You’re on the hunt for a new job, but first, you need to write an impressive resume.
While resumes and CVs are relatively the same across most countries, there are a few important differences you need to consider.
American resumes have extra requirements that can mean the difference between getting hired, or getting your resume tossed to the side without a second glance.
This guide will help you write a job-winning resume that fits all the US resume standards.
What you will learn:
- The best length and format to use for your American resume
- What not to include to avoid having your resume thrown away
- How to use keywords to pass through Applicant Tracking Systems
- What American hiring managers are looking for in their ideal candidate
Professional US resume example
How to write an American Resume
What’s the American resume format?
American resumes almost always use a reverse chronological resume format. This layout highlights the most recent experience first, then moves backwards in reverse chronological order through the employment history.
This American resume style also includes information about education, career objectives and skillset, but work experience is the priority feature.
How long is an American resume?
Most American hiring managers want to see one-page resumes.
In the US, it’s standard practice to stick to one page. Recruiters only look at resumes for 7 seconds, so it’s essential that you keep yours concise and scannable at first glance.
If you’re struggling to fit your entire work history into one page, focus on your most recent and relevant experience. If you had an unrelated job over 10 years ago to the one you want now, it doesn’t need to be on your resume.
American Resume Header Examples
US companies have to follow strict anti-discrimination laws when it comes to hiring.
It’s essential that you know what information you can include in your resume header, and which details you should leave out.
Otherwise, your resume might be trashed before the hiring manager even reads it.
Here’s an example of an American resume header with way too much information.
There are a couple of things wrong in this header:
- The full address is included. It’s a good safety practice to include anything other than just your city and state.
- Adding a photo of yourself to your resume can be great in some countries to add a face to the name, but in the US, it’s a big no-no. Employers have to prove that they’re not being discriminatory in their hiring. Having a photo in your resume makes it very difficult for them to comply.
Let’s take a look at a US resume header sample with the right information.
This one hits the mark!
- The job title is more descriptive by including the seniority level.
- It has the right contact information, including an email address and phone number.
- The applicant included their LinkedIn URL, so the hiring manager can look into them further.
- Most importantly, it’s compliant with hiring laws, by not including a photo or detailed address (just the city and state is enough)
American Resume Experience Samples
Results and achievements are important in the American workforce. When a hiring manager in the US is scanning your resume, they’re looking to see if you have what it takes to deliver value to the company.
No matter what industry you’re in, you should be specific in your experience section and highlight any achievements and/or improvements you made while on the job.
For extra brownie points, include real figures that backup your claims. Take a look at these resume experience section examples below for a clear picture on how to write yours.
These descriptions are too vague and only highlight your responsibilities. Every other applicant will have completed the same tasks in their former roles too, making it hard for you to stand out.
American hiring managers want to see how you can provide value to the role, so it’s important that you prove this in your experience section.
In this experience section, the candidate ticks all the boxes! They’re using the right keywords that match the job description, such as “hire and onboard staff” or “manage employee expenses”.
They also use real data to back up their claims of success. Instead of just stating that they hired and onboarded new staff, they inspire confidence in the hiring manager by proving how those staff have gone on to be the right choice.
In your own experience section, think of ways that you can demonstrate and prove your value. What accomplishments did you achieve in your former roles? Did you improve revenue? Boost efficiency somehow? Win an award? These are all great points to mention to land an interview at a US company.
The top skills to include on a US resume
American companies hire just as much for culture fit as they do for technical skill.
That’s why it’s vital that you include a mix of soft skills and hard skills on your resume to show you’re right for the job.
Here’s a list of soft skills that many American jobs require.
The hard skills you add to your resume is dependent on the job you’re applying for. Be specific in your descriptions.
Tip: Look at the job description that you’re applying for and mirror the same keywords they’re using to describe the responsibilities of the role. Your resume will more likely pass through Applicant Tracking Systems.
For example, if you’re applying to be a data scientist and they’re looking for someone who knows the programming languages Java, Python, C and Scala, include those specific terms in your skills section.
Here’s a list of general hard skills that can inspire your resume. Use these examples and build on them to be more specific to your job role.
Special case: How to write an entry-level American resume
If you’re in a situation where you’ve just graduated from college or university, or you’re transitioning to a different career, you won’t have relevant work experience to highlight in your resume.
In this case, you will want to focus on education, side projects and skills, rather than experience.
The functional resume format is perfect for these special cases. This resume layout focuses on skills and education, rather than employment history.
To stand out from other candidates, write about side projects or university coursework that represents your skills in your industry.
For example, let’s say you’ve grown your Youtube channel as a hobby and have gone from 0 to 10,000 subscribers in 6 months. If you’re applying for an entry-level Marketing position, this would be an amazing accomplishment to mention, since it proves your skills as a marketer and your passion for the role.
Talking about related projects and hobbies will help to boost your credibility as an entry-level candidate.
Key takeaways: what makes a great American resume?
A job-winning US resume needs to cover these points:
- Use a reverse chronological resume format, and stick to one page.
- Don’t include overly-personal information like your full address or a photo of yourself.
- Read the job description and mirror the same keywords they use in your skills and experience sections.
- Include a mix of soft skills and hard skills to impress hiring managers
- Add real-life data about your accomplishments to back up your claims.
- If you’re just out of college or university, focus on your education, skills and side projects in your American resume.