Resumes & Cover Letters

What To Put in a Resume

July 2, 2021

When applying for jobs, having a unique resume can improve your chances of getting an interview. Your resume should quickly tell prospective employers about you, your skills, and experience to help them determine if you'd be a good fit for the role. So, knowing exactly what to put in your resume is essential when searching for a new job. In this article, we look at six sections every resume should include to help you create your own.

Related: How to Write a Resume

What to put in a resume

While you should tailor your resume to each role you apply for, here are a few common sections you should include:

1. Name and contact information

Every resume needs your name and contact information so prospective employers know how to get in touch with you. Your name and contact information should be the title of your resume so employers can easily find it to call or email you. The amount of information you include here is up to you, but consider the following:

  • Your name
  • Phone number
  • Professional email address
  • Location (not your full address, just your city and province or territory)
  • Social media handles
  • Link to your professional website, portfolio, or blog (if relevant for the role)

Here's an example of what the contact information section of your resume might look like:

Alex Smith
Toronto, Ontario • (555) 555-5555
alexsmith@email.com • alexportfolio.com

2. Resume summary or objective

Next, consider including a resume summary or objective. A resume summary quickly tells employers about you and why you're qualified for the role. A resume objective tells employers about your professional goals and why you want the position. To help you write your summary or objective, review the job posting you're applying to and highlight skills or experience you have that the employer is looking for.

You can choose between a summary or objective, or include both, but they should only be a sentence or two. If you're choosing between the two, a summary tends to be the better option for those with relevant work experience, while an objective is better suited for recent graduates.

Here's an example of a resume summary:

"Creative writer with over six years of experience writing in the travel, beauty, and self-help industries."

Here's an example of a resume objective:

"Recent graduate with a bachelor's degree in finance, looking to use my new, in-depth knowledge to succeed as an accountant at a reputable firm."

Related: 7 Steps for Creating a Resume as a Student

3. Education

If you have specialized training, a degree, or a certificate the employer is looking for, highlight it in the education section of your resume. This section doesn't need to be long, so only include relevant information. For example, if you're a college or university graduate, you don't need to include your high school information as well. But if you have multiple degrees or diplomas that are relevant, include them all. For example, if you're applying for a marketing manager position, your bachelor's degree in business administration and master's degree in marketing are both relevant.

Here's some information you should include in your resume's education section:

  • Name of your school
  • Location of your school
  • Type of degree, diploma, or certification you obtained
  • Your field of study
  • The year you graduated
  • Your GPA if it's high (above a 3.4)
  • Any relevant honours or academic recognition, extracurricular activities, or other achievements obtained during your education

With all of this information, your education section may look as follows:

University of Northern Canada September 2016 to May 2020
Honours Bachelor's Degree in English and Linguistics
3.9 GPA

4. Professional history

Also known as the experience section of your resume, your professional history is a showcase of your relevant work experience. This section shows prospective employers you have proven success in similar roles. Start by listing your most recent job and three to five bullet points about your responsibilities or achievements there. You don't need to include every job you've ever had, especially if they're not relevant to the role you're applying to. Instead, focus on jobs you've had in the past 10 to 15 years.

If you have little to no job experience, highlight any type of professional experience you've had. This includes volunteer experience, internships, and any type of work experience, even if the role seems unrelated to the one you're applying for. Any type of professional experience is a great way to develop soft skills that can impress employers, such as communication and organizational skills.

Here's what every entry in your professional history section should include:

  • Name of the employer
  • Your job title
  • Years of employment
  • Three to five bullet points with your responsibilities or relevant accomplishments (lead each bullet point with an action word and include figures when you can)

An example of a professional history section could look like the following:

South B.C. High School
Math Teacher | September 2016 - June 2020

  • Taught over 500 students per year in grades 9 to 12
  • Worked with the math department to develop and implement new coursework every year
  • Created an interactive learning environment to keep students engaged
  • Monitored students progress through tests and assigned homework
  • Organized meetings with parents when students were struggling

5. List of relevant skills

The skills section of your resume should include a mix of relevant hard and soft skills. Hard skills are the technical skills you need to succeed in your role. For example, if you're a web developer, you should be proficient in different coding languages. Soft skills are transferable skills you can use in any role, such as time-management, communication, and organizational skills.

To determine what skills to include on your resume, look through the job posting or description to see what the employer is looking for. Consult some postings and write down keywords that match your skills and come up a lot. Including them helps your resume stand out and shows prospective employers you're qualified. No need to go into too much detail in this section, simply include the skills as bullet points.

Your resume's skill section might look something like this:

Skills

  • Proficient in several coding languages
  • Good attention to detail
  • Effective communicator
  • Knowledge of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) techniques
  • Excellent organizational skills

Related: What to Include in Your Resume Skills Section

6. Additional accomplishments, volunteer work, or interests

If you have any relevant, additional information that didn't fit into other sections, you can conclude your resume with it. This includes volunteer work, awards or recognition outside of school, hobbies or interests, and extracurricular activities.

Here's an example of what this section could look like:

Volunteer at Pure Care Animal Shelter, 2015 - 2020
Annual winter food drive volunteer, 2018 - present
Trillium Book Award, 2019

Tips for creating your resume

Now that you know what to put in your resume, here are some tips you should consider when creating it:

Choose a professional, easy-to-read font

To ensure prospective employers can read your resume, you need to choose your font wisely. Consider a font and size that are easy to read both on paper and a computer screen. For example, Calibri, Arial, Georgia, Times New Roman, and Helvetica in 12-point size are all safe fonts to choose from. Ensure your font is black as it's easy to scan quickly.

Related: The Best Fonts for Your Resume

Tailor your resume to every role you apply for

Although you may apply for multiple roles with different companies, take some time to tailor your resume for each application. You can use the same template, but ensure you highlight your most relevant skills and abilities for each role This allows you to include keywords from the employer's job posting or description, helping you stand out over other candidates.

Related: 14 Resume Writing Tips to Help You Land a Job

Keep it simple

It can be tempting to create a decorative resume, but if you're not applying for a creative role, like a graphic designer, it's best to keep your resume simple. Use a plain black and white format for your resume so it's not distracting. Many employers use software to filter through the many resumes they get which may have trouble scanning documents with too much colour, shading, borders, or decorative background.

Look for resume examples

There are many great resume templates and examples available online, even ones tailored to specific positions and industries. Finding an example of what a resume for your role should look like can help you create yours. Simply search, "Resume example for [job title]" and plenty should come up.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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