So I highly recommend you use bullets to draw attention to things. This makes it very easy on the eyes and helps separate each item out from the rest.

Your ultimate goal is to fill the page as best as you can.

One strategy I’ve used and recommended to others is this. So instead of having to say a 1/2 page resume, you’ll have a full page. Thus, take advantage of customizing the formatting to accommodate this.

Keep this section bolded and centered. This helps separate it out from the text. So making your section headings different from the text helps better focus the reader’s eyes. Some people will underline the section heading, which is perfectly acceptable. You can also bold and underline it if you’d like.

Although it’s the same information, visually, it appears to take up more room, which sends a perception of your being even more qualified than another who uses less space. So you want to play into the psychology of having a resume filling more of the page rather than less of it!

Make the visual look consistent.

And if you wanted to use less space but still include the same information, you could list multiple items on the same line. For example, having two or three items across each line. The important thing to bear in mind is that you want an even number of items in your listing. Why? Consistency is super important with a resume!

So if hiring managers or recruiters see two items on all the lines except for the last one, it stands out as though something is missing. Or your formatting isn’t quite right. Or you missed it and didn’t fix the problem, which is the worst of all possible scenarios!

So consistency is a good thing and something you want to prominently display throughout your resume.

Include accomplishments

That is true, they are of importance. You can, if you’d like, to combine your skills with your accomplishments into one section. So instead of naming the section Skills, I could use Skills and Accomplishments.

FYI, they are two distinct things! Skills are things you possess or are good at, naturally or otherwise. Accomplishments are things you’ve done and/or have been recognized or rewarded for doing.

For example, you received an award for organizing a club fundraiser. Or you made the Dean’s List in college or university. Even having perfect attendance is considered an accomplishment. So if you’ve never missed a day of school, that’s great! It shows your devotion to your studies and is an indication of you’re showing up to work each day.

Receiving a high mark or perfect score on a school project or assignment is also an accomplishment. So too is receiving an award for doing community service.

Depending upon your background, it may be best to have your accomplishments listed in a separate section. That way, it draws more attention to them and uses more space to help fill the page.

Include your education

In the working world, education is a good thing because employees will always need to be trained and be updated on things as time goes by. So making sure recruiters and hiring managers know you’re trainable is extremely important for first-time job seekers.

Now with schooling, whether you only have a high school, some college, or a full degree, many will make a classic resume mistake. That is just listing your schooling without any details. For example, not expanding upon the kinds of classes you took.

On your resume, you should list the kinds of things you learned while in attendance.

Let’s say you went to college for biology and didn’t graduate. That can be classes you took, subjects or areas within the discipline you studied, etc. This way, employers and recruiters will know more about your background.

And you will have additional information to help fill the page, thus making your resume more substantial and powerful.

Leave GPA information out!

The last thing I will say is this. And it’s a mistake I’ve seen countless first-time job seekers make. That is putting your grades or GPA on your resume. The reason is that grades do not accurately reflect your level of intellect, dedication, nor ability to perform well on the job.

Besides, there are many things that can skew grades. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not saying you cannot showcase your excellent performance. It’s the way in which you do this that makes all the difference in the world.

So instead of mentioning your specific grades or your GPA, restate things in other ways. For example:

  • Did extremely well in school because I always took my studies very seriously.
  • Always put in my best efforts to do well in class and it paid off with high marks.
  • One of my class projects received the second-highest grade in a class with over 30 other students.
  • Received a perfect score on three separate assignments.

Notice how I don’t list any specific grades or GPA. But also take note of how I get across the key points of taking my studies very seriously and doing extremely well. It also leaves some “mystery” as to specific grades or GPA. If they want to know, they’ll have to do an interview.

So using my technique gives them a reason to reach out to you for an interview to learn more. And that’s exactly what you want, employers and recruiters coming to you!

Frank Grossman

Frank Grossman

Founder, Resumes That Shine

A resume typically is a record of business accomplishments, so you may feel you have nothing to build on when you create your initial resume. Most of us have accomplishments, even if we do not have a record of salaried employment or entrepreneurship yet.

Your resume is a business report

A resume is a short business report. You will create innumerable reports during your career, so this is a good opportunity to start honing this skill. There are three steps to preparing an outstanding report. Gather the data, prepare worksheets and write the report.

Gather your data

The data for your resume is information about your education, work experience or work-related experience and work-related skills or competencies.

Assemble whatever documents you have such as school transcripts and records of summer jobs, volunteer work or internships. Scan them or put them in a binder for easy access. This will save you grief later even if you do not need all of the detail now.

Create worksheets

The best way to create an accurate and complete report of any kind is to build it from worksheets. You can create worksheets for the major topics on your resume, including education, skills, reverse-chronological experience and accomplishments.

The education worksheet will be short, despite the time, effort and money you have devoted to school and training. You should record the official title of your degree or diploma, any honors and the award date for the degree.

