Resumes are essential in any job application. Whether you are just starting your job search or are looking to rev up an older one, you need a great resume.
Its sole purpose is to help employers quickly get a sense of who you are and whether or not your skills and experiences match the position you’re applying for.
Hiring managers have only six seconds to assess your resume, so you better make sure it includes all the relevant information.
Let’s face it, a job posting can generate 100+ applications. The question is, how do you stand out among hundreds of job seekers with the same generic resumes?
You see most employers use Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to screen resumes and discard irrelevant ones.
You need to step up your game and make your resume stand out to win that job.
What to put on a resume?
Through this guide and resume template examples, you’ll learn what to include on a resume and cover letter for your job applications.
Your resume’s key sections may depend on your education, work experience, industry, and position. This means you can always choose to add, remove, or modify sections based on your application.
Here are a few resume elements to ensure your resume will land into the hands of the hiring manager and won’t get thrown in the bin:
1. Full name and contact information
The section headings containing your name, contact information such as phone number, and email address is essential. Its usually found on top of your resume so employers can easily see your important details.
You may also put on your resume a link to your online portfolio, professional or business website, or Linkedin profile.
Bronx, NY • 999 999 999
2. Resume summary or objective statement
The summary or objective statement of your resume should be no longer than one or two sentences that summarize you and your qualifications.
You should either include a resume summary or an objective depending on your experience and the job you’re applying for.
A resume objective describes your career plans or short-term goals in 1-2 sentences. This is a good choice for those who have just graduated from high school or college or have no work experience.
“Highly-motivated Elementary School Teacher seeking a full-time position to lend my expertise to help learning institutions render holistic, quality education.”
You should however, include a resume summary instead when you have work experience or employment history that is easily summarized.
“Reliable skilled finishing carpenter with 7+ years of experience helping general contractors toward safe construction and completion of residential projects.”
When writing your education section, start with your most recent and relevant education based on your level of experience.
Employers wishing to see a particular degree, certificate, or level of experience will find this section useful. Your education section should include the following information:
- Name of school
- Location of school
- The degree you obtained (if applicable)
- Your field of study
- Graduation year (optional)
- Your GPA (only include above 3.4)
- Awards, honors or academic recognition gained during your education, coursework, programs, presentations, or other achievements
- You should only list educational experiences that are relevant to your career.
- If you graduated from high school then you need to list that information. College graduates don’t need to include their high school information.
- You should always list your post-secondary degree and any other post-secondary educational experiences in your education section.
Heritage High School |Charleston, SC
Class of 2019, 3.8/4.0 GPA
Chicago Community College – Chicago, IL
Certificate in Food Handling and Safety
June 2008, Cumlaude
4. Professional history (Experience Section)
- List all of your most relevant work experiences or work history in a reverse chronological order. This means start with your most recent job down to the oldest.
- Highlight your experiences from the last 10 to 15 years.
- Omit jobs you’ve held in the past that aren’t relevant to the job you’re currently seeking.
- Write the name of your previous employers, your job titles, years of employment
- Use few bullet points and action verbs to list your most relevant achievements rather than the tasks you’ve done.
- Use numbers to describe your achievements.
- Provide any work experience even though it’s unrelated if you have little experience to showcase your soft skills.
- List any club or volunteer experience you have if you are a recent graduate without work experience.
ABC Construction Company
Welder | June 2015 – June 2020
- Used SMAW, GTAW, and GMAW welding tools to complete building projects.
- Assisted OSHA safety manager with required regulations checks, reducing time spent by 10%.
- Managed a small team of welders on multi-million dollar projects.
5. List of relevant skills, tools, and certifications
- Include both technical and soft skills in this resume section.
- List any certifications you have earned or skills you have mastered.
- Write down keywords that match your skills with the job description.
Example of Skills Section:
Welding | Electrical Systems | Modern safety equipment | SMAW Welding Tools Training | Knowledge of major OSHA Safety Rules and Procedures | OSHA Certification
Additional Key skills:
Willingness to learn | Attentive | Organized | Effective communicator | Team Player | Safety-conscious
6. Additional relevant accomplishments and volunteer work
You should only include awards, recognition, achievements or volunteer work that are related to the job you are applying for.
These may help potential employers get a better picture of who you are as a person and what value you can bring to the table.
If you are not sure what information you should include on your resume, review the job description you are interested in. Then, match any relevant achievements listed in the job.
If you have experiences outside of your professional history, which might provide employers with more insight into your qualifications, add them to your resume.
Volunteer firefighter, 2018-2020
OSHA Safety award, June 2018
Things you should not put on a resume
Make sure your resume and cover letter don’t contain unnecessary or trivial information, so that you will stand the best chance of being invited for an interview.
The following are things you should not put on your resume, why, and how to improve it:
1. Too much information
- Make your resume concise by keeping it to one page or two pages at most.
- Emphasize on your key skills that will make you the perfect candidate for the position.
- Include relevant job title applicable to the job you are applying for necessary to show a certain length of employment history.
- Use bullets when listing job duties.
