What Information Goes on a Resume


The whole purpose of a resume is to land interviews. Right? Therefore, the information included on a resume should be relevant to the requirements of the job so you can increase your chances of receiving interview offers. There are also certain bits of information which should never be left out, although you will probably read many rumors online to the contrary. Bottom line - we are experts and the advice you see on this page includes the most basic principles you must follow in order to prepare an effective resume. Before listening to your friends or coworkers about what they "think" is best, you should always seek the input of someone who actually does this for a living. Below are examples of the information to include and how it should be presented.

Summary of Qualifications/Objective Statement

This is probably the most controversial section of a resume that causes confusion. Many online sources will tell you that "objective statements" are no longer used on resumes. Some will even go on to offer what's called a "Free Resume Critique" and advise a potential client that objective statements should be removed because they only speak of what you want, not what the employer is looking for. Now, if you look at that from an objective standpoint, it is obvious to realize this advice is contradictory in itself. Employers want a candidate who knows what they want in an employer so that there can be a long-lasting relationship. Companies hate high employee turnover, and one of HR's main duties is to increase employee retention. So, why would an employer exclude a candidate just because they include an objective statement on a resume? It makes no sense. Also, think of a resume as you are telling a brief story about your past. Just like a book or narrative, you must explain what the story is about up front or the reader might lose interest. To properly convey this message, a resume should have a short opening paragraph describing a quick summary of your strongest qualifications that relate to the jobs being targeted. Use a third-person point of view, avoiding "I" and "my" if possible. Pretending you are writing this for someone else with the same exact background as you might help. See Example

Skills/Key Strengths

Next, follow-up with a list of keyword phrases (preferably two to three words) that describe each skill you possess which are related to the job ad. This list might include buzz-words such as Operations Management, Administrative Support, Relationship Building, Team Leadership, Regulatory Compliance, etc. Remember to keep these short and targeted. The formatting of this section is also important. You might want to download some templates or become an advanced user of Microsoft Word in order to create a two or three row table that spans across the page horizontally. This will help organize your key strengths better instead of having an exhausting list going vertically down the page. See Example

Core Competencies

Including a Core Competencies section on your resume allows the reader the option to reveal your skills/strengths in more detail if they wish. This is a good opportunity to flesh out your key qualifications and elaborate on how you derived your skill-set through past experiences. However, you must be careful not to include too many redundancies and avoid duplicating responsibilities that may already be listed in your Work Experience section. See Example

Personal Achievements

One of the most important aspects of a resume is the Achievements Section or otherwise referred to as Accomplishments, Performance Milestones, Career Highlights, etc. It is extremely important to showcase these on a resume if you have them. Any results that you produced should always be noted on the document as long as they are relevant to what you are targeting. See Example

Work Experience

This information should be kept brief and straight to the point. Avoid using too many bullet points (usually 5 or less is ideal) and refrain from leading off sentences with too many fluff words. Avoid adjectives and adverbs. Employers don't need to know that you "successfully" did something, just that you did it and maybe how it was accomplished. If what you did produced an end-result, then it is obvious it was "successful" and there is no need to point this out. Using irrelevant words creates clutter and takes focus away from what the employer is actually looking for in a candidate.

Education/Training

The information presented here is pretty simple. List your degrees, certifications, and any specialized training you may have obtained in your field. Avoid rambling on about your sports affiliations or secret societies you were part of. This information is better left for the interview to possibly build common ground and not relevant to the requirements of the job. The hiring manager might not be a fan of the "Florida Gators", and if you list that you were the "Star Receiver" in 2003, he might move on to the next resume if he is a Tennessee Vols fan. Catch my drift?

Activities/Interests

Generally, this information is irrelevant and does not show an employer what you can do for them. Instead, it shows what you like to do for yourself. However, this can be viewed two different ways. Sometimes your personal hobbies might be the same as the interviewer and you could get a good recommendation by building a common ground. In most cases, these should be left off a resume.

References

Avoid including a long list of references on the same document. These should be included separately, or at the very most put "references available upon request" instead. References are obviously going to be asked for during the hiring phase, but you have not reached that point yet. A resume gets interviews and you should only provide references after the employer decides to move forward with the application process.
Justin Olsen (CPRW)