How to write an effective resume - Coursera blog (2023)

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In this guide you will learn how to create an effective CV. You'll learn strategies for tailoring your resume to your job role and effectively presenting your skills and experience—whether you're a job seeker or a middle-aged professional moving into a new field. You will learn about templates and formats and understand the structure of each basic section of a successful resume.


An effective CV must present all important information about you as a professional in a concise and clear manner. Both format and content are important. Before diving into the details of how your resume is structured, you first need to have a good understanding of what you are trying to convey. It is also important to focus on what is important to the employer and do your best to tailor your CV to the position.

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Focus on what is important to the employer

Before writing your resume, try to consider the employer's point of view. what to doOfI want to know? By answering this question, you can focus on the information that will be relevant to the employer. This in turn increases your chances of getting their attention.

When applying for a specific position, you must read the job description carefully. This will help you understand exactly what the employer is looking for. To gather additional information, browse many job descriptions to see what comes up repeatedly. This will help you better understand the role. Another good way to understand the needs of a potential employer is to schedule networking sessions with industry professionals who can share their experiences and insights.

Remember that focusing on what is relevant to the employer may mean you leave out details about your skills and experience that are important to you but not directly relevant to the role. Decide whatNOIncluding on your CV can be just as important as deciding what to include. Irrelevant information can distract or confuse the reader, potentially making your resume more likely to be rejected.

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Tailor your CV to the role

It is important that you adapt your CV to each job you apply for. Even if your target roles share the same general set of requirements—and even if your skills and experience are broadly applicable—you should still adjust the order of your qualifications to match the order in the job description. In this way, you focus on what is most important to each individual employer.

If you can, try to match the language of the job description. For example, if you have a recruiting resume and are applying for a talent acquisition position, replace the word "recruiting" with "talent acquisition" on your resume. Switching to the terminology your employer uses can help them refer to you. This approach can also help you avoid being filtered out by automated software that relies on keywords to match your resume to the job description and decide whether to submit it to the recruiter or reject it.

Tip: Please note that CVs are traditionally written in the third person without the use of personal pronouns.

Different types of job seekers

Your resume strategy will vary at different stages of your career. Someone looking for their first role will need to take a different approach than someone looking to move mid-career into a new field. In both of these scenarios, you need to communicate your value even if you have no experience in the field, but your strategy will vary depending on what information you can share.

You can use the recommendations in this section to learn how to convey your value to the employer in a way that matches your skills and experience.

Career changers

If you are an experienced professional but want to pursue a career in a new field, your experience can give you a unique perspective and potentially help you stand out as a candidate. At the same time, you must be aware that you clearly define yourself as a qualified professional in your new field. Remember that your application will most likely be considered alongside applications from people with directly relevant experience, so you need to explain to the employer why they should consider you for the position over these candidates.

Here are some important things to keep in mind when creating your resume:

Focus on your universal skills and experiences and highlight the advantages of your diverse backgrounds.

When describing your past experience, focus on what is relevant to your new career and don't overdo it with less important details. If you e.g. ran a restaurant and now move into IT support, your customer service skills will be critical, while your people management skills will not be so critical. If, as a restaurant manager, you took care of your computer network and electronics, it will also be important to cover this in your CV – even if it was a small part of your role. Finally, try to point out how your background - despite being in a different field - is actually an advantage. For example, you can highlight how the commercial awareness you developed as a restaurant manager can help you understand business needs when prioritizing your work as an IT support specialist.

Adopt the terminology of your new industry.

Familiarize yourself with the language, terms, and jargon of your new industry, and demonstrate this familiarity by using industry-specific words and phrases in your resume. This will make it easier for the reader to understand how your experience is relevant to them and give them confidence in your commitment to the new field. If you e.g. ran your own business and are now looking for a job in marketing, use terms like "marketing funnel" and "lead nurturing" when discussing your past marketing efforts—even if you weren't thinking along those lines. back then.

