Immigrants

9 min read

May 20, 2021

Crafting a Resume for the US Job Market

HR typically spends around 6 seconds reviewing your job application. Read on and learn how to build a perfect resume — one that’s specifically tailored to the American job market.

If we told you that you could alter the trajectory of your professional life with just one piece of paper, wouldn’t you want to learn how to make that one page absolutely perfect? 

Well, you don’t have to look any further. OnJuno is on-hand with the ultimate guide to building a US-ready resume.

The resume is a key factor that decides if a candidate will land an interview or not. Since HR teams can go through hundreds of applications every day, a perfectly written resume can increase your chances of getting shortlisted. 

There are a lot of variables and considerations to keep in mind while designing a resume that meets US job standards. Let’s dive in.

What Are the Key Components of a Resume? 

Personal Information

This includes your name, address(es), email address, phone number(s), and LinkedIn URL (suggested but not mandatory). If you are an international student applying for a job, do mention your home country as well. This is important for your potential employers to anticipate visa challenges prior to the interview. 

Your personal information establishes a communication pathway between you and the organization you’re applying to. So, make sure it’s accurate before you send in the application.

Objective

An objective is a way to explain your intentions and goals with respect to the company. It usually does not exceed 2-3 lines and is an optional part of a resume. Since this sentence is typically the first thing a recruiter reads if you do write it, make it concise and worth the read. You could add a few skills, your immediate employment motives and mention the position you’re applying for.

Key Skills

Your professional skills should be a bulleted list of categories that you’re proficient in and that are relevant to the job. Avoid stuffing your resume with skills that do not pertain to the job title you’re applying for.

Experience

Work experience is one of the most essential parts of a resume, and typically makes up most of its content. Your experience section should include the following information for each entry:

  • Employer or company name
  • Location (city and state)
  • Dates employed
  • 3-5 bullet points describing your responsibilities and accomplishments

Make sure that each bullet point in your experience section begins with an action verb and not a personal pronoun. Try to put as many numbers and statistics as you can, as this helps employers quantify your professional accomplishments. 

If you are a college student applying for a graduate role, you can include your internships as part of your work experience. 

Education

List the highest level of education first, followed by your qualifications from preceding years.

The Education section of your resume must include:

  • Name of your institution
  • Degree pursued
  • Month and year of graduation, or the anticipated year of graduation
  • GPA
  • Any other academic honors, relevant coursework, or major research projects that you might have worked on.

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Dos and Don’ts for a US Resume

Do:

  • Tailor your resume for each position you apply to. A generic resume is easy to catch and it’s obvious because it usually doesn’t contain all the relevant keywords for the job description.
  • Expand on professional, volunteer, research, and classroom experiences to show transferable skills. 
  • Quantify your skills with results and examples.
  • Keep it concise.
  • Use language that is understandable and flows organically.
  • Use a simple layout that is easy on the eye. An overload of art and graphics may be distracting.

Don’t:

  • Make grammatical errors or spelling mistakes. It is one of the primary reasons why a resume is rejected at first glance.
  • Exceed two pages. According to CareerBuilder, 17% of resumes are binned by employers if the resumes are too long.
  • Mislead employers by including incorrect GPAs or skills you don’t possess. 
  • Use personal pronouns. 
  • Include a photo, marital status, age, race, gender, or religion. Conventionally, employers are not allowed to base hiring decisions on these qualities in the US. 
Most Common US Resume Mistakes

FAQs

What is the Ideal Resume Length?

Usually, a resume should not extend a single page, because it serves as a summary of your skills that are relevant to the position. 

For working professionals who are very experienced in their field, the resume can extend up to 2 pages. For freshers or students applying for jobs, the suggested resume length would be a single page.

How Should I Arrange the Skills and Experiences on My Resume?

Your skills should be arranged in the order of importance as required in the job description. Grouping your skills in specific categories is recommended.

For example, if you’re applying for a job as a software developer, your skills could be grouped into the following sub-categories: Programming Languages, Development Methods, Soft Skills, and more.

There are three methods to arrange your experiences: 

  1. Reverse Chronological;
  2. Functional;
  3. Combination of the two.

The Reverse Chronological method is the most preferred, as it lists all your experiences and previous employment details in order from the most recent to the least recent. It is easier for the employer to go through your experiences this way, therefore increasing the chances of your resume standing out from the crowd.

Functional resumes and a combination of Functional and Reverse Chronological are generally not preferred, because the arrangement is in clusters that might make sense to you, but it may not to the recruiter. A functional resume works well if you have little work experience, are entering a career that is very different from your educational path, or are changing careers.

How Do I Make My Resume ATS-Friendly? 

An applicant tracking system (ATS) is what you upload your resume to when you apply for a position online. To make sure your resume is ATS-friendly and uploads successfully, use standard formatting: 

  1. Standard fonts (e.g., Times New Roman, Arial)
  2. Section titles (e.g., Skills, Education, Projects, Experience)
  3. Work history format (Position, Name of Company, and Dates)
  4. Avoid using headers, footers, text boxes, tables, colors, or graphics.

Should I Include References in My Resume?

No, references are not typically included on the same page as your resume. They should be kept in a separate document and provided if requested by the employer.

What is “Keyword Research” and Why Is It Required?

Resume keywords and phrases are specific abilities, skills, expertise, and traits that recruiters and hiring managers look for in a candidate. 

Keywords consist of job-related nouns that describe your hard and soft skills, as well as qualifications for a job. These are important because the ATS screens specifically for keywords and phrases related to the job and ranks your resume based on how frequently they appear in the document.


Preparing a resume can be difficult and may require a few revisions to see what works and what doesn’t. But you can use the above points and the given samples as reference to tailor the perfect resume to land your dream job. Good luck!

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Akash Kalra
Akash Kalra is a writer, podcaster, and first-generation entrepreneur, as the founder of Izart Content Services: Home of Data Driven Storytellers.

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