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How to Write a Resume That Boosts Your HR Career

A woman is handing a business card to a man in an office.

​There is a significant difference between reading hundreds or thousands of resumes and writing your own. When was the last time you updated your resume? Is it still listing your experience like a job description? Will yours make it through an applicant tracking system? How are you showing your unique experience and skills that make you stand out from other HR professionals?

A lot goes into writing a resume that you might have forgotten about or that may be new if it's been a while since you drafted yours. Let's break down a sample resume that successfully propelled an HR professional into the next phase of her career.

Contact Information 

As an HR professional, it might come as no surprise to you, but many resumes start with incorrect information. Triple-check that your name is spelled correctly, your e-mail address hasn't been autocorrected, your certifications are clear and all links are going to the correct locations.

Personal Brand 

Director, Talent Management & Organization Development

Talent Ecosystem Integration > Program Development > Employee Engagement > Belonging


Your personal brand tells the reader exactly who you are professionally and where you are in your career path. It also expresses your unique selling proposition and how you are a bottom-line contributor.

Your resume should also be specifically tailored to the position you are targeting. If you are trying to transition from a human resources generalist to an HR business partner, then your personal brand and resume title need to reflect this goal.

In our example resume, it is easy to discern that this candidate has held top-level positions and is constantly striving for the best for her people, knowing that there is always room for improvement. Take some time to really focus on this section of your resume. Ask yourself what professional values you hold and how you plan to portray them in a succinct manner. How can you highlight your position to say what you do without being vague and listing only your current title? If you need extra help, I cover this topic in more detail on my website.

Summary Brief 

Now that you've caught a company's attention with your personal brand, it's time to provide a preview of what an asset you will be to its business. Use the summary brief to highlight your most impressive skills, qualifications and achievements. This is also a great section to pepper in critical keywords and phrases from the target job description.

Here are some questions to help you tease out what to include in your summary:

  • What does my career look like when mapped out, both historically and in the future?
  • Can I sum up my experience in one to two sentences?
  • What character traits do I want to point out that align with my target position?
  • How have I contributed to my field/position?
  • Can I back up what is in my summary in the professional experience section of my resume?

Core Strengths 

Gone are the days of a quick skills list with words such as "verbal communication" and "teamwork." Now, we need to add several hard skills and a sprinkling of soft skills. A resume with only soft skills would indicate you're a nice person but not qualified for much. A resume with nothing but hard skills would make you look like a robot with no feelings. Follow these steps to write a succinct, targeted skills section:

  1. Write out every skill you possess that makes you good at your current job.
  2. After analyzing your target job description, write down all the skills, requirements and keywords that jump out to you.
  3. Compare the two lists you've created and pull out the ones you have that align with the position.
  4. Narrow it even further to approximately 10-15 skills, making sure to choose skills you can prove.

Professional Experience 

The professional experience section is self-explanatory. You are going to use this area of your resume to write out what you have done, or currently do, in your work. To make yourself truly stand out, though, write each bullet point not as a description of duties, but as a summary of how you knocked those duties out of the park.

You should focus on results. Turn responsibilities into value-packed stories by focusing on explaining the challenge, action and result (CAR) of your efforts. Here is a sample job responsibility for a position similar to what the example resume client has done:

Designs and develops HR training programs for management and employees.


Here is how to implement the CAR method to show tangible results:

Continually improved global programs, systems and support by developing metrics, tracking and analysis initiatives. Created and introduced a global employee listening strategy and influenced leaders to drive positive change.

Because you are likely aiming for a position that is a step up from your most recent role, you might not have the exact experience requested, and that's OK. You'll want to highlight transferrable skills you have that can be used to perform the responsibilities of the new role.


Start with your highest level of education and work your way backward. List certifications, licenses, training, publications, speeches or programs that drive significant value to the target position. You can also include volunteer and community leadership experiences in this section.

Bonus Tips

  1. Be very selective in every aspect of your resume. Mention only information that aligns you with your target position.
  2. Applicant tracking systems have many faults, but you can help your resume sail through them by implementing these strategies.
  3. Write your summary brief last. This way, you can truly summarize the information presented in your resume.
  4. Every piece of information you point out needs to be proven elsewhere in your resume. You say you are good at collaborating: How? Who did you collaborate with? What was the outcome of that collaboration?
  5. Remember to write your resume for the future—the job that you want. Your ultimate goal is to show how you can step in and make an immediate impact on the position you are targeting.

Mary Southern is the founder of Resume Assassin in Austin, Texas, and offers more than 12 years of experience in resume writing, human resources, and career and academic advising. She has helped thousands of professionals across a variety of industries break into a wide range of leading companies. Learn more at   


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