New professionals

People who are looking for their first job and do not yet have professional experience to describe may have trouble filling out a resume. In this case, you can use non-work experiences such as education, extracurricular activities, volunteering and life experiences (travelling, caring and others) to show the employer how you overcome challenges, solve problems and achieve results.

It is important to remember that the employer only knows what is written on your CV. If you think something will help you present your case to a potential employer, find a way to put that information on your resume. For this purpose, use sections such as Projects, Voluntary work, Relevant Experience as an alternative to Work Experience.

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Templates and layouts

Now that you have an idea of ​​what you want to convey in your resume, you can start filling in the details. You can design your own CV or use an existing template. There are many templates available online and you can access them by typing “resume templates” into your favorite search engine. You can also find Google Docs templates by going to Google Docs and clicking on the template gallery in the upper right corner.

Tip:Whether you actually use a Google Docs template or not, designing your resume in Google Docs is a good idea. It allows you to easily share, get feedback and download your CV in a convenient format.

When choosing a template, you may be guided by personal taste and preferences, but it is also important to consider the following factors:

  • Easy to read: Your CV must make a strong impression and contain all the most important information in a very short time. Make sure the paragraphs are clearly organized and the font is easy to read, and use margins and white space so the document doesn't feel cramped.
  • Simple design. Your resume should be easy to understand by both humans and the applicant tracking systems (ATS) the software companies use to store and retrieve candidate information. ATSs vary, but many cannot analyze graphs and other visual elements, meaning the information they contain will be lost. Simple design based on well-organized text is best.
  • Length.Your CV must be one page unless you have at least 10-15 years of relevant (not cumulative) experience. Two-column resume templates are suitable for one-page resumes. A two-page CV should fill the entire width of the page.

Resume sections

Before you start filling out your resume, decide which sections you want to include and in what order. There are basic elements that should be included in every CV. There are also optional elements you may wish to include depending on your skills and experience and the roles you are applying for. Customize the template as needed by moving, adding, deleting and renaming sections.

The most important sections of your CV include contact information, a career overview and details of your skills, experience and education. Be sure to use section labels to help the reader navigate your resume. As for the order, it will often depend on what you want to emphasize to your employer. A recent graduate may want to put their education first, while a working professional will be guided by their experience. Optional sections can include information about projects, publications, volunteer experience, awards and recognitions, patents, languages, and more.

Let's take a closer look at each part of a typical resume.

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Individual sections of the CV


This is the section at the top of your resume that contains your contact information. Your name is the only part of your CV that should be written in a larger font than the rest of the document. Your contact information should include:

  • city, province, postal code (no address for privacy reasons)
  • telephone number, e-mail address
  • LinkedIn profile URL
  • Optional: personal website, GitHub (for technical roles), portfolio (for creative roles)


The summary section will always be at the top of your resume, right after the heading. It should be short (3-5 lines) and clearly express what makes you a good candidate for the position, as well as what sets you apart from the competition. The summary sets the context for the rest of the document by listing the most important things the reader needs to know about you.

While there are many ways to write a resume, consider the following format, focusing on your core expertise, strengths, and what sets you apart.

Sentence 1: Describe yourself by role and competence.Here is your professional introduction. Examples:

  • Digital Marketing Manager with expert knowledge in SEO, Social, PPC and GMB.
  • Talent acquisition expert with over 4 years of experience in the medical device industry.

Tip:If you are changing professions, describe yourself with the desired title. For example, if you are moving from QA Analytics to project management, you must describe yourself as a project manager. You can add "with experience in QA Analytics" to confirm this part of your career.

sentence 2:Match your expertise with your value.This is where you determine how your unique skills will make you a valuable asset to the company. Examples:

  • He is fluent in creating and editing graphics, engravings and illustrations. Consistently able to create high quality marketing assets that drive conversions.
  • Opportunity to acquire a wide range of positions from administrative to management level. He is able to create a seamless process to recruit and hire managers and consistently present the highest quality candidates.

