Resume formatting and organization are much-discussed topics in the job search world, and we’ve produced plenty of blogs and launched many conversations that are built on a basic understanding of how resumes are (and should be) structured. But every now and then, it’s a good idea to get back to the basics and move through the components of the business-standard resume from the top down. This provides a refresher for experienced job seekers and a basic foundation for new grads and first-timers. With that in mind, let’s move through each section of properly formatted resume one-by-one.
The first line at the very top of your resume should include your name. If you’d like to stand out a little, you can add some color to your text, and it won’t hurt to use a larger font for this part; after all, this is one item you’ll really need your reviewers to remember. Follow your name with your phone number, physical address, and email address. As optional addition, you can include a link to your personal website or the online version of your resume.
A few lines below your contact information, create a short, three-to-four line summary of your entire candidacy. Tell your whole story in these simple lines. You can use complete sentences (“I have five years of experience with a major agency”) or clear phrases (“Five years of experience with major agency”), but whichever style you choose, be consistent. Keep your description substantive, relevant, and memorable. Try to focus on the needs of your employer instead of your own search and your own job requirements.
Experienced, mid-career professionals who completed their most recent degree programs decades ago will often shift this section to the bottom of the page. But most of the time, this information belongs just below the summary. List each of your educational institutions in order, and after each institution, state your degree attained, your course of study, and your completion date. You can also feel free to include any certification courses you’ve completed in recent years as long as your certifications are still valid. Skip your high school diploma if your education continued after this point.
In the next section, you’ll list the previous positions you’ve held in the workplace. You can organize these by chronology or by relevance to the job at hand, but again, be consistent once you’ve made your choice. List each job title you’ve held, and follow this with the name of your employer, a brief summary of the basic responsibilities of the job, and any special accomplishments or projects your completed during your tenure. Each entry should contain the dates that you entered and left this role, and these dates of employment should be accurate and clear.
Most of us know how to do certain things that aren’t made obvious by our job titles and descriptions, and for this reason, every resume should end with a section that lists and describes these special skills. If you’re an excellent public speaker, a master of multiple languages, or if you’re proficient with software tools and coding programs that may support your employer’s goals, this is the place to mention them.
Before you submit your resume, you’ll need to craft a strong cover letter that supports your case for employment. Visit LiveCareer for tools and formatting templates that help you keep both documents neat, professional, and effective.