How well can you sell and market yourself?
If you’re not that confident because you don’t know much about sales or marketing, understand that this is what your resume needs to do.
Was that a surprise?
Throughout your resume, you need to be answering the question on the recruiter’s mind – “why should we hire you?”
So, it’s important that what you put on a resume is relevant to what recruiters need.
But then the next question arises, “what do I need to include on my resume?”
In terms of your resume sections, you’ll need the following:
- Resume header
- Career summary or objective
- Work experience
In this ultimate guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about what to put on your resume. After reading this, you’ll get a good grasp of what to write without staring off into thin air thinking about where you should start.
Just before we get into it, it’s useful to know the purpose of a resume so you know what to be working towards.
Was that bit too much? No worries, you can skip ahead with Enhancv’s resume builder! We have a content analyzer so you can get personal suggestions from what your resume is missing and what needs to be included!
What's the point of using resumes?
There are 3 main purposes of your resume:
- To show you’re a qualified candidate with the professional skills and experience
- To show you’re an ideal worker that fits the company values
- To show you can take on the responsibilities of the job
Try to think of your resume as a portfolio of your career.
The reason why we use resumes is to sell ourselves in the marketplace. It helps us advertise our value which companies can benefit from. As you refine your knowledge and expertise, your resume should also be growing with you at a steady pace.
What resume format is best to use?
Depending on which resume format you use determines how you can put things on your resume.
There are four main formats:
Each is different, but the best resume format depends on where you’re at with your career.
If you’re not sure what resume format you’re going to use, it’s a good idea to know which one you should use so you can maximize the potential of your resume.
You can see the full resume format guide by clicking here.
The main sections to put on a resume
All resumes are made up of different resume sections.
As a reminder, the main resume sections every resume needs to include are:
- Resume header
- Career summary or objectives
- Work experience / History
- Skills / Expertise
Additional resume sections include:
- Volunteering Experiences
- Awards and certifications
- Hobbies and interests
- Client testimonials
- Professional Associations
- Resume references
Each of these has their own purpose, but they help employers to identify your background and professional expertise.
The resume header is where it all starts.
When the recruiter picks up your resume, this should be the first thing they see at the very top.
In this section, your resume needs to include your contact details.
This means your first and last name, phone number, email address, LinkedIn profile, and a professional profile picture.
You can even add more to it and add a personal slogan that summarizes what you do. It also works if you use colours and minimal resume designs or icons to highlight key facts or figures.
For example, take a look at Louis’ marketing consultant resume header:
Apart from the candidate’s name being very clear, he uses a slogan for himself to summarise his profession. He also uses minimal icons to indicate the following details which every resume header needs to include: contact number, email, website and location.
Career Summary or Objectives
For your career summary or objectives, you sum up your entire professional background or goals in no more than 3-5 sentences.
List out your most relevant experiences, the significant results you were responsible for, and how you can help the company reach its goals. In this resume section, employers want to see how capable you are.
It’s where you can immediately make a good first impression if it’s done right.
After making your statement about what you’re looking to achieve or what success you’ve helped to deliver, follow up briefly with information that goes into the specifics.
How exactly did you help to achieve that?
When going into more detail, avoid using vague language – use numbers instead.
This puts you in the position of being an expert who knows what they’re doing since it looks credible. The goal of this is to show what you’re capable of and to convey what it’s like to work with you.
Try this perspective – you’re emphasizing your career highlights or goals to show you’ve got what it takes.
On Casey’s HR Manager resume, she made a short summary section to outline her strengths and experience.
Casey summed up her background in two sentences, that’s all she needed.
Don’t go overboard and try to stuff everything in.
When it comes to putting your work experience on your resume, there are two approaches for formats that you can use to list them:
- Chronological resume format (lists work experience from oldest to latest)
- Reverse chronological resume format (lists work experience from latest to oldest)
Generally, the chronological format is outdated. Unless you have over 5 years of experience, we recommend you to use the reverse chronological resume format. The chronological resume format order works more effectively when you have lots of work experience to show for.
On the other hand, the reverse-chronological format is versatile.
Compared to the chronological format, it’s more modern and easy for employers to see how recently you’ve been in the workforce.
The 5 things this section needs to include are:
- Job titles
- Dates of employment
- Company name
Without these, it leaves gaps behind your statements which recruiters may question.
Let’s see how Isabelle created her work experience section on her product marketing manager resume:
Because she has over 5 years of experience, she took the chronological approach.
