What Should a Professional Resume Include?

Professional resumes should include summaries experience, skills and accomplishments.

Professional resumes should include summaries experience, skills and accomplishments.

A resume is your primary selling tool when you apply for jobs. Along with a cover letter, it's the only item employers have when determining whether to invite you in for an interview. Therefore, your resume must differentiate you from other job seekers. While there are certain elements a professional resume must include, there are ways to highlight your experience and skills to get attention.

Contact Information

Place contact information such as your name, phone number and e-mail address at the top of your resume. Most people center their names and contact information in bold, but setting it against the left or right margins is also acceptable. To differentiate yourself from others, include any websites you have online, such as one including samples of your work, including brochures or packages you designed. Direct employers to resumes on social networking sites -- Facebook, LinkedIn and Plaxo -- which makes it more convenient for multiple managers at companies to view your resume.

Summary of Skills and Accomplishments

Include a summary of your skills and accomplishments after your contact information. This spot is usually reserved for a "job objective," but many resume experts don't recommend using one. Job objectives do little to tailor your background to a job or offer anything compelling about you, according to "U.S. News & World Report." Instead, use the space to summarize what you can offer a company. If you are a marketing research professional, for example, say, "Marketing research manager with 15 years experience in designing questionnaires, analyzing survey data and writing reports, and using secondary research for business strategies."

Education

Highlight your education near the top of your resume -- after your skills and accomplishments summary. Start with your most recent education, such as that master's degree you earned in business. Include the name, city and state of the institution and the degree you earned. Insert any other institutions you attended and your bachelor's degree, for example, a couple of spaces down.

Summary of Experience

The chronological resume is recommended if you have less extensive experience. This means listing all your jobs, starting with the most recent one. Type the names of companies, cities, states and positions you held. Include the years you worked for these companies -- 2009 to 2013, for example. Use bullet points to highlight your major duties and projects, which makes your resume more readable, according to Quintessential Careers. Include lots of action verbs when describing your experience: organized, managed and analyzed, for example. Use present tense verbs for your current job and past tense for previous positions. Quantify results of any projects. For example, you might have "Increased sales by 10 percent," or, "Reduced expenses 20 percent."

 

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