All 20 Resume Sections That You Could Possibly Include (The Full Guide)

Aside from creating your own custom categories, we’ve listed a total of 20 resume sections that you could possibly include. Some of these are essential… some aren’t. And some, we wouldn’t recommend including. 
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Astley Cervania
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August 18, 2023

Aside from creating your own custom categories, we’ve listed a total of 20 resume sections that you could possibly include. Some of these are essential… some aren’t. And some, we wouldn’t recommend including. 

That said, which sections are worth writing about on a resume that will help you get a job interview? 

In this guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know.

The Essential Sections of a Resume 

Here are the non-negotiable sections to put on a resume

  • Header section
  • Work experience section
  • Education section
  • Skills section

This is also the ideal order when putting these sections on a resume.  

Side note: You might also be interested in our comprehensive guide on how to write a job-winning resume here.

Header Section

The header section is the top part of your resume which contains your contact information such as:

  • Full name
  • Location
  • Email address
  • Phone number
  • Website links

Here’s our full guide to writing and formatting the resume header section. 

Work Experience Section

The work experience section is the most important part of a resume. It gives potential employers an overview of your work history and track record. In short, this is how you approach this section: 

  • Include the job position title, company name, dates of employment, and location 
  • List previous jobs in reverse chronological order
  • Begin each bullet point with an action verb to describe your responsibilities and achievements
  • Include numbers where possible
  • Highlight the skills and knowledge you applied that are relevant to the role
  • Embed keywords to show that you have the qualities that hiring managers are looking for

Here’s our full guide to creating your work experience section

And here’s our full guide to writing a compelling resume when you have no work experience

Education Section

The education section is where you showcase qualifications from your formal academic background. Even if it’s not directly related to the role, it still shows you’re capable because earning the qualification itself requires skill.

Start with the biggest educational qualification and work your way back. For instance, list your master’s degree first and your bachelor’s degree second. 

  • Write the qualification title
  • Include any minors (if they’re relevant)
  • Mention the institution 
  • Include the graduation date

Here’s our full guide to listing academic achievements in the education section

Rare Cases for Leaving Out the Education Section

Here’s a few rare cases for when you could omit the education section:

  • You have at least 3 years of direct work experience (which is more relevant than your educational qualifications)
  • You have certifications or training that’s more relevant to the job responsibilities
  • You’re applying for a role where education isn’t a major factor
  • You have limited or no formal academic achievements (therefore, it makes sense to overshadow it with other relevant accomplishments and experience)
  • The job description specifically states that educational qualifications aren’t required or are of lesser importance compared to skills and experience

The senior infrastructure engineer template is one example of a resume that omits the education section. However, it’s generally not recommended.

Skills Section

The skills section is usually the final section of a resume. This is where you list key skills and abilities to the job you’re applying for including:

  • Hard skills
  • Soft skills
  • Transferable skills 

Another approach is to categorize your skills when making a huge list of skills across different areas. Here’s an example of this below.

Additional Sections of a Resume to Consider

We’ll go through 16 optional resume sections and cover each of their significance. We’ll also cover who they’re best for by including categories of the following:

  • 0-3 years of experience = students and recent graduates applying for internships and entry-level roles. This category also includes job seekers making a career change with no direct work experience. 
  • 3-5 years of experience = seasoned professionals and managers. 
  • 5+ years of experience = senior roles and executive positions. 
  • All job seekers = applicable to all job seekers. 

Awards and Honors

Significance: High

Best for: All job seekers

Listing awards on a resume showcases a candidate’s level of knowledge and skills. It highlights one’s strengths to potential employers through a list of accomplishments. 

Here’s what to write to list an award on a resume:

  • Award title
  • Organization/institution that gave you the award
  • The date of award received
  • Location of the organization/institution

If you’d like to add a bit more detail, use bullet points to describe what you learned as well as the skills you developed or applied. 

Summary

Significance: High

Best for: All job seekers

The summary section is the first part of a resume after the header section. This sums up your skills and experience in up to 3 sentences. 

Here’s a few tips to write an enticing resume summary:

  • Mention career highlights
  • Include quantified achievements
  • Highlight your strengths in terms of skill set
  • Focus on what makes you unique compared to other candidates
  • Be specific about how you can bring value 
  • Tailor your summary to the company’s job description by using keywords

Objectives

Significance: High

Best for: Job seekers with 0-3 years of work experience

The objectives section is the alternative version of the summary section. 

It’s still the first section of a resume after the header section except it puts more emphasis on your career objectives, which should align with the company’s goals. 

Job seekers with no work experience including those with no direct experience due to making a career change use this section to explain how you would be a good fit for the role by highlighting your aspirations. 

Here’s a few tips for writing resume objectives: 

  • Tailor your career goals to the company’s objectives
  • Highlight specific skills that you want to apply or develop
  • Mention your passions in relation to the company’s cultural values
  • Use the right words that reflect the company culture

Certifications 

Significance: High

Best for: All job seekers. 

