- What to Put on Your Resume if You Have Experience
- What to Put on a Resume if You Have No Work Experience
- Ideal Resume Format
If you’re wondering what to put on your resume, this article is for you.
I’m going to share everything you should include to get more interviews.
We’ll look at:
- What to put in a resume for experienced candidates
- What to put in a resume if you have no experience
- What NOT to include in your resume (mistakes to avoid)
- My best tip for getting your resume to stand out from other job seekers so you can land a better job in less time
Here’s exactly what to put on a resume, based on my experience as a recruiter…
What to Put on Your Resume if You Have Experience #
If you’re entering a job search with prior work experience, the following sections should be included on your resume.
(And don’t worry, I’ll share what entry-level job seekers should put on their resume coming up later in this article).
For job seekers with work experience, these are the 7 key types of information that a resume should include:
- Name and Contact Info
- Resume Summary Paragraph
- Employment History
- Community Involvement (Optional)
- Awards/Achievements You’ve Received (Optional)
Now that you know the 7 main things to include in a resume, let’s look at these sections step-by-step so you’ll know how to write each one.
1. Name and Contact Information #
At the top of your resume, put your full name and a professional-looking email address.
Your phone number and street address are optional, but for most people, I’d recommend putting it.
If you’re applying for jobs out-of-state, it might make sense to leave your address off.
Now, for formatting and design…
I’d keep it simple and “clean”-looking. No distractions. Not too many fonts and colors. In fact, this is good advice for how to format your whole resume.
Here’s a screenshot of what a simple resume header with your name and contact info might look like:
You can add a bit more in terms of design, but don’t go overboard.
2. Resume Summary Paragraph #
This is the next section of your resume, and should go right after your name and contact info in most cases.
This is a two or three sentence summary of your qualifications and accomplishments throughout your career (or throughout your education if you just graduated).
Note: this is not an “objective” section. I’d advise against putting an objective on your resume.
Hiring managers know your objective is to land a job in their industry that will utilize your skills, etc.
So put a summary paragraph instead.
If you need help writing this paragraph, here’s an article filled with great resume summary examples.
You can also include the job title right within your resume summary in some cases, which will immediately show employers that you have some relevant experience.
For example, let’s say the job title on the job ad is “Senior Account Analyst”.
You could write your summary like: “Senior-level account analyst with five years of experience in…”
It’s okay if you’re not a resume writing expert. Just use these examples here to craft your own resume summary.
3. Employment History #
If you have held any previous jobs (including internships), your experience section is where to put them. Focus heavily on this experience section, as it’s one of the first places a hiring manager looks on your resume.
Write the section in reverse chronological order, which means your most recent work should be at the top.
Include job titles, company names, dates (you can choose to put just years, or month and year you started and ended each job – just stay consistent).
And always begin this section within the top half of the first page of your resume.
As a recruiter, one of the top mistakes I saw job seekers make was burying their employment history on the bottom of the first page, or even the beginning of page two.
It should be much higher up, and should be visible when they open your resume on a computer without having to scroll down.
Hiring managers will typically look here even before your skills section, so always be looking for opportunities to highlight technical skills and relevant job skills here.
Ask yourself: “What have I done in recent jobs that will show a hiring manager that I’d do well in their job, too?”
That’s the mindset to take when writing your work history. It’s all about writing your resume to fit the job you want next.
And since hiring managers and recruiters are busy, they don’t want to read big, bulky paragraphs. Instead, put bullets highlighting what you did in each job. I’d suggest five to eight bullet points per job.
You can write a small introductory paragraph for each job, but most of the content should be in bullet format.
In these bullet points, don’t just talk about job duties; talk about what you actually accomplished. There’s a big difference.
Here’s an example…
Rather than saying, “responsible for managing 5 sales associates”… say, “successfully led 5 sales associates to achieve 139% of team sales goals for Fiscal Year 2020.”
The image above is an example of a resume work experience section with accomplishment-driven bullets. Take the time to understand the difference and you’ll be far better than most job seekers at resume writing.
4. Skills #
This is the next big section to put on your resume in any job search.
You might be tempted to put your skills before your employment history… and other people may have even told you to do this. But the only time I think it makes sense to list skills first is if you have absolutely no work experience. (I’ll share more about what to put on a resume with no experience coming up, by the way).
But if you have any prior work at all in your career… hiring managers don’t want to see a long list of technical skills without being able to see where you used each skill (and how recently you used them).
This is why they’re much more likely to scan your resume looking for recent jobs before anything else. And that’s why you should put it higher up, so they can find this key info that they’re looking for quickly.
The bottom line is: If you want a good resume, then your skills should come after your experience section.