When Isabelle describes her responsibilities, notice how she uses numbers and data to support her statements. Like Isabelle, always use numbers to act as a form of proof to make your points look credible.
What did you study, where did you study, and how long did it last?
The answer to these questions is what you need to put on this part of your resume. Your education section is almost essential for every resume out there since it lets employers recognize if you have any academic qualification.
Once you’ve listed that out, you can follow up with a very brief description of what you achieved.
For example, this is how it worked on a certified nursing assistant resume:
Skills and expertise
There are two approaches you can take for creating your resume skills section.
First, if your resume is already compiled with lots of information and you want to keep it a one-page well-put-together resume, you can just list the key skills. But, these need to be things you’re confident in and relevant to the job opening description.
Second, you can list out the skills and follow up with a short sentence to go into specifics for what you’ve listed.
(Side note: More importantly, you need to include some of the 200+ skills that are in demand to easily catch the recruiter’s attention!)
If you take the second approach and want to follow up with a short description, consider changing the resume section heading to “strengths” or “industry expertise”.
While it’s still a skills section, you’re framing it slightly differently. This works especially well if you’re using the functional skills-based resume format to conceal any gaps you might have in your career.
From the examples above, the key takeaway is this: don’t restrict yourself for how you should put things on your resume.
There are different ways you can list things down.
The first example doesn’t specifically say skills but we can still see the candidate’s strengths and the areas he’s most skilled in.
Whereas, in the second example, the candidate has labelled what he’s skilled in through keywords.
Either way, they both work.
No matter how many times you might have heard it, volunteering is NOT useless.
Behind your volunteering experiences, they’re related to your job position one way or another. And, it’s those work experiences that prepare you for the workforce you want to go in.
Treat this section as if it was your work experience section.
In this perspective, you describe what you did similarly to how you described your professional experience in your work experience resume section.
Awards and certifications
When it comes to your awards, list out the title of the award you accomplished. If you want to, you can also follow up with a brief description.
Check out the example below:
It’s pretty straightforward. The candidate here listed out they’re biggest achievements and used colour, icons and font size to make it readable. For readers, it’s difficult to skip past this section because of how clear the applicant has highlighted it.
Hobbies and interests
The key here is creativity.
For your resume hobbies and interests section, ensure it’s relevant to your industry. It also needs to be something that demonstrates useful skills or value that links to the job vacancy.
What unique value can employers make from your hobbies or interests? How does it add to show you’re a perfect candidate?
If you’re heading into the role of writing where literature is useful, you could even list out your favourite books!
Focus on the innovative and creative side of things.
When recruiters are looking at this section, they’re most likely looking to see if you’re a good cultural fit and if you can bring something new to the table.
You can keep it really simple like our examples here:
Have you been published from anywhere recognizable?
This is similar to how you list out your awards or certifications you’ve managed to achieve. But this time, it’s a list of publications.
Here’s what you would need to include:
- Publication name
- Title of what’s been published
- Name of publishers
- Date of publishing
- Relevant links
Including this section makes you more of an authority. You’ll be perceived as a pro because your work has been recognized by real publishers.
Like how you would list out your awards and certificates or work experience, do the same for your publications resume section. If need be, you can add a sentence or two to go into specifics briefly like the examples above.
Are you a freelancer looking for job opportunities online?
If so, you’ll have noticed that some companies will ask for a resume. As a freelancer, you can include a client testimonial section on your resume to show past successful case studies/reports you’ve been responsible for.
It’s one easy way to indicate proof of how you can help – your skills aren’t just for display.
By professional associations, this means if you’ve been involved in any significant groups or communities that’s helped you get to where you are today.
Hiring managers can get an idea of what you’re like by seeing how you prime your environment and who you surround yourself with. If you’re associated with a community of coaches for example, the recruiter would get the idea that you push for self-growth and improvement.
Are you bilingual? Are you fluent in more than one language?
Speaking in different tongues is a valuable language skill.
When your work environment is diverse and people have a common cultural background, knowing how to speak that same language gives you an advantage. Recruiters take bilinguals into extra consideration because you’re more likely to fit in with the cultural environment.
Language fluency is certainly impressive. Now, the only question is how to present it on your resume.
One way you can present it is by using resume icons with headers, or graphs. Like on our example below:
We can see the applicant has native proficiency in Bahasa Indonesia and has professional proficiency in Sundanese. Rather than writing this out as paragraphs, the candidate saves space and uses a chart to portray this.
You’re probably familiar with this section since it always goes last on the standard resume format. With your resume references section, recruiters for your new company can reach out to them to hear first hand a review of what it’s like to work with you.
