This is a translation and a minor update of a note I wrote in Facebook a while ago.
I have no professional experience in resume writing or any other HR subjects. I write with a combination of a "gut feeling" and the (generally positive) feedback that I've got from headhunters, recruiters and friends who read my CV and/or used its template with good results.
I am an Israeli developer, and I write my resume to target programming jobs in the industry and culture that I know. In other professions, industries and countries, people might look on CVs in different ways and for other things.
If you encounter any errors or have different opinions, I'll be happy to hear about them in the comments :)
My template gets constant positive feedback from recruiters and friends. One friend claims that twice as many people are calling her back since switching to this format.
To use, open your preferred link, go to
file -> make a copy... and you'll get your own editable copy.
- The main header is you. Your name, to be exact :)
- A secondary title is not a must, but it might add some flavor or provide a place to talk about what you're looking for. I've used "Front-End Developer and UX enthusiast who you’d totally like to hire". The reader knows that I'm looking mainly for a front-end position, and they might remember me better for the unusual "who you'd totally like to hire" ending (for which I've got good feedback).
- Contact details - Name, email, phone number. You can also add icons with the relevant username (if different from your full name in the title) to LinkedIn, GitHub etc.
- The primary column includes the arguably most important part of your resume - your professional experience
- Education could be moved to the primary column if you don't have a lot of professional experience and/or if it's important in your field.
- If you can fit all of your info in the primary column, there's no reason for you to use the secondary one. You can just delete it.
- You can change the secondary column's width. I made it thinner over time, so the primary column would fit in a single page, but the width is flexible and should be fine as long as it's clear that it's the secondary column - that is, it's not nearly as wide as the primary one.
- Work hard on fitting everything in a single page. If you have a lot to write, consider using more concise phrasing, format the resume differently etc. However, make sure you're not omitting important stuff, and that you're not making the font size too small.
- If you have a large block of text, consider splitting it to bullet points instead. This might make your description more readable and help you to save some real estate.
- Make sure that texts with different roles look different. Titles, subtitles, emphasized terms etc. should look differently. In a nutshell and without learning design - try different font weights (bold vs. regular), underscores and color.
- Don't change the role of font weights, colors etc. For example, if you used bold letters to emphasize, don't use it for secondary lines as well; emphasizes and secondary lines should be discernible by their design.
- IF you choose to add a color - add a single, solid and readable one! If you have to make an effort to read it (e.g. you colored some of your text yellow), then the recruiter will also have to do that, and they might just put your CV aside and move to others. If you need to add another color, use a brighter or darker version of the first color, and that's it.
- ** Use a solid and readable font.** Your CV is not the place for "crazy" fonts, handwritten fonts etc. Again - the more effort the recruiter will have to make reading your CV, the lower the chances they'll actually get through it. Also, use a single font for all of your CV.
- Make the font smaller. Not too small, though - it should still be easily readable.
- Write time ranges differently - In the newer version of my CV, I moved the time ranges so the years would be below each other. This made the dates thinner and allowed more space for the primary column.
- If you're using columns, try to expand the column that takes the most space. You'll have to make sure no column gets too thin, as you don't want to have a line break every other word.
- Use concise language
- Be focused and concise, don't write irrelevant text. "Managed projects" is more readable and takes less space than "In my first six months at the company, I have managed two projects."
- Focused and concise doesn't mean you shouldn't expand on responsibilities, technologies and the nature of what you did. That's important. In long sentences, ask yourself - "can I remove this word and still send the same message?"
- Be honest - don't lie, don't invent false professional/education history. You'll probably be interviewing with people who are experienced interviewers, and who'll know to find out lies and "dirty tricks" in your resume.
- Good grammar creates a good impression. Know your commas and stops and make sure you don't have any typos.
- In many cases, humor can help you. Don't make your CV a standup session, but inserting a joke or two - especially if they're relevant to your profession - might make the reader smile and give you an edge against the other CVs. In my case, writing that I "know how to quit VIM" actually got me a job interview :)
- Job history order - start with your most recent job and go back in time.
- Write years, not months - 2013-2015 looks better than Aug. 2013 -> Feb. 2015, and it takes less document real estate. Also, you'd usually talk about years of experience, not months.
- A single job title should include the position and the company name
Keep a consistent writing style. Whatever style you pick, stick with it.
- Some such styles:
- Was responsible for project management
- Managed project
- Did project management
All of the styles I mentioned, and much more, are legitimate, but I'm a big fan of being short and to the point, with emphasis on the job's nature and your achievements.
Emphasize important words and terms (like I'm doing in this article). These include relevant technologies & buzzwords, significant projects and achievements that stand out.
You can shorten descriptions of older/less relevant jobs.
- Sections order - start with your most recent degree and go back in time.
- The title should include the degree title and the institution where you studied.
- You can add info about relevant projects, research and graduation with honors. I assume that if you've got relevant academic education, you can skip adding additional info about your high school extras and earlier degrees.
- You can skip some of the details in degrees that are not relevant for the position you're applying to.
- Emphasize important words and terms. These include elective studies (in highschool), graduation with honors, titles of interesting and relevant projects you did during your studies etc.
- In some countries that have compulsory military service, it's worth mentioning in your resume. Add your service under the professions part if it's relevant, and in its own section otherwise.
- Relevant technologies, software etc.
- If you've looked into, or played with, other technologies that you didn't get to use enough professionally, you can add them in a separate section. I've added them under "recent interests".
- Write essential technologies and software first, then add those that are not directly relevant but could help in different sections. For example, a web developer should write about HTML, CSS, JS frameworks etc. first. In a different section, they'll mention their Photoshop experience, which is not directly related but could improve processes in some cases.
- Add links to a personal website, portfolios, projects you were involved in, GitHub user and anything else that could show what you can do.
- If you have a long link, and it's not important to show the domain (e.g. a portfolio in a hosting website), consider using a URI shortener (e.g. tinyurl.com). This will make it easier to type, and take up less space in your CV.
- If a language is your mother tongue, write that.
- If it's not your mother tongue, write your reading, writing and spoken levels. If they're all the same, just write the proficiency once ("French - fluent").
- I highly recommend letting friends and/or people from your industry read your CV and ask for their feedback - both for their contents and for proofreading.
- Both PDF and Word files are acceptable, but unless specifically asked to provide a specific format, PDF is the way to go; More people can open it, and it guarantees consistent formatting and layout.
That's it. Good luck!