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Essential Sections of a Resume
All resumes have at least five main sections:
Professional summary or objective statement
Additional sections resumes may include are: honors and awards, licenses and certifications, a summary of qualifications, languages or publications.
Hiring managers focus on these sections because they include the most useful information about what you’re capable of as an employee and how well qualified you are for the position you are seeking. These are the sections in which you must sell yourself the most.
Before you write your resume sections, follow these steps:
Review the job post or description thoroughly!
Identify the key phrases the employer uses.
Reflect on your history and skills.
Make a list of your accomplishments, skills and history to match employer needs.
Include these key points on your resume!
Once you target what an employer is looking for, you can better sell yourself!
The next step is to organize the information on your resume in the best possible way. So, follow our advice to choose the ideal resume format that’ll help you best market yourself!
How to Pick the Right Resume Format
To write your resume, you will have to choose a format.
A resume format refers to how a resume is organized on the page.
While every resume format features the same primary sections, they’re organized in a different order depending on the emphasis you want to give your resume.
The chronological format lists your work history above your skills in reverse order, starting with the most recent job. Recruiters prefer this format because the information is organized in a neat timeline, making it easy to read.
The chronological format:
Is the most commonly used.
Gives emphasis to your work history.
Benefits job seekers with a consistent work history of more than 10 years.
Focuses on your career growth.
Shouldn’t be used by candidates without a consistent or lengthy work history.
Instead, if you’re starting out in the workforce or have far less experience, you would benefit from a functional resume.
The functional format:
Gives the most focus to your skills and the least emphasis to your work history.
Best for candidates who lack extensive experience — less than three years of experience.
Appropriate for entry-level jobs.
Sometimes omits dates in the work experience section.
Can be used to help draw attention away from long gaps in employment.
The third format is the combination/hybrid.
The combination/hybrid format:
Combines the best elements of a chronological and functional format.
Gives balanced emphasis to your skills and work experience.
Works best for candidates with three to 10 years of employment.
Benefits jobs seekers with gaps in employment, who are career-changers, or people re-entering the workforce.
Perfect for people seeking a promotion from their current role.
For a more detailed discussion of this topic, check out our Ultimate Guide to Resume Formats page.
Organizing Your Contact Information
Here’s an example of all you need to include in your contact information section:
When adding your contact information, start with your full name at the top of your resume; you can use a larger and bolder font than the rest of your content. Then, add your city/state location, a professional email address and phone number.
Some people choose to add a professional title below their name, e.g., ‘Escrow agent’ or ‘web developer.’ This is not required.
That’s all you need! Including a physical mailing address is considered outdated.
Please note: a “professional” email should closely reflect your proper name, like in the example above.
DO NOT include a nonprofessional email — one that is a reflection of your interests or hobbies, e.g., MountainClimber22@—————-.com. A hiring manager may not be inclined to treat you as a serious candidate if you do.
Some job candidates may often include links to their LinkedIn profile, social media or online portfolios in this section. However, only do so if this additional information is requested or relevant to the job.Build Your Resume
Professional Summary or Objective Statement
Both professional summaries and objective statements are like a sales pitch — usually just two to four sentences in length — that serve as the main introduction to your resume and yourself.
Deciding between a professional summary and an objective statement should be based on your experience level.
The professional summary is ideal for more experienced candidates because it focuses on your expertise, skills and achievements.
Meanwhile, the objective statement is better suited for entry-level candidates or those changing careers because it shifts the focus from what you’ve done career-wise to what you hope to accomplish if given the chance.
If you have some work experience, it is best to use a professional summary because it will make a more convincing case for you.
Now, we’ll go into more specifics about what makes a successful professional summary or objective statement.
How to write a professional summary
To write a professional summary, you need to create two to four strong, engaging sentences that will highlight your top accomplishments and skills.
The goal is to convince an employer that your track record at other jobs will also bring success, growth and improvement to their business.
