Properly structuring a resume is necessary to starting a successful job search. There are several sections and headings that must be correctly organized and worded. Everyone’s situation is different and unique, therefore the resume structure may differ slightly from person to person. There are also many ways to organize a resume depending on your experience level or qualifications. However, we will touch up on the basics below to give you a general idea of how a resume should be properly structured.
Header: The header of your resume should include your name in large fonts, followed by your contact phone number, email address, then mailing address. Make sure you include easy-to-reach phone numbers such as a cell phone to ensure you do not miss a call from a potential employer. Also, use professional looking email addresses and avoid nicknames. Make sure everything is spelled correctly to eliminate missed contacts.
Objective/Summary: This section is the first noticed part of a resume and should be located at the very top below your name and contact information. It is the opening paragraph that must show your qualifications, skills, and targeted goals up front. If you are an experienced professional, try to avoid soft-skills such as “interpersonal communication” or “problem solving” since everyone includes these on a resume. You want to stand out and demonstrate that you have more to offer. If you are an entry-level candidate with very little work experience in a particular field, these skills might be beneficial.
Key Strengths/Skills/Qualifications: You can name this section as one of the three listed and this is where you will include either short keyword phrases or longer bulleted descriptions of your skills and areas of expertise. Again, try to avoid weak skills in this section and focus on targeted and relevant qualifications that match an employer’s job description. This is one of the most important sections of a resume.
Work Experience: Next comes your work experience section. Try to be concise and straight to the point, as well as list your jobs in reverse-chronological order (most recent to oldest). List the company name first, location, dates, job title, then detailed information. Include a brief description of your responsibilities followed by a bulleted list of accomplishments (sales generation, revenue growth, numbers, percentages, etc.) that show a potential employer you can produce results. It is important to make any achievements stand out from the rest of the information to make sure it is not overlooked. You may even want to highlight accomplishments in their own section above the Work Experience header to ensure they grab the reader’s attention.
Education: The education section is pretty simple. You want to list any degrees or certifications you may have in descending order, newest to oldest, or most relevant to least relevant. Adding your GPA may not always be a good idea. Make sure it is considered “above average” for your particular industry before you disclose this on a resume. Any other academic achievements such as “Dean’s List” or “Graduated with Honors” are always great to include. Your education weighs heavily on the types of jobs you will be qualified for in most cases, therefore it is important to have a focused goal in mind with a clear understanding of what the employer expects.
Hobbies/Personal Interests/Activities: Traditionally, many job seekers still include this information on their resumes to give a more personal touch. In most cases, this information is viewed as irrelevant to the requirements of the job and do nothing more than take up room. However, sometimes you may get lucky and strike some interest in the interviewer or relate to something he/she might also be interested in.
References or References Available Upon Request: Alright, here it is. References are obvious and a given. All employers will ask for references when they decide to hire you, after the interview. Therefore, including references on a resume is really a thing of the past. Somewhere along the way, this became a trend. References should always be included either on a separate document and submitted along with the resume, or saved for last when you are asked to provide them.
Read more about the different types of resume formats and when to use them.