Companies in the USA require resumes with specific information that differs from job applications in other countries. In this article, we'll go over the information you need to include on a resume in the US, the information you should never include, and the best formats to present your information. At the end of the article, we’ve included a sample resume template you can use to increase your chances of getting a new job in the USA.
ZipJob has a wide network of career experts and hiring managers, so the information on our blog is based on real experience from people who know how to land a job in the US. For more information on our resume writing process, click below.
The 3 resume formats you can use in the US
There are only three types of formats you should use for a resume in the US:
The traditional reverse chronological resume
The strategic functional resume
The best-of-both-worlds hybrid (or combination) resume
All of these formats include the same basic information with a different layout. For the purposes of this article, we’re going to focus on the reverse chronological resume format, which is appropriate for most job seekers.
Having the right USA resume format is essential if you want U.S. employers to give your resume the consideration it deserves.
The information you need on a US resume
Here is the basic information a hiring manager or employer is looking for on your resume:
Name and contact information (phone, email, city and state, and LinkedIn URL)
In a reverse chronological resume format, your experience section will be the bulk of your resume. You can optimize it with keywords tailored to the job position you’re applying for.
For more information on what your resume needs to include, check out these resources:
The information to remove from a US resume
There are several types of information and details that you should remove from your resume in order to be a competitive applicant in the US workforce today.
Personal details like your date of birth, parent or spouse names, marital status, or identification numbers. US employers don’t want to see this and may reject your resume automatically to avoid discrimination concerns.
A headshot. This raises another discrimination issue, as well as takes up valuable room on your resume that should be used to describe your qualifications.
Your full address. Stick to the city or greater location you live in, plus the state and zip code. Any street names or numbers are considered too much information.
Only include a phone number if it is a 10-digit US number. Include an area code, but not a country prefix. Example: (888) 944-9929
References, unless the job posting specifically instructs you to include them on your resume. Including them without prompting is considered presumptuous, as most employers will ask for references later in the hiring process.
USA resume format example:
View 200+ more professional resume samples for all industries, along with a guide to writing resumes from our career experts.
Additional tips for writing a professional US resume
If you’re used to using an objective statement on your resume, it’s time for a change. The preferred option across the US is using the summary statement on a resume. Unlike an objective statement that focuses on your career goals, the summary focuses on your ability to fulfill the company’s needs. Since employers are ultimately more interested in what you can do for them, the summary statement is a better option.
Here is a good example:
An accomplished sales leader with a keen understanding of the market dynamics that impact national advertisers. A proven record of success in penetrating new market segments, account development, and revenue growth. Expert in integrating video, display, mobile, television, and print verticals into a cohesive message. In-depth knowledge of creating digital content packages and brand strategy for both start-ups and Fortune 500 accounts.
You want your summary to include keywords, skills, and experience that are relevant to the job you’re targeting. Read on for advice on how to identify keywords to use on your resume.
1. Include only relevant details
The standard US resume format should be no more than one or two pages in length. Most employers only spend seconds deciding whether a resume deserves to be read. That means that longer resumes are more likely to be cast aside without further consideration.
So, how do you keep your resume to those limits? Include only the most relevant information. Focus on skills, accomplishments, education, and experience that best demonstrates your qualifications for the position. Consider omitting details that don’t support or add to that narrative.
2. It’s all about value
Fancy titles and extensive experience may impress some employers, but most American hiring managers are looking for the potential value you can bring to the company. Regardless of the titles or positions you’ve held, you need to explain your achievements at those companies. Any resume using an American resume format should:
List the job, position, and measurable achievements.
Focus on achievements that directly relate to the position you’re seeking.
Use hard numbers to quantify the value that you brought to the company. For example, “Led 10-person team that revolutionized ABC Corp’s product delivery process, cutting delivery times by 30% and reducing costs by 14%.”
3. Remember to include keywords
In addition, be sure to use keywords on your resume from the job posting. This will help to present you as the right candidate for the job. You can identify those keywords by reviewing the job posting and looking for the skills and phrases that define the role--as a bonus, using the right keywords will make you look great to an applicant tracking system ATS scan.
Knowing how to format a resume for a job search in the US is half the battle. Once you understand the best resume format for the USA, you can focus your attention on producing a truly stellar resume. Ultimately, using the right resume format will help you to land the interview that leads to a job in the United States.
Good luck with your job search!
The ZipJob team is made up of professional writers and career experts located across the USA and Canada with backgrounds in HR, recruiting, career coaching, job placement, and professional writing.