6 sections of your resume

Your resume should have at least these 6 sections

Considering that your resume is probably the most important financial document you’ll ever own, making sure that it is properly crafted is of the utmost importance. 

Did you wrinkle your brow at the concept of a resume being a financial document? Let’s think about it for a second. Without a job, you can’t pay bills, go on vacation, or plan for retirement. Without a great resume, you can’t win the interview that will land the job. 

Now that’s settled, let’s dive into the 6 sections that must always be on your resume.

Your resume and the Applicant Tracking System (ATS)

Before a hiring manager can lay eyes on your resume it will often go through the ATS. These systems scan resumes for things like relevant keywords, experience, and education. Having your resume laid out in the proper format (the most common is the reverse-chronological format) with the right section headers will help you get past the ATS. 

So, what are the sections that you need on your resume?

Contact information

Your contact information should be the very first thing on the page. Do not, for the love of resumes, bury it in the footer or even set it as a header. Make it the first thing and make it part of the document. The reason you don’t want to bury it in the footer is because you want to make sure it is as easy as possible for the hiring manager to find your information. Setting it as the header makes it almost impossible for the ATS (we’ll discuss ATS later in this book) to parse your information. You can be fairly creative and use bold font in your contact information and even put a border under it to separate it from the body of your resume.

Title

You should add a title, centered on a line by itself just below your contact info. It will represent what you want to do and will mirror the program description. A hiring manager will only spend about 6 seconds glancing at your resume. A title will help them immediately know what your job goal is. 

Professional summary

The very next thing on the page should always be your Professional Summary, Career Summary, Professional Profile, or whatever else you want to call it.

This is a 3-5 sentence statement about you that basically answers the Tell me about yourself interview question. Where you’ve been in your career, where you’re going, and how you’ll use your experience to get there. The days of writing an Objective are dead (by the way, the days of the one-page resume are dead, too). 

Just beneath the professional summary will be a SKILLS list. This is a simple list of 9-12 keywords. It’s a mix of hard skills (things you know how to do because of education and experience) and soft skills (personality traits).  This list is directly targeted to the program/job you’re applying to.

pro tip place important information above the fold

Professional experience

Begin by listing your most recent position first and work your way back to your first position. However, don’t go further back than about 10 years. Keeping the content on your resume within the last 10 years ensures that it is fresh and current.

The main idea here is context. You want to put what you did into a context that the hiring manager can relate to the job she is trying to fill. So, you worked at Burgers R Us as a Front Counter Manager and you trained the new employees.

That’s great!

Put two words into your brain right now, “so what?” The hiring manager is going to be thinking, you might as well be thinking it. Every time you write something on your resume, think “so what?”

  • Why am I writing this?
  • What value did it add to my employment at Burgers R Us?
  • What value will it bring to my new employer?

Additionally, it is important to talk about what you achieved instead of just what your responsibilities were. Just because you were supposed to do something at your last job doesn’t mean you actually did it. If you talk about what you achieved you can better showcase how you will help the company to which you’re applying.

Don’t forget about achievements:

There needs to be at least 5 measurable accomplishments listed on your resume. These can be qualitative or quantitative. For example, a great quantitative achievement would be to talk about how many students you teach or what percentage you’ve been able to raise test scores. “Reviewed TABE test scores to ascertain student shortfalls and used those inefficiencies as opportunities for improvement resulting in a 15% increase in scores over the prior year.”

Education

This section seems fairly self-explanatory. A huge opportunity is missed by a lot of people in the education section, though. Instead of just listing your degree and where you went to school, you can further demonstrate your knowledge by listing some of the courses you took. Now, if you took Art Appreciation as an elective, it probably will not help to list that (unless you’re going into a creative field). 

DO NOT list your high school. If you have higher education, the assumption is that you finished high school or at least obtained your GED as you can’t get into college without one or the other.

Even if you have no higher education, my suggestion would still be to not list your high school, just leave the education section completely off your resume.