The skills worksheet will be more challenging for some of us. Create a 3-column table in MS-Word or a similar program and fill in as many hard core competencies as you can. Hard skills or core competencies are terms such as retail math, portfolio analysis, process improvement, legal research, etc.

Employers search for prospects that have done portfolio analysis, for example, but they don’t necessarily search for people that say they have “great communications skills.”

It will be useful to type up a reverse-chronological work history even though this seems simple.

For example, it is a good idea to make certain you know the recognized names of places where you worked, completed internships or performed volunteer work, and when you worked at each of these places.

You do not need names and phone numbers of supervisors for your resume, but you will want to have that information for job applications.

The most important and detailed prep document is your accomplishment worksheet.

Create three-columns to describe each business problem or opportunity you were asked to address, the specific actions you took to address the opportunity, the quantifiable results you achieved.

You have accomplishments even if you worked as a cashier or handed out meals at a food pantry. How many customers did you serve each day? What was the value of transactions you processed at the cash register or POS terminal?

Did you suggest a change that improved the process so the business earned more revenue or the pantry served more people or served them more rapidly?

Employers know or can find your job descriptions. They do not know what you contributed.

Write your resume

Put your name and contact information on the top of your page, then fill in your work experience and education. You may want to consolidate brief experiences such as internships under a heading such as University Internship Program so the document flows better.

Place a brief summary including a headline under the contact information, but write it after you write everything else. The headline could be something like “Entry-level Financial Analyst,” or “Customer Care Professional.”

The summary should be a few lines describing your position and the industry you are in, your expertise and a few accomplishment highlights. Then, paste in a 3-by-3 core competency matrix using the nine strongest skills from your worksheet. (make the gridlines invisible)

New grads often place education under the summary. You should consider putting experience above education if you already have relevant experience.

The resume will be relatively easy to write if you did you your “homework” first. Save your worksheets. They will help with interview prep, too.

Deb Woolridge, SPHR SCP, SHRM, MSED

Deborah Woolridge

Human Resources Consultant

Here is my guidance to those new to the work world:

Learn first

Learn about the parts of a resume and the parts of a job description. Look at sample resumes of new entrants to the work world. You can download a resume template from the web. There are templates for new job seekers that can help jump-start the process. Learn how to complete an application.

Address the content

Developing a resume is hard for experienced people so you can imagine the frustration for someone just starting out. The good news is that so much in ones’ early life is underestimated as useful. While one may have not been paid for an activity, it should never be considered not applicable.

Volunteerism, sports activities, temporary jobs, simple pleasures, and passions result in functional skills that can be used in a job. Even if you never worked, reflecting these on a resume count. To create content for a resume I recommend the following:

Brainstorm list

This is an uncensored list where one writes down all activities they participated in or the services they provided. Examples can be soccer, painting, math, singing, babysitting, shopping, school play, odd jobs.


To focus on it, I recommend taking the list and creating categories like school, recreation/sports, hobbies, community services, faith-based activities, temporary jobs.


Go back to the categories and expand them into sentences which begins to build content. Example: Childcare: provided childcare services to local neighborhood children between ages 6 months to 12 years. Fed them, ensured safety, read books to them, entertained them.

Simply start the resume

Fill in those parts of the template that are known: demographics, school information, expertise in software or technology.

  • Employment: List any position for which you received pay. Include childcare and how allowance was earned.
  • Volunteer: List any activity where you volunteered services.
  • Sports and extra-curricular activities: This is for awards, certifications, etc.

Often we may be shy of content when we begin work. Look for job descriptions which provide more details on the position and adapt what is applicable.

Share and get inputs

Ask someone to review your resume. This can be a family member, a friend but I highly recommend a school counselor, community center, faith-based organization where someone has experience and is willing to provide guidance. A better option though, go to a local state workforce center where a counselor can provide help.

Edit, Tweak, Edit, Tweak

This simply is learning for anyone in the work world. Know that for most jobs you apply for there will be some need to edit and redefine a resume. Keep your resume current by adding jobs to it as you get them. From the main resume, it becomes easier to adapt it for another future job.

Carlota Zimmerman, J.D.

Carlota Zimmerman

Success Strategist

Resumes can be daunting to many people because they force us to organize and tell our professional stories in a linear, organized fashion, and as the Talmud says, life is lived forward and understood backward. To that end, some basic points:

Keep it one page

Most resume readers are reading to see your ability to be concise. When I get resumes from clients that are two or three pages, with long, redundant, even cryptic comments and abilities…nope.

What is the overall point of your resume? What is your ideal reader looking for? She wants to know that you can tell your story in a concise, organized manner that resonates with the needs of your industry.

A good resume demonstrates your talents

It’s the difference between saying for example that you are “detail-oriented,” but then sending a resume that is long, cumbersome and perhaps lightly dusted with spelling & grammar mistakes or creating a tightly paced one page document that your reader reviews thinking, “Wow this person is incredibly detail-oriented, I’m going to call her in!”

Don’t tell me, for example, that you’re passionate about your industry. Show me your passion, by telling me about the industry-related conferences you’ve attended, the articles you’ve published (even if it’s just a well-maintained personal blog), the volunteer work you’ve done.

