How to Write a Resume in English

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Writing a resume in English can be very different than in your own language. Here is an outline. The most important step is to take the time to prepare your materials thoroughly. Taking notes on your career, educational, and other accomplishments and skills will ensure that you can shape your resume to a wide variety of professional opportunities. This is a moderately difficult task that may take around two hours.

What You Need

  • Paper
  • Typewriter or Computer
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Past Employer Addresses

Writing Your Resume

  1. First, take notes on your work experience—both paid and unpaid, full time and part time. Write down your responsibilities, job title and company information. Include everything!
  2. Take notes on your education. Include degree or certificates, major or course emphasis, school names, and courses relevant to career objectives.
  3. Take notes on other accomplishments. Include membership in organizations, military service, and any other special accomplishments.
  4. From the notes, choose which skills are transferable (skills that are similar) to the job you are applying for—these are the most important points for your resume.
  5. Begin resume by writing your full name, address, telephone number, fax, and email at the top of the resume.
  6. Write an objective. The objective is a short sentence describing what type of work you hope to obtain.
  1. Begin work experience with your most recent job. Include the company specifics and your responsibilities—focus on the skills you have identified as transferable.
  2. Continue to list all of your work experience job by job progressing backward in time. Remember to focus on skills that are transferable.
  3. Summarize your education, including important facts (degree type, specific courses studied) that are applicable to the job you are applying for.
  1. Include other relevant information such as languages spoken, computer programming knowledge, etc. under the heading 'Additional Skills.' Be ready to speak about your skills in the interview.
  2. Finish with the phrase: References: Available upon request.
  3. Your entire resume should ideally not be any longer than one page. If you have had a number of years of experience specific to the job you are applying for, two pages are also acceptable.
  4. Spacing: Separate each category (i.e. Work Experience, Objective, Education, etc.) with an empty line to improve readability. 
  5. Make sure to read your resume carefully to check grammar, spelling, etc. 
  6. Prepare thoroughly with your resume for the job interview. It's best to get as much job interviewing practice as possible.

Tips

  • Use dynamic action verbs such as: accomplished, collaborated, encouraged, established, facilitated, founded, managed, etc.
  • Do not use the subject 'I', use tenses in the past, except for your present job. Example: Conducted routine inspections of on site equipment.
  • Place your work experience before your education. In English speaking countries, especially in the United States, work experience is the most important factor in hiring.
  • Ask for permission to use someone as a reference before you interview for a position. It's also a good idea to let your references know that you will be interviewing if you haven't interviewed for a while. In this way, references will be "in the loop" if a potential employer telephones or sends an email for further information. 
  • Don't include the contact information of your references on your resume. The phrase available upon request will suffice. 
  • Use a thesaurus to help you improve work-related vocabulary and eliminate unnecessary repetition.

Example Resume

Here's an example resume following the simple outline above. Notice how work experience uses shortened sentences in the past without a subject. This style is more common than repeating 'I.' 

Peter Jenkins
25456 NW 72nd Avenue
Portland, Oregon 97026
503-687-9812
pjenkins@happymail.com

Objective

Become an Executive Producer in an established recording studio.

Work Experience

2004 - 2008 

  • Lead singer in a band which toured North America.
  • Responsibilities included arranging music and recording live performances.
  • After two years, managed entire group and bookings.

2008 - 2010 

  • Producer at Sound Mixers Aligned studios in San Diego, California.
  • Collaborated with a wide range of musicians to help produce demo recordings for major recording labels.
  • Developed sound profiles recording setups for small to large ensembles.
  • Became accomplished on a wide range of audio software packages.

2010 - Present

  • Director of artist relations at Spooky People Studios.
  • Responsible for establishing a solid working relationship with our artists while meeting the needs of Spooky People Studios. 

Education

2000 - 2004 

Bachelor of Science University of Memphis, Memphis, Tennessee 

Additional Skills

Fluent in Spanish and French
Expert in Office Suite and Google Documents

References

Available upon request

Final Tip

Make sure to always include a cover letter when applying for a job. These days, a cover letter is usually an email to which you attach your resume.

Check Your Understanding

Answer true or false for the following questions regarding the preparation of your resume in English. 

  1. Provide the references contact information on your resume.
  2. Place your education before your work experience. 
  3. List your work experience in reverse chronological order (i.e. begin with your current job and go backwards in time).
  4. Focus on transferable skills to improve your chances of getting an interview.
  5. Longer resumes make better impressions.

Answers

  1. False - Only include the phrase "References available upon request."
  2. False - In English speaking countries, especially the USA, it's more important to place your work experience first.
  3. True - Start with your current job and list in backward order.
  4. True - Transferable skills focus on skills that will apply directly to the position for which you are applying.
  5. False - Try to keep your resume to just one page if possible.