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How to Make a Great Professional Resume (For Top 2020 Jobs)

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This post is part of a series called How to Create a Great Resume (Ultimate Guide).
30+ Best Resume Tips: That Will Get You Noticed and Hired

Resumes are important for a wide variety of professionals. To land a position as a designer, digital marketer, web developer, or another type of job, your resume is what will help open the door for you. 

If you're seeking work, you need a resume. Most employers expect them, so you want to be prepared. 

Make a Resume Design and Write
Illustration: creative tools to write and design your resume with.

In this tutorial you'll learn how to make a resume, including a discussion on what a resume is and some great resume tips. 

1. What Is a Resume & What Will Make it Great?

Simply put, a resume is a document that summarizes your education, professional experience, and skills. 

It's frequently used by recruiters and others to sift through job applicants and choose those that they'll interview. For that reason, a resume is one of the most important documents you can create if you're looking for a job. 

Resume Vol 7 from Envato Elements
Resume Vol. 7 from Envato Elements

Five Characteristics of a Great Resume

A great resume has several characteristics that make it easier to stand out among other applicants: 

  1. It's got the proper structure and formatting.
  2. It's got a compelling design.
  3. It's all the necessary information.
  4. It follows the best resume writing guidelines.
  5. It pays attention to details such as consistent branding, a URL to your online profile, and more.

Traditionally, resumes were printed on paper. In today's job market a resume is a digital document used to apply to jobs online.

With the popularity of social media sites like LinkedIn and About.me there's some confusion about what a resume is. LinkedIn is a popular site with recruiters that allows users to share resume-type information on their profiles. It's not your resume though.

LinkedIn, About.me and other business-oriented social media sites don't replace your resume. Instead, use these sites to supplement it. Remember you don't own your social media site profile. A social media platform can change at any time. Those changes could affect your profile. Refer to your professional profile in your resume, but don't expect that profile to replace your resume.

How to Make a Great Resume With Templates

However, you don’t have to make your own resume from scratch. You can use one of the pre-made resume templates from marketplaces like Envato Elements.

Envato Elements has thousands of great resume templates that can be used in various industries and for various job applications. The best part about Envato Elements is that you can download as many templates as you want and use them in an unlimited number of projects and job applications for one low monthly fee. 

Resume print templates
Resume print templates on Envato Elements

You can also find thousands of great resume templates on GraphicRiver and buy an individual template. 

Now that we know what a resume is (and isn't), let's look more closely at how to make a resume. The tips in this article will help you learn more about the key characteristics of a great resume so you can put them to use when the time comes to create your resume.  

2. Gather Information

The first step to make a resume is to gather information. You need to compile details about your past employment, your education, and your specific skills. If it's been a while since you've made a resume or if you've never made one, you might find this task challenging.

First, you need to understand what type of information to gather. Next you need to know how to get that information. We'll discuss both.

Information You Need to Make a Resume

The purpose of your resume is to convey details that help you stand out as an applicant. It's important to have the right type of information on your resume. At least include the following:

  • Work Experience
  • Education
  • Skills

Include professional social media information, such as your LinkedIn account, and your contact information. The order in which you present your information depends on the type of resume you choose.

Here are some key points to remember as you gather your info:

  • Recent work experiences are more important than long ago work.
  • Professional work experience is more important than nonprofessional work.
  • Recent education is more important than dated education.
  • Gather significant volunteer experience.
  • Keep your resume simple and if possible, short. But don’t omit anything really important.
  • Don't forget to mention specific coursework related to your field.

How to Get Information for Your Resume

So, how do you make sure you haven't left anything out? If you haven't updated your resume for a while, it's possible to forget something. You also might have trouble pulling details together if you're making a resume for the first time. Here are some potential sources for information:

  • Find past employers and clients in your tax documents.  
  • Find specific coursework in your college transcripts.
  • Search past performance reviews for mentions of specific achievements.

At this point, it's better to have too much information than not enough. You can always edit out anything you don't need.

Once you've gathered your information, you're ready to choose a type of resume that fits your experience best.

3. Choose a Resume Type

There are four different types of resumes. I'll explain each type. The resume type you choose depends on the type of job you're applying for and on your own background.