Use professional contact details

When you share your email, cell phone and address on the resume remember: the email must be professional. This is a good time to open a Gmail account since HR people are notably skeptical of applicants who opine themselves as social media savvy but use a Juno email.

Your address should be in the same state as the job you’re applying for, and make sure that your VM is also professional, “Hi, you’ve reached PHONE, I’m sorry I missed your call!” Save the George Costanza “funny” messages for your friends.

Focus on professional achievements

Joan Didion famously wrote, “We tell ourselves stories in order to live.” So, what story is your resume telling? Instead of beating yourself up for perceived faults, focus on the professional lessons your own unique story has allowed you to experience.

Now, think about the job/industry you’re applying to. What skills, experiences, expertise, and education does it value? What do you bring to the table? Tell your story!

Make your resume as specific as possible

Even if your resume is an industry-triumph, your reader wants to feel that your expertise is specific to her company. Take some time and research the company in question: like and follow them on social media; Google the company, the CEO and other top people.

Have they written any books, articles or even given a Ted Talk? All of that will give you fodder for what to mention, and whatnot.

Mention language proficiency and academic honors

Too many Americans forget that speaking multiple languages is crucial in the inter-connected language we live in. I myself speak Russian and English, and that ability and experience–I lived in Russia for years–was crucial to my early success. This isn’t bragging, it’s simply stating a fact.

Related: How to Include Language Skills (Proficiency) on Your Resume

Look up the company and greater industry on LinkedIn, and see how the people whose careers you covet present themselves: what can you learn from them?

You don’t have to do it all in one day

Finally, yes writing a resume can be emotionally grueling. Set your stopwatch for 25 minutes and write out a list of talking points that you think are relevant. Once the alarm goes off, if you want to stop, stop. If however, you’re feeling motivated on how to make your resume stand out, keep on trucking, kid!

As a coach who has helped members of the Obama Administration rewrite their resumes to go (successfully) into the private sector, trust me that everyone, simply everyone, finds the idea of presenting themselves to strangers intimidating.

Rona Borre

Rona Borre

CEO, Instant Alliance

Creating your first professional resume can be a daunting experience. As a student entering the professional workforce for the first time, I highly recommend crafting a few versions of your resume.

Craft a resume that is most suited to the position you’re applying for

Have it highlight your most relevant experiences. Remember, employers typically give resumes a glance at first, you’ll want to put your best foot forward as this initial impression of you is your best chance of getting an interview.

Highlight achievements throughout college

Since graduating students often have limited, if any, working experience, it’s critical to highlight activities, clubs, or societies that they’ve been involved with throughout college.

If you held a leadership role within any of these organizations, be sure to highlight that in your resume and list out of some of your accomplishments while you were in that organization.

This will help your interview ask you relevant questions and puts you in a good position to prepare answers to common interview questions about the background as you’ve highlighted it.

Use objective statements

These statements provide you a unique opportunity to craft a fully-customized statement about the role that you are applying for. Use this space to find ways to separate yourself from other applicants.

Ensure that there are no grammatical or spelling errors in your resume

One of the best pieces of advice I can give is also one of the most basic. After putting in all the effort of drafting a resume and customizing your background to reflect the job best, nothing feels worse than not receiving a call because you realize that you spelled a word incorrectly too late.

A resume is a reflection of you. Having a document that highlights all your personal and professional accomplishments in a well thought out format can make the difference between getting your career on the right track and gaining experience to further yourself professionally.

Dawn D. Boyer, Ph.D.

Dawn Boyer

CEO, D. Boyer Consulting

Start collecting information

List all the companies you have worked for over the last 10-15 years (or as far as your work history goes back if under 15 years) – include MM/YY-MM/YY employment dates, your ‘functional’ job title (e.g., wait staff versus fancy titles that don’t mean anything to recruiters), and the full name of company, city, and state.

Be able to start job description bullets with ‘action’ verbs such as “managed”, “supervised”, “researched”, “created”, “developed”.

Describe what you ‘achieved’ in that position – essentially describe your weekly or monthly tasks and responsibilities in general.

Ensure that all your education, training, certifications earned are listed

Some of those years or months of education could substitute for years of experience for some job requisitions. If you are in academics, you need to list all publications (especially journal articles), conferences attended/presented, quorums, etc.

List technical capabilities, if there are any

One vital thing employers are seeking now are technical capabilities – so list all the software, hardware, computer languages, proprietary company equipment you have worked on in the past and currently, which will showcase you are able and willing to learn new technology and do something with it.

Then, when you start writing your resume – all the information you need to compile the resume will be in one place to refer to for writing.

Be careful with using templates found online

One big warning – If you use templates you found on the Internet to compile your resume, do not use those templates with Word or Text Boxes into which you plug content. Those text boxes will gum up the parsing engine in the Automatic Tracking System and your resume will look like ‘crapola’ on the other side of the firewall.