Whenever possible, show your achievements with numbers because it will attract the eye of a hiring manager and give a more concrete idea of what you’re capable of. Numbers are powerful!
For example, if you were responsible for the budget or inventory and reduced the company’s overhead by 22%, that would be a very impressive statistic to drop in your professional summary. This will show the employer, at a glance, why you’re qualiﬁed for the job.
Let’s take a look at examples of great summary statements for candidates with varying levels of work experience:
A dedicated team player with experience in the retail and automotive sectors. Self-motivated with a strong foundation in advertising techniques and communication skills. Successfully completed a marketing internship focusing on brand development.
Determined and avid journalist with 5+ years of experience writing breaking news stories and trending topics in social media. Eager to support your readers with timely and factual information.
Senior or executive-level candidate:
Senior budget analyst with a background in accounting and 10+ years experience. Successfully increased the accounting department’s efficiency by reducing overhead by 30%.
Enthusiastic professional with over eight years in the service industry and proven, well-honed skills in customer service, order accuracy and prompt food delivery. Strong attention to detail, decision-making skills and efficiency serve as the foundation for a promising delivery driver career.
How to write an objective statement
An objective statement is a short, declarative explanation of how your career goals align with the company’s needs.
Unlike a summary statement, you’re not going to talk about what you’ve achieved; instead, talk about what you hope to achieve with this new role.
When writing this section, customize your objectives in a way that matches the job description. Then just explain in two to three sentences what you hope to achieve if given an opportunity in this role.
Objective statements work well for entry-level workers or job seekers transitioning careers. Examples of an objective statement:
Hard-working dental assistant graduate with proven leadership and organizational skills seeking to apply these abilities to the position of dental hygienist at Eastern Shore Dental Care. Interested in contributing to your clinic’s impeccable reputation and helping maintain your highest levels of client satisfaction with a gentle, patient-forward approach.
Reliable human resources accountant with eight years of experience with accounts payable. Seeking to start a career as a business analyst to work alongside a diverse team and support public services. Motivated to use creative insights to help reduce overhead at your company.
Writing About Your Skills
Recruiters pay close attention to the skills section of your resume to determine if you are qualified for the job. For an effective skills section, show employers that you have the abilities they require to complete your tasks.
This distinction is important because a strong resume should combine a good mix of hard, soft and technical skills.
Now let’s give you some concrete examples of each type of skill to give you a better idea of what you should include on your resume.
Hard skills are usually industry-specific abilities that you gain through education, practice or training, including technical skills. Many industries and professions have a specific list of hard skills needed to complete tasks.
Examples of hard skills:
- Computer technology
- Website design
- Language skills
- Marketing and advertising skills
- Accounting skills
- Project management
- Automotive technology
- Banking operations
- Medical emergency training
Soft skills combine people and communication skills with personal traits. They’re nontechnical skills that relate to how you interact and perform, including how you solve problems and manage work.
Because they relate to your behavior, these skill sets are also referred to as personal, interpersonal, nontechnical, essential and transferable skills.
Examples of soft skills:
- Time management
- Critical thinking
- Verbal communication
- Nonverbal communication
- Written communication
- Customer service
Technical skills are simply more specific hard skills related to computer or digital tasks. It’s relevant to science, engineering, tech, manufacturing and finance industries.
Examples of technical skills:
- Common operating systems
- Software proficiency
- Technical writing
- Project management software
- Data analysis
- Business Analysis
- Digital media
- Hardware knowledge
- Project planning
- Quality assurance
- Quality control
When listing your skills on your resume, choose a mix that is most relevant to the job you are targeting. You can provide a list of bullets with six to eight skills in each section.Build Your Resume
Work Experience –– Highlighting Your Achievements
A huge selling point of your resume is your work history section.
This section organizes your work experience and top accomplishments to prove your value as an employee.
When listing your jobs, you can go back between 10 and 15 years of experience or include three to four jobs. Include the company’s name, city and state location, job title(s) and dates of employment.
