Five Basic Sections of a Complete Resume

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Learn how to write a resume, what to add and how to cover up some job gaps.

If you're applying for a job that requires you to have experience in a certain field or skill, chances are you'll be asked to provide a resume. Resumes can be a challenge if you're starting from scratch but this article will help you get started and provide some guidelines to make your resume effective.

Think of your resume as several distinct sections and it may not be as daunting. There are five basic sections that comprise a resume. They are the header, the summary or profile, the work experience, education, and awards/achievements sections. This article will cover the basics of all five sections.

The Header. The top of the resume is called the header. It should be centered, include your name in large letters, and beneath your name, you should include every conceivable way by which you can be contacted to include address, home phone, cell phone, and email address at a minimum. This information must be accurate because this is how your prospective employer will contact you.

The Profile. This section should include a brief introduction of you and your qualifications. Lead it off with a centered job title in large letters (this may be title of the job for which you are applying). Under the job title, center three short selling points that make you an attractive applicant. These selling points could be things like "3-time shift manager of the month" or "fluent in Spanish" or anything that speaks to your unique ability to do the job well. Beneath your selling points, provide a 3 or 4 line narrative that summarizes your qualifications. A good beginning for this narrative could be, "Astute management professional with strengths in X, Y, and Z." Be sure to cover both your management skills and technical expertise, if both apply.

Work Experience. Your employer will want to know about the other jobs you've held. Start with the job title, the company you worked for, and the month and year you started and ended with that company. Then, provide a brief (3 or 4 line) job description that tells what you did in that job. Ensure you cover all the pertinent roles, responsibilities, and tasks associated with the job. Underneath the job description, provide between one and four significant achievements for this job. In this achievement section, you're trying to convey to the reader how you did the job well. With each achievement, be sure to include the impact of the achievement first, and then follow with the details of the accomplishment. Also, try to quantify the achievement by using numbers if possible. An example of an achievement might be, "Saved 150 man hours per week by automating a key process in the production department."  Be sure to include all of your jobs over the last 10 years and include a description and list of achievements for each.

Education. The education section should include your formal schooling as well as any other formal training you may have accomplished. Be sure to include the institution, year, degree, and any other information that may make you stand out. Example below:

Bachelor of Science, Psychology, University of Freud, City, ST, 1993

-GPA: 3.89, Honor Graduate, Vice-President of Study Body

Awards. This section should include any awards or certificates you earned in your previous work experience. The title of the award should be included with the year of the award. Example below:

IDEA Program Foresight Award, 2007

And that's it. Five sections to make one resume. Be sure to spell check your resume and have a friend look it over. Once you've written one, you can adapt it and update it as required for future use.  Remember, your resume is the first thing a potential employer will see. It is important to make a good first impression.


Explaining a Job Gap on a Resume

Since the economic crash and downturn of 2008 through 2010 and beyond, many people were without work for months and in some cases a year or longer. These gaps do not look good on a resume. Employers will want to know why you were without work. Of course the answers are varied that can range from not being able to find a job to a family situation to health reasons.

Do not be afraid to be honest, infact always be honest, and explain why you were let go or why you quit your previous job. If the job gap was in the past and you have since been working, there is probably no need to explain the job gap, unless asked. Use years instead of months and years. For example, you can just enter, Store Manager 2014-2016 instead of writing July 2014 to May 2016.

Automated Resume Screening

Another problem today for someone looking for a job is these resume scanning companies. These companies scan resumes and only select the ones they think the employer would be interested in. This is a concern considering the employer or company might never even see your resume.

It might be a good idea to hire a professional resume writer to do your resume for you or get some type of help. This depends on your field and the demand in your field of work.


Talha Qadri
Posted on Feb 1, 2012
Gayle Crabtree
Posted on Dec 26, 2011