The Critical Elements of a Resume

Resumes come in all shapes and sizes these days, and it is important to know the one that is right for you. Whether you are a recent graduate or a tenured executive, there are several key components to a resume that everyone should have.


  1. Your Contact Information

It seems obvious, but as a recruiter, I’ve seen so many resumes where I spent precious time just trying to figure out how to get in touch with the person whose resume I’m reviewing. Your contact information should be at the top of your resume where it is clearly visible. Contact information should consist of the following information:

  • Your full name – no nicknames please
  • Location – you do not need your full address, just the city and state or metro area
  • Phone number – preferably a mobile number
  • Email address – a personal email, not your current or past work email
  • Your Linkedin profile – recruiters view this as just as important as your resume these days



  1. A Strong Headline 



This should be a captivating headline that showcases your brand/area of expertise and fits the role that you are applying to. This can be customized for each job that you are applying to by plugging in key words used in the employer’s job description. For example: Strategic UX Software Engineer OR maybe the employer uses the word Developer instead of Engineer.


  1. A Summary Section

The headline should sit on top of a strong summary where you highlight your overall expertise. It is preferably a 4 to 5line paragraph that demonstrates what you can offer to the employer rather than what you are “seeking”. As most employers are “selfish” and have a lot of candidates to choose from, the objective statement is out and employers want to know why they should pick you, so this is where you really need to sell yourself.

  1. A Skills or Core Competencies Section

The main purpose of a resume is to demonstrate your skillset, which is why you will need to include a section below your summary (two to three columns) of skills. Skills should include the specific competencies that employers are looking for, so don’t be shy to pull straight from job descriptions that you are looking for. For example, if the employer needs someone who has worked in Salesforce, and you have the experience, you’ll want to include that right at the top where it stands out to the resume reviewer.


It’s okay to include some soft skills as well like problem-solving, communication, adaptability, and leadership, but don’t waste space with too many of these. A good number of skills is 9 to 12.


  1. Professional Experience

Although it falls in the middle of your resume, not the top, it is probably the most important section. Recruiters and hiring managers don’t want to have to look far for this information either, so try to ensure it starts on your first page. The last 10 to 15 years will be most critical, anything before that can typically be removed or summarized. When summarizing, you do not need to include the location where the job was held or the dates of employment.


The structure of this section should be the employer name, city and state, the dates of employment (in a year to year format) followed by your job title as shown below:


Employer Name, City, State                      2012 – 2018

Job Title


Following the above should be a 1 to 2-sentence job scope, which is a brief job description that will give the reader an understanding of your role at a high level. Usually, you can pull information from your bullet points as they represented ‘duties’ you performed as opposed to results. You will also want to include the environment you worked in, for example as part of a team/department or if you supervised any direct reports.


After the job scope should be a minimum of 4 bulleted accomplishment statements. Accomplishment statements should include what did you do, how did you do it and what was the end result. Add quantifiable results wherever possible; employers love to see real numbers. Things like “responsible for/duties included/accountable for/etc.” can be avoided. Try to use strong action verbs instead like “managed/drove/led/executed/directed/etc.”

  1. Education & Training/Professional Development

Most jobs will have some sort of educational requirement and this is your opportunity to highlight that hard-earned education. It is not necessary to include your high school education, years of attendance/graduation date or your GPA; however, if you’d like to include that you “graduated with honors”, “deans list” or “cum laude” that is acceptable.


Education should always appear at the bottom of the resume, unless you are a recent graduate and you do not have a lot of work experience yet. In this case, feel free to add additional information from your education like special projects, research, clubs and memberships.


Feel overwhelmed? Need help with your resume? Get your resume reviewed today!