The four resume types are:

  1. Chronological Resume
  2. Functional Resume
  3. Combination Resume
  4. Creative Resume

I'll discuss each resume type below.

1. Chronological Resume

This is the most common resume format. It starts with a career summary followed by work experience listed in reverse chronological order. Skills and education appear at the end. Chronological resumes also include the month and year for each past job.

If you've got a strong work history with lots of work experience in your field, a chronological resume is probably the best resume format for you. It emphasizes your strong background in your field.

Because of its focus on work history, employment gaps are easy to spot in a chronological resume. Some recruiters prefer this format for that reason.

If you've got employment gaps some specialists recommend using a functional resume format instead. What's a functional resume? Let's take a look.

2. Functional Resume

Like the chronological resume, the functional resume starts with a summary statement. The next section in a functional resume is a listing of professional skills. Your work history (without employment dates) and your education follow.

The functional resume format de-emphasizes dates and work history. That's why it's sometimes considered to be a better format to use if you've got gaps in your employment. The format can be helpful for stay-at-home parents re-entering the workforce and others who have taken time off from their careers.

Be careful when using the functional resume, though. Many recruiters are suspicious of resumes with lots of work experience and no dates. They may feel that you're trying to hide something. Always be prepared to explain employment gaps.

Learn more about the benefits of a functional resume in this tutorial:

There's a resume format that includes features of both a chronological resume and a functional resume.

3. Combination Resume

A combination resume format is just what sounds like: a combination of the chronological and functional resume formats. It allows you to highlight your skills and still provide details about your work history.

Like a functional resume, the combination resume starts with your summary statement followed by a listing of your skills. Your work history, in reverse chronological order with dates, follows.

This is a great format for those who have a short, but consistent, work history because it emphasizes skills over experience. Students, for example, may have strong skills but a limited work history. Recruiters also tend to like this format too because they can still see your work history.

There's one final resume format to discuss: the creative resume. 

4. Creative Resume

The creative resume falls outside of conventional resume descriptions. You may have seen resumes designed as infographics, software programs, or even interactive resume websites

The obvious advantage to using a creative resume is that it's memorable. Potential employers are unlikely to forget it. In the crowded job market, being unique can make a difference.

Design Resume From Envato Elements
Design Resume From Envato Elements

Creative resumes can be effective for those working in creative fields such as graphic design or web design. This is especially true if your resume highlights skills needed for the position you're applying for. However, recruiters at more traditional corporations may reject a creative resume.

Another problem with creative resumes is that many recruiters use Electronic Resume Management (ERM) systems to scan resumes for appropriate keywords. Some creative resumes won't properly scan through an ERM. Still, a creative resume can be the right choice if you know a person will see it. 

If you choose to use a creative resume, it's a good idea to have another resume in a more traditional format as a backup. 

If you want to learn more about how to make a creative resume, we've got an article for you:

4. Design Your Resume

Once you've chosen the type of resume you'd like to present to prospective employers, you're ready to design your resume.

Remember, your resume represents you. It’s the first thing that most recruiters look at, so it needs to leave a good impression. A sloppy resume design doesn't help your chances of getting a job. In fact, it could even keep you from being considered.

Learn how to organize your resume effectively: 

If you've got strong graphic design skills, you can create your own resume design. Most job candidates will benefit from customizing a good resume template though. A quality resume template saves you time and ensures that the final result is attractive and professional. Here are a few creative resume templates to look through: 

We've got a wide assortment of resume templates, in various types and styles, on GraphicRiver to browse through as well. You can find a professional resume template that works for you.

To get an idea of how easy it is to customize one of these great resume templates, review my tutorial on how to personalize one, which walks you through the process of customizing a template:

Though the tutorial above is based on a specific resume template, the customization principles illustrated in the tutorial work for most template designs.

Once you've chosen a resume template, it's time to pull it all together. You're ready to write your resume.

5. Write Your Resume

How do you put your experience into words? Do you write in first person or third person? Are there any key terms you should use?

If you've wondered about these topics you're not alone. Writing about yourself is awkward. That's one reason why so many people have trouble writing their resume. In this tutorial, I've pulled together some guidelines to help you put your resume together.

