3 July, 2020

How To Write Each Resume Section Most Effectively

Every section of your resume matters, from the basic information to your work experience, skills, and education. In this guide, we’ll walk you through every section, with examples and more, so you can effectively organize and format your information for the perfect resume.

Table of Contents 

Introduction

The perfect resume takes more than a killer typeface and a modern resume template.

To create a resume that gets noticed, you must carefully consider the placement, format, and wording of each section of the document, from your name and address to skills and education. How you organize and format different sections of your resume could be the deciding factor in whether you land an interview or get passed by.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through every single section of a resume, including resume examples with objectives listed, so that you can gain a better understanding of how to most effectively organize and format your resume for the greatest impact.

While many people have a general understanding of the basic information needed on a resume, there’s confusion about the right order and formatting. Many people also don’t think about optimizing for an ATS, which is crucial. Over 92% of companies that use online application systems have ATS software in place. Resumes must be correctly and sufficiently optimized to bypass the ATS.

Let’s start with a close look at an ATS, and what you must do to ensure your resume can move through the ATS and into the hands of the hiring manager.

Getting Your Resume Past an ATS

An ATS is an Applicant Tracking System, used by most companies to relieve the workload on Human Resources and others involved in the hiring process. ATS software uses preset filters to filter and sort resumes. The filters are based on criteria such as keywords, skills, former places of employment, years of experience, and education. 

Over 60% of large companies use ATS software in their hiring process. 98% of all Fortune 500 organizations and 75% of recruiters use an ATS. If you do not ensure that your resume is ATS-compliant, you will miss many job opportunities. 

An ATS works by parsing your resume into a digital profile that makes all the information uniform and searchable. This process can cause problems, however: improperly formatted information may be distorted or lost, and the ATS will send that resume to the digital basement, not to the hiring manager. 

How to Make Your Resume ATS-Compliant

Formatting your resume to make it past an ATS is about paying attention to details. Check and double-check. Here are the most important things to keep in mind:

  • Use simple, clear headings. Stick with standard wording. 
  • Keep all formatting consistent: font, text size, heading size, spacing, indentation, etc.
  • Think simple and short. Avoid using images, inline tables, or text boxes.
  • Tailor the resume to the position. Use keywords and skills from the job description.
  • Upload your resume in the correct file format. 

Simple, Clear Headings

Don’t get creative when you name your resume sections or label your work experience. Stick with tried-and-true section headers such as Work Experience, Education, Skills, and other standard headings recommended by a resume template or resume builder.

Consistent Formatting

There’s no one specific font for resumes: however, fonts from the Sans Serif family work best. Calibri, Franklin Gothic, and Avenir are good choices, for the headers as well as for the text. Don’t use more than two fonts in your resume. 

Simple and Short

Your resume should never exceed two pages. If you have less than 10 years of experience, limit yourself to one page. If you have more experience, you can use two pages, with one caveat: use the full two pages (never one and a half) to keep the resume uniform and ensure it will be scanned correctly on both pages. 

Tailored to the Position

Include relevant keywords, preferably pulled straight from the job description. Keep a strong focus on the work experience section: match your descriptions with the required skills for the position. 

Proper File Format

The best file format for ATS software is .docx format. Whenever possible, submit your resume in .docx format. If that’s not possible, use PDF format. When sending a resume via email, the PDF format ensures that the recipient will see your resume as intended, regardless of what application they use to open it.

 The Main Sections of a Resume 

Before we dig in to the proper formatting for each section of a resume, it’s important to have an understanding of what sections are necessary to include. Here’s a brief overview of the key sections in a resume; in the guide, we’ll go into each section in much greater detail.

  1. Basic information section:
    List the basics, like your name and contact information.
  2. Resume summary statement:
    A summary statement is like your elevator pitch: it’s a short, concise summary of who you are and what you’re looking for in a position.
  3. Skills section:
    Demonstrate your skills to the employer. This includes both general skills and skills that are specific to the position being offered.
  4. Experience section:
    List your relevant work experience. Typically, it will be listed in reverse chronological order.
  5. Education section:
    Detail your education, listing schools attended, highest degree attained, and the dates attended.
  6. Other/Optional sections:
    If you have something to add that you believe will make you a stronger candidate for the position, add it here. Other or optional sections might include certifications, awards, or publications, to name a few examples. 