Cecilia Deal, CPCC

Cecilia Deal

Corporate Recruiter | Certified Professional Co-Active Coach | Founder, Finding Wanna, LLC

Pick a focus

Know what you want and what type of position you will go after. Giving your resume a focus will help you communicate more clearly the skills and experience you have to offer for that type of position.

Think of your resume as a marketing tool

Think Coca-Cola or REI. Your resume is meant to capture the attention of your potential employer and make them want to call you.

Make it a great marketing tool

Great marketing focuses on the outcome and benefits that a product can offer. Coca-Cola doesn’t advertise that they are a beverage company. Their commercials and material focus on letting you know that their product provides satisfaction (like pizza and coke). You should do the same.

Start big with your rough draft

And then scale it back – using the first draft as a brainstorming opportunity to put down everything you’ve done. Include the stuff you may not have been paid for including volunteer work, helping out that neighbor down the street with the software issues, etc.

Plot it all down. Don’t leave out anything. Duplicates are fine at this point. You can whittle it down or edit it out later.

Tell them what you know

A lot of people undersell themselves (skills and experience) on their resume. Make sure you include as much as you can of anything relevant, whether you were paid for it or not. Include that volunteer work you do or the help you give that neighbor of yours who has always got some virus on her computer.

Things you think are irrelevant might actually be important

Don’t dismiss the help you give your neighbor, that special project you did at school, that team or project you lead, or the time you spent selling girl scout cookies. All that experience, paid or not, could be relevant.

List your community involvement

Volunteer work, Board of Director positions, non-profit involvement, etc. They don’t necessarily need to be relevant, you can always place them in their own section titled “Community Involvement”.

Your community involvement shows you care and for some companies, that’s super important. If the position did provide relevant work experience in any way list them as you would a job.

Ryan Luke

Ryan Luke

Police Lieutenant | Recruitment Officer, Property Crimes Bureau | Finance Blogger, Arrest Your Debt

What is a resume?

Your resume should be a 1-2-page document that summarizes your academic and professional experience. Hiring managers receive a large number of resumes and don’t have time to read multiple-page documents. Keep your resume short and sweet!

Parts of a resume

Your resume should be split into different sections so it’s easy to scan and highlight your top accomplishments. You should have the following sections: Heading, Summary, Experience, Additional Experience, Education, Additional.


Your header should include all of your biographical information so the manager has an easy way to contact you. This should include your full name, address, email, and phone number.


This is where you are going to highlight your major accomplishments and what you want the manager to know about you. Keep it concise and don’t type more than three to four sentences.


This is a list of your relevant experience and how it applies to the position you are seeking. If you currently work for a company, include the company name and your current list of responsibilities.

List past jobs and experiences that would be relevant in a bullet type form. In order to best highlight your accomplishments, use action verbs to start your sentences. For example,

  • “Achieved the unit award for…”
  • “Build a new team from the ground up to address…”
  • “Created a program that increased efficiency and …”
  • “Implemented a new operations plan that changed the way we…”

Additional Experience

If you have experience with service or volunteer work, this is a great place to show your involvement in the community. I usually include my volunteer work coaching children’s soccer teams and other things I do for the community.


Your formal, as well as informal education, should be highlighted here. List the schools you attended, the years you attended, and any degrees or certifications you earned. If you are currently in a program, indicate the year you started until the present. For example:

The University of Southern California (2018 – present) Bachelor of Science In Education

This shows you have not yet completed the course but are currently in the process.


This section is used for any additional qualifications you have that would be applicable to the position you are seeking. For example, “Bi-lingual and fluent in both English and Spanish.”

If you have other skills that would benefit the job, include them here.

Formatting your resume the proper way

  • No more than 2 pages.
  • All bullet should be aligned to the left.
  • Font should be size 10 or larger.
  • Use an easy to read fonts like Arial or Times New Roman.
  • Margins should not be smaller than 0.7.
  • Send your resume in PDF format.

Spellcheck and proofread your resume

I can’t tell you the number of resumes I read that have basic spelling mistakes. These simple errors immediately turn me off. Set your self up for success by using that spell check button and reading your resume multiple times to ensure it is error-free. Feel free to have a friend or relative look over your resume as well to find anything you missed.

Laura Mael

Laura Mael

Founder & Owner, Career Solutions By Laura

When working with a client who has never had a resume, here are the steps I give them:

Create a one big list

Consider everything you did in these areas and write it down in one big list.

  • Work experience.
  • Volunteer/community involvement experience.
  • Education (post-high school only if you’re over 21).
  • Awards/recognitions.
  • Extra Activities.

Organize and group your list

Work experience

List all your jobs chronologically. Under each job write out in 2-3 sentences describing what you did. Add one sentence of something you did at each job that you’re proud of that the reader wouldn’t know unless you told them. Go back under each role and write something that has numbers in it and shows a measurable result for the business.

