What Is a Resume?
A resume is a formal document that provides an overview of your professional qualifications, including your relevant work experience, skills, education, and notable accomplishments. Usually paired with a cover letter, a resume helps you demonstrate your abilities and convince employers you’re qualified and hireable.
The spelling of “résumé” actually originates from French, and means “summary.” To this day, the purpose of a resume is still to provide employers with a summary of your relevant qualifications.
If you’re applying for a job, you need at least a resume to be considered for the position.
On a base level, a resume is made up of the following five parts:
- Contact details
- Educational background
- Work history
- Relevant skills
The Purpose of a Resume
Many job seekers assume that the purpose of a resume is to provide a full overview of their professional history.
Instead, the goal of your resume is to convince employers you’re worth interviewing. To that end, your resume is a valuable tool you can use to highlight your experience to prospective employers.
If your resume provides a concise summary of your relevant qualifications and skills in a format that makes your ability to handle the work as clear as possible, you will get more interviews.
What Do I Include on a Resume?
What you should put on your resume depends on the job you’re applying for and your relevant professional background.
At a minimum, your resume should include the following sections:
- Contact details: include your first and last name, phone number, and email address. Additionally, you can add your LinkedIn profile if yours is up to date, and your mailing address if you want to prove you live near the place you’re applying.
- Introduction: a concise overview of your professional background and key qualifications. Your introduction can be in the form of a resume summary, professional profile, resume objective, or qualifications summary.
- Education: Include your school names, highest degree earned, majors and minors. Additionally, you can add your GPA (if it’s greater than 3.8) and relevant coursework if you lack experience or it’s related to the position.
- Experience: list any relevant work experience you have. Include your title, the company you worked for, years worked, and a bulleted list of your key responsibilities and notable successes. Be sure to also include as many relevant accomplishments on your resume as possible.
- Skills: include any resume skills you possess that are relevant to the position. Be sure to use a strong mix of hard skills and soft skills to demonstrate that you’re a well-rounded candidate.
Types of Resumes
A common misconception is that there’s only one way to write a resume. There’s actually a variety of resume formats, and each one has its own strengths and weaknesses.
Depending on your specific skill set or work history, one format might be better suited to highlight your qualifications than another.
For reference, there are four main types of resumes:
- Chronological resumes
- Functional resumes
- Targeted resumes
- Combination resumes
To help you understand the differences between each resume format and decide which is the best fit for you, here’s a detailed breakdown:
A chronological resume opens with an introduction, and then provides an overview of your professional history in reverse-chronological order (meaning your most recently held position is listed at the top).
The chronological resume format is the most common type of resume used by job seekers today, and is suitable for candidates with a variety of different experience levels.
A functional resume is formatted to focus on your skills and abilities, rather than your chronological work history. It’s preferred by professionals who want to draw attention away from their traditional work experience, such as those who are changing careers or have significant gaps in their work history.
While similar to other resume formats, functional resumes are unique a few key ways:
- The resume introduction and skills section are longer and more detailed than usual.
- The work experience section is de-emphasized.
A targeted resume is a resume tailored for each position you apply to.
This means highlighting any highly relevant skills and experience you have, and writing your resume to focus on these qualifications.
To write a strong targeted resume, scan through the job listing for the position you want to fill. Typically, hiring managers include the skills, responsibilities, and traits that they want candidates to possess in the job description. Then, highlight these qualities on your resume to demonstrate that you’re an ideal fit for the position (if you have them).
A combination resume is a format that (true to its name) combines the best aspects of a functional resume and a chronological resume.
While a chronological resume focuses heavily on experience and a functional resume emphasizes skills, a combination resume typically leverages both work history and skills equally to demonstrate your qualifications.
Combination resumes are ideal for candidates who have extensive experience or a highly developed set of skills that they want to showcase.
Why Resumes Are Important for Job Seekers
Your resume, along with a cover letter, is an essential part of the hiring process, and is a base requirement to be considered for a position.
A good resume is the first part of your application any hiring manager will see, so it’s important that it conveys your qualifications accurately and convincingly.
Your resume should offer employers a digestible overview of your relevant skills, employment history, education background, and accomplishments. Based on this information, they can make an informed decision about whether or not they want to interview or hire you.
But writing a resume from scratch can be time-consuming. To simplify the process, try using our online resume builder. Just type in your information and our software will help you assemble a perfectly formatted resume that is sure to impress any hiring manager.