Once you have organized your employment information, add your accomplishments in a clean, bulleted or paragraph format.
Here’s an example of how you can list your work experience:
Successfully produced events for audiences of between 1,200–7,500 attendees.
Worked with over 100 vendors in design, production and staging.
Managed 15 breakout productions, experiential activations, and event logistics on a monthly basis.
Assisted with contracting over 50 approved vendors, including negotiation, contracting and invoicing.
Tracked, maintained, reported and reconciled budgets of vendor contracts quarterly.
Ensured accuracy and quality control for logistics and inventory daily.
Booked artists for mayoral fundraising event, raising over $15,000 in funds within 20 hours.
Consistently maintained fundraising goals according to the financial needs of clients.
Implemented organizational best practices with regard to recruiting and managing high-level volunteers, revenue generation activities, and expense and fiscal controls
Optimize your work experience section by including the following strategic elements:
Quantifiable metrics (numbers that quantify your achievements)
Numbers add credibility. They help job seekers better demonstrate achievement and quantify their contributions. Focus on achievements that may have contributed directly to the company’s growth. Instead of writing something vague like “increased sales,” try writing something more powerful by using numbers to be specific: “Increased the company’s revenue by 20%.”
For example, a hotel food and beverage manager might include these quantifiable metrics in their work history:
Organized catering events with revenue of up to $55,000.
Coordinated over 50 banquets in the first quarter.
Increased the hotel’s annual fundraiser by 30% annually.
Action verbs make your resume stand out by engaging the reader. When writing your duties and responsibilities, always use active language to sound like a go-getter who achieves results.
Recruiters aim to hire a candidate that can impact the company’s bottom line, improve performance or increase revenue. Use action verbs to demonstrate how you initiated new projects. For example, “Designed a new ad campaign for high-performing brand awareness.” Or you can be specific about how your performance saved the company time and money, like this: “Streamlined inventory, increasing efficiency by 45%, and minimizing product surplus.”
Do your research and use industry-specific action verbs that will make it easy for hiring managers to read about your duties and achievements.
Organizing your Education Section
When listing your education, include all schools attended, starting with your highest degree attained. List the name of the institution, its city/state location, the degree you obtained (if any) and your major(s).
If your education is still in progress, list the degree, the school’s name, location and your expected graduation date.
Here are some examples:
If you have any additional certifications or awards, you would need to list each in a separate section titled “Certifications and Training.”
List your credentials in reverse-chronological order, beginning with the most recent. Include the name of the certification or training, the entity, dates and location. Your section should look like this:
When listing academic awards or other professional certificates, include the award title, recognition level and date.
Here’s an example of an Honor and Awards section:
Always include relevant information about your career or job that you’re applying for.Build Your Resume
Customize Your Resume for Applicant Tracking Systems
Some companies use special software to prescan applications electronically by looking for keywords and phrases related to the job. This software is known as an applicant tracking system (ATS).
ATS software is programmed to search for resumes with certain keywords related to the job requirements. If the ATS doesn’t find the right percentage of keywords the employer is looking for, your resume will get discarded. A human won’t even see it.
You can see why passing an ATS is essential to getting a job!
To pass an ATS, employ this strategy: Add industry-specific terminology and key phrases that you see in the job description when they apply to you.
It’s imperative that you closely read the job posting or advertisement and try to echo back some of the key terms that you identify somewhere in your resume or cover letter!
How to Use Templates and Examples to Write a Resume
JobHero offers a variety of tools such as examples and templates to help you achieve a great-looking professional resume.
Resume examples are valuable to job seekers because they provide a better understanding of what needs to be included in your resume’s key sections. JobHero features thousands of resume examples specific to job titles and industry as a source of inspiration and good ideas!
Check out these examples and search for the job title you’re applying to — seeing how others in your field handle their resumes will give you an edge to make yours the strongest it can be!
Resume templates help create your document effortlessly because they take care of the design elements of your resume. Best of all, they’re quick and easy to use.