Sentence 3: Include the differentiator.You'll likely be competing with others with similar skills, so it's important to provide a clear reason why an employer should choose your CV. Examples:

  • Known for her ability to eloquently present a point of view to clients, prospects and colleagues with expertise, confidence and clarity.
  • Consistently noted in performance reviews as being able to present to clients, prospects and colleagues with expertise, confidence and clarity.
  • Received 8 awards for excellent customer service.

Tip: Instead of using the word "Summary" to indicate this section, use a professional heading to help set the tone for the rest of the document. For example: "Experienced SEO Manager" or "Android Developer | Medical Devices."


Directly below the overview should be a list of main areas of specialization and specific skills.

For a non-technical rolecontains 4-8 short sub-points describing your core skills (also known as areas of expertise), arranged in two or three columns. To decide what will be on this list, consider what the employer would hire you for in the first place. Focus on measurable skills such as copywriting, agile project management, Google Analytics or sales funnel management. Remember that skills such as communication, time management and collaboration - which are harder to measure and claimed by most - are not as effective on a CV.

Tip: When tailoring your CV to a specific job, the Skills section is the first opportunity to adapt to the job description.

For a technical role, it is important to list all relevant technical skills. If you find the list too long to list each item in a separate section, organize your skills by type - software, programming language, hardware, data science, or other relevant categories.

Section for professional experience

The work experience section is extremely important because it tells you what you have done in your career. For employers, this is a strong indicator of what you will be able to do for them.

The Work Experience section should list your roles (company, job title, location, hire dates) in reverse chronological order. If you have a lot of work experience, limit your CV to the last 10-15 years, because that is the most important thing for the employer.

Ideally, you should list three to six roles on your resume that demonstrate your progress in your career. Under each role, list your responsibilities and accomplishments in bullet points. Responsibilities describe what you were supposed to do, and achievements are specific results that show how well you performed your role.

Your most recent role should be as detailed as possible with four to six bullet points of no more than two lines each. Older roles should provide less information. Begin each bullet with the action verb that gives you control. Include numbers to show the extent of your role and influence – how many leads you converted, how much revenue growth you achieved, how many new employees were brought on board, how big the team you led was, and more.

Tip:Avoid chronological gaps in your work experience. If at any time you have been out of work for more than six months - intentionally (caregiving or travel) or unintentionally (unemployment) - explain on your CV what you did during that time. In particular, highlight activities related to your professional life, such as self-study, projects, part-time work or volunteering.


Big Box Story, Site Worker, Middleton, CA 01.2015 – 02.2016

  • Provide customer service during checkout transactions and provide assistance in case of questions and doubts of customers when selling large areas
  • Won 8 Employee of the Week awards in one year with a team of over 100 employees
  • Signed up over 200 consumers for new credit cards in 15 months (average rate 4x)
  • Received "Certificate of Excellence" for success in upselling to customers

The Education Section

In this section, include grades higher than high school in reverse chronological order (only fill in high school information if you have no education beyond high school). For each entry in the Education section, include degree, institution, location and graduation date.

Tip: You can include pending or incomplete degrees by marking them as "In Progress" or "Not Completed" - if you do, be sure to include information about completed classes/majors.

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Complete your resume

Once you have completed your CV according to the instructions in this document, ask someone to review it. Recruiters consistently say they will reject resumes with spelling errors, even if the resume is otherwise in good shape.

Tip: Consider asking a few people you trust—especially those who know your work—for feedback on your content. Don't feel obligated to include all the feedback you receive, but be open to recommendations that can help improve the quality of your resume.

In closing, remember that while there is no such thing as a perfect resume, you can use this guide to craft an effective resume that avoids common pitfalls and pitfalls. As you progress through your job search, remember that your CV is a living document. You can make adjustments based on the feedback you receive, but try not to waste valuable time over-optimizing. Focus on your skills and experience, present yourself in the best possible light and get ready for your next role!

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