  The Three Main Resume Formats

While these sections will appear on just about every resume, the way they’re formatted and ordered can differ depending on the format you’re using. Here’s a brief overview of the three main resume formats:

Chronological Resume Format 

This is the most common and recognizable format for a resume. Its key focus is on work experience. Jobs are listed in order from the most recent to the earliest; skills are listed in their own section, near work experience. Education and any other sections will be listed below the experience section.  

Functional Resume Format 

This resume format differs from the chronological format in that it focuses primarily on relevant job skills. Work experience receives less emphasis, and will be listed below skills. Use this format if you want to apply for a particular job, but don’t have specific experience pertaining to the field. The functional resume is a perfect choice for those looking for a transition careers/industries. A functional resume uses your transferable skills to highlight your experience, ensuring alignment with the company and job requirements.

Combination Resume Format 

The combination resume format is the happy medium between the chronological format and the functional format. There’s more or less equal emphasis put on skills and work experience. Usually, skills are listed first. 

When might you choose this resume format? One example might be if you’re changing fields. This format allows you to show that you have a strong work ethic and have held jobs in the past, but allows you to put extra emphasis on skills you’ve developed pertaining to the job you’re applying for. 

Now that you understand the basic resume formats, let’s talk about the section that will most likely appear on each one.

 The Basic Information Section

Imagine that you’re looking at the most appetizing takeaway menu you’ve ever seen. You’re ready to place an order, only to realize that the menu doesn’t include the restaurant’s name, address or phone number. If you couldn’t find this vital information, you’d probably just toss the menu and move on to the next establishment, right?

Likewise, with a resume, if a potential employer wants to take further action in pursuing you as a candidate, you must make it easy for them to get in contact with you.

It’s extremely important to include basics like your name and contact information at the very top of your resume, because if an employer has follow up questions or better yet wants to reach out for an interview, they need to know how to get in touch with you. 

What to Include

Your name: Don’t forget this important bit of info! Make sure it’s top and center. 

  • Title:
    If you have a title or certification that is vital to your work, include it. For example, if you’re applying for an accounting position, you might write: Anna Smith, CPA.
  • Your address:
    Let’s talk about your address for a minute. No, it’s not strictly necessary to include it on your resume. In fact, it’s best to include city, state, and zip code only. Since most resumes end up making their way around the Internet, keeping your actual address private is a good idea. Potential employers can still contact you via phone or email.
  • Phone number:
    Include a phone number where your potential employer can reach you. Don’t use your work phone number. If a potential employer were to call and your boss or another co-worker answers the phone, it could create an awkward situation for you!

    If you have both a land line and a mobile phone, you can include both, but make a note of which is which. Either way, be sure that any and every number you add has a working voicemail with a professional-sounding outgoing message. 

  • Email address:
    Include an email address that you check frequently so that the potential employer can get in contact with you. Make sure that it’s a professional-sounding email address: kegking2001@aol.com,for example, is going to be less impressive than yourname@gmail.com.

    Consider the domain when including your email address. The most commonly used (and best) is gmail.com; it’s considered the most professional. Other well-known domains (such as Comcast, Mac, ATT) also work. Avoid domains that are out-dated or untrusted (AOL, Hotmail) and, of course, do not use your current work email.

  • Website:
    Do you have a relevant personal website, relevant blog, or a nicely developed LinkedIn page? Go ahead and include this in the personal information section. Put these details in hyperlink format to make it easy for hiring managers to view them.

What to Avoid

  • Photos:
    There’s no need to include a photo or headshot on your resume, unless it’s a job (for instance, an acting position) where this might be specifically requested. In that case, follow industry standards. Otherwise, don’t include any headshots or other photos; it’s not only unprofessional, it can also lead to discrimination.
  • Salary requirements:
    It can seem tempting to lay your cards on the table in terms of salary requirements, but leave it for a conversation with the employer rather than writing it on your resume.

    If the job application requires you to include your salary requirements, add that to your cover letter rather than your resume.
  • Personal information:
    Contrary to European standards, personal information like your age, marital status, or social security number are not necessary on your resume in the U.S. Any necessary information along these lines won’t be required until you fill out tax forms later.
  • Social media pages:
    Unless your social media pages directly relate to the job at hand, they’re best left off your resume. 

