What to include in a resume

Your resume is the best marketing tool you can have for your career. It’s designed to be an overview of your professional experience, skills and accomplishments. If you know what to include in a resume and apply it, your CV will help secure your first interview.

Conversely, provide too much information or the wrong kind of information, and your CV could end up at the bottom of the pile.

Here is the definitive checklist of what to include in a resume:

Your contact details

  • Ensure that your contact details are up-to-date, and include both your email address and mobile number.

A summary

  • This is a short (50-100 word) summary of who you are. Think of it as your ‘elevator pitch’: more than just an overview of who you are, this should help the organisation understand why you are of strategic value to their business.
  • The statement should be carefully tailored to the job description and quickly sum up who you are, your experience and skills, what you can bring to the organisation and your overall career goals.

Your education

  • Include your professional and higher education qualifications. These should be listed in chronological order, starting with the most recent. If you are currently studying, be sure to include it, as it’s an indication of your future skillset and capabilities.
  • Also include any vocational training. If this list is extensive, list only the most relevant training.

Work history

  • Outline each role and company in chronological order, starting with the most recent, and add the dates you worked there.
  • List your responsibilities and achievements for each role. It’s tempting to simply list the tasks you did on a day-to-day basis. However, it’s critical to demonstrate the positive impact that each task had on the business. For example, if you had identified that you were responsible for ‘implementing new IT security software’, explain that ‘the new software directly contributed to an 87% decrease in threats to the IT security of the business’.
  • Highlight your most important career achievements, and/or the most relevant career achievements to the role you are applying for, by bringing them to the top of the list.
  • Be sure to explain any career gaps. Candidates often leave these out – however, if you do, you risk an employer rejecting your CV because they find the gaps suspicious. Explain the reason for the career gap in a concise and positive way.
  • If you have been featured in any publications and the articles give specific reference to your achievements, you can add a note against the relevant role.

Interests and hobbies

  • In considering what to include in a resume, ‘interests and hobbies’ are often hotly debated. Some companies encourage potential employees to include interests and hobbies as they encourage a work-life balance and want to ensure you are a good cultural fit. Other, more traditional companies may perceive it as unprofessional. If you do decide to reference your interests and hobbies, ensure that they are relevant to the role that you are applying for.

Now that you know what to include on your resume, the next step is to eliminate any unnecessary information.

Take a look at our resume tips page for more advice on how to write a resume.