The certifications section on a resume lists relevant certificates earned in school, university, and college. Or, it could be a certificate that you earned in your spare time by completing an accredited course from an established organization. 

Here’s what to write to list a resume certificate:

  • Certification title
  • Organization/institution 
  • Location
  • Date of completion
  • Bullet points describing what you learned (optional)

This is an impressive section that can even be used for a c-suite executive resume as long as it’s relevant to the role. 

Licenses

Significance: High

Best for: Job seekers with 0-5 years of work experience. 

Including licenses on a resume is more or less the same as listing certifications. You include the following information:

  • License title
  • Organization
  • Location
  • Date earned

Projects 

Significance: High

Best for: Job seekers with 0-3 years of experience

The projects section of a resume is where you highlight relevant experience. Although it’s not the same as formal work experience, it still showcases transferable skills and knowledge. It also shows that you’re familiar with some job responsibilities because of the role you played in a previous project.  

You’d write about your projects in a similar way as how you would write about your employment history. This means:

  • Including your role in the project, the company/institution, start and end dates, and location
  • Listing your projects in reverse chronological order
  • Using action verbs at the start of each bullet point to describe what you did
  • Quantifying your achievements and the results of your efforts
  • Showcasing technical skills and knowledge
  • Embedding relevant keywords

Languages

Significance: High (depending on the role)

Best for: Job seekers with 0-5 years of experience

Languages are impressive. To list them on a resume, mention the language and your level of proficiency. 

However, our recommendation is to include them under the certification section like this translator resume template. It’s more compelling to position languages as an achievement on a resume. This gives the reader a form of proof that you have a strong grasp of the language. Plus, it saves space. 

Volunteering

Significance: High

Best for: Job seekers with 0-3 years of work experience

Volunteering is impressive because it shows that you’ve committed to unpaid work. And that means that you’re willing to make a positive impact outside of your personal gain. This is a trait employers would appreciate. 

Volunteer experience also shows that you have a good level of soft skills and work ethic, which is beneficial for the workplace. 

Here’s how to write about volunteering on a resume

  • Enter the volunteer job title
  • Organization 
  • Location
  • Start and end date of volunteering
  • Add bullet points describing the skills you applied as well as the tasks you carried out

Involvement

Significance: High

Best for: Job seekers with 0-3 years of experience

The involvement section of a resume includes a range of extracurricular activities and side projects you were involved in outside of formal employment. 

The word ‘involvement’ is general. So, having this word as the section header allows you to write about various types of work without having to divide them up into multiple resume sections. 

For example, you could write about the following under the involvement section: 

  • Volunteer experience
  • Passion projects
  • School clubs or associations

And the biggest advantage of having each of these under one resume section rather than multiple sections is that you can maintain a one-page resume

Extracurricular Activities 

Significance: High

Best for: Job seekers with 0-3 years of experience

The extracurricular activities section of a resume showcases your contributions to non-academic activities outside of formal school work. This section is common to use for those with limited work experience as it gives potential employers an insight into your personality, leadership abilities, and soft skills. 

Here’s how to write about extracurricular activities on a resume: 

  • List the activity or role you played in the association/institution/organization/society
  • Mention start and end dates of participation
  • Include the location
  • Add a bullet point or two describing what you did: use strong action verbs to write about the tasks you carried out 
  • Highlight any positive outcomes or milestones that you accomplished
  • Include numbers where possible, e.g. when describing a task you carried out or when highlighting an achievement

Hobbies and Interests

Significance: Low

Best for: Job seekers with less than 1 year of experience

Your hobbies and interests showcase your personality. It makes it clear what your passions are and sheds light on who you are as a person. Include up to 5 hobbies and interests on your resume. List them horizontally to save space on your resume. However, this should be relevant to the role you’re applying for. 

The hobbies and interests section is a hit or miss because it must be related to the job responsibilities to leave a profound impression. 

Our recommendation is to write about a relevant passion project to highlight your hobbies and interests instead of just listing them. This is more compelling because you’re showing and not just telling the reader what you’re passionate about. 

Relevant Coursework 

Significance: Medium

Best for: Job seekers with 0-3 years of experience

The relevant coursework section is where you list academic projects that you’ve completed as a student. This is often used by recent graduates or job seekers applying for an internship job opportunity. 

The relevant coursework resume section is most applicable to a student and fresh graduate. 

Here’s what to include when listing coursework on a resume:

  • Coursework title
  • Institution
  • Location
  • A bullet point describing what you learned (optional)

Publications

Significance: Medium

Best for: Job seekers with 0-5 years of experience

Publications aren’t as impactful compared to work experience (unless you’re applying for research or academic roles). The reason that we’ve labeled its significance as medium is that it doesn’t highlight the tangible results of your work compared to writing about a job position where you “led a team of 6 people and increased sales revenue by 20% in 30 days.”

