Resume Sections: How To Organize A Resume

by Heidi Cope
Get The Job - 1 year ago

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When crafting a resume, it is important to make the resume pop out at recruiters and hiring managers. One way to make your resume stand out is making a well-organized resume with the appropriate sections.

A resume is not only a piece of paper with details about your past work history on it, but also a paper that can tell recruiters about your schooling, extra-curriculars, and even personality.

To help maximize your candidate potential, you will want to optimize your resume and format it in a way to best suit you as a candidate.

Here are the basics of organizing the sections of a resume:

  1. Make sure you have a minimum of three sections on your resume. You will need to include a contact section, employment history section, and an education section, in that order.
  2. Determine what type of job seeker you are. Are you a recent grad with not much experience or a workforce veteran? Write a career objective and highlight skills if you are a recent grad and write a career summary and emphasize work experience if you are not.
  3. Include a skills section and put it either before or after your work history, depending on what you want to be the main focus of your resume.
  4. Add optional sections like awards, publications, and extracurriculars if you have space at the bottom.

Got it? Great– keep reading for a more detailed look into these sections so you can create a rocking resume.

Basic Resume Sections

At the very least, you will need to have three main sections in your resume: contact information, employment history, and education.

Your contact information section is critical because without it, you will not likely be contacted for an interview. Your employment history shows recruiters and hiring managers your track record for work, and your education shows basic educational demographics and advanced degrees that might be requirements for a position.

Everything else is optional and can be crafted to help make your resume stand out as you make it specific to the position.

Optional Resume Sections

There are many optional sections you can add to your resume to make it individualized and specific for each job application.

A recruiter will notice if your resume is a standard one: the same piece of paper uploaded to every application.

Adding different resume sections depending on the application shows that you have spent time making your resume specific for the job. By showing effort in the application process, you are also showing potential employers a peek into your work ethic as a potential employee.

Optional resume sections include:

  • Achievements/ Honors and Awards
  • Publications
  • Community Engagement/ Civic Engagement/ Volunteering
  • Extracurriculars
  • Continuing Education and Certifications

These optional sections can highlight other expertise and skills you have that may or may not be related to your employment history but can help make you a more well-rounded candidate or more qualified for the new job you are applying to.

Resume Order Of Sections

When choosing a resume template, or when designing your own, you want to arrange the sections in a way that emphasizes your skills the best way possible.

For example, if you are just out of college, you might not have much of an employment history, so writing an employment summary would not show off your skills. Rather, showcasing your enthusiasm and education in a resume objective section would be a better fit.

Here is the basic order of sections used in most resumes:

  1. Contact Information Section
  2. Career Summary/ Work Objective
  3. Skills or Work History
  4. Skills or Work History
  5. Education
  6. Optional Sections

The order of your resume depends entirely on what you want to emphasize on your resume. If you are a job seeker with many years of experience, you will probably want to create a career summary and put work history first.

If you are a new job seeker or a recent college grad, you won’t have as much experience to put on your resume, so you will want to order your resume slightly differently. Try writing a work objective section first and putting your skills section before your work history section.

What To Include In Sections On Resume

So now you know the order the sections should be in, but what are the key things you should add in each section and why does the order matter?

Let’s begin with the contact information section:

Having the relevant contact material is the most important thing to have on your resume. If your contact information isn’t accurate or clear, then your resume will look not up-to-date and readers will likely move on to another.

You can also include a link to your LinkedIn profile in this section– but before you do, make sure it is complete. You don’t have to add your home address if you are concerned about your privacy, but you should add your city and state or even your zip code.

Next up comes the career summary section. Here is what you should know about this section:

The first section after your contact information you want to include on your resume is a summary of your career so far. If you have just graduated from college, you can summarize your experiences from internships and relevant skills.

Instead of a summary, you could also write a career objective. This might be a better decision for those with limited work history like college students.

Many resumes are now being pre-scanned by computer programs to sort out candidates before human eyes ever see them, so make sure that you are including relevant keywords related to the job you are applying for are included throughout the resume.

After you write your career objective or summary, you will write your professional history section. This will include the main relevant work and professional experiences you have.

You can either include your skills within the professional history section or put it in its own category. Where to put the skills section, you might ask? That depends on what you are trying to emphasize.

If you are a recent grad with some skills from classes and a few internships but don’t have much work experience, listing the skills section first might be a good idea. Otherwise, keep to the professional experience section first.

If you decide to make a separate section for skills, that will likely come next in your resume. This is where you will list both your hard and soft skills. These could range from computer coding languages to leadership skills.

After your employment history and skills section, you can include an education section. If you graduated in the not so recent past, you may want to consider not including your graduation date. You want them to focus on your years of experience versus the years in the deep distance past you graduated from college.

Note: If you do not have much work experience and are graduating soon, you could put your education before your work history. Switching up the order emphasizes that you are a recent grad– you don’t have much experience, but you are fresh out of school and are flexible for jobs.

At the end, you can add optional sections to your resume, if you have space. These could be labeled “community engagement,” “volunteering,” “extracurriculars,” or “civic engagement.”

In this section, you will outline the experiences that make you a well-rounded applicant and experiences that strengthen your skills that are not included elsewhere. This is a place where you can show more of your personality– what are you passionate about outside of work and school?

Alternatively, you could add sections like “Achievements and Awards,” “Publications,” “Technical Skills,” or even “Continuing Education” that is relevant to the position you are applying for.

And that’s it– your resume perfectly ordered.


Writing resumes can be difficult, especially if you are not using a template. But even if you are, most templates are flexible, meaning you can switch the order of the sections throughout the resume.

While determining which order of sections is right for you can be confusing, it does allow you to be able to personalize and make your resume stand out from the competition.

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