What to Include in a Resume

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 9 November 2022 | Published 25 August 2020

Updated 9 November 2022

Published 25 August 2020

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Creating a careful and accurate resume is a rewarding process. Although resumes differ depending on the industry, position, professional history and education, there are a few fundamental sections they have in common. In order to show an employer that you are the right fit for the job, it is important to include all of the necessary information about yourself. In this article, we outline what to include in a resume with examples to prepare you to write your own.

Why should you know what to include in a resume?

It's important to know what to include in a resume because a good resume can help you secure an interview. A resume is a written compilation of your credentials, accomplishments, education and work experience. When applying for a job, candidates usually submit their resumes alongside a cover letter or job application form. A resume helps your prospective employer learn who you are and assess whether or not your experiences and skills match their job opening. Therefore, it is essential to include all of the information they need to make that judgement.

What to include in a resume

While there are plenty of sections you can include in your resume, here are the most common sections that can apply to any industry:

  • Name and contact information

  • Resume summary or objective

  • Employment history

  • Education history

  • List of relevant skills, tools and certifications

  • Additional relevant accomplishments and volunteer work

Name and contact information

At a minimum, your contact information section should include your name, phone number and email address. Depending on the type of job you are applying for, you might also include a link to an online portfolio or professional website.

An example contact information section might look like this:

Abe Gardner

Sydney, New South Wales

(02) 8456 7891

abegardner@email.com.au

abegarder.portfolio.com.au

A common practice is to use your name as the title of the page, formatted so that employers can easily identify your name and contact information before anything else.

Resume summary or objective

Your resume summary or objective should be a short section with one or two sentences that briefly explains who you are and why you are qualified for the role. Carefully review the job posting for clues about which of your technical and soft skills are most important and relevant to the position.

Resume summaries and objectives are slightly different, and you should which to include based on your background and the position you are seeking. A resume summary describes your work experience, while a resume objective states your short-term goals.

A summary is a good choice if you have at least some work experience. An objective statement, however, is better suited for those who have recently graduated from high school or university or who otherwise have only limited job experience.

Your resume summary could say:

'Thoughtful construction labourer with over five years of experience helping manage teams toward successful and safe completion of housing projects.'

If you choose to write an objective, it might look like this:

'Recent graduate eagerly looking to expand construction labour experience with a growing contractor.'

Whether you choose to write a resume summary or objective, it is important to avoid talking about topics more suited to a job interview, such as how much you are hoping to earn.

Employment history

Also called your 'experience' or 'professional history' section, this is an opportunity to showcase the value you have brought to former employers. Here, you should list all of your most relevant work experiences, beginning with your most recent job. You should focus on your experiences from the last 10 to 15 years. For example, if you have been working as a marketing professional for the last 11 years, you can leave off jobs from earlier in your life that may not be relevant to the position you are currently seeking.

Alternatively, if you have little to no job experience, you should list what employment you have had, even if it does not seem completely relevant or related. Potential employers can use that experience to get an idea of what kind of worker you might be. Some of the valuable soft skills you learned at an unrelated job are likely transferable to a new job and industry. You can also list experiences you might have had in clubs or volunteer organisations here, especially if you were in a leadership role or had many responsibilities.

Your employment history should include the name of the employer, your job title, years of employment, and a few bullet points with your strongest, most relevant accomplishments. Lead with strong action verbs and follow with an accomplishment rather than a task. Employers are interested in what you have achieved, not just the tasks you have performed. When possible, use numbers to measure your success.

An example of an employment section could be as follows:

Jones Construction Company

Welder | May 2013 – May 2018

  • Utilised SMAW, GTAW and GMAW welding tools for building projects

  • Assisted safety manager with OSHA-required regulation checks, reducing time spent on inspections by 10%

  • Managed a small team of welders for advanced projects on multi-million-dollar contracts

It is essential to keep your bulleted list short and focus only on the most valuable achievements you had with that employer as they relate to your current job search.

Education history

The resume education section is helpful for employers who require a certain degree, certificate or level of experience. You should include your most recent and relevant education based on your level of expertise.

The elements of an education section should include:

  • Name of your university

  • Location of your university

  • The degree you obtained (if applicable)

  • Your field of study

  • Graduation year (if applicable)

  • Your grades

  • Any relevant honours or academic recognition, coursework, activities or other achievements obtained during your education

Consider only listing educational experiences as they make sense for your situation. As such, high school graduates should list their high school information, but university graduates need not list their high school. However, once you have a post-secondary degree of any kind, you should always list that and any other post-secondary educational experiences in your education section.

Your education section could look as follows:

TAFE NSW Sydney Institute

Aug 2009 – May 2011

Associate Degree in Welding Technology

OSHA Certificate Program

List of relevant skills, tools and certifications

Your skills section should include relevant hard and soft skills. You can also mention any tools you have mastered or certifications you have obtained.

Some common examples include:

  • Tools, such as EFTPOS and cash registers

  • Programming languages

  • Spreadsheet and word processing software

The skills you include should be relevant to the job that interests you. For example, you may have excellent hard skills in different areas, but all of those skills may not apply to the job. If you are a skilled violinist, for example, that may not be a useful skill to put on your resume when applying for a job in construction.

You can learn what skills potential employers are looking for by reading the job description. As you read through job posts, write down keywords that match your skills and include them in your skills section as appropriate.

Your skills section might look something like this:

Technical skills: Welding, electrical systems, modern safety equipment, knowledge of major OSHA safety regulations, OSHA Certification, SMAW Welding Tools

Additional skills: Willingness to learn, attentive, organised, effective communicator, safety-conscious

Additional relevant accomplishments and volunteer work

The last section to consider adding to your resume is a short list of any other relevant accomplishments or volunteer work. Only include those that are relevant or help create a better picture of who you are as an individual and as a candidate for the specific position. If you are not sure what information may fit this section, re-read the job descriptions that interest you. Consider if you have any experiences outside of the professional history you already added that could help employers understand your qualifications.

Here is an example of what your accomplishments and volunteer work section could look like:

  • Volunteer firefighter, 2010 – 2012

  • Annual winter food drive volunteer, 2013 – Present

  • OSHA Safety Award, May 2018

Tailor a resume for each job application

Your resume needs to be tailored to each job application to ensure that it corresponds to the job's specific requirements. Although you do not have to change the resume much, you need to adjust your attributes, essential skills and opening statement to align with the job requirements in the advertisement. Also, consider tailoring your resume to demonstrate how your inherent skills and work experience align with the stringent requirements of the job you are applying for.

The recommended length for a resume

There is no definite length for a resume. The variation in length depends on an individual's education and experience. One or two pages is best for entry-level professionals who do not have much work experience. However, if you have a lot of work and study behind you, then a three-page resume is appropriate. Be sure not to pad your resume. A well-presented one-page resume can get you better results than a padded two-page resume, especially when hiring managers have to look through many resumes at a time.

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