Basic Information Section: Review 

  • The basic information section allows you to offer up your contact information to invite further contact if the employer sees you as a good fit. 
  • This section should always appear at the top of your resume so that it’s easy to find.
  • Keep it professional. Make sure that your email address is professional-sounding and that your voicemail is working and includes a simple and professional greeting. 

 Resume Summary Statement

You could think of your resume summary statement as your elevator pitch. That is to say: if you had about 30 seconds in an elevator with a potential boss, what would you tell them about yourself in that brief amount of time to set yourself apart from other candidates? 

In the resume summary statement section, you’re trying to put that information in a 3-4 sentence blurb at the top of your resume. The summary statement is a progression from the resume objective statement, which used to be more commonplace. The objective statement has become less popular in recent years, possibly because a general resume objective doesn’t offer a great example of who you are and what your goals are.

The summary statement is important because it offers hiring professionals a quick overview of who you are and can entice them to take a closer look at your resume. In terms of placement, put it right below your contact information. 

Remember that the top ⅓ of your resume is the hook: what you put here will determine if the hiring manager keeps reading. Be sure to communicate why you are a good fit for the role, so that the hiring manager gains immediate interest.

What to Include

  • Your qualifications. Give a brief synopsis of your professional qualifications that make you a good fit for this job. Mention specific qualifications or keywords from the job listing that have prepared you for this type of role. 
  • Concrete information. Don’t be vague. Offer specific information about how you’ve been valuable to past employers and what you have to offer. Only include achievements and skills that relate to the job you want.
  • Keywords: Carefully look over the job listing, and try to fit in specific keywords used in it as part of your summary statement. Not only does this show that you paid attention to the listing but that you have the proper skills. 

Do not cram too many keywords into the summary, as you can always add to the skills section. This section comes after the summary and before the work experience section, and helps maximize your keyword usage while drawing attention to your relevant skills.

  • A preview of what is to come on the resume. Be sure that your summary statement is a good reflection of the rest of the resume. Some people may find that writing the summary statement last, so that you can use the resume document as reference, is helpful. 

What to Avoid

  • Too much information. While the summary statement is part of your pitch, it should be short and sweet. More explanation can be put into your cover letter, so don’t get too wordy. A paragraph should be quite adequate. 

For job seekers with a lot or work history, aim for 4 to 6 sentences in your resume summary. For entry-level or less experienced job seekers, aim for 3 to 5 sentences.

  • General skills. Avoid mentioning general skills like “multitasker” or “goal oriented” without context. These can sound cliche and vague. Instead, get specific and include keywords or requested skills from the job listing.
  • Explanations. If you’ve had a big career gap, or are changing careers, don’t use your summary statement to explain it in detail. That’s better explained in a cover letter or in an interview. Remember, too, that if you have many career gaps or changes, a functional resume may serve you better than a reverse chronological format.

Summary Statement: Review 

Make it easy to find: Summary statement goes below your contact information.

Keep it concise: 3-6 sentences.

Tailor to the job: Use keywords or specific phrases mentioned in the job listing.

Don’t overdo it: Long explanations aren’t necessary here.

 Skills Section

Got mad skills you want to share with your potential employer? This is the section where you can strut your stuff. 

The skills section helps to bring your work and education experience together, showing a potential employer the skills that you’ve developed over the course of your career that make you the perfect pick for the position they are offering. 

Before we get into the nitty gritty of what to include and what not to include, let’s quickly discuss where your skills should appear on your resume. 

On the traditional chronological resume format, skills have often been listed below work experience and education. However, the modern standard is to include a brief skills section, or table, under your professional summary. Doing so makes it easy for hiring managers to scan and note your primary, most relevant skills.

Highlight your skills under the summary in bullet point or table format. Utilizing this format makes it easy to tailor your resume, making the most of keywords and customizing your skills for each position. Be sure to focus on hard skills and expand on your soft skills in your summary and cover letter.

Soft Skills Vs. Hard Skills: What’s the Difference?