On here, you include a list of previous colleagues or employers that you’ve worked with in the past.
The essential things you need to put down is their name, email and phone number.
Here’s a template you can follow:
- Reference name
- Professional job title
- Company name
- Street address
- City, state, zip code
- Phone number
- Email address
You can also use colours to highlight your references and make it readable. Doing it like this will help you stand out since most applicants are still sticking to the same old-fashioned way of listing it out.
But, keep in mind that if you do use colours, don’t just use it for this one section. It needs to be coherent and symmetrical throughout your resume.
What else should your resume include?
Everything we’ve discussed so far are the fundamentals of what your resume needs to include.
However, you might recall that I’ve advised you to use colours, resume icons and minimal resume formats. Sure, what you put on your resume matters – but another important factor to consider is the way you present it.
A majority of candidates aren’t optimizing their resume templates and designs. It’s mainly because it takes too much time and requires extra effort for those technical details.
To separate yourself from the rest of the other applicants, you can take advantage of that opening.
Let’s take a look at what some of these things are and how you can put it on a resume.
One area of Enhancv’s speciality is making the resume-building process easy. In fact, it’s not difficult to put professional visual elements on your resume to stand out!
Visual representations and images
As I’ve been mentioning, putting visual representations on your resume will help you stand out.
Not only will it look appealing to the eye, but it improves the user experience. It’s one strategy you can use to craft a compelling resume that leaves an impact on the hiring managers of your new company.
Visual representations are one thing. When you add different elements to your resume others aren’t using, it says a lot about you.
In general, when you go the extra mile it shows that you care.
Recruiters will notice that by seeing how you’ve taken the time to build a resume that isn’t just black, white and grey.
Here are a few things you can consider:
- Resume icons
- Data, charts, graphs
- Profile pictures
Candidates who’ve used Enhancv’s templates (which took these factors into consideration), managed to get hired at top companies such as Spotify, Tesla and Amazon.
Website or portfolio links
Do you have a business or freelance website, or a portfolio for where recruiters can see examples of your work?
The hiring managers will appreciate it when you include those links on your resume since they can immediately see samples of your work. It’s worth noting that you should have a link to your LinkedIn account too.
When you put these links on your resume, be sure they’re either placed on your resume header or there’s a section for it. Or in some cases like Olivia’s, you can do both.
Avoid the ‘Times New Roman’ font – and Serif font in general.
The main reason being that they’re simply outdated. With its sharp edges and the way they’re designed, it won’t be compatible when you’re using a modern resume template that’s optimized for today’s workforce.
If you haven’t already, you can see our full resume font guide by clicking here.
Keywords and buzzwords
Have you taken the time to research and understand the company you’re applying for?
In order to position yourself as the perfect candidate, you need to know exactly what the company needs. To properly communicate that you can do what they need you to do, you need to match the job description.
And to match the job description, you need to include the right keywords.
- What skills are they looking for?
- What responsibilities do they need you to take?
- How do they want you to fit in with their working culture?
Answering those questions using the same words from their job description shows two things. One, you understand what you need to do. Two, you understand how you do it within the company’s preferences.
However, don’t just blatantly copy full phrases and plagiarise the entire job posting (you’ll quickly get rejected if you do that).
To take it a step further and really dive into why you’re the ideal person to hire, use buzzwords. These work especially well when you’re talking about specific results, metrics and data which leads nicely to the next point…
Metrics and data
When we’re talking about something you’ve managed to achieve, you want to put metrics and data to support your statements.
See, recruiters are used to seeing many bold statements on a resume.
And that’s where it can become a classic resume mistake.
Without bringing up any numbers, it’s difficult to conclude the results you bring up are real. If the outcome you managed to achieve was positive, how can we tell it’s true?
Let’s compare these two examples:
- “In my previous company, I helped to increase the conversion rates of our website”
- “In my previous company, I helped to increase the conversion rates of our website by 35%.”
The second statement looks more credible. Simply because it sounds like you know exactly what happened and what you were responsible for.
It’s more powerful to show something compared to just telling it.
(Side note: if you don’t have any numbers, don’t try to force one in if it’s not accurate. Above all, don’t lie on your resume otherwise it’ll lead to a disaster. You can always ask your previous employers or clients for the results you’ve managed to help them achieve.)
Use bullet points
Almost all of Enhancv’s resume templates incorporate bullet points.
There’s a reason for this.
It’s a visual element that enhances the readability level of your resume. Moreover, it goes straight to the point and helps you explain the details without going off-topic.