Templates are preformatted documents created by professional designers that ensure your resume has an eye-catching layout. That way, you can get straight to writing instead of having to create a sharp-looking resume from scratch!
Our templates are straightforward. Simply select the style you like and enter your information by section.
Find what looks good to you — our styles range from elegant and traditional to modern and bold.
You can also personalize your document with customizable options: a variety of fonts, sizes, colors and styles to choose from.
Using templates and examples to write a resume is a great strategy. To make the application process easier, JobHero also has a Resume Builder that features 25+ customizable resume templates.
Jump-start writing your resume today so that no one beats you to the job!Build Your Resume
Complement Your Resume With a Cover Letter
A cover letter is a way to introduce yourself to recruiters. It’s an opportunity to connect and stand out. You should always include a cover letter along with your resume, unless specified not to.
Cover letters fill in some of the gaps that your resume doesn’t address, like specifying the job title that you’re applying to, showing your enthusiasm for it, and giving you the chance to tell a story about your career in a way that you can’t on a resume.
When submitting your resume and cover letter, it is best to be consistent with the style, margins and font you use on both documents. Your goal is to match the header and font as much as possible.
Not sure how to nail a cover letter? JobHero offers expert guidance on How to Write a Cover Letter.
If you just need a good design, you can also check out our Cover Letter Templates for styles that will be well-matched to your resume.
Proofreading Tips for a Flawless Resume
You only have one chance at making a first impression with the employer.
Proofreading will help you make that impression positive!
Proofreading is an essential step in the resume-writing process because mistakes on your resume may cost you the job.
Here are some tips for catching errors in your resume’s spelling, grammar, punctuation and capitalization:
- Double- and triple-check your spelling and grammar by rereading.
- Read it out loud to yourself.
- Have a trusted friend or family member look it over for you.
Before you submit your application, make sure you have taken these steps. After all, if your resume contains errors, it could mean you don’t get your dream job!
How do you write a resume for the first time?
Writing your first resume can feel like a challenge, but once you know what to do, it will make each resume that comes after a lot easier!
Even if you don’t have much work experience yet, you can write a resume that shifts focus to your skills, education and extracurricular activities.
Start by reviewing the job description. Then make a list of your skills that match those listed in the job ad. By doing this, you are tailoring your skills and qualifying yourself for an entry-level position.
Next, you will organize your skills, education and any extracurricular activities. The way you organize your credentials is called format, and there are three of them to choose from. However, for recent graduates or candidates that lack work experience, using a functional format is ideal because it shifts the focus to your skills rather than work experience.
If you’re nervous about the process or want an expert to guide you through it, JobHero features a Resume Builder that provides step-by-step guidance to help minimize the stress of writing and maximize the impact of your resume.
It truly is the fastest and easiest way possible to create a resume!
What should not be included in a resume?
Avoid long blocks of text. Use bullet points and keep your sentences concise and easy to read.
Do not use generic words. Stick to industry terminology.
Do not be off-topic. Only include skills, keywords and employment history relevant to your current job search.
Keep it professional. Don’t use an unprofessional email address or add a picture of yourself on the resume (this is only appropriate for models, actors and performers).
Don’t include unflattering information. Don’t ever include employers who fired you for poor performance or personal issues; The recruiter might get the wrong impression about you.
Don’t include your high school education or anything prior if you have graduated from college.
In general, you want to keep your resume concise, featuring the best information you can gather about why you would be good at handling the tasks of the new job that you’re applying to.
How do you sell yourself in a resume?
Stand out from competing candidates with these simple and effective tips:
Quantify your accomplishments. When listing your accomplishments, use numbers or data that demonstrate the results you’ve achieved. This action will show how you impacted the company’s growth. Provide examples of how you may have helped save the company time and money or how your customer service helped boost ratings and satisfaction.
An example would be, “Initiated a new system that allowed me to track inventory during the transportation and delivery of all donations. Avoided losses and eliminated over $25,000 on yearly expenses for security equipment.”
