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 article, we will take a look at:
- What to put in a resume for experienced candidates.
- What to put in a resume if you have no experience.
- Mistakes to avoid while including the basic sections in your resume.
- Best tip for getting your resume to stand out from other job seekers so you can land a better job in less time.
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What To Put On Your Resume If You Have Experience
If you’re entering a job search and you have more than one year work experience, then the following sections should be included on your resume.
Below are the 7 key types of information that a resume should include:
1. Name And Contact Information
At the top of your resume, put your full name and a professional-looking email address.
Your phone number and street address are optional, but for most people, I will recommend that you include them.
If you’re applying for jobs out of your resident state, it might make sense to leave your address off for security reasons.
2. Personal Statement Paragraph
This is the next section on your resume, and should go right after your name and contact info in most cases.
This is a two or three sentence personal statement paragraph of your qualifications and accomplishments throughout your career or throughout your education if you just graduated.
While constructing this, you must note that this isn’t an objective section.
So I will advise that you avoid using an “objective statement” on your resume.
Since hiring managers know that your objective is mainly to land you a job in their industry that will utilize your skills, etc.
So put a personal statement paragraph instead.
You can also include the job title right within your resume summary in some cases, which will immediately show the hiring manager that you have some relevant experience.
For example, let’s say the job title on the job advert is “Senior Account Analyst”.
You could write your summary like: “Senior-level account analyst with five years of experience in…”
3. Employment History
If you have held any previous jobs including internships, then your experience section is where to put them.
Focus heavily on this experience section, as it’s one of the first places a hiring manager looks on your resume.
This section must be written in a reverse chronological order, which means your most recent work should be at the top including job titles, company names, and dates.
You can choose whether to put just years, or months for each job; just be consistent throughout the document.
Most importantly, don’t forget to always begin this section within the top half of the first page of your resume.
As a recruiter, one of the top mistakes I saw job seekers make was burying their employment history on the bottom of the first page, or even the beginning of page two.
It should be much higher up, and should be visible where the hiring manager will be able to notice it when they access your resume on the computer without going through the stress of scrolling up and down.
Hiring managers will typically notice here even before your skills section, so always be looking for opportunities to highlight technical skills and relevant job skills here.
Ask yourself: “What have I done in recent jobs that will show a hiring manager that I did well in their job, too?”
That’s the unique mindset that you should have while writing your work history since a resume is constructed to fit the job you desire next.
Another thing you must bear in mind is that hiring managers or recruiters don’t have all the time in the whole wide world to read big and bulky paragraphs.
So it is important to use bullet points, possibly like five to eight bullet points, to highlight all your achievements more than the job description since the hiring managers are more attracted to it.
You can write a small introductory paragraph for each job, but most of the content should be in bullet format.
Here is an example of how it should look like:
Rather than saying, “responsible for managing 5 sales associates”… say, “successfully led 5 sales associates to achieve 139% of team sales goals for Fiscal Year 2020.”
This is the next big section to put on your resume in any job search.
You might be tempted to put your skills before your employment history and other people may have even told you to do this.
But the only time I think it makes sense to list skills first is if you have absolutely no work experience.
But if you have any prior work at all in your career, hiring managers don’t want to see a long list of technical skills without being able to see where you used each skill and how recently you used them.
This is why they are much more likely to scan your resume looking for recent jobs before anything else.
That’s why you should put it higher up, so they can find this key info that they’re looking for quickly.
So if you want a good resume, then your skills should come after your experience section.
In your skills section, you can put a list of your top skills that are relevant to the job that you are applying for, and you can even put them under a few headers if you think it makes sense for your job and industry.
You should focus mostly on hard skills.
The best skills to put will be found directly on the job description.
So it is better to highlight your soft skills such as being a “team player” etc.
While reviewing a resume, hiring managers mainly look for hard skills and skills relevant to the job requirements.
However, there isn’t any specific number of skills to put on your resume since it is dependent on how long you have been working and your field.
So make sure you think about what is relevant for the job instead of making up a bunch of skills that wouldn’t help in your job quest.
Put the name of your school(s), your field of study, and graduation date unless you feel your graduation date will leave you open to age discrimination on your resume.
So If you graduated decades ago, feel free to leave the dates off.
6. Community Involvement (Optional)
If you’ve done any volunteer work or helped in your community in other ways, this is where to put it.
You can list the location, dates, and your contribution/work.
