The five most important parts of a resume are your contact information, resume introduction, experience, skills, and education. This standard outline is appropriate for nearly any job seeker.
However, there are also many optional pieces of information you can add to your resume, depending on your unique experience and the requirements of the job you’re applying to.
To help you make a great resume that contains all necessary information and some optional sections if they pertain to you, below we’ve included a complete guide for each of the components of a resume and what should be included.
What are the 5 main resume parts?
Here are the five main sections of a resume:
1. Contact Information
The purpose of your contact information is to help the hiring manager quickly know who you are and how to reach you.
Your contact information should be listed in your resume header, and include these five pieces of information:
- First and last name
- Phone number
- Mailing address (optional)
- LinkedIn (optional)
- Current job title (optional)
Here’s an example of contact details on a resume:
2. Resume Introduction
Your resume introduction is a quick three-to-four sentence summarization to the hiring manager that details your experience, relevant skills, and other key qualifications.
You can best think of your resume introduction as an elevator pitch. It’s the first resume section the hiring manager will see and should grab their attention immediately.
There are four main types of resume introductions:
- Resume summary
- Resume objective
- Resume profile
- Summary of qualifications
However, most people normally write either a resume summary or objective.
A resume summary is nearly always a good choice for job seekers, particularly those with previous work experience and notable career achievements.
When writing a resume summary, focus on detailing your most job-relevant career experience, skills, and accomplishments. Essentially, it should serve as the highlight reel of your career for the hiring manager to quickly review and ensure that your qualifications match the job requirements.
Here’s an example of a resume summary for an electrician:
Skilled journeyman electrician with more than 6 years of experience installing, repairing, and maintaining low-voltage electrical systems. Have personally worked on and repaired 500+ houses during my tenure. Skilled in interpreting blueprints and schematics, and possess a Journeyman Electrician License issued in California.
On the other hand, if you’re an entry-level candidate with very little or no relevant work experience, you should write a resume objective because an objective focuses on your career ambitions more than your accomplishments.
Resume objectives are written to target a specific position and show how you would use your skills, experience, and training to help the company achieve their goals.
Here’s a resume objective example for a recent college graduate:
Recent graduate with a B.S. in Marketing and a 3.9 GPA. Gained more than a year of experience in web-based advertising, data analysis, and customer relations while interning for a local marketing firm. Outspoken personality with excellent customer service skills. Looking to leverage my academic background and expertise to fill the marketing role at ABC company.
3. Professional Experience
Work experience is one of the most essential parts of a resume, and for most candidates will make up the bulk of their resume’s content.
When listing work experience, include the following information for each entry:
- Employer or company name
- Location (city and state)
- Employment dates
- Three to five bullet points describing your responsibilities and accomplishments
Action verbs help make your experience sound more impressive and interesting to read to hiring managers, while using hard numbers and statistics gives them a clear picture of how you contributed on the job at your previous employer.
Here’s a work experience example for a wedding planner that includes action verbs and hard numbers:
The skills section of your resume sums up your expertise and skillsets to the hiring manager in a short, easy-to-read list. Regardless of how much experience you have, you should always include a skills section on your resume.
Hard skills will typically only include technical skills that you acquired through training, education, or otherwise hands-on experience. Meanwhile, soft skills most often consist of personality traits and people skills.
Here’s an example of a skills section on a consulting resume:
The level of detail you add to your resume education section can vary based on how much work experience you have and the number of degrees you’ve achieved.
For example, if you’ve just graduated from college, the education part of your resume should be highly detailed and include any information that’s relevant to the job you want.
However, after working in your industry for a couple of years, consider omitting some less-important details (such as your GPA and honors) when listing your degree unless you’re writing a grad school resume.
This is because your work experience will now likely be a more important factor regarding your employability to a hiring manager.
At the very least, your resume education section should include the following four items:
- School name
- Graduation year
For additional items, consider listing your GPA on your resume (as long as it’s 3.5 or above) to help demonstrate that you’re hardworking, studious, and responsible.
If you have limited work experience, consider adding relevant coursework, extracurricular activities, academic awards, or even sororities or fraternities you were in as components to help demonstrate your hard and soft skills.
Here’s a properly formatted education section on a grad school resume, complete with relevant coursework and academic awards:
6 additional parts of a resume (Optional)
Now that you have a good understanding of the required parts of a resume, knowing which additional (optional) sections to add can be a powerful tool to put yourself above similarly qualified candidates.
While none of these resume sections are necessary, depending on your experience and the requirements of the position or university you’re applying to, they can help paint a fuller picture of who you are and what value you can bring to the organization if hired or admitted.
1. Training, certifications, and licenses
Many professions, such as personal trainers, coaches, or tradespeople, require outside training to be considered qualified for their jobs. Thus, they will benefit from including their certifications, licenses, and training on their resume.
You can choose to include your training, certifications, or licenses in your education section or otherwise in its own dedicated section toward the bottom of your resume.
Here’s an example of an RN license on a nursing resume:
2. Language skills
Language skills can be a huge asset in many professions that require you to work with international customers and clients.
Typically, listing the foreign language(s) and your proficiency level in your resume’s skills section will suffice, but if you really want to draw attention to it, consider making a dedicated “Languages” section.
Here’s an example of how to list language skills on a sales resume:
- Excellent Microsoft Excel abilities: Pivot tables, data analysis, and market trends
- Client relationship management
- Customer service
- Interpersonal skills
- Strong, convincing personality
- Bilingual: Native Spanish & English speaker
3. Projects & freelance work
Putting your freelance work or projects on your resume is a great way to portray your nontraditional work experience.
Depending on your background, you can create dedicated sections for your projects and freelance work or list them in your work experience section. For example, consider making two separate sections if you have both traditional and freelance work experience.
If, however, you’re a full-time freelancer, putting all of your projects or freelance work under your work experience section is fine. Ensure you include the name of the project you worked on (or client if freelance work), its duration, and three to five bullet points detailing your responsibilities (similar to traditional work experience.)
4. Volunteer work
If you’re a college student that’s lacking work experience, putting volunteer work on your resume is a good method for highlighting leadership skills and showing the hiring manager that you have the necessary hard and soft skills required for the job.
When listing volunteer work, there are two methods. First, if your volunteer experience is highly relevant to the position you’re applying for, treat it the same as professional experience by listing it in your work experience section with three to five bullet points describing your responsibilities.
However, if your volunteer experience isn’t relevant, either omit it or list it toward the bottom of your resume in a dedicated section with only one or two bullet points describing what you did.
Here’s an example of how to list volunteer experience on a high school resume:
5. Awards and honors
Listing awards and honors on your resume, in addition to your work experience, is an excellent way to add credibility to your qualifications and expertise. Academic awards and honors can also act as leverage for students by displaying their academic excellence to universities or hiring managers.
When listing awards and honors, you’ll want to display the award name, date received, and purpose or explanation (if the award is not well known or easily recognizable.)
Academic awards should be listed in your education section, in a bullet point underneath your degree. All other professional awards can be listed in a dedicated “awards” section.
Here’s an example of how to list awards on a resume:
6. Hobbies and interests
Lastly, listing hobbies and interests on your resume is a good way to show off some of your hard and soft skills, especially if you lack work experience. Additionally, they can give the hiring manager a glimpse into your personal life and character.
However, especially in the U.S., it’s best to avoid putting hobbies and interests on your resume unless the employer specifically asks for them. Listing them will also make it harder for you to stick to a one page resume, especially if you’ve gathered quite a lot of work experience.
Here’s an example of how to list hobbies and interests on your resume: