Looking for a job isn’t a walk in the park, especially if you’ve never done it before. Besides reading through dozens of job applications, you are also required to write a resume and figure out how to effectively organize your resume sections.
Dividing your resume into sections properly can seem scary and confusing at first. So, if you absolutely have no idea where to even start, have no worries—we’ve got your back!
Not only will we teach you all about different types of resume sections in this guide, but we will also show you what they should contain and how to organize them with zero trouble!
Resume sections are parts of your resume that include detailed information about you, your work history, education, abilities, and much more.
There are two types of resume sections—mandatoryand optional.
The order of your resume sections will mostly depend on the amount of experience you have.
To effectively organize resume sections in 2022, you should keep your resume one page long, maintain the same format throughout the entire document, and properly write resume section titles.
13 Key Resume Sections You Can Include in Your Resume
Resume sections are parts of your resume that help distinguish different types of information about yourself.
There are more than 10 parts of a resume (13, actually!) that you can include in your document, and they are divided into two categories:
2 Resume Sections Categories
Mandatory Resume Sections
Mandatory resume sections are the parts that each resume should contain.
These include information such as:
Mandatory Resume Sections
Contact information. Without the contact information section, recruiters won't be able to reach out to you if they think you'd be a good match for the position they offer.
Education. This section should include your academic experiences, such as the high school you attended or the university degree you obtained.
Work experience. This part of your resume should feature each of the previous positions you held that is relevant to the job you’re applying for.
Skills. The skills section should present a blend of your most prominent hard and soft skills.
Objective/summary. The objective or the summary of your resume is a section where you can give a brief statement of yourself and your work to attract recruiters’ attention right from the start.
Optional Resume Sections
Besides the mandatory resume sections, there are also some optional resume sections you can enrich your document with, such as:
Optional Resume Sections
Extracurricular activities. This is a perfect resume section for students, as it allows them to list some relevant after-school activities they were part of.
Hobbies/interests. If you have any hobbies related to the job you’re applying for, you should cover them in a separate section to add a personal touch to your resume.
Languages. Speaking foreign languages is a great achievement on its own, and you would definitely benefit from mentioning it on your resume.
Projects. If you worked on any projects that can be relevant to the job you’re interested in, you can list them on your resume, too.
Awards. This section is the best place to flaunt any of your achievements or awards that can also relate to the job you’re applying for.
Publications. This is the part of your resume where you should mention the articles, journals, books, or any other type of printed or digital written work you have published.
Certifications. You should also dedicate one of your resume sections to the courses you attended and the certifications you obtained upon finishing them.
Volunteer work. Adding your previous volunteer work to a resume is a great way to show hiring managers that you’re willing to go the extra mile for important causes.
How to Order Resume Sections Depending on Experience
The short answer to the “how you can order your resume sections?” question is that it usually depends on the amount of work experience you have. This means that if you’re a college student, the order of your resume sections will look different from that of a professional or a career changer.
So, are you ready to learn how you can organize your resume sections depending on your professional history? Let’s dive in!
If you've recently graduated from university and don't have prior professional experience, don’t worry! You can still wow the recruiters if you organize your sections in the following order:
Work experience (if they have any)
Additional sections (if applicable)
Since recent graduates usually have little to no experience, they will start their resume with a convincing resume objective and their education history details. This way, they will highlight their strengths and convince the recruiters that they are motivated and eager to grow, even though they still don’t have an enviable work history.
Unlike recent graduates, young professionals have a work history they can showcase. Here’s what their resume section order will look like:
You can see that, as a young professional, you need a resume summary—not a resume objective. And, since you already have some experience, you’ll mention the relevant positions you held first and then list your education details and skills.
Here’s in what order executives should organize their resume sections:
As an executive, you probably have a rich work history, and that’s exactly why you would want to highlight your professional experience first. You can also see that the order is the same as in young professionals' resumes, but executives will probably have more experience to showcase.
A career changer resume focuses mostly on the skills section, as they may not have a relevant work history in a specific field. For this reason, a person who is switching careers should list this part before any academic or work experience. This resume format is also known as a functional resume, and it looks like this:
Resume summary or objective
When it comes to the resume summary or objective, they can opt for any of those, depending on whether they have any skills or experience that resonate with the job they’re applying for.
If you’re not sure which format is best for you and want to stay safe with your option, it’s best to choose the standard resume format, which looks like this:
Resume summary or objective
#1. Contact Information Section
The first section you should include in your resume is the contact information section. It provides the basic information about you and helps hiring managers get in touch with you if they like what they see on your resume. It needs to contain your:
What To Put
First and last name
Location (city and state will suffice)
Don’t get too creative with the section title. Instead, go for the classic yet effective “Contact Information.” This is also important because ATS (applicant tracking systems) are programmed to recognize keywords like these, so using them can definitely help you pass the scan more easily.
