Resumes & Cover Letters

Here's Everything You Should Include on a Resume

March 12, 2021

Key takeaways:

  • Always include your name and contact information, education, relevant professional experience and skills.
  • Tailor your resume for each job application by reviewing the job description for keywords and requirements.
  • Make your resume clean, professional and easy to read—employers only have a few seconds to review each application.

Your resume is one of the most important documents in a job search. The goal of your resume is to quickly help employers learn who you are and whether your skills and experiences match the position you’re applying for.

Although each resume will differ depending on education, professional history, industry and position, there are a few key sections you might include on your resume. In this guide, we’ll outline what to include on a resume you use for job applications. For inspiration on what to include on a resume, it might be helpful to look at examples of resumes in your position or industry.

Resume Format
Image description

Resume Format
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)

What to include on a resume

While you may decide to add, remove or alter sections depending on your application, here are a few most common resume sections:

1. Name and contact information

At a minimum, your contact information section should include your name, phone number and email address. Depending on the type of job you’re applying for, you might also include a link to an online portfolio or professional website.

An example contact information section might look like this:

Alex Gardner
Houston, Texas • (123) ​456-7891
agardner@email.com • agarder.portfolio.com

A common practice is to use your name as the title of the page, formatted so that employers can easily identify your name and contact information first.

Related: 20 Skills in Demand in Today's Workforce

2. Resume summary or objective

Your resume summary or objective should be a short, one to two sentence section that briefly explains who you are and why you’re qualified. Carefully review the job posting for clues on which of your technical and soft skills will be most important and relevant.

Resume summaries and objectives are slightly different, and you should choose to include one or both depending on your background and the position you’re seeking. A resume summary will describe your work experience, while a resume objective will state your short-term goals.

A summary is good if you have at least some work experience that can be quickly summarized. An objective statement, however, is better suited for those who have recently graduated from high school or college, or who otherwise have limited job experience.

Your resume summary could say:

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

Your resume objective could say:

“Recent graduate eagerly looking to expand construction labor experience with a growing contractor.”

In both your resume section and your summary, it’s important to avoid talking about topics more suited to a job interview, such as how much you’re hoping to earn.

Related: Does a Resume Need an Objective Statement?

3. Education

The resume education section is helpful for employers who require a certain degree, certificate or level of experience. You should include your most recent and relevant education based on your level of experience.

The elements of an education section should include:

  • Name of your school
  • Location of your school
  • The degree you obtained (if applicable)
  • Your field of study
  • Graduation year (if applicable)
  • Your GPA (Note: You may not want to include this if it’s not above 3.4)
  • Any relevant honors or academic recognition, coursework, activities or other achievements obtained during your education

Consider only listing educational experiences as they make sense for your career experience. As such, high school graduates should list their high school information, but college graduates need not list their high school. However, once you have a post-secondary degree of any kind, you should always list that and any other post-secondary educational experiences in your education section.

Your education section could look as follows:

Hillvalley Technical College
Aug. 2009 May 2011
Associate Degree in Welding Technology
OSHA Certificate Program

Related: How to List Education on a Resume

4. Professional history

Also called your “experience” or “professional history” section, this is an opportunity to showcase the value you’ve brought to former employers. Here, you should list all of your most relevant work experiences, beginning with your most recent job. You should focus on your experiences from the last 10 to 15 years. For example, if you’ve been working as a marketing professional for 11 years, you can leave off jobs from earlier in your life that may not be relevant to the position you’re currently seeking.

Alternatively, if you have little to no job experience, you should list what employment you have had, even if it does not seem completely relevant or related. Potential employers can use that experience to get an idea of what kind of worker you might be, as some of the valuable soft skills you learned at an unrelated job are likely transferable to a new job and industry. You can also list experiences you might have had in clubs or volunteer organizations here, especially if you held office or had many responsibilities.

Your employment history should include the name of the employer, your job title, years of employment, and a few bullet points with your strongest, most relevant accomplishments. Lead with strong action verbs and follow with an accomplishment rather than a task. Employers are interested in what you’ve achieved, not just the tasks you’ve done. When possible, use numbers to measure your success.

An example of an employment section could be as follows:

Jones Construction Company
Welder | May. 2013 – May 2018

  • Utilized SMAW, GTAW, and GMAW welding tools for building projects
  • Assisted safety manager with OSHA-required regulation checks, reducing time spent on checks by 10%
  • Managed a small team of welders for advanced projects on multi-million dollar contracts

It’s important to keep your bulleted list short and focus only on the most valuable achievements you had with that employer as they relate to your current job search.

Related: Interview Question: "Tell Me About Your Work Experience" (With Example Answers)

5. List of relevant skills, tools and certifications

Your skills section should include relevant technical or hard skills and soft skills. You can include any tools you’ve mastered or certifications you’ve obtained as well.

The skills you include should be relevant to the job that interests you. For example, you may have excellent hard skills in different areas, but all of those skills may not be applicable to the job. If you are a skilled violinist, that may not be a good skill to put on your resume when applying for a job in construction.

You can learn what skills potential employers are looking for by reading the job description. As you read through job posts, write down keywords that match your skills and include them in your skills section as appropriate.

Your skills section might look something like this:

*Technical skills: Welding • Electrical Systems • Modern safety equipment • Knowledge of major OSHA safety regulations • OSHA Certification • SMAW Welding Tools*

*Additional skills: Willingness to learn • Attentive • Organized • Effective communicator • Safety-conscious*

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

6. Additional relevant accomplishments and volunteer work

The last section to consider adding to your resume is a shortlist of any other relevant accomplishments or volunteer work. Only include those that are relevant or that may help create a better picture of who you are as an individual as related to the position you’re applying for. If you’re not sure what information may be a fit for this section, re-read the job descriptions that interest you. Consider if you have any experiences outside of the professional history you already added which may help employers understand your qualifications.

Here is an example of what your accomplishments and volunteer work section could look like:

Volunteer firefighter, 2010–2012
Annual winter food drive volunteer, 2013–present
OSHA safety award, May 2018

When you submit an application, your resume is one of the first documents potential employers will use to decide whether or not you are a good fit. A well-developed resume could help you be recognized by employers looking for candidates like you.

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