Listing high school doesn’t say “I finished high school,” it says “I didn’t go to college.”

The absence of the education section will not cause you to miss out on an interview; however, it will give you and the interviewer something to talk about.

Awards, certifications, and volunteer work

It is important to list what you do outside of work and school. The idea of listing awards and certificates is fairly common, but many people leave off volunteer work.

  • Were you the president of a fraternity/sorority?
  • Did you get involved with showing new students around campus?
  • Have you headed a sales team that produced top awards?
  • Were you an employee of the month?

This is the section that shows more of your core personality, i.e., you as a person, not just an employee.

You can highlight patience and dedication through professional experience; however, demonstrating those qualities while volunteering punctuates that you truly possess those qualities.

Help is always available

Of course, all of this can be a lot to take in — especially considering that we haven’t even talked about accomplishments, certifications, publications, honors, and projects. If you need help, drop us a line. 

 

    what should a great cover letter look like

    What should a great cover letter look like?

    Not too long ago, it was thought that the age of using a cover letter was dying. That is no longer the case. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, companies have been more interested in cover letters as a means for connecting with job seekers. 

    What should your cover letter look like?

    sample cover letter

    The layout, heading, and greeting

    Your cover letter tells the hiring manager what you can do for them. It should be a formal letter specifically addressed to the hiring manager at the company with whom you’re applying. It is okay to use the greeting “To Whom It May Concern” if you don’t know the name of the person specifically, but a name is always best. 

    The body - paragraph 1

    The first paragraph should be written to tell the hiring manager how you heard about the opening and to express your desire to apply. Now, this may seem self-explanatory (who would send a cover letter and resume to a company if the intent wasn’t to apply for a job?) but there is an actual reason. The company likely posted that job on multiple job boards and it is also probably listed on their company website. Telling you where you found it gives them valuable marketing information about their job posts. So, you’re helping them with the first sentence and if you’re keeping in mind that a cover letter is supposed to tell them what you can do for them you’re already off to a great start. 

    The body - paragraph 2

    The second paragraph will tell them why you think you’re the right person for the job. Discuss one or two achievements you’ve had in previous positions or something you achieved while in college that will help set you apart from the rest of the pack. For example, did you single-handedly increase revenue for your department by 10% during an economic downfall? Talk about it and then turn it around to let them know you’d love to use that knowledge to increase their revenue. 

    The body - paragraph 3

    The last paragraph of the letter should reiterate your desire to work for their company. It should also thank them for taking the time to look over your resume and give them your preferred method of contact. Be specific, be bold. Instead of ending the letter with something like, “if you’d like to know more about me, please call,” end it with, “I look forward to hearing from you to discuss my candidacy.” Then close out the letter with your salutation and signature. 

    The closing

    Finally, sign your name. Make sure the name you’re using matches all of your other career marketing documents including resume, thank you notes, and LinkedIn profile. The name you use DOES NOT have to be your legal name and IT CAN include any nicknames that you go by. 

    Exclude any verbiage about your resume being attached. It is unnecessary. 

    Summary

    The main idea of the cover letter is to tell the employer what you can do, not what you want to do or what you think you can do. Be positive, courageous and sell yourself!

    Help is available, if you need it. Send us your current resume for a free review.

      use the chronological resume to improve your chances of landing your dream job

      The reverse chronological resume is the best format for landing your dream job

      There are a lot of job seekers who think the way to stand out from the crowd during a job search is to have a creatively designed — pretty — resume. However, the reverse chronological resume is the best format to use for landing your dream job.

      Why should you avoid heavily formatted, creative resumes?

      A quick Google search for a resume template will produce hundreds of thousands of heavily formatted and over-designed resume styles. 

      When you use a format like one of these,  you are increasing your chances of being rejected by the Applicant Tracking System (ATS) that over 90% of companies use. The ATS scan resumes for everything including years of experience, education, relevant keywords, font/margin size, and number of measurable results presented. If the system can’t parse these pieces of information then it rejects the resume. 