That being said, here are some details you should avoid listing in this section:
What To Avoid
Your race. Adding your race to your resume can lead to discrimination, so it’s better not to mention it at all.
Your address. There’s no need to disclose where you live, as some employers tend to reject candidates based on how far from the company they reside before they even talk to them.
Your nickname. As much as you want to be friendly with your potential boss, adding a nickname to your resume may make you seem unserious.
There are also some things you can sometimes add to the contact information section of your resume if the job description requires it, such as:
Additional Information To Add
Social media accounts (if they are related to the job you’re applying for)
Resume photo (depending on the job description requirements and the country you want to work in)
LinkedIn profile (if relevant)
Contact Information Section Examples
A good contact information resume section will look like this:
Make sure to position the contact information at the top of your resume layout, where recruiters can see it right away.
#2. Resume Summary or Objective
The resume summary or resume objective section goes right after the contact information one.
A resume objective is a short statement (usually 2-4 sentences long) that emphasizes your most prominent skills and career goals. It’s typically used by recent graduates or people who are switching careers, as they usually don’t have much work experience they can summarize.
On the other hand, a resume summary is an equally long statement that showcases your biggest professional achievements and the skills you have obtained during your work history.
These sections should be one of the first things recruiters will see when they look at your resume. They can easily skim through them for keywords that match their job description, and if you pass this first check, they will then continue to look at your full resume.
Also, this part of your resume does not need a title. However, if you want to add it for aesthetic purposes, make sure to title it “(Career) Objective” or “Summary.”
Let’s put all this into practice—let’s check out this example of a good resume objective example:
Here, it is clearly mentioned what your career goals are and what skills the candidate has developed so far. It also states the readiness to use said skills in the company they’re applying to.
Also, here’s an example of a solid resume summary:
As you see here, the previous experience of the candidate is the main factor that contributes to the effectiveness of this resume summary. It clearly states what the work was like beforehand and how the candidate wants to contribute to the potential employer’s business growth.
#3. Work Experience Resume Section
When the employer checks your resume, the first section they will focus on is the one containing your previous work experience.
When it comes to the format of this section, you should mention:
What To Mention
The position you held
Name of the company
Location of the company
Start and end dates of employment (month and year)
Main responsibilities and achievements within the role
Here are several tips you should follow if you want to make your work experience section even more absorbing:
Work Experience Tips
List your previous employment in reverse chronological order. This means that you should list your job positions starting with the most recent one.
Use action verbs. These words are considered dynamic because they highlight your achievements and make them more captivating and memorable.
Title the section properly. As with other sections, you shouldn’t reinvent the wheel when it comes to the title. “Work Experience” is all you need there.
A good example of a properly written work experience resume section can look like this:
#4. Education Resume Section
The education resume section is there to provide crucial information about your educational background. This part is especially important if you’re a student, a recent graduate, or someone who doesn’t have much work experience under their belt.
Start this section by titling it correctly—simply “Education” will suffice—and then include the following information:
What To Include
Name of the program/degree
Name of the institution
Location of the institution
Years attended (start and end date)
There are also some optional details you can add to this part, such as:
GPA (if it’s 3.5 or higher)
Some honors and academic achievements you’re most proud of
Your high school education details don’t need to be added to your resume if you have a higher degree. Yet, if you have not attended college yet and you don’t have other degrees, you can include them in this section.
Now, let’s look at an example that should help you visualize what you just read:
#5. Skills Resume Section
The skills resume section is the perfect space to showcase what you are good at. Whether you have any work experience on your resume or not, your skills are there to show recruiters what abilities they can expect you to show at work.
Soft vs. Hard Skills
The skills you need to list on your resume can be divided into two categories—soft and hard skills. First, let’s see what the difference between these two is.
Soft skills—also known as people or social skills—are skills that show how well you behave in social interactions and what personality traits you possess. These are a requirement for any job you apply to, as they interlink with work gatherings and the way you collaborate with other teammates.
Some common soft skills include:
Soft Skills To Include
On the other hand, hard skills are technical abilities that help you advance in your job. These can be learned through academic experience, course training, or at work.
Some common hard skills are:
Hard Skills To Include
Computer software knowledge
Level of Proficiency
The hard skills you list on your resume should be followed by proficiency level information. The most common way to split proficiency level scales is to add one of the following marks to each skill:
It’s crucial to be honest when doing this, as hiring managers can easily check whether you’re as good at something as you say. If they notice that you have been dishonest, they will consider you unserious and reject you.
Not all the skills you possess can be applied in different job positions. To make your resume relevant to the specific role you’re applying for, you need to tailor your skills section to the job description you’re interested in.
The first thing you need to do is research the company and take a good look at the job ad. By doing this, you’ll get the gist of what the company’s hiring managers are looking for and choose only the skills that can catch their attention.