Volunteer and community involvement experience

If you’ve done a lot, just list the organizations you worked with, the role(s) you had and the years, leave the descriptions for the interview

Education, awards, recognition

Focus on post-high school and list college, certificates, seminars, etc. and list it in that order. You can always leave our seminars if your resume is getting too long. If your resume seems short, and you have interesting outside work things you do then list those. You’d be surprised how much they can tell an employer about who you are and what you might bring to a role.

Example: “Founded and managed a charity softball tournament 15 years in a row raising over $150,000 to date resulting in a new ball diamond, community rec center, and free summer sports activities for a local community.”

Dr. J. Paul Rand, MBA, CPCN

Paul Rand

Psychologist | Researcher | Strategy Advisor | Performance Coach

I want to alert you to a program that helps. The program is fully accredited by federal and non-profit professional associations and is the subject of an RSolutions publication: City of Companies.

This tool, the Career Development System, is available through (student-free version) and several proprietary groups.

Use the Career Development System tool

The tool is ideal for first-time resume writers, think of a blank Job description.

The learning experience guides individuals through a step-by-step process of establishing a “modern resume.”

This is also supported by creating a “Career MAP” with an entire section devoted to demonstrating “What you can show” through service to enhance networking, interview and specific skills needed to land a job – as the resume is just one piece.

For new career professionals, the CDS is effective at extracting key soft-skills also highly in-demand by 78% of the workforce HR departments (LinkedIn, 2019) which when articulated correctly helps overcome the lack of resume or career background for a resume.

The CDS, however, is not exclusive for young professionals. It has helped thousands of veterans transition to the civilian sector and was fully accredited as an educational and applied-learning tool. It is now being powered by AI:

The career development system relies on a process that originated in 3 of the 11 Great Companies; this strategic-thinking process was merged with a method of inner-personal learning to create what is known as “APS method” linking human and organizational performance.

The first step is guiding an individual in creating a “Modern Resume.” This resume has been endorsed by over 1000 HR professionals for the simple, in-depth clarity it provides. Furthermore, it has been independently researched to outperform traditional resume formats over 3:1.

The CDS can be used by individuals to identify their past experiences, their inherent strength (using two assessments with reliability and validity ratings of significant and multiple measures of accuracy.

This also ensures in-depth data the person may not otherwise know about themselves. One of the tools can be aligned to top-performance in a role, too, making it a powerful combination).

Drawing from this information, they are challenged to apply systems and process thinking-tools to engage a five-part process to create a job description from a blank sheet of paper.

  • A resume should depict “who they are first, then what their strengths are, and how the accurately describe a role.” The CDS provides this framework to guide a person in presenting this properly.
  • A modern resume balances actual performance delivered using $#% as much as possible, versus vague descriptions of work accomplished.
  • A modern resume balances core competencies with specific tasks.

The CDS modern resume process guides individuals through thinking-tools to assess, analyze, and create a job description that is not subjective nor company-specific.

This occurs through systematic analysis of jobs open on the market. These jobs are synthesized into a single description that is then compared to the employee’s prior experience and strengths.

In this regards, it ensures alignment of individual interest with key terms used by ATS (applicant tracking systems) and HR hiring managers. In other words, the system seeks to link people, roles, and organizational need.

By using the CDS job-seekers have reported over 4x the national average for the number of interviews and application views (this has been validated in 2011-2013; 2016-2018 with annual spot-checking).

This is an important measure because it ensures internal candidates, who often benefit from promotion or new-role hire more than external candidates, are more likely to identify a role and obtain the promotion.

The RSolutions publication City of Companies includes a segment about “new careers” which is why this process is very important to helping people create “new resumes” based on work they completed that may not be accurately “captured” by the job role over the years.

Essentially, over the years during and following the recession, employees took on more work and job duties to make themselves more valuable to the organization. In some cases, this work was either exciting or work that simply needed to be completed.

Now that confidence is regaining in the market, many seasoned professionals are discovering they would take a pay cut if they could work in a role they enjoyed. These are often roles discovered in the situation described above, not their formal and primary background.

The CDS system, however, gives them the method to think, learn, and create a job description (career MAP per the CDS) and resume based on the skills they learned and developed, aligning those skills to the performance delivered, and present themselves as a viable candidate for a “new career.”

This way it links performance and accuracy of resume not just now, but with a future-career objective in mind.

Moreover, by using the APS method that is the fundamental science within the CDS System, the organization has the satisfaction knowing that both organizational (proven) methods of human performance have been merged with human capital (psychological) processes to link people, jobs, and company (Culture)-ROI.

In this regard, the system leverages strategic thinking, an executive cognitive function, and a culture of learning to help employees innovate new roles based on prosperity-motives.

The prosperity-motive is a subject of my publication “Culture-ROI” scheduled for release in 2020. This motive digs deeper than organizational metrics to align human core values to organizational mission, values, strategies by designing roles of significance measured by more than just pay-and-performance.