  Soft Skills Definition

General skills that can apply to just about every job. They include interpersonal skills such as communication, the ability to collaborate, etc.

  Hard Skills Definition

Targeted skills that specifically pertain to the job being offered. For example, if you’re applying for a marketing manager position, you might want to emphasize your prowess with specific computer programs, blogging platforms, and your SEO experience.


What to Include

When formulating the skills section of your resume, start by considering the job listing. Look specifically for the skills that they require or desire, and tailor your skills section based on that. 

Common skills that employers are looking for might include:

  • Communication skills:
    Are you a great writer? Are you great at communicating ideas in presentations in meetings? “Communications” or “Executive Engagement” can sum it up.
  • Computer skills:
    List specific skills with computer programs, software, languages, and applications, when relevant to the position.
  • Customer service skills:
    Are you great at working with customers? This may be an asset to the role being offered and you should add it as a skill!
  • Management skills:
    Are you able to delegate and work well with others? These are the types of skills that can make you stand out.
  • Problem solving skills:
    If you’re a self-starter who is constantly trying to streamline processes, make it known that your problem solving skills are second to none.
  • Time management skills:
    Being timely and able to deliver on time is valuable and should warrant a spot on your list of skills. 

If you’re in tech, or need to show specific technical skills and abilities beyond the bullet points under your summary, create a subsection to do so. This section can be placed under Education and labeled as “Technology” or “Technical Expertise.”

Formatting the Skills Section

In terms of listing skills, keep them short and sweet. Don’t be too wordy. Factual is best, and brief is good! 

The skills section is a series of bullet points or a simple table. When formatting your skills section, just a word or short phrase regarding the skill is all that you need. 

If you have a lot of skills, group them into categories, then list the category. For example, with numerous skills in project management and computer software, you might list “Project Management and Execution.” Other broad skills categories include Communications, Engagement, Team Leadership, and Organizational Management.

What to Avoid

  • Skills that have nothing to do with the job offered. If you’re a pro on social media but are applying for a restaurant server position, it won’t really help you get the job. Read through the listing carefully and tailor your skills to emphasize which ones qualify you for the job.
  • Skills that you don’t actually have. Sure, it might seem impressive to list a bunch of skills that are listed in the job posting. The trouble is, if they’re not actual skills you possess, you could be wasting both your time and the potential employers’. Remember: you want to be looking for jobs that are well suited to your goals but also suit your experience and strengths.
  • Out of date skills. If a skill has become obsolete in some way, such as a computer program that is no longer commonly used, it’s not going to be helpful to put it on your resume. 

It’s very important to leave out-dated skills off your resume. Job candidates that are older or have extensive work history must be particularly careful. Including out-dated skills can result in age discrimination and take you out of the running.

Skills Section: Review 

  • Make it snappy:
    The skills section is up-front to catch interest quickly.
  • Emphasize what’s relevant:
    Put most emphasis on the relevant hard skills you have.
  • Use categories:
    Group numerous skills into broad categories and list the categories.
  • Add more, later:
    If you have numerous relevant skills, include them in a dedicated skills section after the education section.

 Experience Section

Are you experienced? Your potential employer sure hopes so, and this section is where you can prove your mettle. In the classic reverse chronological resume format, the experience section is the most prominent part of your resume, so be sure to put a lot of thought into it.

Including your work experience in a resume is of great importance because it shows your potential employer what kinds of jobs you’ve performed in the past, what your responsibilities were, and how they’ve helped you become the best fit for the role being offered. 

What to Include

How should the experience section be organized? 

In general, you’ll want to include the company name, your job title, the dates you were employed there, and a brief summary of your responsibilities and achievements. 

Utilize years only when listing the dates of employment; this tends to take away any small gaps that may be there. When interviewing, you can go into detail about your work history. Until then, try to avoid anything that may raise questions

Here’s a general format and what to include within each listing: 

  • Company name:
    Include the full name of the company or business. For instance, “Little Biscuit Company.”
  • Location:
    Include the city and state of the company. The exact address is not required.
  • Your title:
    Include your job title. For example, “Customer Service Representative”.
  • Dates of employment:
    It’s not vital to include the exact dates, but include the year you started and the year you left.
  • Responsibilities and achievements:
    Here, you’ll start with a description of task-based responsibilities in a sentence or two. Then list 2-4 short bullet points of your most important achievements and quantified information about the job. Be sure to target these so that you can emphasize responsibilities that will translate directly to the role you’re applying for. 
        

