The hardest part of writing a resume is often simply getting started. Job seekers often find themselves overwhelmed during the initial phases of the resume-building process, as it can be challenging to translate your career achievements into bullet points. Understanding how to create a framework for your resume will help you to organize your thoughts effectively and write compelling content that will generate interest from prospective employers. Over the course of this guide, we’ll provide resume outlines to help you get started from the blank page.
Start by Selecting Your Template
Before crafting your bullet points, select a professional resume template that best suits your style. We recommend avoiding color or flashy graphics for most occupations, as these can often distract hiring managers from your qualifications. You should also use a reverse chronological format template, as you want to feature your most recent work experience at the top of your resume. Ultimately, your content will always be more important than the template itself, but you want to ensure you select a format that you can edit and work with easily.
Create Your Professional Timeline
To capture your career accomplishments effectively, you should begin by creating a complete professional timeline for your work experience. In the majority of cases, this means listing every job you’ve worked since you graduated from college. By listing all the positions you’ve held throughout your career, you’ll establish a framework to help you build your content. This exercise may also help you remember past achievements and job responsibilities that you might have forgotten.
List Out Your Career Achievements and Job Duties
If you’re struggling to translate your experience into bullet points, it can be helpful to list your achievements and daily responsibilities for each work position in a separate document. Don’t worry about how it reads at this stage of the writing process. The goal here is to brainstorm ideas that you can translate into compelling bullet points later. If you have access to documentation or data from your previous positions, you should add any relevant numbers and metrics to quantify your achievements. Once you have concrete details you can pull from, it becomes much easier to build out your bullet points in the professional experience section.
Analyze Job Descriptions and Postings
If you’re having difficulty building out your content, you may want to begin by analyzing job postings that you’re interested in applying for. Although you’ll need to customize the content to showcase your unique experience, examining these descriptions may help you identify the relevant experience you’ve cultivated throughout your career. As you review the descriptions, you’ll want to think about specific achievements that match what the organization is looking for in an ideal candidate. It’s important to avoid simply copying and pasting, as you won’t grab the hiring manager’s attention with generic and uninspiring content.
Craft Your Professional Profile
Your professional summary is an important aspect of the resume, as it provides a snapshot of your career highlights for the hiring manager. Now that you’ve reviewed the job descriptions, you should have a better understanding of what companies are looking for in their applicants. Begin by listing your current professional title, your years of experience within your industry, and four specializations that align with the job description. This will show prospective employers that you’re qualified for the position immediately upon opening the document.
Resume Outline Examples
Now that you’ve become familiar with some resume writing best practices, we’ll provide additional guidance to help you create an outline for your document. This will give you a sense of structure to help you build out your content as you translate your unique experiences into bullet points. Once you understand the basics of resume writing, conveying your career achievements and work history becomes much more straightforward.
Professional Profile Resume Outline Example
A ____ Professional with ____ years of experience in the ___ industry, specializing in _____, _____, _____, and _______. A proven track record of coordinating with diverse teams to execute projects, drive process improvement efforts, and enhance organizational efficiency.
This profile outline provides a framework to aid you as you build out your professional summary at the top of your resume. Establish who you are, what you do, and your strongest skill sets within the opening sentence. Otherwise, you run the risk of losing the hiring manager’s attention. The subsequent sentence here provides a general example of topics you can touch on, but you’ll want to try and be more specific. Let’s look at the outline again with the content fully built out.
A Project Manager with seven years of experience in the construction industry, specializing in construction management, blueprint reading, and stakeholder management. A proven track record of leading diverse teams to execute multi-million-dollar construction projects.
Notice in the second example that the candidate specifies the size and type of the projects they were executing without overwhelming the hiring manager with too many details all at once. The goal of the profile is to draw the reader in, so you want to find the ideal balance for your content. The job seeker in this example could have elaborated further on the construction projects here, but that information is much better suited for the professional experience section.
Professional Experience Resume Outline Example
Job Title, Company Name, City, State
Month 20?? – Month 20??
- Managed a ___ person team comprised of _____, _____, and _____, led projects to achieve _____, _____, and _____ , and successfully ______, ______, and _____
- Identified continuous improvement opportunities for ____, _____, and ____ processes, resulting in _____ , ______, and _______
- Coordinated with ____ teams and departments to lead _____ initiatives, including _______, ________, and _______
This sample provides a framework to help you translate your professional experience into accomplishment-driven bullet points. Although this won’t work universally across every industry, it has applicability for various roles and professions. The goal is to establish what the accomplishment was and showcase the bottom-line value it created for the organization. Certain types of projects might require you to explain how you overcame unique challenges, while others might not need additional context. As you create your bullet points, be sure to continue to cross-reference your content with the job description to ensure that your content is aligned with the role you’re applying for.
IT Manager, Day Trade Consulting Inc., San Diego, CA
November 2015 – October 2022
- Managed a team comprised of 15+ system administrators, computer engineers, and cyber security specialists, led large-scale projects to transition from outdated legacy systems to Microsoft Azure and generated a $200K reduction in IT infrastructure costs
- Identified continuous improvement opportunities to automate data entry processes, which saved over 20 work hours per week and improved team productivity
- Coordinated with cross-functional teams and departments to lead initiatives to improve knowledge sharing across the organization by developing a centralized knowledgebase
With the outline filled in, you can see how the job seeker used this framework to provide unique and compelling details from their career to grab the hiring manager’s eye. The key here is to remember that prospective employers want to understand your unique story, and if you provide generic content, you won’t stand out from the competition. As you build out your resume, be sure to draw attention to the nuances of your professional experience with an emphasis on your ability to create value for the organizations you work for.