When you job search, you want to make it as easy as possible for companies to learn if you’re a good fit for the roles you’re applying for. The best way to catch the attention of hiring managers and recruiters is by having a resume that is easy to navigate and that highlights all of the key information you want potential employers to know.
If you’re a bit stumped on what exactly needs to go in your resume sections, we’re here to simplify things for you. We’re going to walk you through what needs to be in each main section of your resume, so you don’t miss a thing and so employers don’t accidentally miss out on hiring you.
We know how easy it is to drag your feet when it comes to big projects like creating a resume. Sometimes the best thing you can do is start with the easiest part—then let that momentum build. So, let’s start with your contact information. Most resume templates include all contact information in one easy-to-see section such as the top of a resume. In this section, you’ll want to include your name, email address, and if you have one, a link to your online portfolio or personal website.
Objective statements are optional on a resume, but if you have room on your resume, it can be a really helpful section to add. This doesn’t need to be more than a few sentences, so this is another easy section to check off your to-do list. You can start by writing a generic objective statement and then should customize this section of your resume for each job you’re applying for or each industry you’re targeting. In your objective statement, you’ll want to state why you want the position, how your qualifications make you perfectly suited for it, and how you will contribute to their company or team’s success.
For example, if you’re applying for roles in social media marketing, you objective statement could say:
Objective: To secure a position as a social media manager where I can utilize my expertise in digital campaigns and strategic marketing initiatives to drive meaningful engagement from target audiences and increase brand awareness. My goal is to develop effective social media plans that are tailored towards specific goals and outcomes, leveraging data-driven insights to create content that resonates with user bases, increasing lead generation and ROI. With my broad technical knowledge of web tools and analytics platforms, combined with my well-honed communication skills, I am confident I can drive results across all online channels.
Now it’s time to slow down a bit. Filling out the job history portion of your resume is a lot of work, especially if you’re quite a few years into your career, but it’s important not to rush this section. Your job history is the most important section of your resume since it showcases your past experience and accomplishments. Make sure to list all relevant jobs in reverse chronological order with bullet points describing each role and its duties.
When including information about current and past roles, you want to highlight your accomplishments using metrics rather than just sharing the tasks you were responsible for. This allows employers to gain an understanding of what you are capable of and how you contributed to a company’s success.
For example, instead of writing “Responsible for scheduling Instagram posts”, a more effective way would be “Coordinated five Instagram posts per day which resulted in an average engagement level of 20%, surpassing the previous month’s engagement rate by 10%.”
Some employers might only be interested in roles within the last ten to fifteen years, so don’t feel like you have to include everything from when you were first starting out in the workforce. For example, once you have a few full-time roles under your belt, you may not need to include college internships anymore. At the very least, you can eventually just list your older titles and companies and not include such lengthy descriptions with them. You want to make sure you have plenty of room to highlight the work you’ve done in more recent years, as well as the work that is most applicable to the jobs you’re applying for now.
If applicable, you can include awards or recognitions that highlight your achievements as well as dates associated with any of the jobs listed in this section.
In the education section of your resume, you will list any degrees you earned. You will include the name of the school and graduation dates (if applicable). If you earn a college degree, you don’t need to include your high school degree. If you had a truly impressive GPA (hello latin honors) and recently graduated, you can add your GPA to the education section, but the further along you are in your career, the less this will matter. If your GPA was average, there’s also no need to highlight that fact.
If you took any online courses or pursued professional certifications that relate to the jobs you’re applying for, you can also add those to the education section as they can demonstrate additional skill sets or knowledge areas that can benefit the companies you’re applying to.
The special skills section of your resume can be tricky to navigate since the skills each individual chooses to highlight are unique to them. This is a great section to customize for each job you’re applying for. Circle back to the job description and see what skills they are looking for that you can include in this section. Some great special skills to highlight include computer software proficiency, foreign language fluency, or special training received on certain equipment.
For example, if the job requires knowledge of Adobe Photoshop, then you’ll want to list that as one of your skills—as long as you really know how to use that program. Think carefully about what skills you want to highlight, you don’t want to list too many or it will clutter your resume. Try to avoid adding the generic skills that everyone includes on their resume (whether they’re true or not). Including that you know how to use Microsoft Word feels like a bit of a no brainer in this day and age.
Alongside hard skills (objective and quantifiable skills) such as being able to use certain computer programs, you’ll want to include soft skills on your resume. Soft skills are personal attributes and abilities that help a person interact effectively with others. Examples of soft skills include qualities like communication, problem-solving, self-motivation and adaptability. Soft skills are intangible—they can’t be seen or measured like hard skills such as typing speed or data entry proficiency, but they are just as important as hard skills.
One Last Word of Advice
When creating a resume, remember that brevity is key. Your goal should be to provide enough detail about yourself so employers get a good idea of who you are while also understanding why exactly they should hire you over someone else. Think of your resume as a highlight reel. If there’s additional information you want employers to know about you, this is where the cover letter or an online portfolio can really come in handy.