General guidelines for resume contents

Most resumes, regardless of type or style, will include the same sections. With few exceptions, these are the sections that potential employers expect to see and job applicants should include to ensure that all their relevant information is communicated. Additionally, each section should be identified using standard language so that both human and automated screeners can easily locate needed information.

The information included in each section should be uniformly formatted and not incorporate fonts that are difficult to read or scan. If your resume includes graphics, the same information should be relayed in text form. Graphical information may not be parsed by an applicant tracking system, causing it to be lost. Further, no essential information should be placed in the resume’s header or footer. An ATS may fail to detect information that is not in the body of the document.

Resumes are usually written in the third person–no “I” or “me.” Also, only current roles and accomplishments should be listed in the present tense, everything else should be referred to in past tense.

Maintaining consistent standards throughout a resume provides readers with an understandable and accessible document. As an added benefit, a well-prepared and thought–out resume demonstrates the job seeker’s care and diligence.

What are the sections of a resume?

Contact information

A resume’s contact information should appear at the top of the document, often centered. Essential data for this section include your name, city and state, phone number and email address. A LinkedIn or other relevant social media address may also be included in this section.

Summary

The summary section is not a required section. However, this section provides you with an opportunity to concisely make your pitch. A summary statement should highlight your most relevant skills and experience and be headed with the job title being sought.

Skills

The placement of this section in a resume may vary. Some resumes exclude it in favor of including relevant skills under the applicable work experience. When placed close to the top of the resume, the skills section can be a powerful tool to quickly communicate that you have the specific skills required for the job sought.

Skills sections are often bulleted lists and include the keywords identified in a specific job listing.

Professional experience

For most job seekers, the professional experience section of the resume is the most important part of the document. It is in this section that you can highlight your best accomplishments and achievements from each past job or opportunity. After summarizing your employer and employment dates, quantified results should be included under the applicable experience in a bulleted list.

This section of the resume may include both work and volunteer experiences and for most job seekers should appear immediately after the contact, summary, and skills sections. For recent graduates, their education section may precede this section.

Education

Except for recent graduates or when the job sought is one which requires a specific set of educational credentials, the education section should play a minor role on a resume. It is sufficient to name the school, degree obtained, the field of study, and dates of attendance and graduation. Honors and G.P.A. may, but do not need to be, included in this section.

Optional

For job applicants who have relevant hobbies, experiences, accomplishments, or accolades that do not fit well into other sections of their resume, an additional section may be included to highlight these facts. Before including this additional section, you should weigh the value of the information being shared as it relates to the professional qualifications for the job sought. The title of this section will vary and depend on the type of information included.