What to Put on a Resume to Get You Noticed [6 Key Sections]

What to put on your resume: summary or objectives section, work history, education, and skills. How to impress your employers and what you shouldn’t include.
Build your resume now—It's free
349 reviews (4.8 out of. 5)
Featured in:
Contributor
Astley Cervania
Updated
February 29, 2024

How do you craft a resume that stands out? We outline what to include, what to avoid, and how to optimize for applicant tracking system (ATS) compatibility.

Starting to build out your resume and wondering what should go into it? Well, you’re in the right place. A standout resume is more than just words on a page; it's a carefully designed window into your professional journey, skills, and ambitions. 

Plus, it needs to be optimized for modern hiring practices, like the use of applicant tracking systems (ATS). Either way, there’s specific information employers will expect in your job application:

  • Contact Details
  • Work Experience
  • Education
  • Skills

We’ll cover everything you need to include in your resume. You’ll learn what to highlight, what to omit, and other expert tips that’ll help you put your best—and most hireable—foot forward. 

What to Include on a Resume to Capture Your Employer's Attention

Without covering each element—contact details, work experience, education, and skills—your application will have gaps that hiring managers simply can’t ignore. And that’s if your resume even makes it to them in the first place. 

Not including any of the essentials will lead the ATS to likely sideline your application in favor of those that tick all the right boxes. These systems are programmed to scan for particular keywords and phrases that are relevant to the role (like “data analysis” or “growth marketing”), as well as educational background and work experience.

Let’s go over these essential resume sections in a bit more detail.

1. Resume Header

The resume header contains your contact information and is placed at the top of the page. This should include the following:

While this may seem pretty straightforward, it’s crucial for all types of ATS resumes. No matter what the job, the employer must know how to contact you. 

To save space, keep it to a single line. Here’s an example:

resume header with name, location, contact details and LinkedIn profile link
Example of how Rezi’s ready-to-use templates format your headers

Including a picture on your resume is generally not recommended, especially in the US, UK, and Canada, where headshots are seen as unprofessional and can lead to bias. Additionally, pictures can interfere with ATS tools, potentially resulting in the automatic rejection of your resume. 

However, there are exceptions. In industries where appearance is directly relevant, like acting or modeling, a photo might be expected. Also, in some regions, such as East Asia and continental Europe, including a resume photo is more common.

2. Resume Summary 

A well-crafted resume summary is your chance to make a powerful first impression.

This short section should highlight your resume objectives and professional identity. 

Whether you're an experienced professional or just entering the workforce, a compelling summary sets the tone for your resume and can capture the attention of hiring managers.

Summary sections are especially important for student resumes, as they offer an opportunity to highlight skills and objectives when you don’t have much professional experience to draw upon.

3. Work Experience Section

When considering what to write in a resume for work experience, focus on roles and skills that are most relevant to the position you’re applying for.

After all, your employment history shows hiring managers that you have experience with the duties and responsibilities of the role. It also provides insight into your skill level and whether you know what to expect in your line of work.

When describing your professional experience, be sure to mention the following for each previous role:

  • Name of Company 
  • Job Title
  • Dates of Employment
  • Tasks and Responsibilities
  • Accomplishments

It’s generally a good idea to list your work history in reverse chronological order. So start with your most recent job and work backward. Your latest experiences are the most relevant. 

resume work experience for a business analyst

If you’re just entering the workforce and don’t have any previous roles to include, share details on other relevant experiences that showcase your talents and ambition. For example, you can share the following:

1. Notable Coursework

Include any significant projects or coursework related to the job you're applying for. Describe the skills you developed and the outcomes of your work.

2. Volunteer Work

Highlight volunteer roles, especially those that have given you transferable skills or relevant experience. Explain your responsibilities and any achievements in these roles.

3. Internships and Part-Time Jobs

Even if they're not in your desired field, internships and part-time jobs demonstrate your work ethic and ability to adapt to professional environments.

4. Extracurricular Activities

Activities such as clubs, sports teams, or student organizations can illustrate leadership, teamwork, and other skills valuable to employers.

Don’t miss our previous article on entry-level resume tips.

4. Education 

Your education refers to your academic background and formal education. This section consists of:

  • What you studied
  • Where you studied (e.g. university or college)
  • The qualification received (e.g. bachelor’s degree)
  • Date of completion

You can also mention your GPA as long as it’s a score of over 3.0.

resume education. masters of science in data analysis and bachelors of science in finance

5. Resume Skills 

The skills on your job application are arguably more valuable than your experience. 

After all, what really matters is whether you can carry out your responsibilities and deliver results. 

You’ll need to match the job description by including the relevant hard and soft skills required. It tells employers you’ve optimized your application and that you can get the job done. 

