To increase the odds for a successful job search, you should include any valid information on your résumé that employers might find useful in considering you as a candidate. They need to see how you can bring value to them, and they must know how best to reach you if they’re interested in talking with you about a job possibility.
Success stories are great, as long as they’re factual and you can back them up in an interview. What you don’t want is to include information that you can’t speak easily about. In many cases, you might put a brief skills section on your résumé to highlight your special areas of expertise, but in that situation you should also intermingle the skills in appropriate places throughout the résumé. You need to demonstrate clear relevance to your career.
What are 5 things that should be included in a résumé?
- Obviously, your name and contact information need to be on there—particularly a non-work phone number where employers can reach you or leave a secure voicemail message. How much contact information should you include? Usually you want to mention city, state and ZIP code, plus your personal phone number and email address. You should also include your LinkedIn URL if your profile is in good shape.
- The major sections employers will look for, including a work experience section and one for education. It’s important to note that although the experience section is often referred to as work history, that term doesn’t adequately describe what the section needs to contain. It needs to show your value as a candidate for the position the hiring manager will be filling.
- Volunteer work—sometimes called community involvement—if you have any to show. It doesn’t need to be detailed, but focus on items that show your ability to accomplish things outside your work environment, establish positive relationships with diverse people and organizations in your community, and so on.
- Your résumé objective or focus—which doesn’t necessarily mean using the actual word “objective.” These days, that’s mostly seen with people pursuing low-level positions. You simply need a few words that make your employment destination or focus clear.
- Job titles—these need to show your official title, given by your employer. Don’t substitute something for the real titles just to make them sound better. There are better ways to deal with unsatisfactory job titles. If you’re tempted to make inaccurate substitutions, be aware that I hear horror stories about people who did this and had a job offer yanked back at the last minute!
What should not be included in a résumé?
Avoid using inaccurate, misleading, or false information! That includes work experience that suggests or even states that you’ve done more of something or for a longer time than you really have. Even if you can fool the employer initially, you will probably live to regret it later. I once heard about a woman who confided to a “friend” at work that she had lied about her college degree. Subsequently that individual disclosed the information to company management, and the woman was summarily fired.
Leave out high school information, unless maybe you attended one that was very prestigious or you did something especially noteworthy there. In most cases, pre-college-level education doesn’t make any points for you in the eyes of potential employers and takes up valuable space on the résumé.
In all but a few circumstances, you should not include a photo of yourself on the résumé. Even though LinkedIn advises members to include their headshot, companies that receive résumés with a photo tend to reject them, out of fear of repercussions from EEO-related discrimination accusations. Exceptions to this guideline include those who hold a public-facing role such as on-air broadcaster or entertainment performer. Their résumés tend to look much different from the current traditional format anyway, and a photo is expected.
What do I need to include in the résumé objective statement?
Unless you’re looking for entry-level positions, I don’t recommend an objective statement. Often that simply says what you’d like to get from an employer—such as “position with opportunity for growth and advancement in my profession” or words to that effect. Instead, use a brief headline that indicates your focus, such as “Marketing Manager” or “Finance Administration.” This lets employers see right away where you’re aiming and what you should be fairly well qualified to perform. You can support it with a few sentences that show how or why you’d be valuable in that capacity.
Do I need to include job titles and job descriptions in my work experience section?
Job titles are a critical element in the résumé. Applicant Tracking Systems will look for them. As for job descriptions, give enough of the key information so the hiring manager can understand what you were expected to accomplish and evaluate how well you met the expectations. Don’t just list duties and responsibilities.
How can job seekers make their résumés more than just a repeat of the information on job applications?
Most of my clients aren’t doing job applications, with the level they’re at, but if they were, I’d advise them to focus less on “duties and responsibilities” and more on the value they delivered to their employer in each position. That will help them stand out from the crowd. Your goal should always be to avoid traveling in a rut with all the other job seekers (that is, your competitors)—look for ways to legitimately make yourself memorable.
How do I know which résumé template or action verbs to use that will best catch the attention of hiring managers? I never use a résumé template because that tends to make everyone look too much alike. Of course, we commonly expect to see certain sections in a résumé, but that doesn’t mean everything needs to be presented in exactly the same way from one job seeker to the next.
As for action verbs, you can find lists online and in books, but the key is relevance to your situation and having variety—such as not starting three sentences in a row with the same verb.