8 Tips For Writing A Strong Resume

Ready for a new job? The first question that always comes up is: how to write a résumé … especially one that stands out? These days, your résumé or your CV (curriculum vitæ) serves to introduce you to and can create a first impression (good or bad) with a potential employer.

That means your résumé has to be stunning in order to stand out. It should provide a concise, clear, accurate snapshot of you—and of course what you have to offer this job. Everything from your schooling to your work experience to your hobbies (more on that later) needs to be easy to find and easy to understand.

While this might seem like a lot, it’s actually straightforward when you take it one step at a time. We wrote down some steps: read ’em, try ’em, and create that stand-out résumé you deserve.

Click the following image to get a printable Thesaurus.com resume template, which you can use to make own résumé!

Resume Template 2019 (PDF).

1. How long should a résumé be?

The art of the résumé is really in the formatting. For starters, your résumé should only be a page long, unless you have more than a decade of work experience.

The rule of thumb is a page for every decade of experience. That means you may have to play around with the fonts and formatting to fit everything.

Use a résumé template, columns, and a small font size to make sure you can squeeze it all in. If you have a lot of experience, avoid a résumé template with a lot graphics that take up space.

Resume Template 2019 (PDF)

In general, you want your résumé to look clean, easy-to-read, and professional. That means no clip art and no Comic Sans MS. (We recommend Cambria or Calibri.) Whatever format and font you do choose, make sure it is consistent throughout.

2. How to write an objective on a résumé

An objective statement gives a short one-sentence summary of the type of worker you have been and the kind of position you’re looking for.

Generally speaking, you don’t need to include an objective statement on your résumé because personal information about your career goals and aspirations are usually included in the cover letter. If you have a lot of job experience, it’s better to include those details instead of taking up space with an objective statement.

But, if your background is a bit short on details (e.g., if you’re applying for your first job) or you’re applying for a position that may be a bit of a reach for you or that is significantly different from your previous experience, you may want to write an objective statement to help explain why.

Big tip: label this section. Then, write a declarative statement in the form of “To [verb] … ” Your statement should be as specific as possible and provide a snapshot of your previous experience or workplace-relevant qualities, as well as how they relate to the position you’re applying to.

A bad objective statement would be:


  • Objective: To apply my skills and knowledge to becoming an excellent sandwich artist

A good objective statement would be:


  • Objective: To leverage my years of experience creating delicious sandwiches in the home to meet customer needs that keep with Tastee Sandwich Shoppe’s corporate values of excellence and service

Mmm. Sandwiches.

3. How to list education on a résumé

Your educational experience signals to employers how qualified you are for the position, particularly if you have a degree in the field. So put this information up top!

This can be a fairly short section.

Here’s what to list:


  • degree and major/minor (if applicable)
  • school
  • years of attendance and/or graduation
  • any special awards or mentions (e.g., summa cum laude)

For example:


  • B.A. Psychology – University of Brain Stuff – 2018 – cum laude

If you have a degree from an institution of higher education, you don’t have to include your high school degree. If you’re in the middle of a degree program, include your expected graduation date instead.

In this section, you can also include any special awards you won while in your degree program, such as Dean’s List or academic competitions … because you are awesome.

4. List your work experiences from most to least recent

Depending on how much work experience you have and where that came from, you may choose to curate this section (pick and choose what past jobs you’re going to feature). You should definitely highlight positions that are related to the job you’re applying to. If you do go this route, be sure to include the the wording: “(Selected Positions)” somewhere in the title of this section.

Then, list your job experiences from most to least recent. For each position, include the dates when you worked there (month and year are fine), job title, the name of the company, and a description of your job duties.

For example:


  • 09/2016–06/2017 – Sandwich Artist – Tastee Sandwich Shoppe
    Created delicious food experiences while ensuring a safe kitchen environment and providing professional, attentive customer care

Depending on the complexity of the position, you may want to swap the name of the company and the job title in your list and/or provide multiple bullet points describing your job duties. Whatever format you choose, be consistent throughout this whole section.

Big tip: be as specific as possible when it comes to describing the work you’ve done. Also, be sure to highlight any projects or actions you did on the job that were particularly stand-out, like coming up with a faster way to toast bread.

But wait! What if this is one of the first jobs you’ve ever applied to? Instead of your work experience, you’ll want to …

5. Use your extracurriculars and volunteer activities to your advantage

If this is one of the first jobs you’re applying to (especially if you’re in high school), this section will showcase your experience in extracurriculars and volunteering rather than business experience. It shows employers that you’re hardworking and responsible. The format for listing these activities is similar to the format for work experiences. You’ll want to list your extracurriculars and volunteer experiences from most to least recent.

For each activity, include the dates (month and year is fine), the activity, the name of the group or organization you worked with (if any), and a description of your activities.

For example:


  • 09/2015–12/2015 – Volunteer – Savers Thrift Store
    Sorted book and clothing donations and labeled them for purchase
  • 09/2014–06/2015 – Team Captain – Varsity Soccer Team

Even if you’re not in high school, you can still include your volunteer work if you feel it’s relevant to the position … or if you need to fill out your résumé a bit.

6. What skills should you put on a résumé?

We all have skills. Nunchuck skills, bowhunting skills, referencing Napoleon Dynamite skills …

Anyway, you’ll want to include your skills on your résumé … maybe not that Napoleon Dynamite one though. This can be a simple list.

Include any foreign languages you speak, computer programs you’ve mastered, and any other competencies you have that might be beneficial to an employer. You will likely also want to reference how much experience you have with any of these given skills.

For example:


  • Fluent in French
  • Proficient in C++
  • Certified in CPR

7. Listing hobbies and interests is optional

You’re a real person. You’ve got hopes, dreams, and … (maybe) hobbies or interests. While listing these things on your résumé is optional, it’s a chance to let your potential employer get to know you a little better. Keep your list of hobbies or interests short, about three max, and don’t describe too much. Stick to a couple words.

Like this:


  • bird-watching
  • stand-up comedy
  • running marathons

8. How to list references on a résumé

If an application does specifically ask for references, provide it on a separate page from your résumé or CV.

Title the page “References” and list two or three former employers’ names, positions, company, and contact details using the same font as your résumé.

However, if an employer doesn’t specify this: don’t add references! Simple!

Now that you’ve finished all the steps, double-check, triple-check, quadruple-check spelling and punctuation. Have a friend read your résumé over for possible mistakes. Then have another friend read it. Once you’re sure that you haven’t missed a single thing, convert it to a PDF file format so you’re not sending a text document.

Then, and only then, are you ready to send your résumé off to get the job of a lifetime. Or, at least, a job for now.

And if you need help writing a cover letter, we have you covered on that too!