      Having the resume be rejected by the ATS is the #1 reason that job seekers end up being ghosted by companies. The system kicks the resume out, it never gets forwarded to a human, the humans who are doing the hiring are unaware of the job seeker’s existence, and the job seeker gets no phone call. 

      The overall advice you'll receive from recruiters, hiring managers, and resume writers is to use a reverse-chronological resume

      While there are 3 widely accepted formats that you can use for your resume — the reverse-chronological, the functional, and the hybrid — the most popular is the reverse-chronological. 

      Hiring managers like to see the reverse-chronological format because they know exactly where the information is and can quickly ascertain whether a candidate seems like a good fit for their open position. 

      Almost everyone can use the reverse-chronological format

      • Use this format if you have a consistent work history
      • This format is great for demonstrating career progression and achievements
      • Use this format if you’re applying to a position in the same field as your current experience. 

      Here is an example of a great reverse-chronological resume:

      Some tips to ensure your job search success

      1. In order to keep your resume current and fresh, stick to detailing out only the last 10 years of experience. 
      2. Unless you’ve participated in some major research projects, have done a lot of public speaking, or have published works, keep your resume to no more than 2 pages. 
      3. There may be times when it is appropriate to omit career details from your history. 

      Help is available, if you need it. Send us your current resume for a free review.

        perfect linkedin profile

        How to perfect your LinkedIn profile to get noticed by recruiters

        LinkedIn - it's where the professionals go!

        You may be thinking that LinkedIn is just another social media platform; however, it is so much more than that. We all spend so much time perfecting our Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Snapchat profiles. The profile pictures must be just right, we play with the settings to ensure privacy is the way we want it, we talk about our kids, discuss our relationships, update our job statuses, and spend hours organizing the photos into neat albums. In fact, we should be spending our time on LinkedIn, instead.

        LinkedIn has over 600 MILLION registered members in over 200 countries. These registered members are all professionals talking about their companies, seeking job candidates and, yes, some members are seeking jobs. In fact, some companies only list their job openings on LinkedIn. If you’re not on there, then you’re missing out. If you’re on there, but you haven’t taken the time to perfect your profile, you could also be missing out.

        The goal with your LinkedIn profile is to get it to what they refer to as ‘All-Star’ status. Here’s what you need to do that:

        • A profile photo
        • Industry and Location
        • Experience
        • An “About” section
        • Skills – LinkedIn allows 50, but you have to have at least 5
        • Education
        • At least 50 connections

        Your profile picture

        Considering those first impressions are everything, then the photo you choose for your LinkedIn profile is of utmost importance. Most career coaches recommend a professional photographer. That’s not necessarily accurate, though.

        If you work in a professional setting

        If the position you seek is a professional, office-type, or executive position then you should hire a professional photographer. If a professional photographer isn’t in the budget then have a friend take a picture of you. Instruct them how you want to be framed in the photo and make sure there’s no weird background to distract viewers.

        Alternatively, you can choose the best picture you have — just make sure it is a picture of you and you alone. Don’t crop someone else out of it or leave a levitating arm dangling around your shoulder.

        If you work in a creative setting

        If you are going into a field that requires you to be creative, then be creative with your profile photo. Just remember to keep the creativity of your profile photo slightly muted so that it’s not overwhelmingly distracting. You don’t want hiring managers trying to figure out what’s going on in the photo when they should really be reading your profile.

        If you work in an industrial/manufacturing setting

        A great profile photo for you would be one in which you are outdoors or even in the place you work. There’s a vast difference between people who work indoors and people who work outdoors. Use your first impression to demonstrate that you’re not afraid of being outside.

        The bottom-line for profile photos

        Discussing profile photos can go on and on. The general idea is to make your profile photo match what you do the best way you can. Make sure it’s clean, not overly distracting, and that it’s only you in the picture.

