Resume Outline – The Secret to a Great Resume

Published on: 17 September 2020 Last updated: 17 September 2020

Creating a resume is like building Lego.

While playing around can end up being a pretty interesting creation, following the guide that comes with the box is what gets you the Millenium Falcon.

In other words, because of that outline on the box, you get to create something that you ordinarily wouldn’t.

It’s a bit like that with resumes too.

Creating and following a resume outline can help you build a CV that shows your strong sides and ultimately lands that dream job.

At Enhancv, we’re about one-upping the regular, run-of-the-mill resume that job recruiters have to look at for eight hours a day. We’re about creating the Millennium Falcon of resumes.

So, we’ll share with you our secret sauce to creating a punchy, clear, concise CV that packs the most amount of information on a single page.


It’s creating the right job resume outline!

In this article, you’ll learn:

  • How an outline can assist in the creation of your resume;
  • How to mix resume sections to reach the golden ratio;
  • And how to focus on relevant information.

So, if you haven’t managed to find the right resume outline for you just yet, we believe we have something for you. Just keep reading!

Enhancv Resume Outline – The Secret to a Great Resume

What is a resume outline?

Before we start going more in-depth on how you can use resume outlines, we should get the basics out of the way.

Mainly, what is a resume outline?

A resume outline is the wireframe of your resume.

It outlines all the information you’re going to include before you start creating your CV. And it’s powerful because you can mix, reorder and test where you’ll place things like experience, contact information, skills, qualifications, and everything else you plan to have on your CV.

Moreover, it makes the process of creating a resume easier, as you have a visual outline to follow.

But then begs the question…

How do you create a resume layout?

While it seems like a straightforward process, having resume templates to work with makes the whole process much easier.

The hard part of creating a resume layout is knowing what to feature in it.

And often, there isn’t the right outline for your needs. I mean, that’s why we’ve built a whole tool that helps you create exactly what you’re looking for in a resume. You can test it here.

For example, if you’ve just graduated from nursing school you should give more attention to your educational background and experience sections.

While, if you’re a freelance developer including a “Projects” section in your resume outline will be more relevant for recruiters than a “Hobby” section. Pre-made resume outlines rarely think of this.

To answer shortly on how you create a resume layout, you should focus on relevancy.

But this only gets you so far. Let’s go down the rabbit hole of creating the perfect CV outline.

Creating a resume outline. How, what & why?

Enhancv Resume Outline – The Secret to a Great Resume

Okay, now that you understand that a basic resume outline is a blueprint of what is your future CV, let’s focus on what makes a great resume, what to feature and why you should feature it.

We’re going to clear up some misunderstandings other articles talk about which are plain confusing.

What’s the difference between resume sections and a resume outline?

Almost all articles on the topic get the part of a resume outline and resume sections wrong.

Likewise, you, the reader, get confused.

The difference between resume sections and an outline is that you use, reorder, and match different sections to create a resume outline. We’ve made an extensive guide on resume sections where you can truly grasp the idea of sections and how to use each one.

How to choose the right resume format?

Usually, resumes are structured by following one of three formats.

  1. Reverse Chronological Order Format;
  2. Functional Format;
  3. Hybrid Format.

All three have their purpose when it comes to building a resume that stands out, and you should choose the format based on your background, experience, and objective. So, let’s go a bit more granular.

Reverse Chronological Order Format

By far the most popular resume format out there. One of the biggest advantages of the reverse chronological order format is that it allows you to spotlight key achievements on a single page.

It also provides a clear narrative for your work experience.

It’s the perfect resume if you’re fresh out of school and you’re applying for your first job. We’ve made an in-depth guide on the reverse chronological order format right here.

One major drawback, however, is the fact that big gaps in your career are more noticeable.

Functional Format

The functional resume format is the one that puts your most important skills forward. You should still list any professional experience but the format itself focuses on what you’re good at.

This type of resume format is best for people who’re looking to change careers. Focusing on your skills is specifically valuable for the new position you’re applying to.

Hybrid Format

A hybrid resume format is exactly what it sounds like. A combination of both a functional and chronological resume.

It highlights both your skills and your most recent work experience. And when it comes to creating one from scratch, it’s pretty hard. But it’s also the type of resume that got EnhanCV clients hired at Microsoft and Spotify.

Almost all our resumes follow a hybrid format, and we’ve made a guide where you can read more about it before you start building yours with our Resume Builder. Or, if you’re looking for a bit of inspiration, we’ve got a huge list of resume examples you can draw inspiration from and even use.

Resume sections to mix & match until you create a professional resume outline.

Now that you understand what resume sections are and the basic CV formats, it’s time to meticulously explore the different parts that make up a resume layout.

If you want to go in-depth on the topic, we’ve made a 4,000+ word resume sections guide. It’s long, but it’s oh-so-worth-it. This will be the shorter version of it.

Resume Header

Enhancv Resume Outline – The Secret to a Great Resume

This is the first thing a recruiter sees. It’s where you put your name and contact information and it should be present in every resume outline.

The most important thing in a header is having a clear photo (check requirements in your country/company of choice before adding one though) and a short, punchy sentence to grab the attention of the job recruiter.

We’ve made a full resume header guide right here and it’s definitely worth the read. We go over how you should write your header, what to include, and what to skip in order to make sure a recruiter will remember your application.

Resume Summary

Enhancv Resume Outline – The Secret to a Great Resume

A resume summary is where you show why you’ll be a valuable asset to the company you’re applying for.

Include it in your outline to show what’s to come in your resume. The recruiter can see at a glance what you’ve done, how you can be helpful to their organization, and your goals before reading about your experience.

