Things Every Resume Should Include

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again, you have to tailor your resume to get through applicant tracking systems (ATS). According to Harvard Business Review, while 88 percent of employers agree ATS is still far from perfect, rejecting qualified candidates for high and middle-skilled positions, 94 percent of employers surveyed still use these systems to filter candidates.

Things every resume should includeBut while you need to tailor, it’s best to start out with a “master” you can edit according to the job you’re applying for. And, while you’ll be revising your resume to work with an ATS, every resume should include specific things. High level, this is what should be on your resume:

·       Your name and contact information

·       A summary

·       Soft and hard (technical) skills

·       Work history

·       Education

Now let’s get down to the details.

1. Name and contact information

Include your first and last name, phone number, a professional email address (preferably linked), links to social media such as LinkedIn, and a link to your website/portfolio if you have one. Include your city, but your physical address is no longer necessary—your potential employer won’t be reaching out by letter. 

2. Summary

A summary serves to spotlight your relevant professional experience and the expertise which makes you uniquely qualified for the position you’re seeking. This is the only paragraph that should be in your resume, and it should be a short one—five sentences at the absolute most. Since we’re creating a master, not tailoring at this point, think about keywords for your industry. Are you a leader? Think about action words like: manage, supervise, direct, delegate, guide, coordinate, inspire, and influence. Are you a team player? Don’t use “team player,” instead, think about words like: collaborate, partner, participate, contribute, develop relationships… Are you working in a creative environment? Consider verbs like: introduce, solve, create, implement, design, launch, and innovate. 

Build your summary around the keywords you’ve created for your industry. These can be swapped out when you tailor for specific job listings, but you’re building a strong foundation. And keep your lists! You’ll be using those keywords in almost every other part of your resume.

 3. Soft and hard (technical) skills

Let’s start by looking at the key differences between soft and hard skills. A soft skill relates to emotional intelligence or innate ability, while a hard skill typically involves technical knowledge which has been learned.

With that in mind, remember those lists you’ve been working on? They’re a great way of baking soft skills into your resume, but here you can highlight a bunch of them, and, based on the job listing, keep what’s most relevant. 

Now, on to those hard skills. List all of them that you have. Again, you may be editing when you tailor, but this is where you put MS Office, QuickBooks, Photoshop and Illustrator, programming capabilities, content management systems, social media, and any other industry-specific technical skill.

4. Work history

List your jobs, putting your current role first and working your way down. You can include everything in this resume if you’d like, but we don’t typically go older than 10-15 years. It’s very likely your responsibilities will be repetitive or not applicable to the types of opportunities you’re looking for now. 

Include the name and location of the company, your job title, and the dates you worked there. Now list your responsibilities and accomplishments. Here’s another opportunity to use that keyword list, but let’s incorporate a new exercise. Find a way to quantify the results you had in each position. Can you show volume, responsibility, revenue, etc. in numbers? If you can, do it. And use numerals!

Some food for thought as you work on the highlights of your current role: A large number of companies are creating hybrid (both onsite and remote) models for work or going fully remote for certain positions. If you’ve worked partially or entirely remote since 2020, take a look at what you’ve accomplished and highlight what you’ve done. It may seem normal to you at this point, but if you’ve been able to manage a team, hire, or train successfully in a remote setting, highlight those wins. As companies move to these new styles, they’ll need flexible teams who can make nontraditional work models, well, work.

5. Education

Just as in work history, fill in education in reverse chronological order (most recent first), and, if you’ve graduated college, don’t include high school. Include the name and location of your school, your major, and any academic honors. You don’t need to include your graduation year, and we suggest you don’t.

Special mention of special certifications

Devoting time to earning a special certification shows your investment in your chosen field. List the name of the certification, the organization, and when you earned it. 

Finally, while your tailored resume can certainly include more information, such as awards and achievements, professional memberships, and even volunteer community work, every resume needs to include the five essentials we listed above. In doing so, you’ll greatly improve the chances of you resume being seen by a hiring manage, and in turn, the potential for getting the job.

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