by Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D.
You probably have about 30 seconds to convince a potential employer that you deserve an interview. A resume summarizes your accomplishments, your education, and your work experience, and should reflect your strengths.
What follows is an outline of a typical chronological resume — best suited for entry-level job-seekers or those who have stayed in the same field. Career changers and those job-seekers with varied work experiences and accomplishments may want to utilize a functional resume style.
Not sure what kind of resume you need? Check out our Resume Resources for more details.
Here are the key components of a standard chronological resume:
It is essential that a potential employer can reach you.
This section should include your name, address, phone number(s), and e-mail address. If a college student, this section might also include a school address and a permanent home address.
A job objective is optional and should only be included for new college grads and those changing careers. Otherwise, use your cover letter to show your career interests and job objective.
Some resume experts are suggesting adding a section that highlights your key accomplishments and achievements. Think of this section as an executive summary of your resume; identify key accomplishments that will grab the attention of an employer.
This section should summarize (using nouns as keywords and descriptors) your major accomplishments and qualifications
This section can also be labeled “Professional Profile,” “Summary of Accomplishments,” “Key Skills,” “Summary of Qualifications,” “Qualifications Summary,” or “Qualifications.”
For new college grads, this entry should be your next. For others with full-time work experience, this section should follow your experience section.
This section should include school(s) attended (including years of attendance), majors/minors, degrees, and honors and awards received.
For new grads only: There appears to be a growing trend of employers wanting your GPA in this section. If you decide to do so, make sure to use the GPA that puts you in the best light — either overall GPA, school or college GPA, or major GPA.
This section can also be labeled “Experience, “Work History,” or “Employment.” We like using experience — especially for new college grads, because experience is broader than work history, allowing you to include major school projects that showcase your skills and abilities.
This section should include company name, your job title, dates of employment, and major accomplishments. List experiences in reverse chronological order, starting with your most current experience.
List your accomplishments in bullet format (rather than paragraph format). Avoid discussing job duties or responsibilities.
If you don’t have a lot of career-related job experience, consider using transferable skills to better highlight your work experience.
Finally, make sure to make use of action verbs when describing your accomplishments.
This section is optional; include only if you have room on your resume for it. Items from this section are often used as an ice-breaker by interviewers looking to start an interview on an informal basis.
This section should only include professional memberships and non-controversial activities/interests.
Many experts say this section is passe, but if you have room, include it. If nothing else, this section signals the end of your resume.
This section should only include a statement saying references are available upon request.
Do not include the names of your references on your resume.