Oftentimes, especially in this day and age, the resume really is the first impression you have with a potential employer.
A resume is a summary of your skills, abilities and accomplishments. It is a quick advertisement of who you are. It is a snapshot of you with the intent of emphasizing interests and secure you a job interview. A resume is not an autobiography, and should ideally be one-page long.
A resume should be tailored to your professional goals. It is not uncommon for serious job-seekers to have a resume with 2 or 3 variations according to the job they are applying for. Since it is a snapshot of you and a quick advertisement of who you are, it is necessary to make sure it is accurate, carefully written, and critiqued. It should look good, but it should also be scannable.
In the “look good” department, there are many templates you can get. Microsoft Word, Google Docs, and similar word processing programs often come with resume templates you can use. Similarly, you can buy templates from different websites, work with a graphic designer on creating one, or even buy one from Etsy. Make sure, however, that the design is in line with the job you want.
Making your resume scannable is very important in this day and age. Many employers don’t necessarily look at printed resumes anymore, and simply scan the resumes for keywords. Be familiar with the keywords for your field, and especially familiar with the keywords for your desired job position. Make sure, however, that they are in line with your experience, and that your resume looks good in every other way, because once your resume is picked for having the right keywords, it will undergo the same scrutiny as in the olden days before computers and keywords.
If you do get an interview, it is customary to have a printed resume ready to hand over to the employer. In this day and age, too, it is becoming more and more common to simply hand over an electronic copy of your resume. This can oftentimes be e-mailed in advance, though sometimes, it may be required to hand it over in a thumb drive or memory stick. For electronic delivery of your resume, pay close attention to what format they want it delivered in (.docx, .pdf, .rtf, .txt, etc).