1. Resume Writing Guidelines

Opinions vary, but most recruiters agree with the basic resume writing guidelines below:

  1. Don't speak of yourself in the third person. An example of a resume statement written in the third person would be "John saved the company seven thousand dollars." Don't use statements starting with "I" and "Me" either. Get around the problem by using phrases that start with action verbs. For example, say "Saved the company seven thousand dollars" instead of "I saved the company seven thousand dollars."
  2. Don't copy your job description into the resume. Recruiters don’t want to see generic statements that could apply to anyone. They want to see what you contributed to the position. Be sure to mention anything that you received recognition for.
  3. Do be specific about your accomplishments. Use numbers whenever possible. For example, the phrase “managed and mentored a team of seven” is better than “managed a team” because it's more descriptive.
  4. Do check grammar and spelling. Mistakes could cause your resume to be rejected. If possible, have a friend review it to catch any errors you might miss.

2. Write Your Summary Statement

Your summary statement is one of the most important pieces of your resume. Its position at the top of your resume means that most recruiters will read it first. A good summary statement can make or break your resume.

Your summary statement should be short. Two to three sentences are enough. But those two to three sentences should be carefully crafted. They need to explain what you've got to offer an employer. When writing your statement, consider what the employer is looking for and how you can meet their needs.

In this tutorial Julia Melymbrose explains why most resume statements fall short and describes how you can make yours stand out:

3. Write Your Work History

Another important part of your resume is your work history. Job seekers often wonder about the following:

  • How far back should I go?
  • Should I include summer and part-time jobs?
  • Do volunteer positions count?

Let’s tackle those questions one at a time. If you've got a strong work history with few gaps, some recruiters say it’s okay to go back as far as 15 years only if the jobs are relevant. If the jobs aren't relevant or if adding them makes your resume too long, then limit your work history to the past ten years.

ResumeCV Template 1 From Envato Elements
Resume/CV Template 1 From Envato Elements

If you’re just starting out, you may be wondering whether you should include summer jobs or volunteer work on your resume. The key to making this decision is relevance. Most recruiters only like to see paid and professional positions listed. Others are open to resumes with volunteer or part-time work if the experience is directly related to the position being applied for.

Remember, even if your volunteer or part-time work isn't listed on your resume you can still address it in your cover letter or mention it in an interview.

Tip: Make your job descriptions unique. Focus on specific achievements instead of on a job description. For example, rather than stating “designed websites for clients,” state “won XYZ award for most innovative website design.”

The experience, job history, achievements, and statement that you present in your resume is a narrative that a potential employer will consider. Learn the writing secret to make a compelling resume:

6. How to Use Your Resume

After you’ve made your resume, it’s time to start using it. Here’s what to do with your resume when it's complete:

  • Send it to recruiters and headhunters.
  • Use it when applying for an advertised position.
  • Share it with friends who might be able to help in your job search.

You should also print out a copy of your resume and take it along with you when you go on an interview. Be prepared to answer questions that your interviewer might have about the items on your resume.

After you’ve sent out your resume you're not done. You need to follow up with the hiring manager a week or two after submitting your resume.

When you follow up don’t ask if the company received your resume. They probably did. Instead, offer to answer any questions they might have. Be aware that while some company recruiters like candidates who follow up others are annoyed by the practice.

7. What Makes a Good Resume Great? 7 Top Tips

If you want to make your resume stand out from the competition and get noticed by potential employers, here are a few tips for great resume that'll help you take yours to the next level:

  1. Replace objective statement with an executive summary. An executive summary should serve as your elevator pitch and explain who you are and what you’re looking for
  2. Include keywords in your Executive Summary. By adding industry-specific keywords, your resume will pass the initial screening process and land on the HR’s desk
  3. Make sure you use reverse chronological order. Your experience and education should be listed in reverse chronological order so that the most recent and relevant information is at the top
  4. Provide company descriptions. By adding a sentence or two about each company you’ve worked for, you give employers more insight into industries you've got experience with as well as better insight into your experience
  5. Make the text legible. Using shorter paragraphs, bullet points, headings and paying attention to the fonts and font sizes can go a long way towards making sure your resume isn't one giant block of text
  6. Use consistent branding. Be consistent with the fonts and colors you use on the resume as that'll make your resume more cohesive
  7. Include an URL to your online profile. By now you probably know employers will look you up online so make sure they don’t stumble onto someone else’s profile by including the URL to your online profile. This can be your resume website or your LinkedIn profile.