Hard skills are the technical and specific abilities required for the job. Here are a few examples:

  • Software Proficiency (e.g., Adobe Photoshop, Excel)
  • Programming Languages (e.g., Python, Java)
  • Specialized Training (e.g., First Aid Level 1 (Basic) training)

Soft skills are attributes that determine how well you can work and interact with others, such as the following:

  • Communication Skills
  • Teamwork and Collaboration
  • Time Management

Here are other types of skills:

  • Transferable Skills (like leadership and problem-solving)
  • Languages (like French and Korean)
  • Technical Skills (like spreadsheets and programming)
  • And more!

See what the skills section of your resume might look like below:

resume skills: tableau, r, stata, Microsoft excel, python, crm, financial markets, data analysis

How to Include ATS Keywords to Maximize Your Resume's Success

Recruiters use ATS tools to quickly find candidates that meet certain criteria. It’s especially helpful for larger companies with thousands of applicants for every opening. So before reaching the recruiter or hiring manager, your first hurdle is to get past the resume scanners. 

To do this, use resume keywords contextually. Don’t force them if it doesn’t fit in—it should be natural. Using the right keywords in this way will strengthen your application, as it shows the hiring team that you’re a good fit for the role.

For a list of ATS keywords that are required for a specific role, follow these steps:

  1. Sign up for free on Rezi.
  2. Navigate to the “Finish Up” tab.
  3. Enter your job title.
  4. Copy and paste the job description.
  5. Press the save job description button.

Here’s a 45-second live demonstration of how the Rezi Resume Keyword Scanner feature works:

Psst… Need to Prep For Your First Interview?

Once you’ve written and optimized your resume, take the next step in your job preparation with our AI Interview tool. It's a convenient way to practice answering questions that are likely to come up in your first interview. 

You’ll receive tailored questions based on your resume, along with constructive feedback on your responses—so you’re well-prepared, confident, and ready to make a great impression.

Start practicing with Rezi AI Interview.

Rezi ai interview

Additional Resume Sections to Help Your Resume Stand Out

Now that we’ve got the essentials out of the way, let’s explore how additional sections can enhance your resume. These can help personalize your application and compensate for any criteria that you haven’t met. 

Job seekers often have life experiences, hobbies, or achievements that showcase relevant knowledge, skills, and aptitude. 

For instance:

  • Designing a website in your spare time has developed your technical proficiency.
  • Growing your blog has developed your digital marketing and SEO skills. 

With custom resume sections, you can highlight your unique selling points, tailor your application, and reveal your strengths. 

Here are some examples:

  1. Certifications

Include any certifications or qualifications you've received that are relevant to the position and industry. They’re an effective way to validate your listed skills and show they’re up-to-date.

  1. Projects

If you’ve worked on any work or academic projects that demonstrate relevant skills and expertise, you can add a section that summarizes key details.

  1. Coursework

Depending on the role you’re applying for, a description of previous academic courses can strengthen your resume and your depth of knowledge. As we touched on earlier, this can be helpful if you don’t have a lot of professional experience.

  1. Involvement

If you’re involved in any clubs, organizations, or activities that reflect leadership, teamwork, or other valuable skills, a dedicated involvement section can help differentiate your resume from other candidates.

  1. Training 

Include any professional development or training programs that have equipped you with specific skills for the job.

  1. Licenses

Describe any professional licenses that qualify you for specialized roles or industries. Even if they’re only indirectly related to the position, this section can show your breadth of knowledge and expertise.

  1. Volunteering

Demonstrate your values, empathy, and practical skills through a section detailing your volunteer work, especially if it's relevant to the job.

resume involvement section

Achievements 

Actions say a lot more about us than words do. It’s more or less the same with your achievements.

This may include:

  • Certifications
  • Publications
  • Awards
  • Testimonials

These could be dedicated as an additional resume section if necessary. By listing a variety of accomplishments, it implies you’re better than the average worker. It’s one effective way to create a strong impression on your recruiters and hiring managers. 

Data and Statistics

Whenever you want to make a statement, use data and statistics to support your points. 

Most times, this will be in your work experience section when describing your importance and the impact you’ve made. 

By adding the results you’ve been responsible for, it shows how you actually provided value and made a real difference. In general, it’s impressive for anyone to see how your actions have led to a positive outcome. 

Here are a few examples:

  • “Increased the number of appointments booked by 35%”
  • “Reduced employee turnover rates by 25%”

You can see how this adds to your credibility and perceived value as a professional. It also prevents you from seeming biased since you’re using numbers and being specific.

Personal Examples 

Everyone has their own experiences in and out of the workplace that could be relevant to talk about. For example, showcasing your progression from how you worked up to where you are now. 

This helps with tailoring your resume further and demonstrates a degree of creativity. If you’re making claims and don’t have numbers to back it up, you’ll need to at least use examples. 

Cover Letters

When looking at what to put on a resume with no experience, one of the best things to do is send a cover letter.  

This is another way of making up for not meeting all the desirable requirements. 

Even if you don’t have the ideal employment background, it gives you the opportunity to present yourself as a candidate that’s a strong cultural fit. You do this by aligning your personality and objectives with the job position and company values. 

What You Shouldn’t Include In a Resume

Now that you’ve got an idea of what to put on your resume, we’ll look at what you shouldn’t include and some of the red flags. 