In this regard, the CDS, now powered by AI technology, connects emotional intelligence, business intelligence, and AI to allow employees a process to innovate job roles, increase productivity to highest-and-best contribution (breaking the Pareto Effect or 80/20 rule that 80% of the output is generated by 20% of the employees). For employees creating a modern resume this is important:

  • Alignment of the resume not based on subjective terms, but a simple 3-step process to analyzing available job terms from the market. Use the jargon of those seeking to hire!
  • Enhancement of the typical resume with a hyper focus on the job-description summary created in the step above – this to ensure both recruiter and manager “approve”.
  • Depiction of specific soft-skills.

Samuel Johns

Samuel Johns

Career Counselor, Resume Genius

Highlight your education and skills

If you’re writing your first resume, you likely lack work experience. It’s, therefore, a good idea to use a functional resume, which highlights your education and skills instead.

A functional resume makes your skills section the most prominent section of your resume.

Since you don’t have relevant work experience, employers want to see that you’ve managed to pick up the transferable skills that can help you adapt to the workplace. For instance, you might have developed leadership skills from your time captaining the lacrosse team or established effective presentation and communication skills from taking part in student government.

Listing these skills and backing them up with examples of your accomplishments will show that you can add value to a company if hired, regardless of your relevant on-the-job experience.

For example, if you served a term in student government, state that you participated in 20+ faculty-student committee meetings to prove that your communication skills are excellent.

In the same vein, any volunteering you’ve done will look great on your resume.

It highlights your passion and improves your transferable skills. You can format volunteer roles on your resume just as you would a paying job, with bullet points describing the skills used and accomplishments achieved. If you haven’t performed any volunteer work, it’s never too late — just find a role that aligns with your passions.

Your education section will also take up a large part of your resume.

Highlight any academic achievements, including a high GPA and any prizes or special recognition you received for your hard work. If you took school courses that are directly relevant to the post you’re applying to, mention them.

For example, if you’re applying to an office role seeking a Spanish speaker, you might showcase the fact that your minor was in Spanish, or that you spent a semester abroad in Madrid.

Related: How to Get an Entry-Level Job with No Qualifications or Experience

Stephanie Thoma

Stephanie Thoma

Networking Strategist | Career Coach

List the volunteer and professional titles

This refers to everything you’ve held and companies you’ve worked within in chronological order in the past decade, or a few years if you’re in or just out of college.

List the month and year you began and ended each role, before beginning to jot down accomplishments for each role.

Try to get metrics-focused.

For example, “Increased Facebook followers by 700% in Q4 2018” is more powerful than “Maintained social media pages, including Facebook.”

Think of this first draft as a purge of everything you did well that was of value to your institution you devoted yourself to. From there, you’ll select 2-5 of the most relevant and impressive bullet points, and format them into sentence fragments.

Ensure that your final draft is between 10 and 12 point font, and is one-page in length. No need for an objective, address or phone number, but do provide your email, LinkedIn, and city/state along with your name at the top of your resume.

Related: How Long Should Your Resume Be

Joe Flanagan

Joe Flanagan

Senior Career Advisor, MintResume

Only include relevant information

Don’t overdo it. Only include information that is relevant for the position. If you’re applying for a secretarial position, there’s no need to include your bartending experience back when you were in college. It will only make your resume longer and harder to read.

Consider that recruiters have a lot of resumes to go through, they will most likely just skim through it and look for the important information.

Annie Greene

Annie Greene

Senior Recruiter, Red Ventures

Your resume is not an autobiography. It shouldn’t chronicle every detail of your personal and professional life. Instead, it’s more like the snappy synopsis you’d find on the back cover of your autobiography – a quick, compelling introduction that grabs the reader’s attention and makes them want the full story.

Keep it simple

Be smart with spacing, skip the fancy fonts and make your headings stand out. Proofread over and over.

Keep your content relevant

Recency and relevancy first, use bullet points and tailor your experience to the role. Experience over education and cut unnecessary extracurriculars and list relevant skills.

Go the extra mile to ensure accuracy.

First impressions are more influential than you might imagine.

James Burroughes

James Burroughes

Managing Consultant, Traverse Success Coaching

Obviously, there is a multitude of templates for resumes so let’s take it for granted you can google resume templates. However, for your first resume, you have a golden opportunity to craft something which will stand out from the crowd. You want to shine! Here’s a top tip to achieve this.

Focus on showing achievements

Cutting and pasting your job description or a list of responsibilities only tells the hiring manager that you can recite what you should be doing and a list of responsibilities could apply to anyone doing that job. It doesn’t say how well you did it.

Even if this is your very first job, try to demonstrate specific instances or examples of accomplishments which show the difference you have made in your work, internships or voluntary activities, and therefore the likely difference you will make in a new role.

These could be reducing the time taken for a task, cutting costs or improving sales, etc. Make sure they show a black and white result which can’t be refuted. Managers love this.

Cathleen Carmichael

Cathleen Carmichael

Career Counselor

A first resume may seem tricky but can be done and done well. The purpose of a resume is to convey a person’s characteristics, skills, abilities, and related experiences. Everyone has these, all of them, so writing the resume is a matter of breaking this down and finding sources of this information in your life.

