What sections to include in your resume

August 04, 2015

Capturing employers’ attention and making a great first impression is not an easy job, but it’s achievable if you are a job seeker who submits a great resume that states your "career story" in a professional way.

To make sure your resume stands out for the right reasons, there are a few sections you will definitely want to include, no matter what.

Resume Title

Your resume title is the first thing that employers will see when searching for candidates, so make it memorable and professional. The best way to make your resume title work for you is to use your desired job title or highlight your key experience, skills and expertise.

Search for your target job and make sure that employers are looking to hire people with that job title. If they are not, adjust your title to fit the common search parameters. Remember that the goal of your title is to convince employers to keep reading your resume, so skip the "Need a job!" or "Hire me" titles, and don’t include your name in the resume title. It doesn't tell anything about your skills or job target.

Personal Information

It's important to include all your personal information on your resume so employers can easily contact you. Include your full name, address, mobile phone number(s), and email address. However, beside these information mentioned above, there are some optional personal information (e.g., date of birth, nationality, gender, and marital status) you can also include in your resume. There is no harm if you are using them to put yourself in a positive light. Employers are forbidden from making discrimination about your age, sex, religion race, color or nationality.

Make sure that you don’t include your work phone number or email address. Check the email account frequently so you can respond promptly to employers’ questions. It's important to have a voicemail or an answering machine so employers can leave a message when you are not available.

Summary (Objective)

An objective definitely states the purpose of your resume. Use it to let an employer know your specific career goal. If you choose not to put it in your resume, be sure to state an objective in your cover letter. Career changers and entry-level candidates should consider including their objectives into their resumes because their goals may not be clearly specified in their work history alone. If you have more than one career goal, create a distinct resume version for each objective. Remember, you can create and store up to 100 resumes on JobKiwi!

One of the biggest mistakes candidates make is that they focus the objectives on what they want to do with their careers, without any attention for the company they are applying to. It’s important to explain how your experience and your career goals will contribute to the company’s growth.

Experience

As the biggest section, your resume's experience section needs to look great!

It’s important to include any experience (paid or unpaid) in which you learned or proved skills, abilities, or knowledge that are related to the type of position you are seeking.

List your job history in reverse chronological order. This means that your most recent job is listed first, followed by each of your previous jobs in order by date. The chronological order builds credibility through your experience, and it also shows your career growth, over time.

Try to avoid major gaps in your job history. There is nothing wrong with gaps between jobs, but you should explain it if you have a large gap or two. Employers want to know about the choices you made when you were not working.

The experience section of your resume should include the following, for each position held:

  • Job title
  • Job type
  • Employer’s Name
  • Location
  • Employment dates
  • Accomplishments
  • Duties
  • Related Skills

The most important thing to keep in mind is to focus on your accomplishments and related skills. There will be many people who have held similar positions and job duties, so a list of your job duties is good but will not set you apart. If you demonstrate that you constantly created positive results for previous employers and contributed to the success of the companies, you will be seen as an eligible candidate. Be specific and quantified your accomplishments.

References

Many employers request that you include your references in your resume or ask for them at the end of the interview, so it’s important to impress your future employer by being prepared.

Even if all of the references are positive, you don’t need to include them all. After you decide which will impress the most, make sure your references know that you will be using them as references. Call each reference and ask if it is alright for you to use their contact information. Each reference should include the person’s name, title, company, phone number, and email address. You may want to separate personal and professional references because not all employers want both.

There are a few situations in which references can be available on request, so you should not provide them in your resume: when they are not requested, when you don’t have free space in your resume, and when you have already mentioned in your cover letter that you will provide references on request.

Skills & Languages

Your Skills and Expertise are a big part of how you establish your professional identity, so choose them wisely. This section of your resume includes your qualifications that are related to the jobs you are applying for. You develop skills in everything from work experience to education, training, volunteer work, hobbies, interests, and even self-study. As long as it's relevant to the job posting, mention it.

The best way to get started is to seek job titles and review a few postings for your target job. Read the job description carefully and write a list of frequently mentioned skills. After, create a list of your matching skills that you can include in your resume.

Employers would like to evaluate four types of skills when hiring candidates:

  • Job-Related skills are the amount of knowledge (experience and qualifications) the candidate has in a certain field. You can list them in the current section or in the experience section, it’s your choice.
  • Functional skills are people-oriented skills such as communicating, coordinating and directing.
  • Technical skills are the knowledge and capabilities to perform specialized tasks related to IT field.
  • Self-Management skills are your personal characteristics such as self-learner, self-helper, multi-tasker, etc.

For each skill, indicate your level (beginner, intermediate, expert). Be honest when listing your skills and levels. In the interview and beyond, you will be asked to back that information up.

The Languages Section includes a list of the languages you know and your level of knowledge (basic, intermediate, advanced, fluent). If you speak an uncommon language (e.g., Vietnamese, Maldivian or Japanese), including languages can help make you stand out from other candidates. Do not leave out information regarding whether you are a native speaker or whether your skills are at a basic or fluent level.

There are several skills of most languages (reading, writing, speaking), and being good at one doesn't mean you will be good at the rest.

Education

The education section reveals degrees or certification programs you have completed or are currently pursuing. List them in reverse chronological order, and make sure that your highest level of education is always listed first.

You should include the following, for each degree obtained: degree type, school name, location, and graduation date. If you haven’t graduated, list the anticipated graduation date or specify that you currently studying there. If you abandoned an educational program, list the number of credits achieved or the type of study started.

Students and new graduates with little related work experience may use the education section as the highlight of their resumes, showcasing academic achievements, extracurricular activities, seminars, conferences, special projects and related courses.
Experienced job seekers are focused more on experience than education, so list the basic facts regarding your degree.

Licensure & Certifications

Licenses and Certifications can add value to your resume if they are relevant to the position to which you are applying. As with your experience and education, list them in reverse chronological order including the dates when the certificate or license was completed and their validity period. Don’t forget to list the exact name of the credential and the name of the issuing organization.

Additional Information

If your resume includes the basic information (job history, education and skills) you are on the right track, but you can take your resume to the next level by listing additional information that supports and reinforces your abilities. The essential information to remember for this category is relevance.

Here are examples of information that you can add to your resume:

  • Affiliations & Memberships
  • Honors & Awards
  • Training & Courses
  • Projects
  • Publications
  • Presentations
  • Volunteer work
  • Interests

When including this type of information, do take care to avoid including controversial information that can probably work against you.

Requirements

Simply list the requirements that are important to you, such as desired position and job location, availability to start, minimum payment, travel availability and more. It will increase your chances of being found by employers looking for these specific requirements.

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