Resume summary? Education? Skills? Oh my! Between figuring out which resume sections you need to include, to understanding which format works best, resume writing can be overwhelming.
But, don’t you worry about a thing! As a career coach, I work with clients all the time to take their resumes from “meh” to “we need to meet her!” If your resume needs a big update, like a Chip and Joanna update, follow along!
Let’s do this!
RESUME FORMAT: GIVE IT A FRESH COAT OF PAINT
Start with your format. The base of a winning resume is going to be readability. You can tidy up your current resume formatting by allowing for more white space and adding some simple design elements (font size, bold, capital letters). It’s amazing what these little changes can do to make your resume easier to read.
Tip: Keep your font size at 11 or 12. 10 starts getting squinty!
Or you can start from scratch with a new resume template.
You can purchase one of my favorite templates that you can easily edit in Word. It also comes with a cover letter template, and an interview thank you note template. Plus a discount on professional editing!
For Application Tracking Systems, keep it simple and clean. But also keep in mind that if you’re in a creative industry and you’ll be emailing a person your resume directly, feel free to add color and some flair. Either way, make sure you don’t overcrowd your resume, and that your content is on point. We’ll get to that next.
CONTACT INFO: WHO ARE YOU?
A winning resume will prompt an employer to pick up the phone to call you. So make sure they know who you are!
Where’s your name on your resume? At the top? Cool. But make sure your design highlights your name and contact details enough. Bold text, capitals – find what looks right to you, but make sure you don’t fade into the background.
Include your name, phone number, and email at a minimum. Physical mailing address isn’t required – some people will choose only to use city and state or leave it off all together.
Consider adding in your LinkedIn profile URL too. It’s nice to put a face to a name, and can help highlight more of your work if you post articles or have a portfolio available on the platform. This can be particularly useful for someone re-entering the workforce or changing industries. Show that you’re up to date with industry trends by posting relevant articles and engage with other professionals in your target industry/company.
RESUME SECTIONS TO INCLUDE
Now that you have the basic resume sections, let’s move onto the other important resume sections and what to include in each.
RESUME SECTION 1: PROFESSIONAL PROFILE
Often applicants will dive straight into their Education or Experience sections next. Totally fine if you want to do that. But have you thought about adding in a Resume Summary or Professional Profile on your resume? Objectives are a bit outdated, but a profile statement about what you bring to the table as an employee can be an effective intro and set you apart.
Keep your profile brief. Think of it as a ten-second elevator pitch. You’re in the elevator with your prospective employer and you have one floor before they are getting off. What do you say that makes them want to take your resume back with them to their desk?
RESUME SECTION 2: EXPERIENCE
Remember when we talked about cover letters? My story about my 3-year-old applying to push the cart at the grocery store was certainly tongue in cheek, but also completely accurate. Sure it’s nice that he was excited to push the cart, but what was he going to do for ME as the CEO of getting through this grocery shopping trip?
The same philosophy applies to writing a winning resume. Your resume should highlight how you add value and what you will bring to the job. That’s the meat in the Experience section. It shouldn’t be a list of your responsibilities; instead your resume should showcase your key accomplishments and skills.
Focus on the last 15 years of experience and keep it to 3 to 5 bullet points per role. Bullet points can be longer than one line, and often will, but don’t turn your resume into a novel. Get to the good stuff right away, use strong action verbs, and then talk about your experience in more detail at the interview.
RESUME SECTION 3: EDUCATION
I generally recommend moving your Education section to below your Experience section if you’ve been in the workforce for more than a few years. Your education is important, but as a hiring manager, I’m going to skip right down to what you’ve been working on lately to get a better understanding of your professional expertise.
For your Education section make sure to include your schools, degrees earned, and years of attendance. That’s a given. But don’t forget to add in club leadership roles or honors as appropriate.
RESUME SECTION 4: PERSONAL OR SKILLS
A winning resume is all about business right? Buttoned up, all professional, straight-laced.
But… maybe not.
You aren’t a one-dimensional person; you have interests and passions outside of the office and while maybe that stuff doesn’t line up with a job requirement, it makes you who you are. That’s where a Personal section comes in.
Be the candidate with great skills who also is interested in photography, learning foreign languages, historical fiction, or soccer – this makes you could stand out a bit more. The interviewer on the other side of your resume isn’t one dimensional either and you could have something in common. Or your creative streak, travel experience, or sense of humor could make you an even better candidate for the job!
If you’re hesitant to add in a personal section on your resume, think about adding in a section on Skills instead. Does the job you’re applying to require specific skills (technical skills, communication skills, nunchuck skills)? Make sure it’s super clear you have exactly what the employer is looking for. This can be included near the top with your Professional Profile or Summary or below Education.
HELP ME HELP YOU WRITE A WINNING RESUME
Want some more help writing a winning resume? I’ve got you!
Head straight for the templates if you’re ready to roll!
Or grab your free resume checklist to walk you through the steps to take your resume from “meh” to “let’s bring her in!”
Looking for some 1:1 coaching and edits on your resume, let’s talk!
Now that you know what resume sections you need and your resume is looking FANTASTIC, time to start getting it out there. But only to jobs you really want. Remember that part!