What you should include on your resume

4 min | David Brown | Article | Resumes & cover letters

2 people reading resumes

Your resume should be a savvy sales document showcasing your key achievements. Every job you apply for is different, therefore tailored resumes will stand out from the rest. 

What should you put on your resume?

Contact details

This can be one of the most overlooked areas of a resume as it seems simple enough but you would be amazed how many people don't include proper contact details. Include your full name, address (country if you're applying internationally), email address and phone number.  Include links to any online professional profile such as LinkedIn

Personal summary / Objective statement
This is optional, but it’s a good opportunity to highlight in a few sentences what you hope to achieve in your next position, what you offer, and demonstrate how you will solve the hiring manager’s challenges. In marketing terms, this is the place for your ‘unique sales proposition, or ‘USP’. 
 
Include a key skills list 
A bulleted list of three to five examples, relevant to the role you are applying for. Wherever possible, use the same adjectives as those used in the job posting. 

Get in contact with a recruiting expert to help showcase your skills on your resume.  
 
Work experience
Provide a short summary line/description about the company and /or project and where you fit in the hierarchy; this will help hiring managers to envisage the scope of your role. Be sure to document if the business name has changed.  
 
Explain what you do and your key achievements 

  • Duties must be concise and achievements should demonstrate how you impacted the business, including quantified results. 
  • Include your techincal skills but more importantly, emphasize your soft skills. Technical skills can be learned through training and time, whereas soft skills you take with you into any role. 
  • Review the job description you are applying for and tie your achievements to the responsibilities of the job, showcasing you have the skillset and behaviours enabling you to be successful in this role. 

Education

Depending on where you're at in your career, include you post-secondary education and most recent degree, or education in progress.

No references at this stage 
Actual references are typically not relevant at this stage. It is fine to simply say ‘References are available on request’. 

What should your resume look like?

Formatting

  • Reverse-chronological format.
  • Your resume should be no more than two pages long.
  • It should be in one font such as Arial or Times New Roman.
  • Avoid too many font sizes (generally 12pt).
  • Use bullet points where appropiate instead of large paragraphs of texts which are hard to quickly read. 
  • Of course, free from errors - proofread two or three times. 

Language

The language you use on your resume has a huge impact. It shows both your written communicate skills and your competency of your expertise and skills.

  • Action Verbs: When communicating your achievements and results, using action verbs is one simple trick that will make you stand out. It makes you proove your strengths rather than listing them.  For example, instead of writing that you managed a team, try verbs such as ‘directed’, ‘guided’, ‘motivated’, ‘recruited’ or ‘united’. I.e. ‘I guided and motivated a team of three underperformers. After six months our key performance indictators had increased 25% YoY.’
  • Avoid cliches: You don't want to downplay or dilute the skills and experieince you have. For example, if you manage a team, you may want to include, "Excellent leadership skills" on your resume. However, how many other people say this exact same thing with no result? Per above if you want to be considered for a job interview, you want to showcase this skill as an achievement. Here are some resume cliches to avoid:
    • "A great team player"
    • "A hard worker"
    • "Results driven"
    • "A fast learner"
    • "Strong attention to detail"
    • "Good communication skills"
  • Avoid technical terms/company jargon that may not be familiar to your audience. Many companies have their own internal language/terms/acronyms that you become so accustomed to, you don't realize it's not the 'industry term'. You may include an excellent achievement on your resume but if no one can understand it, it won't help your chances. 

Remember, hiring managers/recruiters are looking at heaps of resumes and on average look at resumes for 7 seconds before deciding to continue or not. Spend the time now to put together a winning resume with the above tips and be once step closer to landing your dream job.  

About this author

David Brown
Americas President, Chief Executive Officer USA

David, a 21-year veteran of the staffing business, has been in charge of overseeing all US operations for Hays since 2018. Prior to leading Hays US, David held a number of positions in sales, sales management, and senior management. With his wife and three children, David resides in Atlanta and actively supports a number of regional non-profit organizations.

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