Resumes are an important part of pretty much any job application process. They tell your prospective employer a lot about you and give them a good idea of who they’re dealing with.
There are several components that make a resume informative and effective, as well as some that simply don’t need to be included.
Here’s a breakdown of the most important resume sections as well as what to leave out.
What to include in your resume
1. Contact section
The first thing in your resume should be the contact section. It should consist of your first and last names, email address, phone number, and home address. If you’re not comfortable putting your home address down, at least list your city and state. For some jobs, you may also find it relevant to include your social media handles, website, or blog, depending on the job.
This helps to make it easy for potential employers to contact you regarding the job posting you’re interested in.
The education segment outlines your educational background. Include the name of the college and/or universities that you attended, degrees you’ve completed, as well as honors, achievements, and awards that you earned.
3. Work experience
The section of your resume on work experience must clearly outline the work you’ve done that’s relevant to the position you’re applying for. You should include the companies you’ve worked for, the titles you held at each job, and what each job’s specific duties and responsibilities were. You may also include any awards or achievements that you obtained in these jobs.
Use past tense for previous jobs and present tense for current jobs.
You have a lot of skills no doubt, but use this section of your resume to list those that are relevant to the role you’re applying for. Examples of skills include:
- Time management
- Data analysis
- Microsoft Word
5. Relevant awards, achievements, additional information
It’s a good idea to include any additional impressive information that you think is relevant to your application. If you’re a black belt in Karate but are applying to be a preschool teacher, it may not be very relevant to include that information.
What to leave out in your resume
1. Too much detail on hobbies
Some hobbies are relevant, others are not. It really all depends on the job that you’re applying for. In general, it can be good to include some information about your hobbies, but don’t let it take up more than a couple of lines.
The more professional experience you have, the less relevant information about your hobbies will likely be.
Never, ever lie on your resume. This includes half-truths, lies of omission, misleading information, or even outright lies. Not only will this start you off on the wrong foot if you end up getting hired, but it’s just a dishonest and wrong practice.
What’s more, it isn’t even necessary. Most hiring managers are flexible about requirements and care more about the right attitude.
3. Unnecessary personal information
Your resume is about showing potential employers what would make you a great employee. There’s no need to include your age, religious and political beliefs, family situation, or thoughts on world issues unless they’re directly related to the job.
While hiring managers usually do their best to avoid prejudice and forming preconceptions about the person whose resume they’re reading, including unnecessary information can lead to this happening anyway.
4. Remarks about former employers
There’s no need to include why you left your former jobs or why you’re looking for a new job. You can include statements about what kind of role you’re looking for, but not at the expense of former employers. You can include challenges and how you overcame them, but keep it professional.
Focus on the objective and stick to the facts.
5. The wrong kind of language
Your resume should be professional, easy to read, concise, and clear. To accomplish that, you should avoid:
- Tiny text – this is pretty obvious, but your resume should have nice, large text that’s easy to read and skim through. With a mountain of resumes to read, some recruiters don’t even bother with ones that make it difficult.
- Photographs – unless specifically requested, leave your resume as a plain text document.
- Company or industry-specific jargon – use terminology that anyone can understand.
- Unexceptional academic results – focus on your positive achievements.
- Current salary – there’s always time to address this later, if asked.
- Details of short-term roles – focus on roles you held for several months.
- Too much first-person language (I, we, me) – it’s clear that the resume is about you.
- Passive language – use active language to come across as confident and capable.
Beyond knowing what to include and leave out in your resume, there are some other tips that can help you create the best resume you can.
1. Check meticulously for spelling and grammatical errors
Nothing is worse than an otherwise good resume that’s marred by easily preventable spelling and grammatical errors. It can make you look sloppy and careless.
2. Look at the resume through the lens of your potential employer
What will they want to know? Have you given them all the relevant information? How are you coming across?
3. Get others to read it for you
There’s nothing better than a fresh pair of eyes on your resume to help you check that you’ve done everything you need. They can spell-check, edit, and point out things you may have missed.
Now that you’ve got all this extra information, you’re ready to create the resume that will get you hired. Good luck!