A resume gives employers a quick insight into who you are as a professional. It is one of the first things employers use to determine if you are a good fit for their open position. That's why you need to customize your resume to make sure it applies to both the company and the job advertised. In this article, we discuss the seven most important parts needed to build your professional resume.
What should a resume include?
Your resume should include job experience, education, skills and qualifications that make you a good candidate for the job. Keep the information in your resume succinct and straightforward. Most employers prefer a one-page resume since they only take a few moments to look at each resume they receive. Capture their attention during their first glance at your resume by being intentional about what you include in it.
Several important parts of a resume help employers understand your professional background. Spend time making each part related to the job you're applying to. Then, make sure to proofread it yourself and have someone else edit it as well, preferably someone in your industry.
The order of the parts of your resume will differ based on the type of resume you choose to build. The most common types of resumes are chronological, functional and combination:
- Chronological resume: Heavily focuses on your job history and your achievements during each job. This is best for people who have a consistent job history and have increased their level of employment over time.
- Functional resume: Focuses more on your skills and qualifications related to the job you're applying to. This is a good resume type for people who have gaps in employment or wish to switch careers.
- Combination resume: A mix of both the chronological and functional resume formats. You may want to use a combination resume if you are a recent graduate with only a few years of experience, only have had a few employers or want to change your career.
7 important parts of a resume
Your resume should include the following parts:
Name and contact information
Employers want an easy way to contact you if they have any questions or want to schedule an interview. In the header of your resume, include the following information:
- First and last name
- City and state
- Phone number
- Link to portfolio or professional networking profile (if applicable)
Summary or objective
In this section, include one or two sentences explaining who you are and why you are qualified for the job. A resume summary describes your work experience while a resume objective describes your immediate career goals. If you have a lot of relevant experience, use a summary to describe all of it. Objectives are usually best if you're an entry-level candidate or you're switching careers.
Here's an example of a summary: "Skilled graphic designer with over 10 years of experience creating designs for successful advertising campaigns."
Here's an example of an objective: "Experienced graphic designer looking to join a team of fellow passionate creatives and further develop design skills."
This section is especially helpful for positions that require you to have a certain level of education. Only list the education that is relevant for the position. For instance, if the job requires you to have a bachelor's in biology, don't list your high school education — only list your postsecondary education.
Here is what you should include in the education section:
- Name of school
- Location of school
- Degree earned
- Area of study
- Year of graduation
- GPA (If applicable and may not want to include if lower than 3.5)
- Relevant certificates, honors or achievements
In this section, you should highlight all of your professional experience related to the role. This is often most of your job history unless you have a gap in your career or made a career change, though you usually only list the last 10 years of employment history.
Write your professional experience in reverse chronological order. That means you write it in order of your most recent to least recent jobs. Make sure to include your employer's name and location, your job title and years of employment. Then, include bullet points that explain your responsibilities and achievements during your time there. Write these with the job you're applying for in mind.
If you have little job experience, then you may want to list all of your previous jobs and find ways to connect them to the job you're applying for. Many jobs utilize similar soft skills such as communication, problem-solving and leadership, so you could highlight those skills in your bullet points.
Skills pertaining to the role
In the skills section of your resume, include soft and hard skills that are directly related to the role you want. Soft skills are skills that help you facilitate positive relationships. They are often considered people or social skills. Hard skills are technical skills that you have learned through previous job experiences or your education.
Examples of soft skills:
- Critical thinking
- Conflict resolution
- Attention to detail
Examples of hard skills:
- Trained in AP Style
- Advanced knowledge of WordPress
When choosing skills, refer to the job description and identify keywords within it. Then, see if any of those keywords match any skills you have. For example, if you are applying for a project manager role, focus on soft skills such as leadership, organization and communication. Then, under your hard skills, you could list the project management systems you are trained in.
Read more: Hard Skills vs. Soft Skills
Achievements or volunteer work
This section of your resume is optional. If you have any outstanding or relevant achievements or volunteer work, list them at the bottom of your resume. Only include these if they help the employer gain a better understanding of why you're a good candidate for this role. For instance, if you are applying to be a teacher, you could list any volunteer work you did to help children.
Hobbies and interests
If you have any hobbies or interests that relate to the role, you can add them toward the bottom of your resume. You can also list hobbies that demonstrate the skills needed for the position. For example, a mechanic could list in their hobbies section that they participate in classic car shows.