Career

How to Make A Resume For the First Time

If you’re wondering how to make a resume for the first time, then you’ve come to the right place! Even if this isn’t your first resume, these basic tips should at least help you solidify your current resume!

Making your first resume can be very intimidating! I remember making mine (many years ago now) and feeling like I had nothing of relevance or importance to add. However, with the help of my parents, I realized there were many ways to emphasize my experiences and skills to create a cohesive student resume.

In this blog post, I will be covering some basic tips to lay a good foundation for your first resume. I will go over the subheadings to include and how you can add different experiences to professionally contribute to your resume. Be sure to also check out my Interview Tips to take your professional knowledge and job preparation to the next level!

What is A Resume?

A resume provides a brief summary of why you’re qualified and hireable for a job. A resume will outline your education, relevant work experience, accomplishments, and different skills you have. This formal document will be sent to your potential future employers to be reviewed to see if you are a good fit for the job.

How Long is A Resume?

Typically, your first resume should be 1 page long (maximum). Even at 20 years old, my current Resume is still only 1 page. As you graduate and start to acquire more full-time work experience, you might consider expanding your resume to be 1-3 pages. However, for now, 1 page is a good goal.

Where Do I Make My Resume?

I would recommend writing your first draft resume in Microsoft Word or Google Docs. It’s okay if it looks boring. The goal is to first get all of your thoughts onto paper. Don’t worry if this ends up being longer than 1-page. We can format the font size, change the margins, and shorten sentences to create space and make the resume shorter at the end.

After all your thoughts are on the page, it’s time to start formatting! Deciding if you want to add colour, a cool font, a unique layout, etc. I will elaborate on ideas for this later. Just remember, we will do the fun design stuff afterwards. At the end of the day, you won’t get hired in most jobs because your resume looks pretty – you will be hired because you are the most qualified candidate.

How to Make A Resume – First Step

Open up your new page in Word or Docs and make sure the settings are how you want them. Make sure your font size is somewhere between size 10-12 (not too small to read and not too big it’s overwhelming to look at). Set your spacing to single spacing (for now – if you need to customize this for more space later you can).

You can also adjust the margins a bit if you need extra space (at the end), but for now, just stick with the preset margins of 1 inch on each edge.

Getting Started – Top of the Page

Remember, I am going to be elaborating on how to make a standard resume. Sometimes, less is more!

At the top of your resume will be your name – preferably your legal first name followed by your last name (no middle name). Remember, your resume is a snapshot of your professional achievements. The topic of the resume is literally you! Your Resume’s “Title” is essentially your name.

Make sure you don’t write something like “Karley Rynard’s Resume”. It is much cleaner to write “Karley Rynard”. Your employer or the person reviewing the resume will know this document is a resume.

Finally, make sure to bold your name and enlarge the font by a few sizes. For example, if you’re using a size 11 font for your resume, try 16 for your name. Also, make sure your name is centred. You want it to stand out!

The Next Line – Contact Info

After writing your name, you will put in your contact information. The font size should be back to the standard size you will use for the entirety of your resume. If you have more than 2 (MAX 3) font sizes, your resume will start to look messy. You want to make sure it’s easy for potential employers to read it.

I think the most relevant items to include here are:

  • Your general location – for example, my resume says Toronto, Canada (City, Country)
  • Phone number – the number you can be most easily contacted at (likely your mobile phone)
  • Your email address – if you’re in college or university, use your school email
  • LinkedIn address (not necessary but a nice touch if you have a LinkedIn)
    • Do not worry too much about this one, I only added my LinkedIn to my resume this year (at 20 years old)
    • If you have one you can write “LinkedIn” and hyperlink it over the word so it looks cleaner

I would not include:

  • Exact home address (unless it is relevant for the job position)
  • Multiple email addresses
  • Multiple phone numbers (once again, unless relevant or necessary based on your circumstances)

In terms of formatting your contact info, I find it best to place all the info onto one line together. When making a resume, each empty space on the page is a space you could fill with valuable info! If you use 4 lines to write basic contact info you will be left with lots of wasted “white space”, taking away from valuable space you could use to elaborate on your accomplishments.

Format these items using vertical bars between each. For example:

Firstname Lastname

City, Country | +1(XXX)XXX-XXXX | [email protected]*****.ca

Center all this info below your name then move onto the next section.

What to Include in a Resume?

Each of the following sections should be included in your resume. Each section is distinct and important in its own way, so make sure the sections are somewhat separated. Add a bit of extra space between the sections. Bold and underline the section’s subheadings. This will definitely help.

Education

As a student, one of the most important things to include on your resume is your education.

For high school, write the name of your school on one line and bold it (on the far left side). If you are still in high school, write the month and year you expect to graduate on the same line but all the way on the far right side (do this by using the tab button and extra spaces) – this saves you a line. If you’ve already graduated, simply write the month and year you graduated in the same place

You can also add some of your high-school-related achievements here. On my resume, I added the sports teams and clubs I was in. I only used one line and simply listed the multiple items. You could add something about your grades or being on the honour roll if applicable. If you did a semester abroad be sure to add that here as well. I used one bullet point for extracurriculars and one for academic highlights.

If you’re in university or college, be sure to add the name of your school, the degree you are pursuing, and your expected graduation month and year. The same thing applies here – if you have academic achievements such as a high GPA or being on the Dean’s list, add them into a bullet point. Feel free to add other achievements as well. For example:

Education

The University of XXXX Expected Graduation: June 2022
Degree you’re pursuing or have
– Academic achievements
– Brief list of extracurriculars (optional – you might write these lower down)

XXXX Secondary School Sept 2014-June 2018
– Academic achievements
– Brief list of extracurriculars (optional – you might write these lower down)

Relevant (Work) Experience

This section is also very important. Here you will show off why you’re qualified for the jobs you want.

