There’s no question that job seeking is a competitive business in today’s economy. According to an unemployment report released in January of 2014, the Bureau of Labor Statistics states that 10.2 million people are currently out of work. Standing out can mean the difference between landing the interview and being shuffled in the endless pile of applications. While you want your resume to be eye catching, employers will expect to see certain sections in your resume no matter what. Be creative, but be thorough.
Required Resume Sections
These sections make up the backbone of a solid resume and shouldn’t be left out unless they’re irrelevant to your experience (such as education).
Contact information should be included at the top of your resume. Beneath your full name, include as much detail as you’re willing to share, such as your address, home phone, cell phone, and email address. Don’t include your social security number; this can be shared when you’re officially hired.
Your summary statement is perhaps the most important aspect of your resume. It offers a short, compelling description of your career accomplishments, as well as your future ambitions. How will you impact the target company? Why should they continue reading? What sets you apart from everyone else? You might consider hiring a resume writing service if you’re unsure how to create a compelling summary statement.
If you’ve completed higher education, this is a section to include in your resume with the name of the school or college, the degree or course of study, and the dates you attended/graduated.
Employers don’t look only at formal job experience when making their hiring decisions. Be sure to list any volunteer or unpaid experience you have here as well. For instance, if you grew up on the family farm and are applying in the agricultural field, make sure you list that experience here too. If the list is extensive, you can create a new section for activities, associations, and volunteerism.
Optional Sections to Include in Your Resume
The following sections can flesh out your resume but are not required. Typically, qualifications and skills will be listed—one or the other—below contact information and your resume title.
Cater your qualifications to the job you’re seeking. This can mean a lot of editing and legwork when you apply for multiple jobs, but a tightly focused resume will be more effective than a generic one. Qualifications to list might be specific training, awards, and experience that relate directly to the job you’re applying for.
Skills are an often overlooked section to include in your resume. A skills summary can replace the qualification summary toward the top of your resume, breaking down individual skills into easy to read bullet points or nicely formatted lists for your employer to scan.
Don’t Obsess Over Your Resume
We all know how important a good resume is, but agonizing for hours will likely net you few improvements and a lot of stress. A clean, well laid out resume is important, but your efforts are better spent searching for jobs to send those resumes to. LiveCareer’s free resume check can help you discover potential trouble areas in your resume.
Because you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression, take the time now to create a well formatted, professional resume. A good resume gets the second look, while a poorly written, cluttered, or unformatted resume will likely get tossed out at first glance. By learning the sections to include in your resume, you’re well on your way to writing the perfect resume and hopefully landing the perfect job!