If you are a high school student, college graduate or full-time parent moving into the outside workforce, you have experience from which to draw.

Break out the characteristics and skills you demonstrated or learned

You can go at this from either direction; start with your traits and find situations in which you demonstrated them, or start with situations and cull the traits from those. Any experience works, from teacher’s aide, sports teams, peer tutor, club leader, treasurer, budget manager, childcare/development expert, volunteer work, entrepreneurship, to part-time jobs. You demonstrate your character, skills, and abilities in each and everything you do.

I recommend writing these up as Accomplishments and/or Successes in a resume. The best way to write this is to include “what I did, how I did it.”


  • What you did: lead my sailing team to win; How you did it: …by encouraging team work and personal responsibility.
  • What you did: managed a household budget for 5 people; How you did it: …through use of spreadsheets, careful planning, and investments.
  • What you did: increased household income 20%; How you did it: …by creating and managing an online sales plan using Facebook to sell the product.

Include a heading with your name, address and contact info (but not in a header), a section for Education and Work Experience.

For each experience, list the title and dates, a short job description in paragraph format, then list the Successes as a bulleted list. Use this basic format, in a well-formatted page with plenty of white space and clear formatting.

Jessica Glazer

Jessica Glazer

Motivational Speaker | Strategic Recruitment Director | Founder, MindHR, Inc.

Include activities related to the career you’re applying for

Think of activities, volunteer jobs, small jobs, projects, internships you have done that are relevant to the career your applying for. If there’s really nothing, talk to someone as you may then realize there is always something. Sometimes, you just have to dig deeper.

Ideally, after you complete your resume, try calling them as getting your first job is about cultural fit and personality above anything else.

Google examples of resumes in your field of interest and location. You certainly don’t need to pay to get your resume done but there are companies that offer it.

John Crossman, CCIM, CRX

John Crossman

CEO, Crossman & Company

Focus on being brief and specific

When I say brief, I simply mean to limit the resume to one page. If this is your first time, you don’t want to try to overcompensate by making the resume longer than it needs to be.

Try to be as specific as possible for the job you are pursuing

Let me add that you can use examples of volunteer work if it highlights a skill set that is relevant. For example, if in your current job you are not in a leadership position but you have a volunteer leadership position with non-profit, you can highlight that and give examples of how you lead and what you accomplished.

Reference jobs, volunteer work, and hobbies

These are what you have done for a long period of time as it shows commitment. Finally, I love it when people (especially students) reference their involvement with industry trade associations. It immediately puts their resumes in the top 5% that I see.

Christy Noel

Christy Noel

Co-Author “Your Personal Career Coach: Real-World Experiences for Early Career Success

Include success metrics for every position on your resume

Hiring managers like to know you have generated measurable results in your previous positions, even if the tasks in which you demonstrated success are not in the exact responsibilities of the job they are looking for.

If you succeeded in previous jobs, it is highly probable you will succeed in others. So, include success metrics within your resume. Provide quantifiable results, hiring managers love to see numbers and percentages.

Use a professional email address

In your contact information, use a professional email address. The email address for prospective employers should include some form of your name and not your hobbies or “likes” ( vs. If your current email is a Hotmail, Earthlink, AOL or other dated email service provider address, create a new one in Gmail for job hunting.

Include your LinkedIn profile with a customized URL

Always keep your LinkedIn profile updated, and be sure it includes a recent professional photo. Create a customized LinkedIn public-profile URL, one with your name it in (it’s easy to do).

Including your LinkedIn profile link on your resume enables potential employers to see a lot more than simply what’s on your resume

Ensure there are no errors

Read, proof, edit, read and proof your resume again so there are no mistakes. Your resume reflects your work output. If it contains errors, it shows you lack attention to detail and may perform mediocre work.

To be safe, ask a family member or friend to review it for you; you are likely to miss errors once you’ve looked at the document too long.

Bob Graham

Bob Graham

Co-founder & CEO, Serious Soft Skills, LLC

I want to be clear about the role of a resume. Its sole task is to get someone to call to either set up a phone interview or an in-person interview. Most people think a resume can get you a job. It cannot. That’s like saying charcoal will get you a fire. It’s part of the process.

Resumes is that they work in concert with the person’s cover letter to help present a person in unique ways.

It should highlight unique things in ways that invite more discussion

For instance, on my cover letter, I might mention that I helped more than 40 startup companies launch and on my resume, you would see that I ran a national college business plan competition that awarded more than $80,000 in funding to college business enterprises each year. That would be one bullet under my teaching section dealing with Johns Hopkins University.

In short, resumes need to demonstrate a few important things today:

  • A clear understanding that the resume should try to match up with what an employer is looking for.
  • Real quantification of what someone accomplished in a job (not just title and responsibilities, but what did they actually do).
  • Powerful proof that the person can solve the kind of complex problems that the employer faces each day.

Kayla Kelly

Kayla Kelly

Marketing Manager, Paypro

Too many job seekers forget that a resume is their one shot at advertising themselves properly.