So, say that you have experience in customer service but you’re now applying for a shipping logistics role. Your listing should emphasize relevant experience, and might look something like this:

Work Experience Entry Example

Little Biscuit Company, New York, NY
Customer Service Representative 

  • Coordinated incoming and outgoing orders
  • Including addressing specific shipping requests
  • Monitoring and supplying tracking information
  • Following up with customers following delivery
  • Streamlined the packing process to reduce overall shipping expenses for customers by 15%, saving 5% in packing costs for the company.
  • Fielded and responded to over 500 customer requests weekly. 
  • Resolved a repeating delivery issue by finding and correcting the cause, eliminating 25 customer issues per week.

January 2015 – April 2019

What to Avoid

  • Employer contact information. It can be tempting to list references right on your resume, but that’s not the place for it. Have references ready in a separate document. Your potential employer may ask for them right away, or they may ask for them after reviewing your resume. 
  • Why you left positions. It’s not necessary to address this topic in your resume. If there is an explanation needed, you can address it in your cover letter or interview. 
  • General, vague descriptions. This is your chance to show a potential employer that you’re perfect for the job they’re offering, so don’t list your job responsibilities generically. For example, if you’re applying at an SEO firm and previously worked at a PR agency, don’t just write “wrote newsletters.” Include more detail, such as “provided content writing, copyediting, and SEO optimized newsletters for 20 clients.” 

Experience Section: FAQs

What if I don’t have very much (or any) work experience? 

Most employers want to see work experience. However, there are situations where you won’t have much or any to offer. Maybe you recently graduated school, or maybe you had extenuating circumstances that kept you from the workforce. Does that mean you can’t apply? Not at all. 

First, remember that there’s no need to be apologetic or make explanations for your lack of experience on your resume. It’s never necessary to apologize, and if explanations are needed, you can do that in your cover letter or in person.

Second, consider what else you might be able to list in this section. Even if it wasn’t a job with compensation, certain experience–such as volunteer positions, community involvement, group collaborations, or even maintaining a blog–could help you provide listings for commensurate experience.

Finally, consider using the functional resume format. This resume format puts more emphasis on skills than experience. You can list specific skills that qualify you for the position while putting less emphasis on your work experience. 

What if I have a long gap in my employment history? 

A long gap in work history for whatever reason is actually fairly normal. As stated above, consider whether or not you have other experience (volunteering, etc.) that could be listed under experience, even if the positions weren’t paid. 

You may also consider the functional format for a resume. Don’t make specific note of the gap in your resume; instead, if necessary, address it in your cover letter. 

What if I have a ton of work experience? 

If you’ve been on your career path for a while, it’s possible that you’ve amassed a lot of experience. How much should you include?

Typically, a resume should highlight the last 7-10 years of professional experience and can go back as far as 15 years if relevant. 

You never want to exceed 2 pages unless you are creating an executive profile.
If you do use 2 pages, be sure to make it a full 2 pages and not 1.5 or 1.75.
Keep in mind that your resume is a brief overview of your experience and qualifications,
and you can go into more details in the interview. Anything that goes back over 15 years 
can be listed as “Additional Experience” between the
Experience and Education sections. 

What if I’ve done a lot of job-hopping? 

In some industries, job-hopping is the norm, so it’s not necessarily a big red flag. If there are a lot of different jobs that you’d like to list, you can consider combining similar positions. For example, if you spent 10 years as a CPA, instead of listing every contract you had, you could lump it under one heading, with specific highlights listed.

Changing jobs frequently is no longer seen as the negative it used to be.
It’s often perceived as a good thing, indicated that the candidate is eager to continue learning and strives for bigger, better things.

If you have several short-term positions that don’t add value to your resume, it’s okay to omit them. Or include them under the “Additional Experience” section. However, if you do choose to omit them on your resume, don’t bring them up in the interview.

Experience Section: Review

  • It’s important: put a lot of thought into this section. 
  • Stand out! Tailor your work experience to the job being offered.
  • Don’t offer explanations: if it needs to be addressed, use the cover letter. 