For example, if the job position you’re applying for is managerial and IT-related, you will want to highlight your software knowledge, leadership skills, problem-solving, etc.
Skill Section Examples
Check out how you can list your soft skills through this example:
You can also list your hard skills in a similar way:
8 Other Optional Resume Sections
Optional resume sections—just as the name suggests—are sections on your resume that are not mandatory. However, the fact that they’re not necessarily required doesn’t mean you can’t add them to your document if you consider them necessary.
The best time to integrate these sections into your resume is if you have some extra space left after listing your skills, education history, professional experience, etc.
Besides that, it's also a good idea to use optional resume sections whenever they are relevant to the job you’re applying for.
Listing the languages you speak is a great way to show that you can take on jobs in international companies that have clients and employees in different parts of the world.
What you can do in this section is mention any other language you speak (besides your mother tongue) and how well you speak it (your level of proficiency).
A good way to list your language skills is the following:
You can also list your languages with a visual that shows your proficiency level like this:
#2. Extracurricular Activities
If you’re currently creating a student resume and lack any prior formal work experience, you can definitely add some extracurricular activities to your document. Still, keep in mind that you should only mention the ones in which you had an active role.
For this section, it is best to mention the exact activities you engaged in, the institution that organized them, and the period during which you were part of these.
Let’s have a look at this example of how you can include extracurricular activities on your resume:
#3. Hobbies and Interests
Adding your hobbies and interests to a resume usually isn’t a common practice. However, if you still want to do it, make sure that what you list is tailored to the specific job description.
Here’s what the hobbies and interests section can look like:
Publications are a highly recommendable section to include in a resume if you are applying for a writer, researcher, or metric position. In some cases, employers will also specifically ask you to put publications on your resume as a way to check your credibility.
The best way to do it is to choose a specific citation method—people usually opt for the APA or MLA style—and stick to it. Depending on the style, you may need to disclose some or all of the following information:
What To Disclose
Title of the publication
Year of publication
You can use the following example to list your publications properly:
#5. Awards and Certificates
Listing your awards and certificates is a great way to let hiring managers know that you still want to learn and grow, even though you might not have a long work history or a high degree. Also, if you obtained some certifications while you were unemployed, this section can show recruiters that you didn’t just sit and wait for a job to find you but worked on yourself.
Make sure that you title the section “Certifications” and mention when and from which institution you got the certification.
Listing some projects on a resume can replace formal work experience and show recruiters that you have worked on something even though you weren't necessarily officially employed. Here, you should mention:
What To Mention
The topic/name of the project
The period during which you worked on the project
Main responsibilities you had within the project
Here’s what this may look like:
Make sure to also title the section properly with either “Projects” or “Key Projects.”
#7. Volunteering Experience
Putting volunteer work on your resume is a common practice. If you lack any other formal work experience, it is a good idea to add such endeavors to your document. Volunteer work shows that you are committed to your community’s well-being, which is a soft skill that many companies look out for.
To list your volunteer experience properly, you should mention the position you held and the name of the company you volunteered for, as well as the period during which you volunteered for them.
Visualizing what we just said will make this section look like this:
Internships show that you have still worked for a period of time even though it is considered more of a training. They also let recruiters know that you have worked on developing new skills that you can use on your next job, so you should definitely consider adding them to your resume.
When you do it, make sure to specify the position you held, the company’s name and location, the period during which you did it, and your main responsibilities within the role. You can also add internships to your professional experience section if you don’t want to insert a separate section for them in your resume.
Here’s an example of what this should look like:
Tips for Organizing Resume Sections
After reading all this, you should definitely be more familiar with the best way to write your resume sections. Still, it doesn’t hurt to check out a few more tips that can make this process even easier, so here they are:
Keep the resume one page long. A two-page resume can seem messy, and it’s usually considered too long, so make sure to fit everything onto one page.
Keep it relevant. List only the jobs, skills, and experiences that are relevant to the job description you’re interested in.
Keep it concise. Be brief but understandable. Don’t make the resume sections too detailed or too vague—try to find the perfect middle ground.
Title sections correctly. You won’t get any extra points if you come up with creative or funny section titles. These need to be clear and feature exactly what those parts of your resume contain—nothing more than that.
Keep the same formatting throughout the entire document. Make sure that the entirety of your resume has the same font, margins, text size, and color in each resume section. A sloppy format makes a sloppy and unserious resume.
And that’s it—you’ve officially made it to the end of the guide, which means that you have read everything there is to know about resume sections!
To sum it all up—resume sections are what makes your resume neat and organized. If you manage to find the right place for each of them, your job application will look complete and provide all the information recruiters may need. Once you realize how to do it, nothing can stop you, and getting your dream job becomes a piece of cake!