If you haven’t done any volunteering or community-related work, then don’t worry.
7. Awards/Achievements (Optional)
If you have ever received any award or recognition for your accomplishments or achievements, this is the section to put it on your resume.
Academic awards, you can list them under your education section beneath your degree, GPA, etc or if you received an award or recognition for outstanding performance at a previous job, you can list it as a bullet point or a note underneath that specific job in your employment history section.
So while awards and achievements are a great thing to include on any resume, they don’t always need their own dedicated section.
What To Put On A Resume If You Have No Work Experience
Now, if you just graduated and have absolutely no work experience, here’s what to include on your entry-level resume.
However, if you have absolutely no work experience, here’s what to put on your resume:
1. Name And Contact Information
As mentioned earlier, you should put your full name and professional-looking email address.
Your street address and phone number are optional, but for most people, it makes sense to include those too.
If you’re trying to get a job in another state. Then, you should consider leaving the address off.
2. Personal Statement Paragraph
Even if you have no work experience, you can write something like:
“Recent Finance graduate with training in ____ and ____ seeking an opportunity to do ____.”
Or, look at the job title on the job description and try to incorporate that phrase into your personal statement paragraph.
If you have no work experience, then you need to put more information in your education section, to show employers you’re a fit for their job.
Such as any club or school activities at school, any key projects you have completed or coursework you did.
Don’t forget that your resume should take up one full page, even if you have no work experience, and your education section is a place where you want to provide additional detail to fill out the page.
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You can list skills that you learned in your studies or skills you’ve developed on your own.
Only put skills you’re really comfortable talking about and using, because it’s very likely they’ll ask about this in an interview.
If done right, the skills section can be a powerful tool to help you get more interviews though, for two reasons:
First, it’s a great way to put a lot of relevant keywords onto your resume, so that you get past computerized job application systems.
Second, it’s an easy way to show employers what you know that’s going to help you succeed in their job. Always re-order and re-adjust your skills section to fit what you think this specific employer wants.
5. Community Involvement (Optional)
Any volunteer work or community service you’ve done in the past should be added in this section.
This shows employers that you’re enthusiastic and involved in the community, which can help set you apart.
6. Awards/Achievements (Optional)
If you have no work experience, these would likely be academic achievements. So do well to mention them in the section underneath the educational section.
With this, You now know what to include on a resume, even if you’ve never held a job before.
What Is The Ideal Resume Format
Whether you have work experience or not, you should use the reverse chronological order resume format.
This is the resume format that recruiters and employers are used to seeing and prefer to read.
Mistakes To Avoid Including On A Resume
Now we’ve looked at what should be included in a resume and how to write those sections to grab the attention of the hiring manager.
Below are mistakes that you should avoid including on your resume:
- Irrelevant Jobs
If you have a long work history, consider removing some jobs that aren’t relevant, or were at the very beginning of your career especially if you have been working for 15-20 years.
Nevertheless, you shouldn’t remove an irrelevant job if it is going to leave your employment history empty.
For example, if you have only held one job but it’s not relevant to what you want to do next, you should still keep it.
Reason being that It’s better to put a job that doesn’t seem closely related to your current job search than to put absolutely nothing in your employment history.
- An Objective Statement
As earlier said, It’s a mistake to write a resume with an objective.
This is outdated and no longer necessary.
Hiring manager will assume that your objective is to obtain a position at their company if you’ve applied, so this is not something to include on your resume.
So it is best to use a personal statement.
- Anything That Makes Your Resume More Than Two Pages
Unless you have a Ph.D. and you are writing an academic CV unless you have been working for 10-15+ years, your resume should not be more than two pages.
So focus on what’s most important and keep the length short.
As a recruiter, I would rather prefer to see 8 specific skills that are relevant to the job I’m hiring for than a list of 30 general skills that you have no use for throughout your career but might not be relevant to the job.
- Spelling Or Grammar Mistakes
Do well to proofread and spell check your resume after inputting everything.
You are very unlikely to get called for an interview if you have a spelling or grammar mistake on your resume and also nobody will call you to inform you.
So it is important that you take this seriously and do what’s necessary.
If you read everything above, you will now know what sections to include when writing your professional resume.
So if you follow this advice, you will have a resume that shows relevant skills and experience, in the order that employers want to see it.
Your resume will get past applicant tracking systems and recruiters/HR, so you can win more interviews for the jobs you want.
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