Let’s talk about resumes: What information should you include? Is there information you should omit?
All of the information on your resume should fit together to form a portfolio that sells your skills and experience to the hiring manager, ultimately convincing them that they need to meet with you. However, knowing where to begin can be overwhelming at times, as can deciding what information to include.
As experts in executive search, we view many resumes on a daily basis and we have a few pieces of advice to give on how they should be structured. It may not seem important, but the structure of the resume has a big impact on how easy it is to review – you wouldn’t want to make it difficult for companies to read you resume! To make sure you know the basics of writing a resume, here is an outline of how it should be structured.
The section at the top of your resume is your personal header. Typically, your name would be in a larger font with your contact details listed below in a smaller font. It should be easy to read and make your contact information simple to find.
This section is very important as it is a quick snapshot of the highlights from your career. The career summary is at the top of the resume directly after the personal header, so it is the first thing that hiring managers will read. As such, it is important to emphasize your strengths and selling points. It is best to focus on the key skills or experience the position requires and any ways that make you an outstanding candidate for the role. Printing a copy of the job description to refer to as you write this section can really help you position yourself well for the role.
Mentioning your years of experience in a certain field, achievements, and core strengths are examples of things that are good to include in the summary. 3-5 bullet points are ideal for this section as it is easier to read than a paragraph and including too many bullets can make the summary cluttered.
The employment history section should outline your professional experience in chronological order, with your most recent position at the top. Hiring Managers want to see what skills and experiences are most relevant currently, so you will want to have your current position at the top. If you had multiple positions in the same company, those should be included as well to show your growth.
Information in this section should include your company name, position title, date of employment and a brief description of your roles. It is good to mention the general scope of your position, and highlight any achievements you had. Keep the description of your work experience fairly short, 3-5 bullet points per position and only mention relevant, important information.
For those who feel their education is a critical qualification when applying for a specific role, this section can go above the Employment History section. Otherwise, it typically goes afterwards. The basic information to include is the university name, degree(s), and start and end dates. If you graduated with honors or have any other notable achievements that you feel should be included, those can be listed as well. There is no need to include additional information such as schooling before University, unless it is relevant to the position.
Other information included in the resume really depends on the type of position you are applying for and what qualifications are needed. For example, technical skills may be important for the types of positions you are applying for, so those should be added into a separate section titled “Skills.” If they are critical for the position (for example, a programming role) that section can be added to the top of the resume.
Other information to include may be any awards received, publications, and other credentials. If it is relevant, member associations or affiliations can be included as well. When adding additional information you should always keep in mind whether this information is relevant to the position you are applying for. If not, it should be omitted to save space and avoid diluting the quality of the content.
Since the information included on your resume should all be relevant to the position you are applying for, anything relevant to the position that doesn’t fit in one of the main sections can be included in a new section. Keep in mind that overloading your resume makes reading it more difficult; it is best to only include relevant information and keep the resume simple and easy for hiring managers to read.
As there is no “right way” to write a resume, everything can be completely customized to fit your background and convey the message you would like hiring managers to receive from your application. While there is more than one way to structure your resume, too much customization with the layout can hurt your application and the traditional structure to a resume is easy for hiring managers to review.
- There is no “right way” to write a resume
- Following the standard structure makes your resume simple to read
- Only include relevant information to the position you are applying for
- Other sections can be added to the resume depending on the importance of the information