How to Structure Your Resume

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No two resumes will look exactly alike (nor should they!), but generally, resumes should have the following sections.

No two resumes will look exactly alike (nor should they!), but generally, resumes should have the following sections.

Header Contact Info: At the top of your resume, always include a header containing your name. Your contact info (typically your phone number, personal email address and sometimes links to social profiles or personal websites) should be close by as well. After all, you don’t want there to be any confusion over who the resume belongs to, or make it difficult for recruiters or hiring managers to reach out to you. However, you may want to avoid putting your contact info in the header or footer of the document itself — the headers and footers can sometimes be overlooked by the software that scans your resume.

Professional Summary: The professional summary is a brief, one- to three-sentence section featured prominently on your resume that succinctly describes who you are, what you do and why you’re perfect for the job. In contrast with the largely out-of-date objective statement — a line that describes the type of career opportunity you’re looking for — professional summaries aren’t about what you want. Instead, they’re focused on the value you could bring to a potential employer. It’s worth noting that a professional summary isn’t an absolute must-have — if your resume is missing one, it probably won’t be a dealbreaker — but it can be a nice way to give time-pressed recruiters and hiring managers a quick, high-level overview of why you’re the right person for the job.

Skills: Once relegated to the bottom of resumes as an afterthought, the skills section has become more and more important as recruiters and hiring managers increasingly look for candidates with specialized backgrounds. Rather than making the folks reading your resume hunt through your bullet points to find your skills, it’s best to clearly list them. If they see right away that you have the ability to get the job done, they’re much more likely to take your resume seriously.

Work Experience: This critical section of a resume is where you detail your work history in a consistent and compelling format. The Work Experience section should include company names, locations, employment dates, roles and titles you held and most importantly, bullet points containing action verbs and data points that detail the relevant accomplishments of each position. This portion is essential for recruiters and hiring managers, who look to absorb information about your career experiences and connect your skills to what they’re looking for in a potential hire. Recruiters are often flooded with resume submissions and have to carefully source and identify quality candidates in a crowded pack — so make sure your work experience stands out.

Education: Since many jobs require a certain level of education, it’s important to mention your academic credentials on your resume. However, this section shouldn’t take up too much space. In most cases, simply listing where you went to school, when you attended and what degree you attained will be sufficient.

Additional Experience: An optional, but potentially very valuable, addition to your resume is Additional Experience. This is a catch-all section at the tail end of your resume that allows you to highlight volunteer experience, awards and hobbies. Again, it shouldn’t be too long — you don’t want it to detract from your skills or work experience — but it can be a good way to provide a more well-rounded picture of who you are.

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