Also, notice how I said Work in parentheses? Well, that’s because you might not have true work experience if you’re using this resume to apply for your first job. This is totally okay because I’m almost certain you have enough other experiences to add to this section.

Think about any major clubs you have joined at school or taken part in. Be sure to mention this experience was volunteering or unpaid work for a club so the employer doesn’t assume it is a paid position. You can also draw on experiences you have with volunteering.

Think about even the smallest things. Have you ever done babysitting? If you’ve ever watched your parent’s friends’ kids, your younger siblings, cousins, etc. then you pretty much have! Is there anything you’ve ever volunteered with? Write that down!

Of course, if you have paid job experience, add these in.

Formatting

To format your relevant experiences, start with writing your job position (E.g. Team Volunteer, Founder, Team Coordinator, or whatever your role was) on the far left side. Bold this title, and on the same line at the far left put the start month and year and also the end month and year. Directly below the position title write what company or group this was for. On the next line, you will write 1-3 bullet points summarizing the work you did. Be brief here and do your best to highlight all the great things you did. It’s even better if you can quantify your impact – how much money did you raise? How many people did you help? How many hours did you train? This gives the employer an idea of how much work went in and what impact was made. For example:

Relevant Experience

Team Volunteer Sept 2018-Jan 2021
XXXX Foundation

  • Describe what you did at this job
  • Highlight some of your achievements
  • Quantify your impact

Founder Oct 2019 – Present
YYYY Inc.

  • Describe what you did at this job
  • Highlight some of your achievements
  • Quantify your impact

Then right below, add your next experience. I would recommend if you’re in college or university and have a bit of working experience, that you add a separate section for clubs/extracurriculars where you can add volunteer and club work. However, if you’re still in high school you can keep them together.

Projects

This section is pretty optional and likely if you’re in high school you won’t have too much to add here yet. I recently added this section to my own resume, using it to highlight some projects I worked on outside of the classroom. For example, through a club that I’m in, I’ve been able to take part in 3 real-life consulting projects. I used this section to highlight those experiences because I wanted them to stand out on my resume. If there’s a really interesting project you worked on in school, you might consider adding that here. Otherwise, don’t add this section and move on to the next!

Achievements or Awards

This section is used to highlight any awards or special achievements you’ve earned. I would use this section to talk about achievements that aren’t related specifically to your relevant experience. For example, if you were “Employee of the Month”, you should list that in a bullet point under that experience.

Use this section if you have any distinct achievements that should be highlighted on their own. Make sure you write the date you received the award on the far left too.

Achievements

  • Recipient of the _______ May 2017
  • Awarded the ________ for ______ April 2018

Skills

This last section is used to highlight any skills you have that will help you in the job you’re applying for. A good way to think of relevant skills is to look at the job posting. Most of the time the job posting will elaborate on what skills a good candidate should have. They will also list what they look for in a candidate. You want to make sure your resume proves you fit that description. Take some of those keywords and put them into your resume as long as they are applicable! format like this:

Relevant Skills

  • Skill 1
  • Next Skill
  • Etc.

You can continue this list with other relevant skills you have. However, each of these lines takes up a lot of space. Consider making 2 columns in this section so you don’t end up with wasted white space.

Remember, this section is to highlight skills completely on their own. Try to throw in other skills you have under your relevant experience section. If you had to work in a team, use Excel, be a leader, do presentations, etc., then you can list those skills under the applicable experience. Personally, I like to highlight skills in my job experience’s bullet points, so I don’t have a Relevant Skills section. However, I know many people who do!

How to Make A Resume – Other Tips

Formatting

How to Make a Resume - computer and coffee

Once all your information is on the page, it’s time to format it. Make sure that you aim for the 1-page goal. If it’s too long, consider being more concise in some of your bullet points. On a first resume, your bullet point should not be super long. Keep them the length of one line if possible. You can also make the fonts a bit smaller (not too small though). The last resort for saving space is adjusting the margins. Try not to make it too obvious – not that it’s against some unspoken rules, but it’s nice to have a clean edge around your work.

You can also add a pop of colour too. For example, My name and the section subheadings are all in a dark blue. The rest of the font is black. This makes the sections stand out a bit without being overwhelmed by colour. I also added a border around the outside edge in the margins to make it look more professional.

Templates

You might also consider using a resume template. There are lots of unique and colourful templates if you just do a quick Google search. My resume is pretty plain and boring but I prefer mine this way. I feel that it’s very easy to follow.

If you’re applying for a job in marketing, design, or something creative in general, I would actually recommend using a template! This is your chance to show how creative you are. Here are a few resume templates you could use.

Now that you have all your information in your document you can easily transfer the info over.

Grammar & Spelling Checks

This point is actually extremely important!

If your potential employer notices spelling or grammatical errors in your resume, they will start to assume bad things about you. These small errors make the impression that you don’t care about the job enough to read over your resume for the 30 seconds that it takes. It also might convey that you don’t pay attention to detail. You don’t want something as small as a misspelt word to ruin your reputation, so take the extra few minutes to proofread your resume.

You can also ask a friend or family member to proofread your resume. They could even help you improve the content of your resume or think of other things to add that you might’ve forgotten!

Final Thoughts on How to Make A Resume

Once again, these are simply my tips on how to make a resume for the first time. I’m still a student myself, not a professional in the matter. However, I’ve found these tips have really helped my resume stand out.

Thanks again for reading this post on Big Sister Blog. Be sure to subscribe to our email list to receive access to exclusive content and posting updates! Hopefully, you’ve learned something valuable about how to make a resume. Good luck with applying for those first/new jobs – you’ve got this!

Karley

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