 Education Section

School is very cool when it comes to your resume. Listing your education on your resume helps potential employers understand more about who you are and how your career path has evolved.

In listing your education on your resume, you’ll want to include where you studied, what degree(s) you attained, and the dates you attended. Like work experience, education should be listed in reverse chronological order, with the most recent schooling listed at the top and the oldest at the bottom. 

There are a few schools (pun intended) of thought about where the education section should be located on your resume. In general, the two best places are going to be:

  • Above the experience section. If you are a recent college graduate and don’t have much work experience, you may want to emphasize your schooling and place it above. Alternately, if you just went back to school and are looking to change career paths, listing it prominently may be helpful. If you’re writing an academic CV, it may also go above experience.
  • Below the experience section. If you have plenty of work experience, let it speak for itself! The education section can go below. 

What to Include

Be sure to include this information in the education section:

✓ The degree you received.

✓ Your major and minor.

✓ Dates attended.

✓ The school’s name.

✓ The location of the school.

Optional: A few highlights, such as GPA, honors, or coursework. Choose a couple of short snippets to add that highlight achievements or successes. For instance, if you had a GPA of 4.0, that’s worth noting. 

If you have extensive work history, or went to school more than 15 years ago,
you can leave off the details about your education. Aim to only include the most important information in these small sections. For job-seekers who have recently graduated
and have a shorter work experience, include those notable details.

For example, a teacher’s education section might look like this:

✓ Work Experience Entry Example

M.S. Education 
Teachers College, Columbia University / New York, NY 

  • Graduated with honors
  • Coursework in Differentiated Learning, Multiple Intelligences, Curriculum Design
  • Member of Alpha Beta Kappa Educators Honors Society
2007-2009

Notes: 

  • If you’re still in school, you can list all of the above information, but note that your graduation date is anticipated.
  • Only include coursework if it’s relevant to the position you’re targeting.
  • If you attended college but did not attain a degree, don’t list a degree. Instead, either include the dates attended, or include the amount of credits received. 
  • If you’re still in college, add the degree and the expected date of graduation and the words “in progress” to indicate that you are completing the degree currently.
  • Relevant training and continuing education courses can be combined with your education section; format in the same general way, but include the course title, instructor and / or organization, and the year.

If you have relevant certifications, include them in your education section. Call it “Education and Certifications” and be sure to include this information for each certification:

The name of the certification

The name of the certifying organization or group

Date of the certification

Location (if applicable)

Remember to only include relevant information; so if you have 10 certifications in unrelated skills and areas, that’s great, but you don’t want to put it on your resume. The additional certifications can be added to your Linkedin profile, so you’re still able to highlight your accomplishments.

What to Avoid

  • High school. On a resume, you want to focus on the highest level of education attained. If that’s college and higher education, don’t include your high school information. Do include your high school information if you are targeting an entry-level role, a role that requires a high school diploma, or if you don’t have education beyond high school.
  • Irrelevant information: out-dated details, overly specific dates, or wordy descriptions aren’t helpful. Keep it relevant and keep it brief.

Education Section: Review

  • Show more experience: education relevant to the job is valuable experience. Show yours. 
  • Show your dedication: show your commitment to learning and professional development.
  • Put it where it counts: the education section of your resume may appear above or below the experience section, depending on things like your level of experience and your industry. 
  • Stay focused: your highest level of education is the one to include. 

 Optional Sections

Your resume should be a reflection of you and your experiences, so there’s a certain degree of personalization that will be required to tailor your resume to truly convey who you are to an employer. 

While the previously discussed sections are necessary to every resume, optional sections allow you to personalize the document. These sections help you show some of your unique achievements or talents, or just tell the employer something else about your experience that you feel is important.

What to Include

Career Highlights 

You’ll have listed achievements within your work history. However, if you have several that weren’t included on your work experience–perhaps you had too many to list, or they belong to work history too old to include–you can include this optional section. 

In an achievements section, you’ll want to include: 

The name or description of the achievement 

The name of the organization or company involved

Relevant dates

You can add this section under the Skills section. 

