Understand What a Resume Is

A resume is an important part of your job search. Here’s what you need to know about a resume, and how it impacts your ability to get a job.

OUR USERS HAVE BEEN HIRED BY
OUR USERS HAVE BEEN HIRED BY

What Is a Resume

A resume is one of the first things you’ll need for just about any job application. Creating a resume from scratch can certainly be daunting, especially if you don’t have a lot of experience in resume writing. How can you use a resume to get the specific job you’re looking for? Here’s what you need to know about resume writing, the types of resumes, and more.

What Is a Resume For?

A resume is a document that provides an overview of your work history and your skill set, as well as other elements that we’ll get into below. The purpose of a resume is to provide a potential employer a snapshot of your career and prove you’re the right person for the job.

There are three types of resumes generally recognized: a chronological resume, which emphasizes your work history, a functional resume, which emphasizes your skills, and a combination resume, which emphasizes both. Choosing the right resume format allows you to showcase the specific skills and experiences you need to make the best impression on a hiring manager.

A resume is a document that provides an overview of your work history and your skill set, as well as other elements that we’ll get into below. The purpose of a resume is to provide a potential employer a snapshot of your career and prove you’re the right person for the job.

There are three types of resumes generally recognized: a chronological resume, which emphasizes your work history, a functional resume, which emphasizes your skills, and a combination resume, which emphasizes both. Choosing the right resume format allows you to showcase the specific skills and experiences you need to make the best impression on a hiring manager.

The Differences Between a Resume, a Cover Letter, and a CV

When reading up on the different kinds of documents you might need for a job application, you’ll likely see people talk about a resume, a cover letter, and a CV, or curriculum vitae. These are all different documents you may need to use for a job application. Here’s what you need to know about the difference:

  • Resume: General overview of your career; a few bullet points per job
  • Cover letter: Written letter introducing yourself to an employer, explaining why you’re a good fit for a job
  • CV: A comprehensive summary of your career, qualifications, and educational background; depending on the job you want, you may want to use this rather than a resume

Generally, you’ll want to include both a resume and a cover letter when you apply to a job.

Things To Include on Your Resume

Writing a great resume requires that you know what you should include on your resume. Most resumes should have these headings on them.

1. Contact information

First, you need to give your contact information so that the hiring manager can eventually get in contact with you. This may include your phone number, professional social media links such as your LinkedIn page, and email address.

2. Resume summary

Next is your resume summary or resume objective, which is a short description of your top skills and achievements. It should showcase the best of what you have to offer any potential employer. This section is usually two to three lines long and composed of concise, punchy phrases.

3. Skills

The skills section shows off about 5 to 10 of your top relevant skills. These skills can include both hard skills, which are technical skills you need to perform a specific job, and soft skills, which are interpersonal skills and personal traits you can carry with you from job to job. This is where hiring managers get an idea of how you can make an impact on the job.

4. Work experience

The work experience section goes over past jobs you’ve had, including a short job description and highlights of what you did at that job. You’ll always list work experience in reverse chronological order, so the most recent job is first, followed by jobs that are less and less recent. Typically, you won’t include positions from more than 10 years ago unless the job specifically asks for it.

5. Education

Last is your education section. Here is where you list your highest education achievements. If you’re just out of college, you may also want to list some relevant coursework so the company understands what type of work you were doing in school and showcase that you have the right training for a specific job title.

FAQ: What a Resume Is

Q: How long should a resume be?

A resume should typically only be a single page. If you can’t fit everything on one page, you should first try to cut down the resume as much as possible, because single-page resumes are usually your best option. However, a two-page resume can also be a good fit if you truly have enough achievements or work history to justify two pages for your resume. When in doubt, shoot for a single page.

Q: How do I know what to put on my resume?

You should use information from resume examples in your field to make sure you’re including everything necessary to impress recruiters. Additionally, a resume builder, like the one available through ResumeHelp, can walk you through the steps of creating a resume. Even if you have no prior experience, a resume builder can help you with professionally designed resume templates, and job-specific suggestions and text.

Q: Are there other sections I can add if I don’t have much professional experience?

Job seekers who don’t have a lot of existing work experience may want to consider adding a wider variety of sections. Some of the best sections to include may be the following:

  • Certifications/licenses
  • Volunteer work
  • Internships
  • Extracurricular activities

These sections can show recruiters that you have a lot of experience with your skills, even if you didn’t develop those skills from a previous job.

ResumeHelp Logo

Move your resume to the top of the yes pile!

Get Started