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How to Build a Resume that Will Get Your Foot in the Door
A photo of two people sitting across from each other at a table with the focus on a resume the closest person is holding up a resume and the second person reaching out to take it.

How to Build a Professional Resume

As an educator and professional writer that has worked literally with thousands of high school and college students wanting to land that job that could possibly change their lives, the importance of a solid resume cannot be stressed enough. It is the first step to getting your foot in the door with a company, and it could lead to a successful career or better opportunities down the road. 

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But once again, it all starts with the resume. 

Follow these strategies to learn how to build a professional resume and make your qualifications stand out from the rest. 

Format the Resume Correctly

A quality resume needs to have a certain appearance to it. Much of how it looks will depend on your age, experience, and education. 

For instance, if you are straight out of school, you will have your contact information at the head of the page. Your professional summary and recent degrees relating to the position you are applying for will immediately follow.

If you have been working in this field for a while, you will begin with your professional summary and then work experience instead since you have seasoned knowledge and expertise in this profession. 

The key is to immediately play to your strengths, whether that's your impressive degrees and certifications or your many years of experience. If an employer is receiving dozens or even hundreds of resumes for a position, how much time do you think they will spend reviewing each resume? Not much. You have only 30 seconds to capture their attention and make them want to read until the end. By placing the important information right at the start, you will not risk them tossing your resume to the side so quickly. 

What is a Professional Summary?

A professional summary is two to three sentences outlining what you can offer and have offered in the past. It is the chance to toot your own horn but do so in a couple of succinct sentences. You will want someone you trust to read your professional summary and offer up a critique. Usually, this is your opportunity to break out some impressive vocabulary and ten-cent words to ensure that your accomplishments sound even more tantalizing. 

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Keep the Resume to One Page in Length

Too many people construct a resume that they believe the employer will want to read. Instead of being a brief synopsis of experience and education, it turns out to be a mini-biography. The resume is meant to give the employer reason for them to call you in for an interview. It is not meant to provide your life story. 

If you can't edit your resume enough to fit it onto one front side of a piece of paper, then you either need to sit down and take another go at it or slightly shrink the font to get it done. Most resumes stick to the standard Times New Roman at 12 points in size. 

Picture is Optional

More and more people include a picture placed into their resume in the upper right corner of the page. If you have a professional-looking photo, this may be an excellent idea. It will give the employer an image associated with the name. However, if all of your pictures are blurry or not exactly the professional kind, then doing without a picture is fine. 

Don't Forget Your Contact Information

While you may choose to just have your name in a slightly enlarged font at the top of the page, it would not be a bad idea to just include all of your contact information at the top with it. This includes your email address and phone number. I recommend leaving off your address or even the city you currently live in as you don't want your current location to eliminate you from consideration. 

A Resume is Not a One Size Fits All Application

Do not create one resume and think you are all finished. You should customize it depending on the job you are seeking. If you are applying for a certain position that you believe your unique skills will make you a front runner, make sure you emphasize those skills. 

Free Resume Templates Are Available Online

There are plenty of free resume templates available online just in case you still doubt your ability to build a resume from scratch. But, even if you use a template, keep these strategies in mind, and you should be able to get your foot in the door. From that point on, it is up to you to nail the interview and make the employer view you as a long-term solution for the company.