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What should I include in my resume?


I’m in the process of updating my resume and I want to make sure it’s as effective as possible. I’m not entirely sure what sections are essential and what information employers are really looking for these days. Could you provide some guidance on what I should definitely include in my resume? Are there any common mistakes to avoid or tips for making certain sections stand out?

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3 Answers

  1. Creating a well-rounded resume is key to making a strong impression on potential employers. Here’s a breakdown of essential sections and some tips to ensure your resume stands out:

    1. Contact Information:
      • Name: Make sure your name is prominent at the top of your resume.
      • Phone Number: A direct line where you can be easily reached.
      • Email Address: Use a professional email address.
      • LinkedIn Profile: Optional, but highly recommended if it’s complete and professional.
      • Address: City and state are usually sufficient.
    2. Objective or Summary:
      • Objective: A brief statement about your career goals and how they align with the job you’re applying for.
      • Summary: A concise paragraph that highlights your experience, skills, and what you bring to the table.
    3. Education:
      • Degrees: List your degrees, the institutions you attended, and your graduation dates.
      • Relevant Coursework: Include if it’s directly related to the job.
      • GPA: Optional, include if it’s strong and relevant for the job.
    4. Work Experience:
      • Job Titles: Clearly state your previous job titles.
      • Companies: Include the names of the companies you worked for.
      • Dates of Employment: Month and year format is standard.
      • Responsibilities and Achievements: Use bullet points to describe your key responsibilities and any notable achievements. Start each bullet with an action verb and quantify results where possible (e.g., “Increased sales by 20%”).
    5. Skills:
      • Technical Skills: Any specific software, tools, or technical skills relevant to the job.
      • Soft Skills: Highlight skills like communication, leadership, and problem-solving.
    6. Certifications and Training:
      • Include any relevant certifications, licenses, or training that are pertinent to the job.
    7. Projects:
      • Any significant projects you’ve worked on that demonstrate your skills and experience. This could include class projects, independent studies, or work-related projects.
    8. Volunteer Experience:
      • List any volunteer work, especially if it’s relevant to the job or showcases transferable skills.
    9. Awards and Honors:
      • Include any awards or recognitions you’ve received that are relevant to your career.
    10. Professional Affiliations:
      • Memberships in professional organizations related to your field.

    Tips for Making Your Resume Stand Out:

    • Tailor Your Resume: Customize your resume for each job application. Use keywords from the job description.
    • Keep It Concise: Ideally, your resume should be one page, especially if you have less than 10 years of experience.
    • Professional Layout: Use a clean, easy-to-read format. Avoid excessive colors or graphics.
    • Proofread: Ensure there are no spelling or grammatical errors. Have someone else review it if possible.
    • Action Verbs: Start each bullet point with a strong action verb (e.g., “Developed,” “Led,” “Managed”).
    • Quantify Achievements: Whenever possible, include numbers to quantify your achievements (e.g., “Managed a team of 5,” “Increased efficiency by 15%”).

    Common Mistakes to Avoid:

    • Including Irrelevant Information: Keep your resume focused on information pertinent to the job you’re applying for.
    • Using a Generic Resume: Sending the same resume to every job application without customization.
    • Unprofessional Email Address: Use a professional email address, ideally with your name.
    • Poor Formatting: Ensure your resume is visually appealing and easy to read.
    • Too Much Personal Information: Avoid including details like your age, marital status, or a photo, unless specifically requested.
  2. When creating a resume with little to no work experience, you should include the following sections:

    1. Contact Information
      • Name, address, phone number, email address
    2. Summary or Objective Statement
      • A brief overview of your career goals, skills, and strengths relevant to the job
    3. Education
      • List your highest degree first, including the institution, graduation date, degree/major, GPA (if strong)
      • You can also include relevant coursework, academic projects, honors, or extracurricular activities
    4. Skills
      • List both technical and transferable skills (e.g., computer programs, languages, communication, problem-solving)
    5. Work Experience (if applicable)
      • Include any internships, part-time jobs, volunteer work, or relevant school projects
      • Describe your responsibilities and achievements using action verbs
    6. Activities and Involvement
      • Highlight leadership roles, clubs, organizations, or community service experiences
      • Quantify your accomplishments or contributions when possible
    7. Certifications or Trainings
      • List any relevant certifications, licenses, or additional training you’ve completed
    8. Awards or Honors
      • Include any academic, extracurricular, or community awards or recognitions

    Optional Sections:

    • Publications or Writing Samples (if relevant)
    • References (usually listed as “Available upon request”)

    Remember to tailor your resume to the specific job you’re applying for, highlighting the most relevant skills and experiences. Use clear and concise language, and ensure your resume is well-formatted and easy to read.

  3. A strong resume typically includes these core elements:

    • Contact Information: Make it easy for employers to reach you by including your full name, phone number, professional email address, and LinkedIn profile URL (if you have one).
    • Resume Summary/Objective Statement: This is a brief introduction at the top of your resume highlighting your goals and qualifications. Tailor it to the specific job you’re applying for.
    • Work Experience: List your professional experiences in reverse chronological order (most recent first). For each position, include the company name, location, dates of employment, your job title, and a bulleted list of your responsibilities and accomplishments. Use strong action verbs to describe your contributions.
    • Education: Mention your degrees, expected graduation date (if applicable), the institution’s name and location, and relevant coursework. List any academic achievements, awards, or scholarships here.
    • Skills: Showcase your transferable and technical skills. Use keywords from the job description and tailor this section to the specific position you’re applying for.

    Additional Sections (Optional):

    • Certifications: Include any relevant certifications or licenses you hold.
    • Languages: If you speak multiple languages fluently, mention them here.
    • Volunteer Work: Highlight volunteer experiences that demonstrate relevant skills and commitment.
    • Projects: Include any personal or academic projects that showcase your abilities.
    • Interests/Hobbies: List these selectively, focusing on hobbies that reveal transferable skills relevant to the job.

    General Tips:

    • Tailor Your Resume: Adapt your resume to each job application by highlighting skills and experiences mentioned in the job description.
    • Proofread Carefully: Ensure there are no typos or grammatical errors.
    • Keep it Concise: Aim for a one- to two-page resume, depending on your experience level.
    • Action Verbs: Use strong action verbs to describe your skills and accomplishments.
    • Quantify Whenever Possible: Did you manage a team of 5 volunteers? Increased website traffic by 20%? Mention specific numbers to showcase your impact.
    • Formatting: Maintain a clean, professional format with consistent fonts and spacing for readability.