Resume Writing – Resume Elements

No matter what type of resume you choose to profile your abilities, experiences, and skills, you’ll need to package your information in a clear and concise way.

All resumes should start out with the most important information at the top (your name, address, phone number) and the least important items at the bottom.

The following is a list of the most common resume elements. Use as many as are appropriate to your professional experiences and skills.

  • Contact information: This should include your name, address (don’t forget your e-mail address if you have one), and phone number. Some resumes list two addresses and phone numbers (e.g., local and permanent).
  • Summary or objective statement: A summary might include career overview, years and scope of experience, past functions and responsibilities, personal traits and skills. An objective statement, on the other hand, would describe your employment objective (e.g., “To apply my skills and experience in desktop publishing, graphic design and public relations with an organization involved with publishing or communications.”). Objective statements should be stated in the broadest terms possible. You don’t want to eliminate yourself from consideration for a position you really want by being too specific or narrow in your objective.
  • Experience: In reverse chronological order, list your title, the name and location of the organization, dates of employment, and a brief description of your position, highlighting your accomplishments. This section may include volunteer work, internships, and fieldwork.
  • Education: List the school’s name and location (city and state only), your degree, major, and date of graduation. (If your education is your most qualifying experience, place it after the summary or objective statement on your resume.)
  • Relevant coursework: Include this only if you have just recently graduated or are still in school. If you have been out of school for more than two years, do not include.
  • Special information: This could include your dissertation title, honors, or GPA (if outstanding), as well as awards and scholarships you won, or a comment explaining how you put yourself through college (e.g., “Financed tuition expenses through part-time employment and university scholarships.”).
  • Professional training and development: related courses or seminars
  • Professional affiliations and community organizations: List the name of the organization, the offices you held, and when you participated.
  • Special skills: technical skills, computer and software experience, foreign languages
  • Certifications or licenses: List only those related to your desired position.
  • Publications: proper citation with title and publication dates
  • Special awards: This might include such honors as “Employee of the Month,” “Top Sales Person of the Year,” or “Tournament Most Valuable Player.”
  • Extracurricular activities: School-related activities including offices held, involvement in clubs, and athletics. Include the dates of your involvement, and leave out anything from more than two years ago.
  • Interests: Include your favorite leisure activities, including sports, travel, community activities, etc. Eliminate this section if you need the space.

Additional Tips for Communicating Your Skills

Quantify – Utilize numbers or percentages whenever possible. Don’t say you merely increased sales. Say you “Increased sales by 75 percent while reducing waste by 25 percent.”

Be concise – Combine information in one clear statement, beginning with an action verb. Example: “Implemented new computer system for accounting department in accordance with client and sales staff requirements, training office personnel on new procedures including going online with electronic communications.”

Be active – When stating the action you took to improve a situation, express specifically how it was beneficial. Be as dynamic as possible. Explain how you improved efficiencies, saved time, or streamlined procedures. “Provided critical market analysis to the marketing and promotions staff which resulted in a 50 percent increase in direct revenues.” Use whatever is on your list of achievements to your best advantage. Creating a new filing system, no matter how ordinary it may seem, is actually a benefit if you did it in such a way as to save your past employer time and increase productivity.

See our Samples Page for examples of resumes and helpful resume worksheets.


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