Resume Content

The video below summarizes five tips to writing a successful resume, as an introduction to resume content and format.  Tips presented in the video are discussed in more detail throughout this page and other pages in this section.

All resumes should include the following content:

Contact Information

Include your name, phone number, email, LinkedIn address, and mailing address.  Note that in some cases, you may not need to include a mailing address, if all communication occurs online.  Make sure that your email address is professional in nature and, if not, create a new address for professional use.  You don’t want a prospective employer to see an address such as, or Ideally, your email address should be a recognizable version of your name.

Skills Summary / Professional Profile

Include a brief summary of key skills and competencies, or a professional profile with key accomplishments, toward the start of your resume, usually as the first section under your contact information. Skills summaries and professional profiles are slightly different. A skills summary is just what the title indicates – it focuses on both transferable and industry-specific skills appropriate to the job.  A professional profile includes key skills along with important experience and achievements. No matter which approach you choose, remember to include selected skills using the same language as the job announcement, so that initial electronic and human scans will find immediate matches.

Even though these sections differ slightly, they serve the same purpose: to generate reader interest immediately and make your reader want to read more.  If your resume gets to a human resources professional or a search committee member, realize that readers are skimming multiple resumes, usually from top down, and making 5-7 second decisions whether to read more fully, so you need to capture key information early in the resume.

The following three videos offer tips on writing this initial section of your resume.

This video provides tips for writing a skills summary.

This video provides tips for writing a professional profile.

This video shows the importance of editing the summary/profile section in terms of both content and format for greatest impact. (Note, though, that quotations are not required in this section, and in fact may waste valuable resume space; details that quantify achievements are far more important than quotations.)


Current practice requires that you include skills or competencies on your résumé in some way so you can establish your personal brand and highlight key skills for particular jobs. Skills in the body of a resume include both hard and soft, or industry-specific and transferable skills that relate to the position and show your potential benefit to the organization to which you’re applying. You may incorporate skills either in a distinct skills section in the body of your resume, or as part of a combination resume with skills listed in the work experience section of your resume under job titles, duties, and accomplishments.  Inclusion of skills is fuller in the body of the resume than it is in the initial skills summary or professional profile, which highlights just a few key skills.

No matter how you incorporate skills in the body of your resume, provide a bulleted list of skills appropriate to the position for which you’re applying. Your presentation of skills should be:

  • Current and relevant to the advertised position
    Highlight competencies that relate to the job for which you are applying. If a specific skill is not requested in the job announcement, or is something that you developed and applied in the past, your reader may stop reading if the skills you list are not relevant to the position being filled.
  • Honest
    You don’t want to inflate your skills and then get “caught” not being able to answer follow-up questions about how you applied certain skills in particular situations.
  • Active, specific, and descriptive
    Use powerful action verbs to explain each skill, such as negotiated instead of helped solve, or redesigned instead of changed.  Aim for verbs that specify the action you took to lessen the possibility of incorrect interpretation.  If you google “action verbs resume,” you’ll find multiple sites that list appropriate action verbs. For example, you may want to say “published monthly column for internal HR newsletter,” “spoke to groups of 35+ new hires about HR policies and procedures,” or “coordinated and chaired department discussions to institute flex time.”
  • Ordered Strategically
    Order your skills carefully.  If some of your skills exactly match those listed in the job announcement, list those skills first and offer other important skills later.  Your purpose is to create as strong and obvious a match as possible between preferred skills and your own skills.
  • Parallel
    Use parallel structure to present your skills, for ease of reading and understanding.  Parallel structure means that your action verbs are all in the same form, for example, all past tense, or all -ing words.  It’s disruptive to read something like this:

    • negotiated contracts for vendor services
    • redesigned employee section of company website
    • was responsible for starting a training program for community volunteers – designed and implemented is one example of a more direct, parallel choice

The following video provides tips about additional information to include in each skill bullet point, to specify your skills and achievements concisely and fully.

Also consult the page on Skills & Competencies in this text for fuller information about skills content for the body of your resume.

Work Experience

Work experience is important because most recruiters look for past work experience as a predictor of future work experience. The most conventional method of listing your work experience is reverse chronological order, with your most recent job experience first. Include the following information:

  • Job Title
  • Company name
  • Location – city, state, country if outside the United States
  • Years of employment (If you’ve had several jobs at one company, include the overall years of experience and, for separate jobs, note specific years of experience.)
  • Three to seven bullet points describing your responsibilities and the results of your work, depending on the number of years of experience

It’s important to use bullet points and action verbs, just as with skills, because short points with action words clearly and succinctly list your responsibilities and achievements. Bullets should be results-oriented and provide quantifiable information as much as possible, for example:

  • Created an Excel program which reduced errors by 35% through catching inconsistencies during raw data entry, and learned steps in the process of training employees to implement a new program
  • Created a training program of best practices for new hires which increased profits by 25%
  • Increased repeat sales by 75% through customer service

The following video offers tips on how to present your work experience in a resume.


Offer information about your educational background, especially if you have academic degrees after high school, including the type of degree (A.S., B.S.), the institution, and the focus of the degree if appropriate. List degrees in reverse chronological order.  If you have a degree in progress, it’s o.k. to state that it’s in progress, expected 20XX. Also, if appropriate, you may want to list relevant coursework, especially if your degree is relatively recent, and/or you do not have years of work experience. And, if you have achieved awards with your degree, it’s o.k. to list them, for example, M.B.A., State University of New York, magna cum laude.

You may want to include certificates and training in the list with your academic education, or make them a separate section under education.  Again, list relevant trainings in reverse chronological order.  You do not have to list dates, but may want to if you need to show currency in the field (e.g., knowledge of new state real estate laws, current technical training).

When listing your education, make sure to:

  • name your college, degree, certificate, and/or training correctly (e.g., is it a B.S. in Information Management Systems, or a B.S. in Technology with a major in Information Management Systems?)
  • spell out any acronyms – a recruiter local to your own area might know what CGCC means, but others will not
  • use the same format that you’ve used for other sections of your resume

Try It

Gary has been running his own small café for five years. Prior to that, he worked fifteen years in high-tech engineering. Gary is great at maintenance after doing three real estate “fix-and-flips” on the side, as well as doing all the maintenance for his old café building. Today Gary is preparing his résumé for an opening he saw on LinkedIn. The position is maintenance supervisor for the local community college. (Gary thinks the health-care coverage will provide a big boost in take-home pay compared to his café income.) Which of the following lists will be the BEST way to describe his more current work experience as a café owner?

List 1

  • Maintain the twenty-year-old heating and cooling building system to less than three outages per year.
  • Maintain restroom, kitchen, and lawn plumbing systems for seven-day-a-week business
  • Maintain state-reviewed sanitation certification with zero return visits for all years owned.


List 2

  • Oversee preparation of 300 meals a day
  • Maintain 3% margin on all breakfast meals
  • Engage with fifty regulars by name every day while greeting new customers enthusiastically


List 3

  • Oversee preparation of food for restaurant daily
  • Order supplies for seven-day-a-week business
  • Greet all customers in a friendly manner



A Big, Important Tip about Resume Content

Be concise!  One page is preferable in most cases.  Two pages are acceptable, but one is better, and you usually should not use more than two pages. You may only include fuller content and more pages if you are in a field in which a lengthier resume is acceptable (some scientific or academic fields accept lengthier resumes if you have many publications, research grants, and/or public presentations).

Interesting Resource will give you one free resume review, comparing your resume content against the wording of the job announcement to let you know how well they match.