What to Put on a Resume to Get an Interview

Writing a resume isn’t an easy task. You want to create something impactful and resonating to the prospective employer you’re applying to. And knowing that hiring managers often read a resume for only 7 seconds on average isn’t any more motivational for you as a job seeker.

Luckily, we can help to make a resume that speaks volumes and shows your interviewer that you know what’s important to them and helps provide the necessary information to increase your chances of getting offered an interview.

In order to write a resume we need to understand what to put on a resume. Let’s get familiar with what’s required to create a resume.

what to include on resume

What to Put on a Resume

Contact Information

Your contact information goes toward the top of the page. It should contain your name, email address, phone number, website link or LinkedIn profile, and address if you feel it is necessary.

If you’re applying for a position that requires an online portfolio, for example, a graphic designer position. Then be sure to reference your personal website link more frequently. And be sure it is structured as an online portfolio.

This should be toward the top of the page in the letter heading. But be sure you don’t use multiple spaces to include your contact information. If possible, make it one line so you have more space for the following sections.

Avoid including your social media profiles, like Twitter or Instagram. These are less applicable for your resume reader to learn who you are. Instead, focus on your personal website and ensure your website is presenting you in a professional light. You may want to include prior work experience on your personal website as well.

Accomplishments

Starting your resume with a list of accomplishments or a career summary is more impactful than a resume objective. For those who have no prior work experience, you may have to use a resume objective.

The difference is that a resume objective contains a statement speaking to why you feel you’d be a great fit for the company and the position, in less than four sentences.

A career statement includes up to four bullet points regarding your most valuable work accomplishments. This will let your prospective employer know everything they need to know about you in less than four bullet points.

Work History

Your work history is the next most important part of your resume. It should contain prior work examples that align with the job you’re about to apply for. This could be jobs or job descriptions that aren’t exactly alike, as well.

For example, if you’re applying for a General Manager position but have experience as an Assistant Manager, this would be applicable and great work experience to include.

Try to target the functions you performed at previous jobs to the job you want to have. This will take some time to think through how to frame your prior work in a way that supports your career development.

If possible, include bullet points of your work accomplishments under each of these jobs as well. This might include your ability to increase sales, reduce workflow times, increase efficiency, or anything else related to achieving business objectives set by your leadership team.

Your work experience should be a vast majority of your resume. If you are a recent graduate, this might be more difficult to create. Include any freelance, contract, or volunteer work in this section if you have to. Anything that might help to demonstrate your professional abilities.

Skills & Abilities

Your skills and abilities are far more impactful than you might think. Most companies want to understand your competencies. This helps managers to place you into the workplace and know that your abilities are going to compliment your team members.

Hard skills are skills that can be learned without experiences. For example, learning Microsoft Excel. This is a hard skill because anyone can learn Microsoft Excel if they take the time.

A soft skill is a skill that is developed through interactions with others. For example, communication skills. This is a skill that only you can learn while interacting with others. It is indicative of your experience as a professional.

Have a section on your resume that lists both hard and soft skills. If you need an idea of which skills to list, use our skills list here.

If you’re applying to an engineering position, you may want to alter this section to include your proficient programming languages instead of traditional soft skills.

Certifications

Certifications are important for many jobs. In fact, almost all jobs. If for example, you’re applying for a project management position, you would want to list PMP certification (Project Management Professional).

It is vital you take the time to read through the job listing, job duties, and requirements of the job before you build your resume for that position. Inside the job advertisement will contain information that can better help position which certifications you might have and which ones you should speak to.

Education

Education is your last section on the resume. It is the least important. While many job seekers feel this should be more important, the hiring manager doesn’t. It doesn’t provide any insight into your professional experience.

Try to place this toward the bottom of the page. If you’d like, you can list your awards or accolades as well. For example, a minor degree or graduating magna cum laude.

Try to keep this section small and focus a majority of your resume on your prior work experience.

Reference List

A reference list should be included on a new page. These references should be professionals who can vouch for your skills that you’re listing as well as your previous work experience. The persons on this list might be a member of your prior management team. Or a person who you have a close contact who is on a management team.

Remember to ask the professionals you would like to include as references before doing so. This will help to ensure that your reference is well-positioned to be able to speak to who you are and what stories might help the hiring manager if and when they call or speak to your reference.

Priority of Your Resume

This list is prioritized in terms of how you should be thinking about spending your time when writing your resume. For example, spend more time crafting your prior work experience section than you would your education section.

Resume Samples

Below are resume samples which can help you to get an idea of how to create yours and get more familiar with what should go inside of it:

See more resume examples.

free resume template for creating your resume

Free Resume Template

Download our resume template in Word format. Can be imported as a Google Doc. Instant download. No email required.

Download Template

Resume Writing Tips & Mistakes to Avoid

Avoid grammatical errors. Spend the time to proofread your resume. A simple grammatical error can drastically impact the perception your reader has on your resume. And it could potentially destroy the valuable information you place inside of it.

Academic achievements are great but not that important. Many graduates want to focus on academic achievements. While they are great to include, your prior work history is going to be more impactful.

Resume FAQ’s

Below are common questions job seekers have when they create a resume.

Should I use a resume writer?

You certainly can. If you aren’t sure how to write yours in a way that’s impactful or if you feel you need assistance in positioning your prior experience, then seeking a resume writer can be helpful.

What is a functional resume?

Most likely, if you’re reading this, you aren’t looking for a functional resume. A functional resume includes only soft skills and competencies as a way of positioning yourself as a candidate. It may include software you’re proficient in or soft skills you feel are applicable to the job duties. This means you would have very little or no prior experience as a professional.

What if I lack experience? What are ways to help me stand out as a candidate?

Try to leave a lasting impression on your resume reader by focusing on personal projects or significant achievements that aren't work-related. Was there something you did in college? Starting a business perhaps? Focus on what makes you unique and how that can translate to experience.

author: patrick algrim
About the author

Patrick Algrim is an experienced executive who has spent a number of years in Silicon Valley hiring and coaching some of the world’s most valuable technology teams. Patrick has been a source for Human Resources and career related insights for Forbes, Glassdoor, Entrepreneur, Recruiter.com, SparkHire, and many more.

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