The perfect length for a resume summary is around five sentences. For a more detailed understanding of how you can write the perfect summary, go check our how-to guide on the topic.

Language Section

Recruiters care a whole lot if you’re multilingual or not.

As the markets become more intertwined and geography is no longer that relevant, showing that you can speak multiple languages is a valuable asset.

But make sure you stay relevant to the position you’re applying for. While languages can be valuable, sometimes a language section is simply redundant.

One would be relevant if you’re applying for a job in a different country, or if the job description specifically states that you need to speak a certain language.

This section on your resume is a tricky one to figure out, that’s why it’s best to go and check our guide on the topic.

Experience Section

Enhancv Resume Outline – The Secret to a Great Resume

One of the biggest mistakes people make when writing about their experience is they talk about their day-to-day.

In order to make your application stand out in the sea of applicants, you have to switch that up a bit.

Focus on your achievements instead. For example:

WRONG: “I was responsible for selling an online membership to leads.”

RIGHT: “Increased online membership sales by 40% by creating and implementing a sales framework which was adopted by the whole sales department.”

In other words, focus on showcasing the positive impact you’ve done in previous organizations rather than listing what was on your job description.

While there is nothing inherently wrong in just listing the duties from your previous jobs, the problem is you won’t stand out and there’s a bigger chance you’ll end in the pile of unfinished resumes that are already sitting on every recruiters’ desk.

The “Experience” section should be the most prominent one in your resume. If you do it right, it will be the one that beats luck.

Training, courses, and certifications

Depending on the job you’re applying for and the industry you’re looking forward to building a career at, featuring any training, courses, or certificates you may have can be either relevant or redundant.

Add this section to your outline when applying for a position in an industry where education is a must (like legal or health).

But make sure it’s relevant. If you’ve graduated from art school, and you’re applying for a sales job, then you can skip your formal education, and instead focus on sales courses and successes.

Depending on what you’re looking to feature on your resume, this section can be tricky to get right, so we wrote an in-depth guide on perfecting the “Education” section on your resume.

Volunteering section

Adding volunteering work to your resume outline is your secret weapon. And that’s not just our opinion. At Enhancv we like to back up everything with data.

A Deloitte study found out that 82% of job recruiters prefer candidates who have a volunteering experience behind their back.

The reason is simple — those candidates tend to be better leaders. Include this section in your layout to show you’re driven by more than just getting paid.

You can see why doing unpaid work matters and more detailed analysis in our guide right here.

Projects section

Add a projects section to showcase successful side-work activities.

Many people in the marketing industry tend to freelance and have successful side-businesses going on, on top of their full-time work. And that will pique the interest of any job recruiter.

Just like the experience part of your resume, adding a projects section to the outline will only cement your know-how and how you can help the business you’re applying for.

My Time section

The perfect place to show recruiters where you invest your time throughout the day.

Visually communicating that you like to learn new things or accept new challenges can help you be their candidate of choice, even if there’s someone with more experience, but doesn’t show they’re eager to continue learning and growing.

Social Media section

If you’re applying for a position where social media can be a powerful way to communicate with customers, then featuring any well-developed social media accounts can be a strength.

Just make sure you’re putting out information relevant to the needs of the business you’re applying to

References section

References are powerful.

Add this to your resume outline to add social proof. Having professionals who’re ready to vouch for your skill because they’ve worked with you, is an undeniable asset.

Choosing the right resume outline for your first job application

Getting a job fresh out of school can be a bit tough.

Companies are looking for skilled professionals with experience, even for junior openings.

A first job resume outline should include:

  • Your name;
  • Contact information;
  • Personal summary – Explaining a bit more on who you are and why you believe you’ll be a great fit for the organization you’re applying to;
  • Skills- While you may not have any professional experience, it doesn’t mean you aren’t skilled in the job. Make sure you list any relevant skills.
  • Volunteer work – It will show recruiters that you’re self-motivated and you’re ready to do the work.

And you can go in even more detail, any projects you’re proud of, as well as certificates you have. We’re going pretty in-depth on how you can write your first professional job resume right here.

A nursing resume outline would go something like…

While a first-job resume should focus on soft skills, doctors, nurses and health practitioners should give just as much attention to the hard skills.

So a nursing resume outline will feature:

  • Your name;
  • Contact information;
  • A personal, but professional introduction;
  • Education – It should be in the spotlight;
  • Experience – Just as important as your education;
  • Languages – Especially if you work in a bi-lingual country;

There are also a few other things you can include in your outline. You can also edit our pre-made nurse layout and download it right here.

Resume outline examples you can use right now

Whether you’re building your very own resume outline in Microsoft Word, or you’re using the Enhancv tool (which you should, c’mon, it’s the best one out there according to Mark Cuban) having an outline example to follow makes things a million times simpler.

And we’ve made things easy for you. You can browse, inspire, and even edit more than 530 resumes created with the help of top recruiters in 25 industries.

Browse Resume Outline Examples

Key Takeaways

Creating a resume is hard. First, you face the challenge of putting the most amount of information about yourself and your skills in a single page. Then, you have to make sure your resume beats luck.

Building a resume outline is the first step of many to follow on your path to scoring the job of your dreams.

Focus on putting relevant information that helps recruiters decide whether or not you’re the right person for the job.

Kal Dimitrov

Kal has 10 years of experience as a marketer and lecturer in youth leader organisations, with a focus on career and job skills enhancement. He has written and edited over 100 resume creation guides for different jobs. Kal is also a co-founder of a career accelerator hub that helps students and recent graduates excel at job interviews and get the job of their dreams.

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