Hi everyone! Today we want to answer one of the most common questions we get asked.
What should you include on your resume?
A resume is a concise overview of your achievements. And the sections you decide to include on your resume should help you structure those achievements. At the very least, your resume must include the following:
Work Experience: Experienced professionals generally include 3-5 work experiences in this section, while students or graduates with less experience can include fewer experiences. If you don't have any work experience, don't worry! See our samples for students here which show you alternative sections you can include.
Education: Include all colleges/institutions you've attended, along with your major, minor and graduation year. If you've graduated university, don't include your high school information. Our resume templates/samples here show you different ways you can list your education.
Contact Information: It's important that potential employers and recruiters can easily reach you, so ensure you've included your email address and mobile number. While you shouldn't necessarily include your full physical address, recruiters find it easier to determine your eligibility if you include your current city on your resume. This is particularly useful if your previous job locations were in a different city to the job you're now applying for.
So what should you not include on your resume?
Objective: All recruiters agree that an Objective is superfluous on a resume. The company already knows what you’re looking for because you applied for a specific position. Having an objective section may even exclude you from other similar positions that might be interesting to you.
Summary: With a few exceptions, a Summary section generally does little for your resume apart from duplicating your achievements and wasting space. Your resume is already meant to be a concise summary of your achievements. There's no need to re-summarize it in a paragraph form. The only exception to this rule is if you need to add important information that is not already in another section on your resume. For example, if you're looking to completely change your career & role (e.g. moving from software engineering to marketing), you could use 1-2 lines to direct a recruiter to the specific roles you are looking for. If you do decide to include a summary, ensure that it is not filled with fluffy, subjective buzzwords like "team player".
References: References (or even 'References available upon request') never belongs on a resume. It just wastes space. Employers will ask you directly if they ever need to contact your references.
What other sections can I include on my resume?
Many candidates often ask whether or not they should include a specific section on their resume. Common questions we often get as recruiters are: Should I write about my extra-curricular or volunteer experiences? What about the online courses I did? Or specific coursework projects I completed at college?
The answer is to include what's relevant to the skills the job is looking for. Your resume serves one purpose. To help an employer find out if you're a good fit or not for a role. So you need to add/remove sections that help convince an employer you're a good fit! For example, if you're applying for a programming job and you don't have any formal work experience or degree to support it, you surely want to include details about an online course you did or the programming projects you worked on! Similarly, if you're applying for a role that requires you to have specific hard skills or knowledge of different languages, you should absolutely include a Skills section! If you're having trouble deciding whether or not to include a section or specific details on your resume, remember to always think hard about how it fits into your story as an applicant.
Common sections candidates have on their resume include:
Activities: You can include projects, extra-curricular or leadership experiences that are relevant to your role. Particularly if you're in college or a recent graduate, you can use this section to describe additional experiences, like leadership activities, volunteering work or university projects. Change the name of the section depending on what you list.
Skills: A Skills section is common to include on a resume. You can include languages, technical skills, professional societies / memberships or interests. Here's an example. Here's another. Note that there is no fixed format - it can vary based on what you are trying to showcase. Please do not use visuals, bar graphs or the like to represent your skills! These take up space and are hard to interpret by both recruiters and automated resume screeners.
Awards: You should list any awards you’ve received, including those that don’t seem directly applicable to the skillset are often relevant in showing your accomplishments. Ensure you state the context of your awards.
Have any questions? Get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org!