TopResume demystifies the content you need on your resume
As the job market becomes ever more competitive, it's more important than ever to create a resume that can help you to stand out from the crowd. Gone are the days when a mediocre resume was good enough to get your foot in the employment door. These days, you need a truly compelling resume that highlights your value if you want to ensure that you make the best possible impression on prospective employers.
In this post, we'll focus on one of the most crucial elements of the resume creation process: deciding which information needs to be included in your resume. In this guide, we'll examine 11 of the most important things to put on a resume if you want to effectively sell yourself as the best candidate for the job.
1. Contact information
Your contact details need to have a prominent place on your resume, to ensure that employers can easily find the information they need to call you in for a job interview. Like the rest of your resume, this section should be clean and easy to read. Use standard fonts like Arial, Calibri, Cambria, or Georgia, and stick to simple black text. Include the following information:
First and last name: Many job seekers use a larger font size for this line of their contact information section, to ensure that their name stands out.
Your location: You shouldn't add your street address to your resume, but it is acceptable to include the city and state. This is especially true if you're applying for a position in another area and need employers to know that you're willing to relocate. If the job is in another country, you'll also want to include your country of origin in this line.
Professional email address: Make sure that the email address you use for your resume isn't some novelty address that you created on a whim. For example, if the email that you use with your friends is something like firstname.lastname@example.org, don't list that address on your resume. Instead, use a more professional address that includes some variation of your name.
Phone number: If you want prospective employers to call you by phone, there are a couple of things to remember. First, make sure that you have regular access to that phone. Second, make sure that the phone number is in working order. Double check the number you list on your resume to ensure that you've included the right area code and prefix. Even simple typos could make it impossible for employers to get in touch with you.
Professional social media (optional): You should also include relevant social media URLs, if you think that they can help to highlight your qualifications or abilities. LinkedIn is the most obvious choice for most people, but technology professionals, for example, may also want to include their GitHub or StackOverflow profiles as well.
Website (optional): For certain professions, it can also be helpful to include website addresses for personal websites or online portfolios. Some examples include Graphic Artists, Copywriters, or Academics with a significant online presence.
2. Resume Headline
A great resume headline can help to immediately draw a hiring manager's attention to your resume. If you're not familiar with this resume element, don't worry - you're not alone. But make no mistake: this simple headline trick can increase the odds of your resume making a powerful first impression on anyone who reads it. So, what is a resume headline, you ask?
A resume headline is a different way of dealing with the old resume title - that area where you list the job title of the position you're seeking. For example, if you were applying for a job as a Marketing Manager, your resume title would just include those two words:
Sure, that resume title might clarify which job you're seeking, but it doesn't tell the reader anything about you - either as a person or as a prospective employee. It doesn't say anything about your skills, experience, or personality. Worse, it doesn't do anything to help you to stand out from your competition. Fortunately, however, a resume headline can help you to create a more compelling message.
To create a resume headline, you need to take that job title and add some descriptive language that highlights your value as a potential employee. The following tips can help you to do just that:
1. Research the job posting to identify keywords related to core skills needed for the position. Chances are that including at least one of these keywords can help to ensure that your resume earns the attention it deserves.
2. Choose powerful adjectives to describe your capabilities and achievements.
3. Include measurable results that help to highlight your value.
Sticking with our Marketing Manager title, let's see what that headline might look like if we incorporate those tips:
Dynamic Marketing Manager Consistently Exceeding Client Goals by 25%
Unlike our first example, this one highlights a record of success that any hiring manager can instantly recognize as potentially valuable for their company. Just as important, the addition of that specific information is more likely to help that resume stand out - especially if the other candidates are still relying on the more conventional resume job title option.
3. Summary Paragraph
Your resume should also include a resume profile statement, preferably a summary that helps to sum up your core qualifications. This brief, four or five-sentence paragraph can be thought of as your resume's version of the salesperson's elevator pitch. Done properly, it serves as an introductory statement that highlights your key skills and achievements in a way that captures your reader's interest.