In your skills section, you can put a list of your top skills that are relevant to the job you’re applying for, and you can even put them under a few headers/categories if you think it makes sense for your job and industry.
You should focus mostly on hard skills. The best skills to put will be found directly on the job description. It’s better to highlight soft skills (like “team player”) in your cover letter, where you can tell a story and share more detail on how you used this skill to succeed.
On a resume, hiring managers mainly look for hard skills and skills relevant to the job requirements.
There’s no perfect number of skills to put. Some people might only need 3-10; others might put 20. It really depends on how long you’ve been working and what field of work you’re in.
Make sure you think about what’s relevant for the job though; don’t just list a bunch of skills that won’t help you in their job.
And think about keywords too – this is a great place to put keywords on your resume so you can get past online job application systems.
5. Education #
Put the name of your school(s), your field of study, and graduation date – unless you feel your graduation date will leave you open to age discrimination on your resume. If you graduated decades ago, feel free to leave the dates off.
You can also put your GPA in this section. I’d only recommend doing that if it was above 3.0/4. Otherwise, leave it off.
You might be asked about your GPA in the first few years of your career, but you’re very unlikely to be asked about it again after that, so don’t worry if your GPA is below 3.0/4. Just exclude it from your resume.
6. Community Involvement (Optional) #
If you’ve done any volunteer work or helped in your community in other ways, this is where to put it.
You can list the location, dates, and your contribution/work.
If you haven’t done any volunteering or community-related work, don’t worry – just don’t put this section on your resume.
7. Awards/Achievements (Optional) #
Any time you’ve received awards or other recognition for your accomplishments, you should put it on your resume.
However, you don’t always need a separate section for it. That’s up to you…
If you got an academic award, you can list it under your education section (beneath your degree, GPA, etc.)
If you received an award or recognition for outstanding performance at a previous job, you can list it as a bullet point or a note underneath that specific job in your Employment History section.
So while awards and achievements are a great thing to include on any resume, they don’t always need their own dedicated section.
You should also mention awards and recognition you’ve received in your cover letter, especially if it was a work-related award (such as employee of the month, salesperson of the year, etc.)
What to Put on a Resume if You Have No Work Experience #
Now, if you just graduated and have absolutely no work experience, here’s what to include on your entry-level resume.
(Note that if you even have an internship or part-time job that you’ve worked while going to school, you should use the steps above! Any work experience at all is worth showing on your resume).
However, if you have absolutely no work experience, here’s what to put on your resume…
1. Name and Contact Information #
As mentioned earlier, you should put your full name and professional-looking email address.
Your street address and phone number are optional, but for most people, it makes sense to include those too.
The big exception: If you’re trying to get a job in another state. If so, consider leaving the address off.
2. Resume Summary Section #
Even if you have no work experience, you can write something like:
“Recent Finance graduate with training in ____ and ____ seeking an opportunity to do ____.”
Or, look at the job title on the job description and try to incorporate that phrase into your resume summary.
I discussed this strategy earlier, too, when showing the resume format and what to put for experienced candidates.
For more help, read our full article on resume summaries for students and fresh graduates.
3. Education #
If you have no work experience, then you need to put more information in your education section, to show employers you’re a fit for their job.
Were you involved in any clubs/activities at school?
What were some key projects you completed or coursework you did? (Specifically, key projects that are related to the jobs you’re applying for now).
Your resume should take up one full page, even if you have no work experience, and your education section is a place where you want to provide additional detail to fill out the page.
4. Skills #
You can list skills that you learned in your studies or skills you’ve developed on your own.
Only put skills you’re really comfortable talking about and using, because it’s very likely they’ll ask about this in an interview.
If done right, the skills section can be a powerful tool to help you get more interviews though, for two reasons:
First, it’s a great way to put a lot of relevant keywords onto your resume, so that you get past computerized job application systems.
Second, it’s an easy way to show employers what you know that’s going to help you succeed in their job. Always re-order and re-adjust your skills section to fit what you think this specific employer wants!
More info on how to do that is coming up, but let’s finish the list first…
5. Community Involvement (Optional) #
Any volunteer work or community service you’ve done. This shows employers that you’re enthusiastic and involved in the community, which can help set you apart (while also filling up your resume).
6. Awards/Achievements (Optional) #
If you have no work experience, these would likely be academic achievements. Go ahead and list them underneath your education section.
So don’t put this as a separate section, but do include awards, achievements, and any recognition you received when you write your education section in Step 3 above.
You now know what to include on a resume, even if you’ve never held a job! Keep reading though, because next – we’re going to look at mistakes to avoid.
Ideal Resume Format #
Whether you have work experience or not, you should use reverse chronological order resume format.