Guide to What a Resume Should Look Like (With Example)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated October 27, 2022

Published October 18, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

One of the most important elements of the application process is submitting a resume. An impressive resume demonstrates your qualifications, competence, and suitability for a role as a professional. Understanding what a resume should look like can help you create an impressive document that can impress a hiring manager. In this article, we discuss what an effective resume looks like, identify the necessary elements to include, and provide an example as a guide.

Exploring what a resume should look like

Understanding what a resume should look like involves learning how a resume can impress a hiring manager and increase your chances of getting hired. A resume is a document that contains a summary of your professional qualifications. While there are many types of resumes, there are a few general rules you can follow to create an effective application document. While creating yours, remember that it is a formal document that's descriptive and organized, portrays you as a professional, and has proper formatting.

Elements of an effective resume

Here are some essential elements of an effective resume to consider when writing your own:

Appropriate length

Hiring managers typically receive several applications for a single role, so they spend a short time on each resume. Having a resume that's the right length can ensure that the hiring manager sees all your qualifications within a short amount of time. The appropriate length for a resume is one page for entry and mid-level candidates. While it may seem short, one page can be enough space if you include only the most relevant details. Senior-level candidates can prepare a two-page resume if they have many relevant qualifications.

Readable and uniform fonts

Using the right font can help make your resume easier to read. As your resume is a formal document, it's essential the font you use is professional and legible. Use the same font throughout your resume to appear more organized. Some standard fonts you can consider are Times New Roman, Arial, and Calibri. You can pick other fonts based on your preference and personality, but ensure they're readable and don't distract from your content.

Related: The Best Fonts for Your Resume

Proper page alignment

The alignment of your resume can determine how organized it looks. With proper alignment, the text on your resume looks appropriately spaced and balanced and is easier to read. Consider using a one-inch margin to all sides of the resume, as this is the typical format. Appropriate line spacing is also necessary to make your content appear clearer. Consider using 1.0 line spacing to fit more content on one page without making it look crowded.

Resume header

The resume header is the first part of the resume, containing your personal and contact information. A good resume makes identification and correspondence easy. The relevant details to include on your resume header are your name, email address, phone number, city, and province. In addition, if appropriate for your role, you can link your website, online portfolio, and any relevant social media accounts.

Resume introduction

A resume introduction is a brief paragraph that begins a resume and helps candidates attract the hiring manager's attention. The different types of resume introductions are professional summaries and resume objectives. Professional summaries are more appropriate for experienced candidates, as they highlight your most impressive qualifications. In contrast, entry-level candidates without extensive work experience can write a resume objective as they focus on career goals. Regardless of the resume introduction chosen, ensure it's brief, professional, and memorable.

Related: What To Include in Your Resume Introduction: With Tips

Work experience

Hiring managers usually spend the most time reviewing the work experience section of a resume. It can demonstrate that you have the practical knowledge and skills to perform your duties effectively. For each previous role, list your employer's name, location, and period of employment. Under that, you can state your job title. Include a bulleted list detailing your work duties and achievements under each employer. Your three most recent and relevant work experiences can be used to fill this section.

Academic background

Most professions require their employees to have a minimum level of education. This can be a secondary school diploma, bachelor's degree, or advanced degree. The academic background section can help you demonstrate that you've attained the minimum education requirements for the role. This section usually describes each of the institutions you attended in reverse-chronological order. For each, state the institution's name, location, and study duration. You can also include a short bulleted list to display your CGPA or any relevant academic courses or projects you completed during that time.

Relevant skills

Your skills refer to the knowledge and abilities you have that help you perform a task effectively. They can be technical and industry-specific skills or soft skills. It is essential to include your skills on your resume, as most hiring managers look for specific skills relevant to the role in the candidates they consider hiring.

To make your resume more effective, you can review the job description to see the most relevant skills for a role and include them. You can create a separate section to list your skills on your resume and also incorporate them in your introduction or work experience sections.

Related: Hard Skills vs. Soft Skills

Certifications

Certifications are documents that regulatory authorities or professional organizations issue to provide evidence for a professional's competence in a particular skill or knowledge area. Including relevant certifications on your resume can help convince the hiring manager of your suitability for a role. You can place your certification section after your skills section or before your work experience section if they're vital to the role.

Related: How To List Your Certifications on a Resume

Additional sections

Here are some popular additional sections you can consider including on your resume:

  • Languages: Professionals who speak multiple languages are valuable to hiring managers, especially in industries involving clients from different backgrounds. Remember to mention your proficiency and describe your skills accurately.

  • Professional memberships: This refers to membership in professional organizations, which are associations of professionals within the same industry, discipline, specialty, or company. Professional memberships are a great way to show you have a good network and have professional development goals.

  • Volunteer activities: These are activities you do for charity or advocacy, usually without pay. Including volunteer activities can help demonstrate your motivation, passions, and values.

  • Hobbies: These are activities you enjoy doing. Including your hobbies can be an effective way to make your resume more personal.

Example of an effective resume

Here is what a resume should look like, using the example of an experienced marketing professional:

Jane Hart
Toronto, Ontario
344-445-7665
janehart@email.com

Professional summary

  • A seasoned marketer with over seven years of experience with corporate branding, market strategy, and product advertisement.

  • Designed and implemented a nationwide marketing campaign that improved client sales by 200% within six months.

  • Two-time winner of the Gerald Magazine "Marketer of the Year" award.

  • Trained and supervised over 5 marketing interns looking to start their careers as marketing associates.

Work experience
Marketing associate
AGS Marketing Agency, Toronto, Ontario, 2018-2021

  • Improved client revenue by 60% using intensive marketing campaigns via traditional and digital means.

  • Conducted market research and developed a comprehensive consumer profile, leading to a 55% increase in marketing lead conversions.

  • Optimized client social media pages leading to a 72% increase in followers and a 150% increase in post engagements.

  • Supervised and trained 5 marketing interns on basic marketing proficiency to improve their interest in marketing.

Marketing associate
Amplify Marketing Agency, Toronto, Ontario, 2015-2018

  • Designed copies for client email newsletters, leading to a 70% increase in click rates.

  • Collaborated with team members to plan and implement the client's corporate branding, including value statements, logos, and corporate personality.

  • Handled the marketing of an American multinational looking to penetrate the Canadian market and recorded a 20% increase in sales revenue within six months.

  • Conducted extensive market research and advised clients on pricing strategies, leading to a 42% increase in sales within a year of implementation.

Marketing intern
Creators Marketing Agency, Toronto, Ontario, 2013-2015

  • Participated in consultation meetings with clients and took notes on specific client requirements.

  • Assisted marketing associates with market research, gaining knowledge on data sorting, analysis, and presentation.

  • Performed all duties assigned to me by my supervisor and other company executives.

  • Participated in brainstorming sessions to develop marketing campaign ideas for clients.

Education

Master of Business Administration (MBA)
Hightown University, Toronto, Ontario, 2018-2019

  • dean's list

  • relevant courses: global strategy, macroeconomics, corporate budgeting, marketing

Bachelor of Arts (Marketing)
Linktown University, Toronto, Ontario, 2011-2015

  • first-class honours (3.68/4.0)

  • relevant courses: corporate branding, digital marketing, market research, consumer profiling

Skills

  • SEO/SEM

  • email marketing

  • social media marketing

  • market research

  • consumer profiling

  • effective communication

  • technical skills

  • customer service skills

  • leadership skills

  • strategic thinking

Certifications

  • Certified Marketing Professional, 2019

  • Certified Digital Marketing Professional, 2017


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