A Comprehensive Guide to Creating a Professional Resume

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 23 January 2023

Published 17 May 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

A professional resume is an essential document for a candidate to showcase their skill, experience and qualifications for a job. There are several templates and formats to choose from, so it's important to select the right one. Learning more about the different templates and formats can help you create an effective resume. In this article, we define what a professional resume is, describe different resume templates and formats and explain when to use each one.

Related: What Is a Resume? (Plus How To Write and Format a Resume)

What is a professional resume?

A professional resume is a summary containing your professional and personal experiences, education history and skills. The primary purpose of a resume is to market yourself appropriately to prospective employers. In many cases, when you apply for a job, you may be asked to submit your resume and a cover letter. Your ability to create an attractive resume can increase your chances of securing a job interview.

Related: Cover Letter vs. Resume

What to include in your resume

The standard sections present in a professional resume are:

  • Contact information: This section should contain your name, phone number and email address. Depending on your industry or type of job, you may also include a link to your professional website or portfolio.

  • Objective or resume summary: This section is a short paragraph of not more than four sentences briefly explaining who you are professionally and why you're qualified for the job. Ensure to review your job posting carefully to identify the soft and technical skills that are relevant and important for the role you're applying for.

  • Work experience: This section gives you the opportunity to illustrate your value to your former employers. Be sure to list all your relevant work experiences, from the most recent to the oldest.

  • Education: This section is important, especially for employers that look for a specific degree, level of experience and certificate in their candidate. Mention your most relevant and recent education and include details like the name of the school and location, the degree you obtained, the field of study, graduation year and other relevant honours.

Related: What To Include in a Resume: 7 Important Components

You can further personalise your resume by adding more sections, such as:

  • Projects: In this section, you can detail the projects that you've successfully executed. Make sure they're relevant to the role so that the hiring managers get an understanding of what you can achieve in a professional capacity with them.

  • Volunteering experience: If you have experience as a volunteer, you may add it to your resume, especially if it's relevant to the job. This allows them to see that you are compassionate and interested in contributing to society.

  • Skills and certifications: This section should include all your hard and soft skills that are relevant to this job. You can also add the relevant training and certifications you've obtained.

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What is a resume template?

This is a ready-made document showing your work experience, skills, achievements and educational level to potential employers in an organised and attractive way. Career experts design many resume templates that follow current trends and standards in recruitment. This allows them to create resumes that are easily scannable by the applicant tracking systems (ATS) tool used during recruitment.

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7 types of resume templates

Here's a list of seven common resume templates:

1. Original resume template

This template is a classic one, and is appropriate for people who want a straightforward design. It's designed to convey your skills, work experiences and abilities in a concise and clean format. This template is also recommended for experienced career professionals, specifically those working in white-collar jobs. It may also be appropriate for you if you're a student, as you can use it to highlight your relevant academic project and volunteer experience.

Related: 

  • Comparing Blue-Collar vs. White-Collar Jobs: An Overview

  • How to Write a Transfer Student Resume (With Example)

2. Minimalist resume template

As the name implies, the minimalist template has a straightforward design. It typically features a subtle colour accent that helps to showcase your personality. This template type uses a simple design and layout, making it suitable for several positions. Also, the lack of visual complexity means it's easy to format. It can be an appropriate template to use if you don't have a lot of time to prepare and customise the different sections of your resume.

Related: How to Create a Successful Game Design Resume (With Skills)

3. Taj Mahal resume template

This template has a unique layout compared to more generic resume layouts. This template is ideal for you if you're applying for a very competitive position and want to make a firm impression on the hiring manager. Additionally, if your resume objective is well-written and you have an impressive skill set on your resume, then this template can be appropriate. The left-hand column is ideal to gain more attention. With this unique column, you have more space to add to your experiences and education.

Related: What Is a Career Objective?

4. Cosmopolitan resume template

This template has a simple, stately and refined layout design. It typically features a subdued colour that makes the text easy to read and ensures that readers aren't overwhelmed by its design. Unlike other templates, it also subtly draws more attention to the candidate's name. It's also very adaptable and is applicable for positions in various industries.

5. Executive resume template

This template is commonly used as a guide for professionals working in administrative roles. First-time job applicants also frequently use this template as a starting point. This template is suitable for professionals looking to impress prospective employers with a simple and straightforward resume.

6. Everest resume template

This template uses a bold light-and-dark colour scheme that may help the hiring managers to notice you. In addition, its strong lines and basic colour scheme depict dependability, which is skill hiring managers look out for in prospects. The Everest resume template is ideal for job seekers who are ambitious and confident, and for professionals who are looking to advertise their resilient and stable nature.

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7. Pantheon resume template

This resume template is a powerful tool to add to your job-hunting arsenal. It uses a bold, two-coloured header, and a white background that allows you to elaborate on your job skills and work experience. Additionally, the three colour layers make it easy for hiring managers to look through different sections of your resume.

This is the ideal choice of resume template if you're looking to emphasise your career trajectory on your resume. For instance, if you went from an entry-level position in your industry to a more senior role, and you're now looking for a place in management, then this template may be ideal to help you achieve that level.

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The ideal resume formats to use

There are three major ways to format your resume, depending on your career path. These three formats are:

  • Reverse-chronological resume format: This is a popular resume format that shows your most recent or current job at the top of the resume, followed by others in the most recent order. Unless you're changing your career and creating a resume for this, it may be a good idea to use this format.

  • Functional resume format: This is another popular format that focuses on your experience and transferrable skills rather than your work history. This format divides your skills into subcategories to highlight them properly, making it ideal for candidates who are still accumulating work experience, or for jobs that focus more on skills.

  • Combination resume format: This format is a blend of the first two resume formats, and is ideal for candidates who've gathered some experience before switching careers. If you're in this position and have essential skills to highlight, use this format to give a balanced representation of your skill and work experience.

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What's the ideal length of a resume?

Typically, a resume is only a page long, but some experienced candidates may need more than one page to show their skills and expertise properly. Therefore, the length of your resume depends on your experience level. For mid-level and senior-level professionals with extensive experience and accomplishments, their resumes may be three pages long.

Related: Should a Resume Be One Page Long? (Plus How to Write It)

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