How To Structure A Resume For Success

by Heidi Cope
Get The Job, Resume - 11 months ago

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Writing resumes from scratch is a daunting task and structuring your first resume from scratch can be incredibly nerve-wracking. But don’t worry, we are here to help make the resume writing process as smooth as possible for you.

You probably are sitting at your computer right now, a word document open and ready and… you don’t know where to begin. You might have a list of all the important details you need to include but you are unsure how to fit it all into one page and look professional.

Writing a resume is more than just writing down your education and past jobs — it is also about how you present the information. When crafting a resume from scratch or even when deciding between different resume templates, you want to make sure you organize your information the best way possible.

When looking through hundreds of resumes, employers spend a ridiculously small amount of time reading your resume. And when we say reading, we mean a glance. One way to maximize your resume’s potential is to organize it appropriately so that the quick glance it receives is spent taking in all your awesome details, rather than spent searching for the good stuff.

We want your resume to get all the attention it deserves. That’s why we are going to walk you through how to structure a resume.

Before we get into the nuts and bolts of how to structure a resume, check out these key takeaways you should keep in mind as you read the rest of this article:

  • Always include a contact section, work history section, and education section.
  • Be sure to keep your experiences relevant and concise. Emphasize your deliverables.
  • If you are a recent graduate, consider swapping a career summary section for a career objective section.

Now that you know the most important pieces, let’s look at how we will put this advice into action to create the best-structured resume for your next job application.

Sections Your Resume Must Include

A resume is often organized into different sections that are generally standardized across industries. So the first thing you have to know when structuring a resume is what sections to include.

Here are the main sections you should include in your resume:

Let’s break down each section and look at what details should be included in each section.

Contact Section

The contact section is one of the most underrated sections of the resume. If hiring managers don’t have a way to easily get in contact with you, how will you make it past the resume stage of the hiring process?

Your contact section should include important contact information like your phone number, email address and at the very least, your state or country of residence. If you are applying to non-local areas, you don’t have to add your home address. You can also include a link to your LinkedIn profile in this section.

For more information about including your LinkedIn profile on your resume, check out this article.

Career Objective/ Career Summary Section

The next thing you should create on your resume that you may have overlooked is a career objective or career summary section.

Remember how we said hiring managers spend a very short amount of time looking at your resume? Adding this brief summary is a great way to add an elevator speech, resume edition, to your resume.

A career objective and career summary will pitch you as a worker in two or three sentences. Why should they hire you? How does the job align with your career path? What specific details about your work history shows your ability to succeed in the position you are applying for?

If you can answer these questions in a few concise sentences with great keywords, you will have a great career objective/ career summary section.

Skills Section

The skills section is often a bullet point list describing relevant skills you have that will make you a good candidate for the job. Skills include both hard and soft skills. Hard skills are skills like languages, computer programming languages and skills, and any other skills that can be measured or tested.
Soft skills are skills that are harder to test, like communication and leadership skills.

Work History Section

The work history section is pretty explanatory — it is a section where you detail out where and when you worked previous jobs.

Some things to keep in mind while you the write work history section:

  • Keep the work history section relevant. Avoid adding high school babysitting jobs if you are applying for an accounting position, for example, right out of school.
  • Include work from the past 10 years. Only include work experiences past 10 years if it is relevant to the job application.
  • Detail out your roles and responsibilities with keywords related to your job application.
  • Highlight deliverables from your previous jobs with numbers. Show your success versus telling your success.


Finally, the education section. Education is a very important section to include in a resume. Make sure to include the dates of graduation. If you have a graduate degree, include your bachelors and masters degrees as well. If you have a bachelors degree, you don’t have to include your high school diploma.

However, if you do not have a college degree, include your highest form of education diploma or certificate and any work-related education certificates.

You do not have to include your GPA if you don’t want to. If you are a recent graduate, adding your GPA from your most recent school might make you more competitive, but if you haven’t been in school for a while, your work experience is more important.

For more details on sections to include on a resume and optional sections you can include to make your resume stand out, check out this article.

Best Way To Structure A Resume For Recent Grads Versus Seasoned Workers

You might be wondering if the structure of a resume differs between recent graduates and people who have been working career jobs. The simple answer to this question is yes.

Recent graduates typically don’t have much work experience so their education is the most important section of the resume. They also have less to discuss in their career summary section. That’s why recent graduates typically write a career objective section instead.

For recent graduates, here is the typical structure of their resume:

  • Contact Information Section
  • Career Objective
  • Skills Section
  • Work History
  • Education
  • Optional Sections

Recent graduates might also want to put the skills section before the work history section because their work history section might be a little bit short.

Seasoned job seekers with a lot of experience, on the other hand, will want to write a career summary and put their work history right after it. Their work history is the most important thing on their resume, so that should be emphasized.

Key Takeaways For Structuring A Resume

Structuring a resume might seem daunting at first, but luckily, the way most industries expect a resume to be structured is standardized. No matter what, you want to include your contact, work history, and education sections. What you choose to include beyond that is up to you, but choose additional sections that are specific and relevant to the job you are applying for.

Finally, take note of your graduation date and the amount of work experience you have. If you are a recent graduate or are a job seeker without much experience, consider reordering your resume to emphasize your skills over your work history. With a well-structured resume written, you will then be well on your way to landing your next job.

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