What Information Should my Resume Include?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

The main goal of any resume is to provide a brief snapshot of your basic skills, talents, and ambitions. It is usually a good idea to provide basic contact information, as well as an overview of your educational and work experience. In most cases, job applicants choose to tailor their resumes to meet the specific criteria of the job to which they are applying. This often includes industry-specific skills and past work experience that may be particularly relevant to the prospective employer.

A resume should include detailed information about your educational and employment background.
A resume should include detailed information about your educational and employment background.

Resumes are typically quite short — often only about a page — but they are often the first chance you will have to make an impression. As such, taking the time to carefully craft a new version for each job you are applying to is usually recommended.

Education is an important attribute to include on a resume.
Education is an important attribute to include on a resume.

Contact Information

At a minimum, a resume needs include information on how a prospective employer or hiring manager can reach you. This usually includes your full name, home and mobile telephone numbers, and physical address. An e-mail address is also usually a welcome addition, as many jobs that accept applications through the Internet will correspond with applicants primarily through electronic means.

Applicable volunteer work is often included on a resume.
Applicable volunteer work is often included on a resume.

Links to personal websites or online profiles can also be part of this section, so long as they are relevant. Overloading your resume with information that is not really related to your skills or job-related talents is rarely a good idea, as it can cause the employer or job recruiter to lose interest and move on to the next candidate. Listing a website that includes many of your professional articles or speaking engagements is usually encouraged, for instance, but a personal blog with pictures of family and friends should usually be left off.

Some people include their hobbies on a resume if they relate to a job the person is applying for.
Some people include their hobbies on a resume if they relate to a job the person is applying for.

Education and Degrees Earned

Employers are almost always interested in knowing about applicants’ educational backgrounds. As such, you should clearly state where you attended college or university, as well as the degree or degrees you earned. Any graduate work you have completed should be highlighted, as well, and listing the title of any master’s theses or doctoral dissertations is often helpful in providing a snapshot of the specialized knowledge you bring.

Filling out the education section might be hard if you are still in school, or have only recently graduated. Including your grade point average can be one way of setting a resume apart, as can listing completed courses that may have particular relevance to job you are applying to.

Job Search Objective

Many applicants choose to follow up on their educational qualifications with a brief statement of why, exactly, they are seeking the advertised job. This is usually known as an “objective.”

When objectives are included, they are usually quite specific. Simply saying that you want the job is not very compelling, but something that describes how you hope to use your particular skills to meet a defined end in the employer’s industry can be quite convincing. The main goal is to augment a profile, not state the obvious.

Relevant Experience

Nearly all resumes also include a brief work history section. Applicants who are new to the job market often include volunteer efforts or part-time work; those who are more experienced should usually only include the most recent jobs held. Normally, resumes need not go back more than 10 years in a long job history unless a job before that time cultivated skills of particular benefit to the new employer.

It is usually a good idea to include a brief description of the type of work you did in each of your former jobs, as well as any major responsibilities you assumed. While it can be tempting to provide a lot of details, usually just a sentence or two for each job is best.

Portable Skills

Depending on the job, it might also be worthwhile to list specific skills such as typing speed, phone communication, or public speaking experience. Industry-specific certifications or licenses could also be listed in this section.

Personality and Learning Style

Some people include information about personality type on their resumes. A number of companies use strengths assessment or emotional quotient tests to screen applicants, which can make this sort of information both relevant and helpful. Applicants often begin by listing a few of their strengths, such as analytical thinking, assertive leadership, and goal-oriented work ethic. Taking a personality test at a career center or online can be a good place to get started.

Length and Formatting Considerations

Different industries have different protocols, but in most cases a resume should not exceed a single page in length. It is usually a good idea to avoid overly descriptive language, focusing instead on the few core ideas that you are trying to get across. Most recruitment experts recommend an economy of both space and language.

It can be tempting for job applicants to get creative with their formatting by using colors, graphics, and different fonts and stylings. In some settings — graphic design, for instance — this can actually be an asset. Deviating from standard formatting is not usually recommended, however, and a simple, clean layout is almost always preferable. The most successful resumes stand out on their merits, not on their formatting.

Intersection with the Cover Letter

Most of the time, applicants send their resumes alongside a cover letter. The cover letter is the place for expanded discussion of your qualifications and aptitudes. In most cases, the two pieces are designed to go together, and are written so as to complement each other. Including a detailed cover letter allows you to be more efficient in your resume without worrying that important explanations are being lost.

A person's grade point average can be one way of setting her resume apart from others.
A person's grade point average can be one way of setting her resume apart from others.
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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Discussion Comments


The length of your resume depends on the number of years of experience you have - as I've worked more, my resume has lengthened. After 20 years in the work force, my resume is now three pages, not one. It makes sense right out of high school or college, not way down the road in your career.


Objective statements are pointless. Your objective is quite obvious, to get a job or if currently employed, then to get a better job that can advance your career. Any resume advice that suggests to include an objective statement is missing the point of a resume.


I found some really useful resume information online. I don't think a one page resume is sufficient enough, though. I have a hard time fitting much of anything on a one page resume, but two pages is my maximum.


Cvs and resume are the hot topics these days, just because with a perfect cv you can land in a dream job. But i disagree with what many say: A resume or CV just provides your objectives, skills and experience. I suggest people should not pay a lot of money for preparing a CV. You are the one who knows yourself better.


I, for one, disagree completely with the above-referenced comments on this subject matter and feel that a resume should only include your name, cell phone number and e-mail address.

In fact, including the area in which you live can actually work against you and not for you in landing that big job. I once had finally landed an interview with a company in which I had always wanted to work for that was only a half-hour away from where I had lived and was literally pushed aside by the interviewer because he claimed that I would not be able to make it to the job site on a daily basis because it was two hours away from the office when he knew beforehand that I had lived only a half-hour away.

Bottom line: Keep it simple, keep it short.


A resume should always only be one page in length. This was the rule 10 years ago when I was in high school, this was the rule two years ago when I graduated from Pace University, and this was the rule when I was hiring employees this past year. It will never be a thing of the past as the applicants that are submitting resumes longer than one page appear uneducated in resume writing.


One page resumes are not efficient. They are lacking. Resumes should be kept as short as possible, but they also need to get the point across. You cannot do that with a one page resume unless you have no experience. By telling people to keep their resumes to one page, they could be missing out on the job they truly want.


As a person who wants to create a resume I think that this is a good guide. I agree that a resume only needs to be a page long, the employer probably wouldn't want to read five pages of irrelevant information.


I absolutely disagree with some of the information noted above. As a senior HR executive - now seeking employment, I feel it is unnecessary to include your specific address. I just put the city, state and zip code.

No prospective employer is going to "write" to you. If called in for an interview, then you can indicate your full address.

In this age of identity theft and such, having as little personal information as possible on a resume is recommended.

Also, a one page resume is something from the past. I have over 15 years of solid experience and one page is impossible.


i just reviewed a bunch of resumes for a job opening that we had... i would like to reiterate the point that a resume should fit on one page. in the current job market employers are getting lots of resumes, and long communications are frustrating and counterproductive.

this doesn't mean that you should chop everything out, rather cut out the irrelevant stuff and make what remains more concise.

the same is true for the cover letter. short and to the point has more impact and shows your employer that you can get stuff done. when i read cover letters or resumes that go on and on, i get the feeling like the applicant is not very adept at being efficient.

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