Unlike a large boulder of text, It’s easier for readers to identify key parts of your resume without having to look too closely. As this format makes your resume concise, it enables your application to flow nicely when it’s being skimmed.
5 resume examples from Enhancv
So far, we’ve helped 1 million people update their resumes with a sleek and modern look.
Despite not being a luxury designer brand like Gucci, we still give our users a unique, fresh resume template that prevents your application from being basic. It’s simply difficult to make your resume boring if you’re using one of Enhancv’s resume formats because they’re made to stand out.
We’ll see 5 proven resume formats from Enhancv and we’ll analyze why it works.
In John’s accounting resume template from Enhancv, you can notice that he’s listed out the priority resume sections first from top to bottom. Like we’ve mentioned, he makes use of resume icons to highlight his industry expertise, strengths and achievements.
Information Technology Resume
Similarly, Nancy uses a similar format to our accounting resume example. The only slight difference is how she presented herself. Though they’re both in reverse chronological order, she uses a professional picture and colours to highlight headers as well as subheaders.
Also, notice how simple she summarised her work experience in the first sentence.
Remember, it doesn’t need to be overwhelming – keeping it straightforward and easy to understand is just as effective. If not, then better.
It’s true that the education resume section is important. But, look how Isabelle made her way around that gap on her management resume above.
Although she doesn’t have formal education, she does have a certification to show she’s qualified in the role of management. More importantly, she makes up for this gap employers may notice by putting the focus on her experience and what she’s managed to achieve.
After all, recruiters care about how you can make a difference in their company and if you can add value.
And with the way Isabelle portrays herself, who wouldn’t want to work with such an enthusiastic and experienced worker?
Didn’t find a resume example for your exact job title? Don’t worry, you can find it on our megalist of 530+ resume examples by clicking here!
What you should not put on your resume
You’ve almost mastered your resume knowledge. By now, you should have a couple of ideas for what to put on a resume.
We’re almost there – but there’s one more thing to cover…
We’ve talked about everything your resume should include. So, now it’s time to look at the opposite direction: what you should NOT put on a resume.
It’s time to make sure you don’t go down the dark side by including these five things on your resume.
Personal and controversial beliefs
There are just some things you shouldn’t put on a resume that hurts your chances of getting a job.
One thing you don’t want to bring up is personal details or controversial beliefs. This includes things like:
- Religious beliefs
If the company wants to know what religion you are or whether you have a disability or not, they’ll usually ask you on a separate questionnaire.
In the professional world, there’s a difference between being friends and colleagues.
Some things are kept to yourself and those close to you for a reason.
In under no circumstances, should you hand out confidential information on your resume such as:
- Bank details
A classic resume mistake applicants still make to this day.
Don’t wipe any dishonest elements into your resume because once you’re getting pressed in that interview, it’ll be a matter of seconds before they find out.
The last thing employers want to know is that they wasted their time for an unqualified candidate who buttered up their resumes.
It’s a common resume mistake – it won’t help you get to where you want to be.
Recruiters are going to appreciate it more if you were honest.
What you should do instead is show your commitment and determination to overcome your shortcomings. If you do this, your chances of securing the job will be higher than if you were to lie.
Typos & Grammar Errors
Your resume is 99% perfect. It has all the things recruiters find ideal, and you’ve clearly portrayed yourself as the best candidate for the role.
But that one minor mistake cost you that job opportunity.
A single spelling or grammar error is enough to cut you off making it to the interview So, it’s always worth going back to review, proofread and edit your resume.
Like the Enhancv resume examples earlier, a common theme between all of them is that they’re simple.
Nothing is overly complex or compiled with details or Shakespeare language.
If you’re trying to be extravagant, depending on the way you approach it, chances are, it’s going to backfire.
While the word extravagant isn’t the first thought that comes in mind with the Enhancv resume examples, they’re still extraordinary through its clarity and simplicity. That’s what makes it better than the oversaturated, common resume builders out there used by everybody else.
Start now by building your resume with Enhancv! We handle all the small technical details for you so you can focus purely on creating an outstanding resume. Our content analyzer makes it easier too by giving you custom recommendations so you know what to include!
Give yourself a pat on the back if you’ve made it this far.
It just shows how serious you are about creating a game-winning resume that will get you the dream career you want.
In a nutshell, these are things you should put on a resume:
- Resume Header
- Work experience
- Visual elements
- Numbers and data
Do you have any questions or is there anything else you want to add? Let me know in the comments below!
Make one that's truly you.