Writing a Professional Resume
Here's how!

What’s the difference between writing a professional resume and writing a regular resume? 

Can you tell the difference?  What are prospective employers looking for?

The professional resume might be referred to as an Executive resume; however, all resumes should be quite professional.  The Executive resume, however,  will certainly not be the first resume that this individual has ever written – so that is one difference between a standard resume and the executive resume.

Considerations in all resumes

  • The first is readability.
  • The second is appropriateness.
  • The third is effectiveness.

The more you learn about resumes, and the more writing practice you have, the better able to produce an excellent resume writing format that will accomplish your goals.


Readability, when you consider writing a professional resume, encompasses a number of considerations – and one of them is the format/design of the page.  If you have the best resume text, it won’t matter if the format does not present the information clearly and comfortably.

I like to use the word “comfortably” because that feeling is so very real.  If I have to work to read your work – whether it be a resume, a letter, or a report – then I am immediately put into a negative frame of mind and that will affect how I perceive and understand what you have written.

Always write for your reader

The second consideration for readability when writing a professional resume is that the information must be clearly presented – concise, clear.  Highlight the most important information.

Target the resume if you hope to apply for a specific job.

Understand the purpose of the resume before you prepare the document – and then design the resume to accomplish the specific goals you have set.

To apply for a specific job with a specific company

  • Make the resume a targeted resume, specifically referencing the specific employer. 
  • Highlight your skills as they will apply to the specific job, and also highlight your characteristics that would make you a good fit for the company.

To apply for a specific job within any company that is hiring

  • Highlight the skills that will appeal to the reader/employer. 
  • Highlight skills that will show the reader that you can, in fact, do the job and can be the best candidate for the job. 
  • Show that you deserve the interview. 
  • Your resume must “stand out above the crowd.”

To use your resume as an introduction for any other purpose

  • You probably would lean more toward what might be called a curriculum vitae – which is more a general profile of you and what you have accomplished. 

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Writing a professional resume - make it effective

A little anecdote -

I remember reading the one-page curriculum vitae of the head of the Montreal Olympic Committee.  He was not applying for a job – this was more an advertisement or a statement of who he was for press purposes.  

The irony I saw in that one-page flyer was that the higher up you go, and the more credentials you have, the shorter your resume can be. 

Why is that?  Because he/she does not have to prove himself.

There is no need for stating the duties that one may have undertaken at specific jobs, as is necessary in the standard resume.  Being “on the board of directors” of a large company says everything in that statement.  A short, concise statement that needs no further explanation.  But I digress…


Preparing the standard resume and preparing the executive resume are similar – but perhaps the executive resume can be shorter as I’ve noted above.

Both must be professional. So, writing a professional resume is imporant!  There is nothing acceptable other than a professional resume.

The executive resume may appear more like a professional flyer, especially if it can be limited to, and prepared on, one single page.    That’s an excellent feature, but it is very difficult to try to limit your complete profile to one page.  In trying to do so, you can produce a crammed and negative impression.

When writing a professional resume, the executive resume may also use professional fonts and designs to appear more “professional” rather than prepared on a home computer.  But a good student of the home computer can produce exactly the same result at home.

In all cases, the resume must be accurate in every regard.  Proofread extensively.


Content.  When writing a professional resume, and in all resumes you prepare, the content must be appropriate and tailored (or targeted) to your reader. 

  • There is no need to list every job you’ve ever held because that will only turn off your reader. 
  • The 10-second test is so very important. 
  • In that first 10 seconds, the main information must clearly “jump” from the page and allow the reader to feel easy about reading and learning who you are.

List only appropriate jobs – relevant information that relates clearly to the specific application.

At the end of the resume, you might add Other Related Achievements or something similar to add briefly a few additional items that would be of interest and relevance.  But these would not take centre stage, so to speak, on the resume.

Layout and presentation.  Also, appropriateness refers to the layout and the presentation. 

  • Use a standard business font (Times New Roman 12-point font is excellent). 
  • Coloured paper is not appropriate, and would draw attention – negative attention – to your document.

Keep the language appropriate as well. 

  • Avoid slang. 
  • Avoid abbreviations. 
  • And make everything on the document consistent. 
  • A consistent format generally indicates a professional level of expertise.


When writing a professional resume, how effective will the document be?  That depends on how the reader will perceive the document and receive your message. 

  • Does your resume “stand out above the crowd”? 
  • Does it shine with professionalism? 
  • Does the information – the important information – jump from the page because of your format and presentation skills?
  • Is the document easy to read?  Does it pass the 10-second test?

All of these factors weigh in when we want to know about the effectiveness of the document.

What is the first thing the reader sees?

The information section at the top – your name and your personal information. That information section includes your personal information.  What does it say about you?

Email address.  One rather minor point – some may think it is minor – may be what trips you up.  What is your email address? 

  • If it is a professional email address, then that will add to the professional presentation. 
  • If it is a rather unsuitable and inappropriate address – as it often the case with young people these days – then that is going to impact you and your results in a very negative way.
  • Think before you provide an email address that will be embarrassing to you later.

Social networking contacts.  If you are so bold as to include your Facebook page – and be careful here as well – make sure that your Facebook contents reveal a professional side of you.  If not, no matter how professional your resume is, you will likely be perceived in a negative way.

Some prospective employers may also look you up on Facebook to learn more about you.  You may not have considered this - but it is something very real.  What you are willing to post about yourself to the world must be what you are willing to let your prospective employer know about you.

Perception is reality – and unfortunately that is more and more true with the world today and the extensive social networking available.

In summary, use your common sense when considering writing a professional resume.  If you want a professional position, show your prospective employer that you are professional in all ways.

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