Professional Memberships

If you have professional memberships that can help show your devotion to the field, consider adding them to your resume. Include this information:

The name of the organization

If applicable, your role or title in the organization

If it is a former membership, you can note “Former Member” or
      the start and end dates for your membership. 

Any specific contributions worth noting

Alternately, you can combine professional memberships and volunteer experience (below) into one section called Community Leadership, Memberships & Affiliations.

Volunteer Experience

Have you done volunteering in your field? Great. Make a note of it on your resume! 

As mentioned earlier, if you don’t have much experience, you could create a volunteer section within your resume work experience section. If you’ve done this, don’t add a separate volunteer experience heading, as it will be redundant. 

However, if you’ve already added work experience and want to make note of your volunteer experience in an added section, include the following information: 

The name or names of organizations you volunteered for

Your role and frequency of volunteering

The dates you volunteered

Any specific achievements of note

Research and Publications

In certain fields such as academia or research, including research and publications is important–and if you’re making a CV, it is considered vital.  

For written research or published works, include the following information: 

Your name (last name, first name)

The title of the article or research paper (ensure it is in proper
      MLA citation format)

The name of the publication where it appeared, including
      issue or volume number if applicable 

The date of publication

Hobbies and Interests 

Here’s a commonly asked question about resumes: should you include hobbies and interests? 

In general, hobbies and interests only warrant a spot on your resume if they are specific to the job being offered. For instance:

  • Hobbies that show expertise:
    If you’re in the design field and maintain a design-focused blog, this could be a hobby to include.
  • Hobbies that show desirable skills:
    If you’re involved in activities that can showcase desirable skills such as leadership or teamwork, for instance working as a mentor for a youth program or collaborating on a group project, they could be worth mentioning. 

So while it might be cool that you count skydiving and cooking among your interests, unless they pertain to the job at hand, leave them off of your resume! 

What to Avoid

  • References. It can be tempting to include references in this section so that your employer can have all the info they need on one page. But remember: this is a marketing document, and references are not necessary in the traditional resume format.

    However, you likely will need references, so do have them at the ready for if and when your potential employer requests them. You can note in your cover letter that references are available upon request. If there is a note in the job application that references are required, simply include them on a separate page.
  • Information that is not relevant to the job. Make sure that the additions to this section contribute to your pitch of yourself as the best job candidate. For example, even though it was an achievement to win the local dodgeball league trophy, it’s not the type of information that belongs on your resume for a financial position.
  • Overly long descriptions. Remember, these are just extra sections to help you round out your resume. Keep them short and sweet; you can explain them in longer detail in your cover letter or an in person interview. 

Optional Sections: Review

  • Use them well:
    These added sections can be helpful, but only when relevant. Don’t add just to add!
  • Accuracy matters: be sure to format information properly, and double- check dates, spelling, and organizational names.
  • Keep it relevant: use these sections to help sell yourself!

 Resume Sections: Final Thoughts 

To create a resume that stands out, it’s important to take the time to tailor each section of your resume to best express who you are and what makes you the best choice for the position being offered. 

Every section of your resume matters, from how you list basic information like your name and address to your work experience, skills, and education. By taking the time and effort to understand the best way to format and organize each section, you’re helping yourself. 

About The Author

Ashley Wehnes
Ashley Wehnes

Established resume writer, HR expert, and business owner with over 10 years of success, providing tools and resources to clients during the often-tedious job search. With deep knowledge of a wide range of industries and markets, Ashley provides best-in-class service and sound advice to job seekers and professionals in pursuit of their career goals. As an active member of the National Resume Writers’ Association (NRWA) and partner, writer, and consultant for leading companies, including Indeed, ZipRecruiter, and Monster, Ashley is recognized for continually delivering award-winning documents in alignment with today’s industry standards.

Jessie Oleson Moore
Jessie Oleson Moore

Jessie Oleson Moore is a Philadelphia-based freelance writer / ghostwriter and artist. As a writer, she has written extensively on finance, day trading, personal growth, and career development and has extensive experience producing in-depth, research-based articles and guides. In addition, she is an accomplished illustrator and author who has appeared on The Today Show and been featured in Publisher's Weekly. In her free time, she’s an avid traveler, Ashtanga yoga practitioner, and unicorn enthusiast.