Where to Find the Best Resume Templates in 2020 (Envato Elements vs GraphicRiver)

If you’re wondering how to make a professional resume as quickly as possible, then a resume template is a perfect choice. As mentioned earlier, you can find hundreds of great resume templates with professional designs on Envato Elements and use them to make your own resume. Both Envato Elements and GraphicRiver have thousands of gorgeous resume templates so how do you know which marketplace to choose? And more importantly, what are the benefits of each marketplace?

1. Key Benefits of Envato Elements

Envato Elements is a subscription-based marketplace that not only has resume templates but also fonts, icons, and other design assets that you can use on your resume template to make your resume stand out even more. The best part is that you can download as many resume templates as you want and use them in an unlimited number of projects. You get all of this for a low monthly fee as part of your Envato Elements subscription.

How to Make a Great Resume With Templates
You can find hundreds of resume templates to help you make your own resume on Envato Elements.

2. Key Benefits of GraphicRiver

GraphicRiver is the leading marketplace for buying single-use resume templates and other design templates. And since GraphicRiver is a part of Envato Market, you can find thousands of other design assets such as icons, stock photos, and more that you can buy individually. 

resume templates in GraphicRiver
There are tons of professionally designed resume templates on GraphicRiver.

Your Choice (What’s Right for You?)

If you’re a designer working with clients or an entrepreneur launching new products and brands on the regular, Envato Elements is the best choice as it offers the best value for your dollar. Sign up for Envato Elements now.

Envato Elements Design Without Limits

But, if you need a single resume template or another design template immediately, head on over to GraphicRiver and find the perfect template for you. 

How to Make a Professional Resume With Templates from Envato Elements

Now that you know where to find great resume templates, let’s take a look at how to create a professional resume with an Envato Elements template. For the purposes of this tutorial, I’ll be using the CV Resume template from Envato Elements: 

How to Make a Great Resume with Template

This template has a simple and versatile design that can be used for any type of corporate job application. 

1. Replace the Information

The first step towards making a professional resume with a template is to replace the dummy information with your own. All you've got to do is click the T icon in the left toolbar to select the Text tool and then click onto any text. Press CTRL+A to highlight the entire text and then type your own information.

Replace information in CV Resume template
Adding your custom content to the CV Resume template

2. Change Fonts

Once you’ve entered all your information, customize the fonts used in the template. You can do this by selecting the text as before and choosing a font from the drop-down menu in the top toolbar.

Changing fonts

3. Customize Colors

Another way to personalize and make the template your own, is to customize the colors. For example, I decided to change the background color of the resume. In this template, all the colors are located in the folder called Background. Click on the Background folder to expand it and then click the Compound Shape layer. Double-click the layer’s thumbnail. You can now select a different color for the background. Then, repeat this step for any other colored section.

Customizing colors

4. Add Your Photo

The next step is to add your photo. Locate the folder named Image and double-click to expand it in the layer palette. Then, click the layer that’s named Insert Image here to select it. Double-click the thumbnail and then drag your photo on top of it. 

Adding a photo

You’ll need to resize the image to fit within the circle. When you’re done, right-click the photo layer and press Create Clipping Mask. Close this window and you’ll see that your photo is now in the resume.

Customizing an image

5. Export Your Resume

When you’re done customizing your resume, export it by clicking on Save As. Choose Photoshop PDF as the option and press Save

Exporting your resume

Start Today! Make Your Resume Stand Out

So, now you've learned how to make a resume. These guidelines work whether you’re in a creative field such as graphic design, web design, or coding. They also work for more conservative professionals.

If you’re ready to start making your own resume, start by browsing our selection of professionally designed resume template over on Envato Elements. And if you want to see even more resume examples, download one of our resume templates on GraphicRiver. 

Editorial Note: This post was originally published in 2016. It's been revised to make it current, accurate, and up to date by our staff—with special assistance from Brenda Barron.

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