Resumes & Cover Letters

Resume Format Guide: What your resume should look like in 2019

Written by Kate Lopaze

At the end of the year, there’s often a lot going on—people trying to hit end of year goals, holiday parties, and general chaos. Chances are, your resume isn’t your top priority. But while you’re closing out this year’s goals and getting ready for a fresh start for the next year, it’s actually the perfect time to sit down and redo your resume. You never know what opportunities might be lurking in the early days of 2019, so the work you put in now will make it easier to pounce on those openings.

Our resume resources will give you the tips and guidance you need to revamp your resume—or create an entirely new one that will get you noticed (for all the right reasons!). If the blank screen is intimidating and you’re not sure where to start, you can always start with a template from our Resume Library.

But first, let’s look at some resume theory, and how you should approach the whole process.

You may be itching to start writing right away, but taking this “pre-resume” step of thinking about what you want to include, and why, will make the end product even better.

What should your resume look like?

Another pre-writing step is choosing the packaging for your resume. Once you submit your resume somewhere, the path is fraught: if you lose the attention of the reader or don’t have enough keywords you’ll end up in the “no” pile very fast. So it’s essential to think about how your resume looks, and how it can grab attention in seconds.

First step: the file name. Even before a recruiter or hiring manager opens your resume, they’ll see the file name—especially if you’re emailing it directly.

Second step: consider the reader. Your reader could be reviewing your resume on a desktop computer or a tiny smartphone screen. It’s important to pick a format that is flexible enough to work for different readers using different devices.

Third step: organize your info. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel; there are lots of resources that have baseline templates and guidelines that can get you started.

Fourth step: make it look good. Font may seem like an inconsequential thing when you’re putting so much focus on the substance of your resume, but definitely don’t forget to pick appropriate fonts.

What should you include (and leave out) of a great resume?

Once you have the aesthetics settled and some ideas for how to approach your resume, it’s time to concentrate on the guts of the resume. Here’s where it comes back to you: your experience, your skills, and your spin.

The header of your resume is pretty standard: name, address, phone number, email address. After that, you start setting the tone with an objective or summary statement. The objective section of a resume has become controversial. It used to be a required part of any professional resume, but over time, some feel that it takes up space for little reason. So should you write an objective or not?

Here’s info that will help you decide whether it works for your resume:

Your resume will need to include a skills section. What skills do you want to feature? Which skills are most relevant to the job for which you’re applying?

Here are our best tips on crafting your skills section:

Then it’s time to organize your experience bullet points. In some ways, this is the most crucial section of your resume. This is your chance to highlight your strongest points, but also to spin the less-great things in your career (like employment gaps):

If you have a lot of experience, you’ll also need to do some finessing. How much should you include, or leave out?

When To Make a Multiple Page Resume

And if you don’t yet have a lot of experience, we also have tips for new grads who want to build a resume, but don’t yet have years of work experience.

What are the biggest mistakes to avoid?

To make your resume the best it can be, that means avoiding unforced errors. You have the power to include whatever you want in your resume—but with that power comes the responsibility of understanding what shouldn’t be included.

Here are some tips on what not to do—and how to make your resume as blunder-free as possible:

Building a resume for a specific career

If you already have your job path set and are looking for super-specific resume guidance, we also have a series of walkthroughs tailored for particular industries and careers. These give you sample resumes from people at different levels in a career (usually entry-level, mid-level, and manager-level). Every resume showcases different skills and experience. These samples can be used to guide your own field-specific resume.

At this point, we hope you have everything you need to get started with your A+ resume revamp. Once you’ve gone through the process and have your resume in sparkling shape, we also have some handy checklists for you to do one final pass before sending your resume out into the world.

In addition to all of this, you can also utilize free resume templates to help get you started on forming a great foundation.

Again, we know this is a busy time of year, but if you put in some work now, 2019 You will thank 2018 You!

resume format guide

About the author

Kate Lopaze

Kate Lopaze is a writer, editor, and digital publishing professional based in New York City. A graduate of the University of Connecticut and Emerson College with degrees in English and publishing, she is passionate about books, baseball, and pop culture (though not necessarily in that order), and lives in Brooklyn with her dog.