What To Include on a Resume: Key Elements, Tips and Examples

Updated July 14, 2023

When you submit an application, your resume is one of the first documents potential employers use to decide whether you're a good fit for the role. Resumes highlight your industry qualifications and help determine what differentiates you from other candidates. Optimizing this document can help you secure more interviews and improve your chances of getting a job that suits your interests.

In this article, we explain what to include on a resume and share tips for highlighting relevant education, work experience and skills to employers.

Resume Format
Image description

"Resume Format" is the title of this infographic that shows an image of an example resume.

On the left side of the infographic, a numbered list points to each section of the resume.

  1. Name and contact information

  2. Summary or objective

  3. Professional history
    a. Company name
    b. Dates of tenure
    c. Description of role and achievement

  4. Education

  5. Skills

  6. Optional (Awards & Achievements, Hobbies & Interests)

On the right side of the image is a sample resume with the name Janet Chobot and lines representing text underneath. Then the headlines Summary, Professional History, Educational History, Skills, and Awards & Achievements. Under each section are lines representing text.

What to include on a resume

While you may decide to add, remove or alter sections depending on the position you're applying for, here's an overview of what to include on a resume:

1. Professional header

One of the most common elements across all resumes is a professional header. This section includes your name, which you might format as the title of the page so employers can identify your resume among those of other candidates. You may also include a phone number and email address, ensuring you provide contact information that employers can use to easily ask you questions or schedule interviews. Try using an email address with a professional handle.

Carolynn Bruce, a life coach and human resources consultant with 20 years of HR experience in strategic transformational change and leadership development, offers a tip for writing an effective personal statement:

Invest the effort to make your personal statement unique and succinct. Give the reader a good sense of who you are and create the curiosity to learn more. If you're stuck and not sure what to say, ask three people to share three words that describe your strengths, then incorporate these characteristics throughout your resume.

Carolynn Bruce, SHRM-SCP

Depending on the type of job you're applying for, you might include a link to an online portfolio or your profile on a professional networking site. An example of a professional header is as follows:

Alex Gardner
555-555-9863 | agardner@email.com | Houston, Texas | agarder.portfolio.com

Related: How To Create an Effective Resume Header (With Examples)

2. Professional summary

A resume summary is a brief statement that explains your professional history and mentions key skills, education or work experience that make you a desirable candidate. Consider reviewing the job posting for clues on which traits employers prefer. Try to describe yourself in a way that not only appeals to hiring managers but also accurately reflects your skills and the rest of your resume. An example of a professional summary is:

Professional Summary

Thoughtful construction laborer with over five years of experience helping manage teams toward successful and safe completion of housing projects.

Related: How To Write an Effective Resume Summary (With Examples)

3. Education

Many employers set minimum education requirements for certain positions. You can assure hiring managers that you meet these qualifications by including an education section. Consider listing educational experiences in reverse chronological order and in relation to where you are in your career. For instance, it's usually appropriate for a recent graduate from college to exclude their high school education. Each entry in the education section typically contains the name of the degree and the awarding institution. Depending on the job you're applying for, you might also include:

  • The school's location

  • Your minor

  • Your graduation year (if you graduated within the past three years)

  • Any relevant honors or academic recognition, coursework, activities or other achievements obtained during your education

Here's an example of an education section in a resume:


Associate of Applied Science in welding technology
Hillvalley Technical College, 2022

Related: How To List Education on a Resume (With Examples)

4. Work experience

The work experience section of your resume showcases the work you've completed in previous roles. Here, you can list your most relevant work history beginning with your most recent job. Consider focusing on your experiences from the last 10 to 15 years. For example, if you've been working as a marketer for 11 years, you can exclude jobs from earlier in your life that may not be relevant to the position you're currently seeking. Alternatively, if you have little professional experience, you can list unrelated employment history to demonstrate your work ethic and transferable skills.

When describing your experience, focus on the results you achieved and the skills you used to do so. Simply listing a bulleted job description misses the opportunity to highlight your expertise and talent. Make every word work for you and balance the resume with white space. Save the details for the resume.

Carolynn Bruce

Each entry in the work experience section contains the job title, employment dates and employer name and location. You may also include a few bullet points describing relevant duties and accomplishments and use the past tense when describing past roles. Consider using action verbs and metrics to quantify your achievements. Here's an example of a work experience section on a resume:


Welder, May 2012–Current
Jones Construction Company, Houston, Texas

  • UtilizeSMAW, GTAW and GMAW welding tools for building projects

  • Assist safety manager with OSHA-required regulation checks, which increased inspection efficiency by 10%

  • Manage a team of 10 welders during advanced projects involving multimillion-dollar contracts

Related: How To Highlight Work Experience on Your Resume

5. Skills

While your education and work experience highlight skills you've learned throughout your career, you can highlight these traits in a designated section. Consider including relevant hard or soft skills or tools or software in which you're proficient. As you read through job posts, try writing down keywords that match your skills and include them in this section as appropriate.

A skills section for a project manager position might appear as follows:


Agile methodology | Communication | Leadership | Negotiation

Related: The Best Job Skills To Make Your Resume Stand Out

6. Certifications

Some employers require certifications, especially if you work in a highly regulated field like engineering, construction or food service. Consider creating a separate certifications section to highlight relevant qualifications. You can include the official name of the certification and the awarding institution. Additionally, you might add the year in which you earned the certification or its expiration year.

Related: How To List Certifications on a Resume

7. Additional accomplishments

The last section to consider adding to your resume is a short list of any other relevant accomplishments. Examples include volunteer work, community awards and memberships in professional associations. These entries may demonstrate your work ethic, commitment to your community and ability to pursue continuing education in your field. Try to focus on activities that relate to the job description, though unrelated activities may demonstrate transferable skills.

Here's an example of what your accomplishments section could look like:


Volunteer Firefighter, May 2017–May 2023
Annual Winter Food Drive Volunteer, January 2013–June 2020
Public Park Community Service Award, October 2018

Explore more articles

  • What Certifications Are Needed To Administer Botox Injections?
  • 13 Online Medical Jobs for Remote Healthcare Work
  • What Is a Consultant? Definition and How To Become One
  • 25 Jobs You Can Do With an MHA
  • 15 Work-at-Home Jobs for Parents
  • Accounting vs. Business Administration: Which Degree Is Best for You?
  • How To Become a Dog Breeder (With Steps, Skills and Salary)
  • How To Become a Public Health Inspector in 4 Steps
  • How To Respond to a Job Rejection Email (With Examples)
  • How To Write an Effective Babysitting Bio (With Examples)
  • 22 Accounting Jobs That Pay Well
  • 32 Types of Earth Science Jobs (Plus Average Salaries)