Opinionated Statements

This is when you make a statement based on your own thoughts and opinion. 

A better approach is to be factual and write from a cognitive perspective. Since resumes resemble a report that summarizes your professional background, it makes sense for it to be more fact-based rather than opinion-based.

However, the only exception to this is when you’re writing a cover letter.

Sensitive Information

The only personal details required is your contact information. Anything other than that isn’t necessary to include. 

Employers should never ask you for sensitive details such as:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Religion
  • Political beliefs
  • Marital status

Spelling Mistakes and Typos

It’s a simple mistake that’s immediately picked up by the ATS. Grammar mistakes, spelling errors, and typos are not acceptable. So, double-check your application before submitting it to your employers. 

False Sentences

Don’t lie on your resume. Period. 

It’s still common for job seekers to write misleading information. In fact, roughly 40% of employees have been dishonest in their job applications. 

The hiring manager interviewing you will have interviewed hundreds of candidates. It’s not difficult for them to see through your resume if you’ve lied or added any false information about your professional background. 

Weak Action Verbs 

Action verbs are meant to spice up your resume. 

For instance, they can highlight your active role in achieving a positive outcome or accomplishment.

But if you’re not careful, action verbs can have the opposite effect—making your application seem generic and uninspired. Weak action verbs tend to be vague, bland, and unoriginal, while strong action verbs are evocative, clear, and distinctive. 

Here are some weak action verbs to avoid:

  • Worked
  • Made
  • Studied
  • Showed
  • Took 

Overused Buzzwords 

We’ve made a list of resume buzzwords to avoid based on over 100,000 applications. Including any of these will make your resume less effective.

Most of the time, these words and phrases don’t show your employers much and can easily become a distraction. When seeking to evoke a positive reaction, be as specific as possible and make sure buzzwords are contextually relevant and used naturally.

Common buzzwords include:

  • Responsible for
  • Team player
  • Innovative
  • Expert
  • Outside the box

Resume Cliches

Unintended cliches are one of the most common mistakes on resumes—and why many candidates are rejected.

If a word or phrase is unnecessary and doesn’t communicate anything of value, then it should probably be cut. This includes vague terms and filler words, like describing yourself as a “hard worker.”

Other common resume cliches include: 

  • Detail-oriented
  • Creative problem-solver
  • Dynamic
  • People person
  • Proven track record

The Ideal ATS Resume Length is One Page

Aim for a one-page resume. These are more concise, well put together, and easier to skim. It also respects your hiring manager’s time by getting straight to the point and keeping your application free from fluff. Unlike two-page resumes, a single-page resume does a better job at making an impression. 

BONUS: Formatting Tips for a Stellar Resume

Formatting is an essential part of every well-crafted resume. Not only does it help hiring managers understand and digest key information, but it also boosts ATS compatibility.

A resume that’s formatted correctly—with clear headings, bullet points, and consistent styling—makes it easier for the ATS to identify and score key information. Coupled with the right keywords (which you can find with our free keyword scanner), effective formatting gives your resume the best chance of landing an interview.

Minimal Resume Design

While you might be craving to demonstrate your creative ability, what matters more than how you’ve presented your resume is what you’ve written.

Subtle ats resume format are not only important for overcoming the resume scanners. But, it also improves the readability of your application for human readers. The key is keeping it clean and simple.

Even for graphic design resume examples, it’s better to make a resume with minimal visual aspects. If you’re trying to use tables and color, the ATS won’t pick up on them.

Resume Icons

Again, these should be minimal. With small intricate details like this, it improves the readability of your resume.

resume hheader with name, loction, contact info, and LinkedIn profile link

Another formatting option that’s pretty much necessary for modern applications is bullet points.

These are better replacements for big paragraphs as it makes your resume easy to skim through and is more effective for keeping the reader engaged.

Professional Resume Font

The aesthetic and appearance of your resume have an impact on your reader’s first impressions. That’s why modern font choices should be taken into consideration. These should also be kept professional and scannable for the ATS.

Proven Resume Examples From Rezi

We’ve compiled a list of 4 ats resume below. Take inspiration from what’s already been written and use some of those ideas for your own application.

Marketing Insights Resume Template

Marketing insights with high amount of experience and skills in related fields from various companies.

Embedded Software Developer Resume Template (Interviewed at AMD)

embedded software developer with high amount of experience and skills in related fields from various companies.

Data Engineer Resume Template (Interviewed at Facebook)

data engineer with high amount of experience and skills in related fields from various companies.

Assistant Policy Intern Resume Template (Interviewed at Accenture)

Assistant Policy Intern student resume template with low level experience, concentrating on recent education, internships, and other extra curricular experiences.

Ready to Start Landing More Interviews?

Rezi is a powerful resume platform that uses AI tools to streamline, automate, and optimize every step of the resume creation process. Whether you’re an industry veteran or fresh out of university, Rezi can help you write and format a resume that’s perfectly designed for both hiring managers and their ATS. 

Check out Rezi today and take your career to the next level.