If you’re applying for a job or to college, you’ll most likely need to provide your resume. Creating a successful resume is a key step in your application process, so it’s important you understand what you’ll want to include and how you should format it.
What is a resume?
A resume is a document you create that provides an employer or a college with an overview of your educational background and work experiences as well as any other relevant skills and awards, such as foreign languages, volunteer activities, and honor societies. Resumes tell the story of your work life, your skills, and your interests, and they are formatted in a way that allows a reader to easily see if you’re qualified for the job.
Even though you can’t change your past job experiences, you can choose to highlight different aspects of them, depending on the job you are applying for or the college you are applying to. So, while you may create one general resume, expect to tweak it with every new job or school to which you apply.
Tip: To make resume building easier, be sure to compile your experiences and skills relevant to the job on a document that you can easily access.
What’s included in a resume?
As mentioned, resumes may look different and emphasize different information depending on the situation. However, your resume should contain these main components:
“Key skills” or “qualifications summary” section
In this section, you should use four bullet points or fewer to feature your key skills and why you are qualified. Include a mix of “hard” skills (for example, specific software knowledge) and interpersonal skills (for example, team player). These bullet points should summarize you as an applicant, so only include the most relevant and important information!
Relevant past employment and internship experiences (paid and unpaid)
Here, you will list the jobs and internships you’ve held. Make this part easy to skim by using bullet points to list the tasks you performed and to highlight the specific results you achieved. For example, by answering phone calls, you assisted the company in providing exemplary customer service to clients. Tip: Use active verbs and parallel structure when listing bullet points so you “tell a story” in describing the specific work you did.
Relevant awards, positive feedback, and community service
You will also want to use bullet points to describe awards you won at school (for example, honor roll and scholarships) and positive feedback you received at work (for example, employee of the month). To round yourself out as an individual, you may choose to include volunteer and community work—just make sure to include why it is relevant to the job you are applying to.
Neat and easy-to-read subsections
Keep your resume reader-friendly by dividing it into digestible subsections and chunks. Subsections may include the following: key skills, education, experience, involvement, and awards. Remember: You can add as many subsections as you like, but make sure everything you include is relevant to the job. Organize your subsections by order of importance. The more important or relevant a section, the higher up on the page it should be. Ideally, your resume should not exceed one page in length.
How is a resume formatted?
There are many different formats for resumes based on the type of resume you’re creating and the experiences you want to highlight. Explore these resources to find the right format for you.