Still, publications can look good on a resume. 

Aside from listing publications in a separate resume section, you could put them in the bullet points of the work experience section (if relevant to the previous job position). 

Here’s what to include for publications on a resume:

  • Title of the published work
  • Author(s)
  • Organization/Institution
  • Location
  • Date of publication

Testimonials

Significance: Medium

Best for: Job seekers with 0-5 years of experience

Testimonials act as resume references. However, the difference is that it immediately highlights an external perspective of your ability, which can make you stand out.

The significance of a testimonial on a resume can be high if the testimonial includes results of your work. For example, your testimonials might include the exact numbers of how much you helped a company grow. 

If not, testimonials still add credibility to your resume. We’d say the significance of a testimonial without numbers or quantified results on a resume is medium because this could be included in the work experience section instead. 

Here’s how to list testimonials on a resume:

  • Use quotation marks for the testimonial
  • Consider using italics for the testimonials
  • Mention who gave you the testimonial by writing their name, job title, and company

References

Significance: Low

Best for: Don’t include.

There’s no need to put references on a resume. If the employer needs a reference, they’ll know you can get one for them. But ultimately, it’s a waste of space because it doesn’t highlight your skills and experience. The purpose of a reference in the first place is to showcase proof of your ability as a professional. 

The only exception is if the employer specifically asks you to include references on your resume. Or, if it’s included as a mandatory step in the company’s job description. 

Specializations

Significance: Medium

Best for: Job seekers with 0-5 years of experience. 

The specialization resume section is where you list areas of expertise. This positions you as a specialist rather than a generalist by highlighting to recruiters that you have a specific skill set for a specific role. Showcase a list of qualifications, achievements, or projects that point towards one particular area. 

However, this could be done in the skills section by categorizing different areas of expertise as mentioned earlier.

How to Order Your Resume Sections

Here’s the standard resume sections order:

  • Header section
  • Summary section (optional)
  • Work experience
  • Education
  • Skills

And I hear you: “what about the order of additional resume sections?”

Well, it honestly depends. What I can say though is that the first sections to list are the ones that are most important. 

But to answer your question, we’ll go through common resume section orders based on your job position and years of experience below. 

Reminder: When listing anything within each section, this should be done in reverse chronological order

Students, Recent Graduates, Interns, and Entry-Level Candidates

You probably have no work experience. Therefore, it makes sense to highlight your academic achievements first.

  • Header section
  • Objectives 
  • Education section
  • Work experience section
  • Additional resume sections, e.g. extracurricular activities, relevant coursework, etc.
  • Skills
  • Hobbies and interests

Career Change Applicants

Those making a significant career change also probably have no direct work experience in the field they’re applying for. So instead of highlighting your work history, you’d highlight your most relevant experiences as well as transferable skills (this is what makes the skills-based resume format popular). 

In this case, either list additional resume sections before or after the education section. Prioritize the additional resume section based on what’s most relevant to the job description. 

  • Header section
  • Objectives 
  • Work experience
  • Additional resume section 
  • Education
  • Additional resume section 
  • Skills

Mid-Level Professionals

Mid-level professionals are those of you with at least 2-3 years of experience. In this instance, focus on highlighting practical work experience and professional accomplishments rather than formal qualifications. 

If the additional resume section highlights relevant experience or knowledge more than the education section (e.g. a side project or recent certification), put this after the work experience section. If not, then the additional resume section can go after the education section. 

  • Header section
  • Summary 
  • Work experience
  • Additional resume section
  • Education
  • Skills

Seniors and Above

If you have at least 5 years of experience, consider omitting the additional resume sections unless they’re directly related to the job responsibilities. If they are directly linked to the job criteria, include them either before or after the education section. 

  • Header section
  • Summary
  • Work experience
  • Education
  • Skills

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Summary

Prioritize resume sections based on their relevance to the job description. The non-negotiable sections, however, include the following:

  • Header section
  • Work experience
  • Education
  • Skills

All other resume sections are optional. But just because they’re optional doesn’t mean they’re not as impactful – in fact, they can be just as important. 

FAQs

Can you make a custom resume section?

You can make a custom resume section. Edit the resume section header depending on what the section is going to be about. For example, you could add a ‘consultancy’ section to list your previous freelance projects as a consultant on your resume. 

Could you phrase resume section headers differently?

Yes, as long as it doesn’t change the entire meaning of the resume section. The work experience section, for example, could be rephrased as:

  • Professional experience
  • Professional work experience
  • Work history

Or let’s say you’re applying for a pharmacist job. You could rephrase the standard resume section of ‘skills’ to ‘therapeutic areas’ and then you could list the areas where you’re most skilled. This makes for a more personalized application.

Are two-page resumes okay?

Using a two-page resume is okay. However, we would recommend a one-page resume because a concise application is more impactful. Plus, it demonstrates your ability by being able to convey your expertise faster by using only a single page. 

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