        The recommended size for a photo uploaded to LinkedIn is 400×400 pixels. LinkedIn does say that it’s okay to upload a larger photo as long as it’s square and doesn’t exceed 8MB of 4320×7680 pixels.

        Your professional headline (120 characters max)

        Headlines grab our attention. They make us want to read what’s in the article. Sometimes, though, the headline tells us all we need to know. This is the same with your LinkedIn headline. You want it to grab their attention and make them read, you DO NOT want them to read it and move on because then you’ve just lost.

        Most people don’t take the time to write a custom headling. In fact, most headlines on LinkedIn simply say, “Team Leader at ABC Company.” Recruiters and hiring managers are seeing 100s of profiles that have the exact same title. You have to write a headline that makes them stop. You want them to think, “Wait … what?!” That will make them read your profile.

        LinkedIn allows 120 characters for your headline, including spaces. Utilize this space to say who you are by listing your target Job Title and then a short blurb that says how you do what you do.

        Here are a couple of examples of the headlines Always Typing has written for clients:

        • “Cunning entrepreneurial advisor, trade expert, & venture capitalist with a track record for ethical success.”
        • “ICAT System and Healthcare Project Manager Working Toward Technological Innovation and Improved Patient Care.”

        Use that 120 characters to your advantage. It is valuable real estate that gives your LinkedIn profile curb appeal.

        Your profile summary - "About" section (2000 characters max)

        The professional summary is the next section on which to spend a bit of time. Generally, a professional summary on a resume is written in a very professional (some might say “stuffy”) tone. With LinkedIn, it’s a little different. The summary is a GREAT place to showcase your wittiness and creativity. Use your voice in a way that invites open dialogue from colleagues, recruiters, and prospective employers.

        One thing to keep in mind is that 2000 characters are a limit, not a goal. Always Typing consistently begins writing profile summaries using a quote that’s relevant to a job seeker’s field. For example, a profile for a Regional Manager in the field of sports memorabilia could be started with a quote by Vince Lombardi.

        Work Experience (10 years max)

        Julius Caesar said, “Experience is the teacher of all things.” Prospective employers believe the same thing. So, how do you reflect what you’ve learned through experience? You pay close attention to detail in your work experience section and highlight achievements.

        Why should you highlight achievements?

        No one cares what you were supposed to do (i.e., were responsible for) at your previous job. They care about what you actually did that made the place you were at better. In fact, please delete the phrase “was responsible for” from your vocabulary.

        Also, it is supremely important to spell out acronyms. Spell out ones that you know everyone knows — even simple ones like Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) for someone’s resume. Leave nothing for them to wonder about because if they’re trying to figure out what that acronym means, they’re NOT reading your profile.

        Your education section

        You’d think the EDUCATION section would be pretty self-explanatory; you’d be right. Of course, you should follow the tenet that says to start with your most recent education and work backward. DO NOT include high school. As previously mentioned, spell out acronyms, this goes for the name of your school AND your degree. So, a BS from NSU should be Bachelor of Science from Northwestern State University.

        What do you do if you didn't go to college?

        That’s OK. None of the fields are required and you can type out the name of the school. As you type the name of your school, you’ll notice that LinkedIn tries to auto-populate the field. If you went to Bob’s School of Tire Tread, LinkedIn may not recognize it to populate it but it will still let you type it out.

        Adding skills to your skills section

        Raise your hand if you’ve heard that employers only take about 6 seconds to determine whether to read or toss a resume. Silly, no one can see your hand is raised. The online world moves MUCH faster.

        That is one of the reasons the skills section of your LinkedIn profile is so important. Once a recruiter or prospective employer has decided to stop at your profile after scrolling through 100s of profiles, they scroll right to this section to see if you’re worth further reading. Also, those skills are searchable on Google. 

        How many skills should you list?

        As previously mentioned, you need at least 5 to gain the coveted All Star status.