This is important, since most employers only devote a few seconds to scanning each resume they receive. Yes, you heard that right: employers aren't reading your entire resume unless you somehow manage to capture their attention during that initial scan.
So, how do you do that? While the resume headline can help them to take immediate notice, your summary paragraph represents your first real opportunity to make a powerful first impression. It needs to quickly summarize your best qualifications and demonstrate your potential ability to provide real value to that employer. To create an effective summary, you need to:
Briefly highlight your experience
Mention one or two of your most important skills (preferably skills listed in the job posting)
Detail at least one important achievement, using real numbers to highlight value
Below is an example of a great resume summary paragraph for our hypothetical Marketing Manager, that incorporates all the elements we've just mentioned:
Results-driven Marketing Manager with 8 years of experience in client relations, project development, and campaign execution. Core competencies include market analysis, research, resource management, and innovative team leadership. While managing ABC Corporation's marketing team, successfully increased yearly revenues by 35%.
4. Core Competencies or Skills
Your resume also needs to include a section that highlights your relevant skills. This section should be labeled using a title like “Core Competencies” or “Relevant Skills” and include a list of all the skills you want to highlight for the employer. The key is to figure out which skills deserve a place in your core competencies section, since the last thing you want to do is waste precious space on irrelevant abilities that won't impress anyone. These tips can help you to identify the right skills for your resume:
- Begin by reviewing the job posting. Take note of any abilities or traits that the employer included as necessary qualifications. If there are specific skills that you need to possess, you'll need to include those abilities in your skills section.
- Create a list of all the marketable skills that you've developed throughout your career. This list should include both hard skills - abilities that you use to complete your job duties, as well as soft skills, that help you to manage those duties, interact with others, and solve problems.
- Narrow your list of hard and soft skills to 9-12 total abilities, making sure to include each of the required qualifications from the job posting. You should also use the exact terminology in the job posting when listing those required skills. Chances are that those words are keywords that the employer's applicant tracking system will be looking for when the employer conducts a keyword search.
- Once you've identified the skills that you'll be including in your resume's core competencies section, add them to the resume. For example:
Marketing research | Strategic planning | Budget management | Account management
Project management | Content creation | Team building | Digital marketing
Problem-solving | Brand management | Resource allocation | Time management
5. Work Experience
Of course, prospective employers will want to see more than just your claimed skills. They'll also want to review your previous work experience to see how you've applied those skills in a real-world setting. That's why it's important to know how to list your past jobs in your work experience section. The following tips can help.
Decide which jobs you want to include. As a rule, you should include jobs going back only ten or fifteen years. Most employers are more interested in your most recent experience.
Start with your current position (or the last job you held if you're unemployed). Then list your other jobs in reverse chronological order.
For each job, list your job title or position, the name of the company, and your dates of employment.
Here's what that might look like in a hypothetical Marketing Manager resume:
ABC Digital Marketing
Assistant Marketing Manager
Repeat that process for other relevant experience. Of course, that basic information is just the outline of your work experience section. We still need to add one more critical thing to this section to ensure that it properly highlights your value as an employee. What's missing, you might ask? Measurable achievements that demonstrate value - which brings us to our next topic of discussion.
6. Measurable Achievements
Those employment listings can help the employer to understand the types of jobs you've held, but they don't really provide the type of detail that they need to see to determine your worth. The problem is that you can't really highlight the impact you've had throughout your career if you just provide a dry, dull list of those past jobs. Instead, you need to use that work experience section to show how your actions have created real value for previous employers.
The best way to highlight that value is with measurable, or quantifiable, achievements. Yes, there was a time when job seekers would simply list the duties that they performed at each company. These days, however, serious candidates understand that they need to focus more on value than core responsibilities. Every employee has responsibilities. What matters is how your fulfillment of those responsibilities provides value for an employer.
