7 Rules to Follow When Writing Your First Resume

Writing Your First Resume

Want to write the perfect resume, land your dream job, and start your career off right? Here are seven rules to follow when creating a resume for your first job.

Tired of working part-time in coffee shops, restaurants, and retail stores? Getting ready to graduate college and start your job search?

One of these days, you’re going to hit a point where landing a job requires more than just filling out an application. In order to get a full-time job with benefits, you’ll have to submit a resume.

And the job market is competitive, so you’ll need a resume that stands out in a big pile.

The best way to get an interview is to submit a resume that shows who you are, explains your skillset, and separates you from the competition.

Ready to create one now?

Here are seven rules to live by when creating a resume for your first job:

1. Understand What a Resume is For

Before you can create a resume, you need to understand why we write them in the first place. A resume does more than just detail your job history and say where you went to school.

A good resume showcases your experience and makes it clear that you are THE best person for the job.

On average, hiring managers spend less than 30 seconds reading each resume. They’re busy people, so they often just scan each one for key terms. Some companies even use AI robots to filter through resumes and narrow down the candidate pool!

Therefore, you’ll need to fill it with the right words and make it easily scannable to get through the preliminary screening process.

2. Search Google to Find the Right Format

There’s no point in writing a resume if you don’t understand the proper format. Before you start listing out your job and education experience, search Google for a template.

Different industries use different formats. If you’re applying for a marketing job, your resume won’t look anything like that of someone who’s applying for a job in finance.

Search resume templates online to find one that’s right for your industry and your desired job.

3. Include All of Your Personal Information

Put your privacy concerns aside for a moment, because your resume needs to include all of your personal details. Your full name, phone number, physical address, and email address should all appear in a header section at the top of the page.

There’s no need to include your date of birth or social security number. You don’t need to disclose that information until you get a job offer and agree to a background check. But, it can be helpful to include links to social media pages, such as LinkedIn, and any portfolios or personal websites you may have.

You want your potential employer to be able to contact you, so include your email address and phone number. Just make sure to include the email you use most often, so you don’t miss any messages from them.

And if you see a voicemail pop up on your phone, listen to it! Don’t assume the employer will send you a text message to schedule an interview.

4. Highlight Your Education

The more experience you have, the less important your education becomes. But when you’re just graduating college and looking for your first real job, your education is your best asset.

Include the name of the college you attended and list the degrees you received and when you received them. If you’re applying for jobs before graduation, include your anticipated graduation date. That way, the employer will know that you’re currently finishing up your degree.

Mention anything about your education that can help you stand out. For example, if you spent a semester studying abroad, mention it. If your GPA is higher than a 3.0, include that as well. You should also list any special recognitions or awards you have received.

Tip: Don’t mention making the Dean’s List unless you made it every semester.

5. Highlight Your Skills, Not Necessarily Your Former Jobs

When you don’t have a lot of (or any) professional experience, you’ll need to show your skills in other ways. Detail any part-time jobs you had and any transferable skills you learned there.

It’s also important to mention any internships or volunteer positions you held.

The trick is to highlight your soft skills, not necessarily the jobs themselves. So while you should list the places you work, focus their attention toward your skillset.

For example, let’s say you worked as a part-time waitress in a campus café. Serving iced coffee isn’t likely to help you land a corporate job, but the customer service skills you picked up might.

Showing that you have the right soft skills is important, especially when there are a lot of other applicants.

6. Be Honest

The first rule of resume writing is to be honest. 100% honest, all the time, no exceptions.

Don’t ever lie or stretch the truth to make your resume look better. Your work history and education history are easily verifiable, so if you want the job, approach it will full transparency.

And don’t assume that having a short resume will exclude you as a potential candidate for the job. It won’t. A short, honest CV is always better than a lengthy one that’s full of exaggerations and embellishments.

7. Proofread, and Proofread Again

Don’t submit your resume without proofreading it. When you’re done proofreading it, do it again.

Also, ask a friend, mentor, or professor to look it over for you. If you submit it with typos, there’s no chance you’ll make it to the interview stage.


Ready to create a resume that will get you noticed and help you land that first real job? Here’s what to do:

  • Understand the purpose of a resume
  • Use the right template and format for your industry
  • Include all of your relevant personal information
  • Highlight your education and internships
  • Show off your skills, not the details of your past jobs
  • Be honest
  • Proofread for typos and errors

Now that you know some of the basic rules of resume writing, open up your laptop and get started. The longer you wait to create that resume, the longer it will take to find that dream job!

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