What To Put On A Resume: 5 Must-Have Sections And How To Write Them

what to put on your resume sections

If you’re job searching and wondering what to put on a resume, you’re in the right place…

We’re going to go step-by-step through the five most important resume sections, including:

  • How to write each section
  • What information you need to include if you want to get the interview
  • What information to leave off

After the five main sections, I will share a few extra tips and reveal a couple of additional sections you can use to get even more interviews, so don’t miss that.

Let’s get started…

What to Put on a Resume: 5 Must-Have Sections

Section #1 – A Career Summary. This is the summary at the top of the document, immediately following the heading information. It should be a three to five-line summary that gives a high-overview of your career thus far, while naming several of your skills. It’s also important to potentially list one or two of the job titles you are targeting, as this is a key area scanned by an Applicant Tracking System (ATS).

Section #2 – Core Competencies/Qualifications/Skills. The next area that should be highlighted are your skills and abilities. This area can be called several different names; however, the purpose is the same. When you are reading a job advertisement, there will be a part that lists the qualifications or skill-sets required. These are the same words that should be listed in your resume. As an example, if the job requires “Management Abilities,” and you currently have “Supervisory Skills” listed in your skills section, then change yours to reflect “Management Abilities.” This will allow you to better pass the ATS process. If you want more information on how to tailor your resume for the specific job to get more interviews, this article will reveal how.

Section #3 – Professional History. This section is the one that most people automatically think of when they think of writing a resume. Remember that you don’t have to include every single job that you have ever had in your Professional History section. In fact, you should only include the most relevant information or the last 10-15 years of job history. If there is relevant job history prior to this, it can be included in a section called Earlier Career History and dates should be removed to avoid any possibility of age discrimination.

Section #4 – Education. Education should typically follow your Professional History section. Remember that you do not need to include a graduation date with your education. In fact, I discourage clients from including a date, as this could begin to “date” you at some point in the future. The only time that Education should be placed prior to Professional History is when someone recently graduated from college and has little to no professional experience.

Section #5 – Community Engagement. This is a section that can be utilized to outline any volunteer activities, leadership positions, or significant impacts that you have made within the community. While this section is not a requirement for a resume, it is often a way to develop talking points or showcase your interests outside of work.

Bonus: 3 Optional Sections to Put on a Resume:

Optional Section – Technical Skills. If you are in a highly-technical or analytical field where software and hardware expertise is necessary, it’s probably best to outline it in its own section.

Optional Section – Certifications or Continuing Education. If you have an important certification (i.e. a CPA or PMP) or have attended numerous seminars in your field, it’s vital to show that you are a continuous learner and are willing to go above-and-beyond with bettering yourself and your career goals.

Optional Section – Testimonials. If you are looking for a way to really differentiate yourself and want to provide a third-person perspective, you can even include snippets of testimonials from customers, team members, or managers. This is another way to highlight your core competencies and what you can offer to a potential employer.

Creating a resume is both a science and an art. There is no one “right” way to outline your history; however, ensuring that you have the required information, along with selected highlights will allow you to stand out among job applicants and make a lasting impact with your future employer.

About this guest author:

what to put on resume

Dr. Heather Rothbauer-Wanish is a Certified Professional Resume Writer and owner of Feather Communications (http://www.feather-communications.com). She holds an MBA and PhD in Organization and Management, and has been working with job seekers since 2008 to develop forward-thinking, eye-catching, and dynamic resumes for today’s marketplace. You can download her top 5 resume tips to get more interviews for free at this page.


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