Your Resume: What to Include, and What Leave Off

When you write your resume, figuring out what to include can be the most difficult part. Should you have an objective? What about a photo? Should you list every responsibility you had under each job, or just a few highlights? Read on to find out what you should focus on when creating a resume built for success.

What To Include on Your Resume

A Summary: At the top of your resume, you should have a Summary section (or a Profile) that outlines your unique strengths and skills. Try and think of things that really set you apart – maybe you’re a creative, innovative thinker and work well with little to no direction; you may have an uncanny ability to think of problems before they happen and can easily find solutions, saving time and cutting company costs. Technical proficiencies are usually included here as well.

Accomplishments: Instead of focusing only on your job responsibilities, you should list a few key accomplishments either in your Summary section or under each job in your Work History. This shows not only what you’ve done, but what you’re capable of and why you are an asset.

(Relevant) Responsibilities: If you’re writing a resume in chronological format, you may list responsibilities under each position you have held. Keep your current career goals in mind and focus on the responsibilities that are relevant – you don’t need to list every little thing you did (filing, making copies, answering the phone when your boss is away, etc). Everything you list under a job similar to what you’re applying for should be something you want to do again.

Certifications and Training: If you’ve taken courses that are relevant to your field, you should list them in a separate section, along with any certifications you have.

What NOT to Include

A Self Portrait: Unless you’re a model, people don’t need to see what you look like on a print resume.

Menial Tasks: As I mentioned earlier, you don’t need to list every single thing you’ve done in a position. And if there’s something you can do but don’t necessarily want to, go ahead and leave it off. For instance, I just created a resume for a client who had done event planning but hated it with a passion, so we took it off.

Hobbies: Generally, employers aren’t all that interested in your golfing skills or ability to run a 10k marathon. Save that space for relevant information.

Your GPA: Nobody needs to know your GPA. I can’t count how many resumes I’ve seen that list a 3.4 GPA under their degree. You graduated – that’s what counts.

All of this said, these are general guidelines, and there are exceptions to every rule. Remember, it’s your resume, and in the end it’s up to you to decide what to keep and what to leave off. Most importantly, have fun with the process and create a resume that makes you shine!



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