Article

What Should be on a Resume

The sections that every resume should have are: Contact information, objective section, educational background, work experience and skills.

What Should be on a Resume
Photo of Brenna Goyette
Brenna Goyette
9 min read

Your resume is one of the most important aspects of job seeking journey. It will only have credibility if it is well crafted. The goal of a resume is to help the recruiter grasp a quick review about yourself so that he can decide whether you are fit to qualify for the interview position or not. It must be such that it shall qualify you for the interview by filtering you out among other candidates.

All resumes have some common elements but there are other aspects of the resume that help one differ two resumes. We have detailed down a complete guide for you on ‘What should be on a Resume?’ which you can use as a reference to make a perfect resume for your career.

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Now, as we mentioned before you know what to include in the resume and they are:

Contact Information, Career Objectives, Education, Work Experience, Skills, Awards and Achievements, Other Optional Sections.

You may get stuck midway writing the resume believing what information you should include on the resume to make it stand out among others. Each section has some essential elements that you must be careful with and add. Here are some common resume sections that should be on a resume.

Contact Information

So the Contact Information is added to the header area of the resume which is right at the top. It has to be there for HR to spot it right on easily! Now you must be adding real accurate information. Any wrong information that will mislead the hiring manager will strike right back to you.

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The section must include your full name, phone number and email address. If your job says so, add website portfolios as well (For Example Graphic Designers should add their Behance portfolio). Similarly, these days it is a good practice to add LinkedIn links in the resume for hiring managers to get a detailed insight about the candidate.

The Objective Section

The objective section states the purpose you have set when you step into the field of professional life. It is common for a resume to not add it. However, you can still use this statement to impress the employer regarding your vision or goal.

Link it to the job you are applying to and you are good to go. If you decide not to include the objective statement, do add it in the cover letter.

The objective section can include the following:

Resume Summary: It is a short paragraph of 2-3 lines that highlights a job seeker’s professional skills and summary.

Resume Objective (also known as Career Objective): It is a brief statement that communicates your career goals such as the field you want to work in or the skills you want to develop.

Pick one of the two and you are good to go. They must be very well written and should not be more than 2-3 lines. You must choose them based on the background you currently have. For beginners or graduates who have no work experience Resume objective will fit well. While for other job seekers Resume Summary will do.

Educational Background

Education Section and Work Experience shift positions as per the current status of the individual into the professional world. Those job seekers who are recently graduate and are looking for a job for the first or second time add educational background first. Since it acts as a support to their resume. In reverse-chronological order, you must add your education which shall include:

  • School Name and its location (Although Location isn’t necessary).
  • Degree Obtained (if you have higher degrees then don’t necessarily add high school information).
  • Field of Study or Majors.
  • Year of Graduation.
  • CGPA (skip it if you are professional or add it only if it is 3.5 and above).
  • Any Awards, Honors, Achievements, Notable Projects or more.
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Keep in mind any other extra information to your resume will only be valuable if you believe it is suited for your job and help you corner out other similar candidates. After all, there must be some unique factor that may lead you to interview among several other applicants.

Work Experience

Work Experience is the soul of your resume. It defines your development in a professional career and backs your potentiality for a new job. So, if you have a really good career that spans back 10 to 15 to 20 years, include the work experience at the top half of the resume. We have an article on how far back should a resume go so do check out to see how much can you add in the experience section.

Add the work experience in the reverse chronological order i.e. the most recent first and the one before that will be listed afterwards and so on. Add the work experience listing the job title first, followed by the company name and date of starting. You can add bullet points with the job title to define what you did there and what you achieved. Focus more on quantitative achievements.

Alternatively, if you have no work experience or you are a fresh graduate then you should include experiences on Internships or Volunteering. That experiences can be used by employers to evaluate your skills or experience and to get an idea for the employment.

Here’s what the section must include:

Don’t forget to begin the description with powerful words and action verbs, write quantifiable sentences and follow up with a specific task. All the above-mentioned criteria can be applied to Internships, Volunteering or any other Informal Work Experience.