As a marketing manager, I see loads of applications come in for the few positions that open up each year – and, I can’t help but wonder if these people are applying for marketing positions, why do some of these resumes do such a poor job at grabbing attention and representing themselves in the best light possible?

If you want to write a resume that gets you pumped up to the phone interview round, you need to do the following:

  • Keep your resume to a single page.
  • Focus only on role-relevant work experiences.
  • Highlight any “extracurricular” or volunteer activities that make you stand out as an exceptional individual – somebody who people would actually like to interact with each and every day.

It’s not easy to create a resume that is both professional and interesting, but it certainly is possible.

Request the aid of several friends and family

Ask them to give you fully brutally honest critiques of your resume. Then, do your best to digest their critiques, and make changes. Treat this as you would any serious paper for school or otherwise – work on it in iterations or drafts, and don’t submit until you have a final document you are proud of.

Chane Steiner

Chane Steiner

CEO, Crediful

Show numbers

To create a resume that helps you stand out as a candidate worthy of a follow-up, you need to show numbers. Employers want to see the potential for ROI. Did you know that sourcing and onboarding new employees is incredibly expensive for companies? As such, they not only need to see that you will have longevity in the role, but that you will also perform while at work.

If you worked in a factory, estimate how many parts you helped build, or boxes you labeled, etc. If you were a teller at a bank, estimate how much total cash in deposits you entered into the system, or loans you issued, etc.

The idea is to demonstrate just how productive and useful you are as a resource for a company.

Then, your prospective employer can do the math on whether or not you would generate a return on investment – which is what they must do to keep their company running.

Daniela Andreevska

Daniela Andreevska

Marketing Director, Mashvisor

Be honest

The most important thing about writing your first (or really any other) resume is, to be honest. While you might not have much to write because you have just graduated from college, you should absolutely never lie in your resume because employers will not you are lying – they have enough experience to detect lies.

Highlight all previous work experience you have – whether paid or unpaid to show that you were planning your career even before you graduated. Moreover, include any voluntary work or extracurricular activities you have participated in because this will show your real personality and what kind of things you care about.

Include a bit more details about your studies than a more experienced professional with a lot of previous employers and projects would include. For example, list some of the most important and relevant courses you have taken and write about your research projects.

Shawn Breyer


Owner, Atlanta House Buyers

Showing that you have the ambition and passion to pursue something

When you are compiling your experiences for a first-time job, think about it from the recruiter’s perspective. They know that you don’t have a ton of experience in the field that you are pursuing.

Just because you don’t have direct, focused experience doesn’t mean that there is not experience that you can extrapolate from the years leading up to your first job. Or maybe you have had hobbies that have led you to be passionate about your career pursuits.

Let’s say that you want to pursue a career in coding. You have been coding on nights and weekends for a couple of years, consistently challenging yourself, and you have developed some pretty cool stuff.

When you are compiling your resume, include the projects and skill sets that you have acquired over the years. Note that you took the time to teach yourself while working and going to school full-time.

Ambition and passion cannot be taught. A skill set can be taught. Remember that when you are going up against people who have more experience in the new field.

John Crossman, CCIM, CRX

John Crossman

CEO, Crossman & Company

Highlight something you have been committed to

For example, if you have a hobby that you have done for ten years, include that. Many people job hop frequently or don’t know how to land a job for a lack of experience.

It helps to show that you are committed to something and it helps to round you out as a person. I love it when students are members of trade associations. It says a great deal about their serious interest in the industry.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a resume, and why do I need one?

A resume is a document that summarizes your professional experience, education, and relevant skills. It’s typically used as part of a job application and is used to show potential employers why you’re a good fit for a particular position.

Some common reasons why you may need a resume are:

Applying for a new job: A resume is often required as part of a job application. Employers use it to get a quick overview of your qualifications and determine whether you’re a good candidate.

Networking: You may also need a resume if you network with colleagues, mentors, or other professionals. A well-crafted resume can help you showcase your skills and experience and make a strong impression on your interviewers.

Freelance or consulting: If you work as a freelancer or consultant, a resume can help you demonstrate your expertise and attract new clients. It can be especially useful if you work in a field where clients may not be familiar with your work or qualifications.

In short, a resume is an essential tool for anyone looking to advance their career or find new opportunities. It’s a way to showcase your skills, experience, and accomplishments and make a strong impression on potential employers or clients.

How often should I update my resume?

It’s a good idea to update your resume at least once a year, even if you’re not actively job hunting. This will ensure that your resume is always up to date and that you don’t forget any important accomplishments or experiences. You should also update your resume whenever you have undergone a significant career change or acquired new skills or certifications.

Should I include a photo on my resume?

In most cases, including a photo on your resume is unnecessary. This is because your qualifications and experience are what matter most to employers, and a photo may not add any value to your application.

Also, some employers may view a photo as unprofessional or biased. However, there are some exceptions. A photo may be expected in certain industries, such as modeling or acting.

If you’re unsure whether to include a photo, it’s best to play it safe and leave it off.

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