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How to build a resume from A to Z


So how do you build a resume? Like many people, you have realised that the resume you typed in high school is simply not up to scratch in today’s world. And like many people, you sit down at the computer with fingers poised above the keyboard, ready to type, and nothing’s coming out. You’re frozen. “There’s got to be an easier way,” you say to yourself. It’s not rocket science, so what is the problem? Nothing really; you have all the tools you need to build a resume. All you need is the know-how.

Writing an effective resume is like baking a cake. It takes preparation, time, a sprinkling of effort and a dash of passion to deliver results. Let me show you how.

The perfect recipe to build a resume


  • The job description, selection criteria and application instructions
  • A quiet area to work with no distractions
  • A notepad and pen to jot down ideas
  • A cup of coffee and snacks to keep you going
  • A desk and computer with Internet/email access
  • Microsoft Word with spell check and grammar check
  • A good memory – I forget what that feels like
  • list of questions to help jog your memory 
  • Basic document presentation knowledge
  • And a few hours to spare (yes, I said hours)


  • Dictionary and thesaurus
  • Your old resume to gather company names and dates you may have forgotten
  • Second pair of eyes to help you proofread your work


  • Prepare a quiet work area setting aside plenty of time to work your magic
  • On your notepad head up 5 separate sections

The first section will be for your contact details—your full name, address, contact phone number and current “appropriate” email address. That’s it. Do not put anything else, such as a date of birth or a profile picture, in this section.

The second section—we will come back to this at the end, after we have developed the rest of your resume. It is a very important paragraph that places strong emphasis on your strengths, but this can only truly be developed once you know what they are.

The third section is set aside to highlight your skill set. To add visual appeal, use bullet points and two columns for this section. For example, a graphic designer would list skills like Photoshop etc. A secretary would list things like Microsoft Suite, including Microsoft Word, Excel and Publisher. A construction worker might mention the tickets they have such as a “white card” (Australia) and “safety at heights ticket”.

The fourth section is set aside for the body of the resume. The format for this differs depending on your history and what you wish to highlight. But for now, let’s consider the most common format resume types (and the most widely accepted), which is the reverse chronological format. You can also find out about the functional format and the hybrid format here. To do this, you will start from the most recent job first and then work your way backwards. Now, if you’ve been working 20+ years and you’ve had lots of jobs, consider going back five to ten years only or just including the last five jobs. A resume should be two to three pages long (less in some countries), sometimes longer depending on the industry.

The fifth section is used to highlight your qualifications/any certifications. Please do not put things like your high school swimming certificates from 30 years ago. Only put relevant noteworthy qualifications and certificates relating to the job you’re applying for.

Add here any additional sections—areas like industry-relevant memberships etc. 

In the past we added two columns for references. This is no longer needed, but you might feel more comfortable adding a short sentence stating “references available on request”. However, please remember to have two to three references ready to give to the interviewers, including their contact details.

And remember the second section that I said we should leave for last? Gone are the days when you would write your career objectives here. This half of your resume is valuable marketing real estate, so use it wisely. After you’ve scoured through your work history and gathered all your skills into one fantastic resume, you can now confidently highlight exactly what you offer future employers. Use this area to sell yourself. This is your “sales pitch” in one tight paragraph, so don’t waste it.

Last but not least—don’t forget your cover letter. Not only is it crucial to “sales” space, to many employers it is just as important as the resume itself. And it is always polite to introduce yourself and to send a thank you letter.


Three more important areas to remember

Your resume must be visually appealing, readable and memorable. Not only should it be well laid out and visually attractive, it must be easy to read. Remember to proofread and correct any grammatical errors. Use attractive fonts and formatting to catch the eye of the reader. Also, use “punchy”, concise and persuasive language to encourage the reader to continue.

Combine all the steps above and not only will you have built a resume, you will have prepared a powerful resume that gets you noticed for all the right reasons. 

To help you build a resume, we will be adding lots of free examples of resumes to our site shortly.

Still not sure you can do it yourself? Soon we will be adding our NEW resume writing guide that will teach you to build a resume like a pro, as well as write successful resumes for family, friends and beyond. Demonstrate your interest by typing the word “Course” into our contact form, a small investment saving you and your family hundreds and thousands of dollars over the years.