Skills

The skills section is really important. If you have the right skill set, you will raise your chances for the position you have applied for. The section must include all the relevant soft, hard and technical skills necessary for the job. Any irrelevant skill will waste the position of a valuable skill that could have been added there. Even if you have lesser skills, don’t fill the skills with more irrelevant skills.

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The best way is to look carefully at the job description and decipher the skills needed for the job. Some are mentioned on the Job Description; some you’ll have to search on the internet for the job. Add those skills to the resume. Just in case your resume is passed through ATS (Applicant Testing System), yours will be selected for the review.

Here are comprehensive explanations regarding the broad category of skills.

Soft Skills: Soft Skills are non-technical, personal and intangible abilities that a person possess. It relates to how you work and how you interact with other people positively. Examples of Soft Skills – Time Management, Communication, Decision-Making etc.

Hard Skills: They don’t come naturally at hand but they are taught to through specialized education, courses or training. These skills come in handy in a specific job role and responsibility. Examples of Hard Skills: Affiliate Marketing, Cloud Computing, CAD Designing, Machine Controlling, Book Keeping, Programming Language Proficiency etc.

Other Optional Section

Listed above are common sections found in every resume. If you have space and if these sections are relevant, add them! These other sections include Awards and Achievements, Language, Memberships, Publications, Interests and Hobbies, Certifications and Licenses.

Things you must allow not to Include in the Resume

You have read above all the necessary things that should be on a resume. Here’s a briefly compiled list of what should NOT be there on the resume. Have a look:

Contact Information

The contact information is essential but that doesn’t mean you indulge every personal information about yourself in it. Things not to include in this section involve:

  • Unprofessional Email Address.
  • A Photograph (There is a dispute here. Ask a senior in the company you are applying for better guidance regarding attaching a photograph. Although it is recommended not to add a photograph in the US and UK).
  • Exact Address.
  • Other Personal Information like marital status, blood group, gender and other similar information.

Introduction

  • If you are a professional with a heft career and a lot of work experience, then you do not necessarily need a resume objective. Thus it is recommended not to add it.
  • Salary Requirements is a big NO-NO. Never add it to the resume.

Academics

  • Academics before high school since it will have no impact on the resume and will only prolong it.
  • GPA (if it is not a suitable one).

Work Experience

  • Every other job you worked in (remember only the last 10-15 years of experience is relevant).
  • Jobs you worked in for a small period.

Skills

As mentioned before, the skills section is the one that determines your capabilities and expertise. As much as they will be relevant to the job the more chances there will be for you to get to the next step. So what should not be added in the skills section?

  • Any irrelevant skills that are not applicable in the professional environment like horse riding, proficiency in gaming, bow hunting and much more. Simply any irrelevant skill will take up space that might have been dedicated to a valuable skill.
  • Adding odd or controversial hobbies that will instill second thoughts in the recruiter regarding your candidacy. For example, political or religious hobby etc.

General Pointers

  • Uncanny and meaningless adjectives and verbs will surely place a bad impact.
  • Lying is the worst thing a candidate can do. If you lie in the resume, and the recruiter gets to know about it then you’ll be in big trouble. You’ll be tempted to exaggerate in your resume but if the employer finds that on-field you are nothing but a bluff then you will be facing harsh consequences.
  • References Available Upon Request! You may find this phrase in nearly every senior’s resume. However, there is no need to add it to yours now. Employers or Recruiters know and assume that if they’ll ask for a reference you’ll be providing it. So it doesn’t seem necessary to state the obvious here.

Final words

You have read through the entire document. And If you are serious, you would have taken notes and build your resume accordingly. Keep in mind when you try to achieve perfection you’ll find differences in your and others resumes; so don’t have a mind boggle then.

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Even though you have added all the necessary things to your resume, do not forget about the relevancy! It is of utmost importance.

Read the Job Description Carefully. It contains information that you can use to mold your resume. Hiring Managers expect to in the resume what they have laid down in the requirements in the job description. Keywords and skills can be easily transferred from the job description to the resume.

Happy job hunting 😉.