The Five Essential Resume Parts
The five most important parts of a resume are your contact information, resume introduction, experience, skills, and education. This standard outline is appropriate for nearly any job seeker.
Here, we break down each of the components of a resume, and what you should include in each section.
1. Contact Information
Your contact information belongs at the top of your resume in your resume header, and should help hiring managers quickly understand who you are and how to reach you.
Your contact information includes your:
- First and last name
- Phone number
- Mailing address (optional)
- LinkedIn (optional)
Additionally, if you’re a graphic designer, writer, or other professional creative, consider including a link to your portfolio or personal website in this part of your resume if it’s relevant to the position.
2. Resume Introduction
Your resume introduction is your elevator pitch. This resume component is a short section at the top of your resume that summarizes your key qualifications and tells the hiring manager how your goals align with theirs.
There are four types of resume introductions:
- resume summary
- resume objective
- resume profile
- summary of qualifications
A resume summary is a solid introduction for all job seekers, particularly those with some previous work experience. It serves as a highlight reel of your career by showcasing your notable accomplishments.
A resume objective works best for entry-level candidates and those targeting a specific position. It shows how you would use your skills, experience, and training to help the company achieve its goals.
A resume profile provides a general overview of your career, and is a good choice for job-seekers who are not focused on a particular position. It highlights skills that are valuable in your industry and your biggest wins at work so far.
Finally, a qualifications summary is used by experienced professionals, and features a 4-6 bullet point list of your crowning achievements and skills. It places your best achievements front and center, and helps make your resume ATS friendly.
The sample resume objective below shows how you can use this important part of a resume to your advantage:
Administrative Assistant with 4+ years of telephone and in-person customer service, schedule maintaining, and office coordination. Looking to use my interpersonal and administrative skills to successfully fill the office manager role at your company. Possess a BA in English.
Work experience is one of the most essential parts of a resume, and typically makes up the bulk of its content.
Your experience section should include the following information for each entry:
- Employer or company name
- Location (city and state)
- Dates employed
- 3-5 bullet points describing your responsibilities and accomplishments
Make sure each bullet point in your experience section begins with an action verb, and put as many numbers and statistics in this part of your resume as you can. This helps give employers a real-life reference of your professional accomplishments and what you can achieve for their company.
If you’re writing a chronological resume, make sure each entry is in reverse-chronological order. Here’s an example of how each entry should look:
Paul’s Pub – Los Angeles, CA
Head Server, November 2015 – June 2019
- Trained new hires in Paul’s Pub culture and menu offerings.
- Memorized complete ingredient lists for all items on the menu.
- Sold 5+ Beer Club memberships leading to an additional $1,000+ in sales every month.
- Communicated with guests and the kitchen to ensure orders were prepared quickly and correctly.
The skills section of your resume is an important part of your application, regardless of how much experience you have. To write a strong skills section, list your most marketable abilities and include a mix of both hard skills and soft skills to show employers that you’re a dynamic candidate.
Additionally, make sure you tailor this part of your resume to the position you want to fill by including skills listed in the job posting. This is a great way to catch the hiring manager’s attention and increase your chances of getting an interview.
The level of detail added to your resume education section can vary based on how much work experience you have and your level of education.
Ultimately, any strong education section includes your:
- School name
- School location
- Graduation year
You can also include your GPA on your resume if it’s over 3.5 to help demonstrate that you’re diligent and responsible. And if you have limited work experience, you can consider adding relevant coursework or extracurricular activities as components on your resume.
A properly formatted, basic education section looks like:
B.S. Electrical Engineering (3.7 GPA)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Additional Parts of a Resume
There are a few other resume elements that can be helpful to add. While none of them are necessary, they help paint a fuller picture of who you are and what you can do, especially when you don’t have a lot of work experience. These include:
- Training, certifications, and licenses
- Volunteer work
- Awards and honors
- Extracurricular activities
- Hobbies and interests
- Relevant coursework
- Fraternities or sororities
Many of these things can also be folded into other resume sections if you’d like to mention the facts without taking up too much resume real estate.
One resume component that is not on that list is references. Regardless of what some suggest, only include references on your resume if the employer specifically asks for them there. In all other cases where references are required, submit them on a dedicated references page.
Now you know what the parts of a resume are, so you can gather the information and build a standout one for yourself. No matter where you are in your career, you never have to worry about filling up a resume again.