Show that you deliver results. When highlighting your duties and responsibilities, use action verbs. This guarantees that your sentences will be clear, concise and straight to the point.
Using active or engaging verbs throughout your resume provides insight into how you accomplish your tasks. When choosing which words and phrases to use, think of ways that your actions would benefit the employer. Perhaps you saved time and improved productivity or reduced costs. For example, “Spearheaded a new service that included American Sign Language interpreters.”
Be direct. Research the job description and company culture to craft a targeted resume that will address their goals and needs. Combining action words with measurable results are proven strategies that can help you market your most distinctive features and leave recruiters intrigued about you.
How do you write a resume with no experience?
If you lack experience, it might be a good idea to choose the functional resume format. This format will spotlight your skills and education rather than your lack of experience by emphasizing your skills, knowledge and abilities first.
To make your skills noticeable, list a mix of hard, soft and technical skills. Make sure that they align with the job that you are applying for. These can range from communication skills to technical capabilities.
Even though functional resumes may emphasize your skills, they include a work experience section.
Try to find any experience you can list here: internships, volunteer and unpaid experience can also count if you’ve never had a real job before.
You could talk about a bake sale that you helped plan, the cash-handling skills you used volunteering at a concession stand, or the sanitary protocol that you followed assisting in a soup kitchen.
Students or recent graduates should include internships and extracurricular activities relevant to the job they are applying for.
Organizing your information this way provides key aspects of your background. Even though you may not have professional experience, your skills and education give you a better chance at landing your interview.
How do I write my first high school resume?
Whether you’re a high school or college student, you may be wondering: How do I write a resume with no work experience?
Make a list of your skills, education and any volunteer or extracurricular work you may have done. From this list, you’ll then need to narrow down what to actually include on your resume by matching your information with the job description.
Then be ready to write your objective statement instead of a professional summary. In a few sentences, write the career goals you wish to achieve. You want to focus on what you can do for the employer and how your studies have prepared you for this job.
Instead of writing out about your experience, you will focus on your education, skills and internships. Always include any extracurricular activities or volunteer work that highlights your talents or where you learned a new skill on your resume.
However, only include extracurricular activities and hobbies if they are relevant to the position and have equipped you with transferable skills that would be useful for the job.
How to write a compelling summary of qualifications or resume profile?
A summary of qualifications is also known as a skills summary. It starts off your resume with valuable information about your skill set. Packing relevant keywords and key phrases into your summary of qualifications or resume profile creates a higher chance of being noticed by the employer and passing the applicant tracking system (ATS).
When writing a compelling summary of qualifications or resume profile, your goal is to convince the employer that you are the best candidate for the job by writing about your most impressive achievements.
Use bullets to describe your most significant accomplishments, like shown in this tour guide qualifications summary example:
Managed three trips a day totaling 240 passengers in an outdoor setting, requiring quick thinking, efficient planning, and strong people skills.
Provided historical information with story-telling abilities that generated up-sell of other tours with around $150 in additional profit daily.
Consistently received 5-star reviews from Trip Advisor, with accompanying praising comments about the service provided.
Earned “Employee of the Month” four times in the first year.
A resume profile is a few sentences that will showcase an applicant’s skills, experiences and goals that are relevant to the job they are applying for. In short, it creates an opportunity to highlight the candidate’s goals and top accomplishments.
In a brief overview, you will outline your related experiences. Keep your sentences strong by including metrics, keywords, soft and hard skills, and any certifications or training that are relevant to this position.
An example would be:
“Graduate with a master’s degree in French and four years experience teaching college-level translation and interpreting. Certified in teaching English as a Second Language.”
“Expert in marketing and advertising with 20 years of experience. Successfully created and implemented marketing policies, increasing sales by 30%. Excellent interpersonal and team management skills.”
Both summaries of qualifications and resume profiles are a great way to show a hiring manager, at a glance, why you are the best candidate for the job.