Writing a resume can sometimes feel like an impossible task. How long should it be? How do you find the right balance between modesty and confidence? With so many different formats to choose from, how do you know which one will “wow” its readers? In the end, creating a winning resume comes down to just a few areas that will best allow you to touch on the most critical points.

Simplify Your Resume

Your resume should be simple and easy to read. Choose a basic font, such as Arial, and keep the font size around 11-point or larger so that hiring managers won’t struggle to read it. Your name should stand out among the body of the resume, so type it in bold with a 14 or larger font and place it at the top of your document. Your contact information will go underneath your name in a smaller font. Ideally, you should use one-inch margins all around the document to retain some white space. If you need more room, you can decrease the margins but as a general rule of thumb, don’t go smaller than 0.5 inches.

The headings in your resume, such as education, work experience and certifications need to stand out from the rest. Make the headings a larger font than the text in the body of the resume, preferably 14-point, then italicize or bold the job titles or names of companies.

One of the most important factors in resume writing is editing your content. You never want to send out a resume out that has spelling or grammatical errors. Use spell check or a program that will catch your errors as you write, such as Grammarly. If you’re sending your resume as a document, make sure the hiring manager cannot check the edits you’ve made previously.

Focus on the Education and Work Experience Sections

If you currently have a job, the work experience section should come before the education section. When you list your work experience, place your current or most recent job at the top of the list. Include the company names, your job title, a brief description of the company, your job duties and the dates you were employed. To stand out from the rest, include a (very) short story of the work you’ve done and the positive impact it had on others.

Add a Customized Career Summary

Your career summary at the top should always be customized for the company you’re applying to. You may not know the personality of the hiring manager, but you may know enough about a company and their brand to tailor the message accordingly.

Give the hiring manager an idea of what they can expect from you and what you can bring to the role and the company. Insert key skills you possess that match what the company is seeking. This small amount of information can really pack a punch and urge the reader to continue to the end of the document.

Include Other Information in Separate Sections

Include a separate section for any honors, awards, certifications or scholarships you’ve received. Make sure to only note the most significant ones. You can also list any important presentations you’ve given or publications you’ve contributed to or authored. Include url’s if possible.

Don’t Forget About Your Additional Skills

List any technical skills that would be beneficial for the hiring manager to see such as Microsoft Office, Adobe, etc.  If you speak another language, belong to any organizations or have done any relevant volunteer work, include that in this section.

By highlighting the most important parts of your resume at the top and then following with supporting information, you can create a powerful first impression on the hiring manager. Use proper spelling, grammar and a consistent font and format. Now that you know how to create a winning resume, prepare for the interview!