        LinkedIn allows up to 50 skills and there are 2 things you’ll notice:

        1. As you type a skill in the box, LinkedIn will populate some suggestions
        2. LinkedIn will give you a list of “Suggested skills based off your profile.”

        While you want to populate hard skills, don’t forget about those soft skills and technical skills such as time management, team building, leadership, CRM’s, MS Office, G-Suite as these highlight important criteria to hiring managers, too.

        How shareable are you - customize your LinkedIn profile's URL.

        Inevitably, LinkedIn will add a string of numbers to the end of the URL to your profile making your address appear like this: https:www.linkedin.com/in/name-a989034. Who wants that?! 

        You can personalize the URL to your profile! 

        Simply click the link to “Edit public profile and URL” and then type what you’d like it to be.

        To maximize professionalism, use some version of your name. If you have a super popular name (John Smith, for example), it may become difficult to customize using just your name. In that case, try adding your middle initial or use some type of abbreviation for your location or even your industry (i.e., John Smith CPA).

        Now your LinkedIn profile address will be https://www.linkedin.com/in/name and you are ready to start getting noticed by hiring managers and recruiters.

        Help is always available

        Of course, all of this can be a lot to take in — especially considering that we haven’t even talked about accomplishments, certifications, publications, honors, and projects. If you need help, drop us a line. 

          use networking on linkedin to land your dream job

          How to find your dream job by networking and getting job referrals using LinkedIn

          A resume is the most common and necessary item when searching for a job. However, it’s not the only thing in your toolbox. This is where networking and job referrals come in. One, or both, of these things can easily get you a job.

          Most people prefer hunting for jobs on their own. Sometimes, though, it’s important to make your job search easy by leveraging your network. For instance, a job referral from your network on LinkedIn can help you expose your resume to the appropriate recruiters, headhunters, and hiring managers.

          In this article, we cover essential things to help you land your dream job.

          Quick statistics

          • Job referrals are 50% more likely to get you an interview
          • About 40% percent of referred candidates get their dream job
          • Networking is responsible for 80% percent of all jobs

          Networking and job referrals

          Networking is all about finding the right people to connect with and build a good reputation. Do not underestimate your network on LinkedIn, because therein lies vital connections.

          How do you find and build a network

          It is understandable that not everyone will have a ready-made network to capitalize on. Your first step will be to search for the company that has the job you want. Click through to see the list of their employees.

          In the spirit of understanding before asking to be understood, don’t jump right into asking for help with finding a new job when you reach out to these people. Build a good rapport with them, then introduce the conversation about your job search later.

          What happens if you don’t know anyone at the new company?

          They may know someone with whom you’re connected. If they do, then that’s a great person to reach out to. Mention knowing/how you know the mutual connection to help you build a good rapport with the third-party contact. Doing so will make it easy for you to request a job referral.

          Other ESSENTIAL ways to help you network on LinkedIn

          Join LinkedIn Groups

          The fun part of LinkedIn is the various groups where you can find like-minded individuals to connect with. Be smart by joining some interesting LinkedIn groups. You’ll be able to see what members post and know how best to interact with them. It will also help you to learn how to engage with others through your posts in the group.

          After some time, you should be able to share appropriate information and connect easily with group members to build your network. You should learn to encourage one-on-one conversation through your engaging posts. Go ahead and invite members of the group to share their experiences. Your posts should be geared towards the benefit of many group members. However, you should make personal comments in direct messages.

          Respond to posts

          Responding to other people’s posts is a great aspect of networking. This will help you expose your profile to many people. The posts you respond to can receive recommendations from LinkedIn with huge traffic. People who like your may have connections who are likely to see the post as well. As a result, you may get new connections, enabling you to increase your network on LinkedIn.

          Summary

          Using LinkedIn to network and search for referrals may just be the key to landing to taking the next successful step on your career journey.

          If you need help perfecting your LinkedIn profile, let us know and we’ll get to work with you on it.