- Limit the examples with 3-4 bulleted list highlighting relevant skills you developed.
2. Unprofessional email
- Avoid using email addresses that are unprofessional, inappropriate, offensive or sexual in nature for your job applications.
Don’t : email@example.com
- Create an email address that includes your name and credentials as it appears on your resume and LinkedIn profile.
3. Full Mailing Address
- Indicate that you are a local candidate by including your city, state, and zip code.
- Remove your street address. It’s not needed at this stage of recruitment, takes up extra space, and could pose a security risk.
4. Multiple Phone Numbers
- Include only one phone number on your resume to avoid confusion when contacting you.
- List your mobile phone number so you can control the voice message, who answers each call, and when.
5. Social media profiles that are irrelevant and outdated
- Make a professional online profile on sites like LinkedIn. Don’t forget to put the link on the top section of your resume.
- Include only professional social media accounts and websites that:
– Support your career goals
– Gets updated regularly
– Reflect your personal brand
– Shows why you are qualified for the position
6. Blocks of tiny, unreadable texts
- Avoid a wall of tiny texts that are unreadable.
- Use a standard sized font that is clear and easy to read.
- Draw a hiring manager’s attention to your most relevant skills so that they can see whether you are a good fit.
- Organize your information using bullet points to highlight your key abilities.
- Use the same keywords they use in the job descriptions to ensure your resume will pass the ATS scan.
7. Grammar and spelling mistakes
- Check your spelling and grammar using a built-in word processor or online app.
- Ask someone to review your resume to catch any mistakes you might have missed.
- Read your resume out loud to identify any wording that may be off.
8. Qualifications or experience that are inaccurate
Avoid lying, giving half-truths, or including any type of inaccuracy. This is a big NO-NO in your resume. It might do more harm than good to embellish your history in order to get the job.
9. Unnecessary personal information/details
Choose information that is most relevant to the job position. Highlight the professional skills that make you a good fit. You can save the rest for the interview.
Do not include your picture unless it is a job requirement or you are applying for a customer-facing position like a receptionist.
In most cases, your picture will possibly show your nationality, gender, age, or other factors which could lead to discrimination.
Your photo could also pose security threats such as identity theft in online job platforms.
11. Elaborate formats, designs, charts and other images
Don’t use elaborate formats which include graphics and images in your resume.
These confuse most applicant tracking systems (ATS) that they become scrambled mess when they go through scans-ultimately, may reject your application.
It is also difficult for recruiters to quickly scan resumes for the information they need to find in the specific sections.
Better stick to a standard resume format that’s ATS friendly like pdf and Word format.
12. Use of Pronouns
Your resume tells hiring managers a great deal about you. You should avoid using personal pronouns like “I,” “me,” “she,” and “he” when referring to yourself. Make sure you do not overuse references to yourself when writing your resume. Instead, remove all pronouns from sentences.
This is one information that could work against you as bias. So it’s much better to leave it out as it is acceptable to exclude it nowadays.
In case of a job requirement, it’s okay to mention that you meet it, but don’t elaborate.
14. Negative remarks about a previous employer
- Skip any information on why you left your previous job or, if still employed, why you’re unhappy with your current job.
- Mention what kind of role you’re looking for, but keep it positive.
- Identify the objective facts that will show your accomplishments in this role.
- Describe how you overcame some challenges, and avoid speaking negatively about other organizations.
15. Hobbies or interest not relating to the job
This resume section is generally optional. You may include it if they are relevant to the job you’re applying for. Otherwise, exclude it.
Application for a Cooking show host:
A YouTube food channel with 50k+ growing followers that features healthy recipes, tips, and how-to videos.
16. Passive language
It’s highly recommended to write your resume using active voice rather than passive. Use strong action verbs or words to explain why you’re perfect for the job.
Passive voice : Ability to take responsibility was recognized as one of my key strengths.
Active voice : Recognized for responsibility and making proactive decisions.
17. Miscellaneous extra content
You should focus on areas where you can prove your skills, experience and achievements why you’re a good fit. Leave out any unnecessary personal details like:
- Poor academic grades
- Details of short-term roles
- Marital Status
- Political affiliations
- Club memberships
- Place of birth
18. Salary History
Do not put on your resume any mention of salary.
You risk being perceived as cheap or lacking experience if you include a salary requirement below what the position is typically paid. Thus, you may not receive the offer you are hoping for.
In contrast, if your number is too high, then you might look like too expensive and may be disqualified.
19. References available upon requests
Do not include on your resume a reference section. There is no need for this at this stage of the application and it is a total waste of space. The employer expects you’ll provide a list of references if they ask for them.
20. Too much of the past
Keep your work history limited to the past 15 years.
If you list work experience further back, it makes it hard to keep your resume to the right length and puts your application at risk of age bias.
To sum it up, tailor your resume that includes your full name, contact information, education, qualifications, and relevant experience when applying for a new job.
Next, ensure your resume matches the job description’s keywords and requirements.
Remember, your resume will only be reviewed for six seconds by an applicant tracking system or hiring managers, so make sure it’s clean, professional, and easy to read.