So, how do you highlight value? It's simple: you just need to list some of the key achievements you delivered in each role, using real numbers to demonstrate your impact on the company's success. To do that, you should include three or four bullet point achievements below each company. Let's look at what that might look like, using our previous examples:
ABC Digital Marketing
Successfully led reorganization of marketing department that improved efficiency by 43%
Expanded new client acquisition by 33% in two years, increasing revenues by $35 million
Oversaw global expansion effort into 23 new countries
Assistant Marketing Manager
Managed project budgeting and resource allocation for 23 campaigns worth $12 million
Led successful effort to redesign ABC Corporations's digital presence, increasing customer engagement by 78%
Developed new project research process that reduced research and analysis costs by 10%
As you can see, rather than focusing on the duties of each job, this hypothetical candidate instead emphasized real accomplishments that added real value to each company.
Your educational achievements are also important things to put on your resume. In most instances, you won't have to devote too much space to this section, but you neglect it at your peril. In fact, if the job posting lists specific educational qualifications, omitting this section would be a huge mistake that could end any consideration of your candidacy.
The good news is that the education section of a resume is one of the easiest to create. You only need to add a few bits of relevant information to complete this part of the resume, including:
The degree that you earned
The name of the school you attended
Your dates of attendance
Relevant coursework, if appropriate
Of course, you can also include some other details, like your GPA or distinctions such as summa cum laude - though these types of information are unnecessary once you've been in the workforce for a few years.
You can also add relevant certifications and extracurricular activities that might help to bolster your case for being the best candidate for a job. In most instances, though, the important thing is to include just enough detail about your education to show that you meet any specified educational requirements for the position.
Thus far, we've identified seven key things to put on your resume - and each of them is considered an essential element of any great resume document. Our last four details for a resume can all be considered optional. Their inclusion will depend on the type of job you're seeking and the things you need to highlight for an employer.
While most Americans speak English, recent migration and globalization trends have increased the importance of language skills. If you're proficient in more than one language and seeking a job where those skills can give you an edge over other candidates, you may want to consider including a language proficiency section in your resume. That section may be necessary if your desired job:
Involves regular contact with non-English speakers
Requires travel to foreign countries where your language skills can be vital for the company
Of course, you should only list your foreign language skills if you are truly proficient in the language and if those abilities are relevant for the position you seek.
9. Awards and Accolades
If you're wondering what to put on a resume for your first job, or just looking for unique things to put on a resume to catch a hiring manager's attention, awards and accolades may be an option. Of course, they need to be the right kind of achievements if you want to earn anything more than a snide eye roll from that hiring manager. Some examples of worthy awards and accolades include:
Awards relevant to your specific industry, demonstrating industry recognition of your achievements
Company awards you've earned in past jobs
Extracurricular awards involving volunteering or community service
Academic accolades - if you're a recent graduate and need to boost your experience with other types of achievements
If you decide to include awards among the things you put in your resume, make sure that you add enough detail to explain why they're relevant, including the issuing organization or body, the date you received it, and some information that quantifies its meaning.
10. Community Involvement
If you're new to the job market, you may be wondering what to put on a resume with no experience. Obviously, you don't want to leave out your work experience section altogether, since that can be a clear sign to employers that you may not be a viable candidate for their job. Fortunately, your community involvement can sometimes be used to show some real-world experience.
For example, have you spent any time volunteering with charities? Are you actively involved in community organizations? Have you spent time mentoring youth or serving the public in some other valuable way? If so, then any of these experiences can be listed in a community involvement section to demonstrate your commitment to others. Just be sure to include some bullet point achievements that quantify the value your service provided for those groups or causes.
Publications are another of the important things to put on your resume, if your area of expertise involves research or other writing. The use of a publications section is mostly reserved for academics and people who work in various scientific fields, but can also be relevant for some content creators and marketing professionals. As a rule, though, you should only include your publications if you know that they're something the employer will want to see.
Knowing which things to put on your resume can help to ensure success
When you put the right things on your resume, you can improve your odds of making the right impression on prospective employers. The best approach is to start with the essential components we listed above, and then decide which - if any - of the optional elements you need to include to bolster your candidacy. Just remember to include only relevant information that highlights you as the best person for the job, and you'll be one step closer to career success!
Still confused about which things to put on your resume? Get a free resume review from our team of experts today!