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Resume Categories – What to Include and What not to Include

Resume Categories – What to Include and What not to Include

Now that you’ve gathered your work history information, a summary of your project/job successes, education and training information, a copy of the job posting you will be applying for, and a copy of an old resume; it’s time to start!

When writing your resume, it is important to remember why you are writing one: to get an interview!

These are some typical topics usually found on resumes; some are great to include, some are not.

  • Objective:  This is a great addition to a resume since it provides a quick reference for potential employers to understand clearly what position you are applying for.  Why is that important?  Employers on average receive 118 resumes for each job*; therefore if there are recruiting for more than 1 position you will have a better chance of having your resume reviewed for the right job if it gets into the proper position file. (*
  • Summary:  A summary can be used effectively by summarizing 5-10 project successes, notable work history, applicable university or college education, etc.  However, if you include this topic as well as Highlighted Skills and Qualification or even an Objective, it can seem redundant and therefore it shouldn’t be included.  Another way to use the “Summary” title effectively is to write 1-3 sentences showcasing some of your most beneficial skills for the position as well as noting the position you are applying for.
  • Highlighted Skills and Qualifications (AKA Summary of Skills, Professional Highlights):  If you will be writing a skills based resume (see previous blog post**), this category is where you will showcase the skills, experience, and talents the potential employer is looking for.  For instance, if the job posting requires some sort of managerial skills, training, experience, etc. you would have a title “Managerial Skills” and under it list 3-8 different descriptions of how your skills, knowledge, experience applies to the position. (**
  • Employment Experience (AKA Work History):  Besides the obvious inclusions such as Job Title, Dates of Employment, and Company Name; Employment Experience can also be a great place to showcase your skills or experience if you are writing an Employment-Based resume (see previous blog post **
  • Education, Training, Certifications, Professional Memberships:  Although I typically say training and education is never wasted, and I almost always include all training and education on resumes for my clients, it is important to note that excessive training that is not at all related to the job you are applying for can be a hindrance to you.  Obviously if you have a welding certificate and you are applying for a welding job it is important to clearly include the certification visibly on your resume.  On the other hand, if you have a Master’s in English and are applying for a welding job your resume may be overlooked since employers may think you are only looking for a welding job because you can’t find a position in your field and you will likely quit sometime down the road when an opportunity arises in your field.  It is also beneficial to separate this topic into 2 or 3 separate categories if you have extensive Education, Training, and Certifications to highlight.
  • Personal Interests (AKA Hobbies):  Unless your hobbies and interests directly relate to the job you wish to apply for, you should not include them.  Remember, your resume is likely being “skimmed” by the reader, so you want to make sure every spot they stop to read sheds light on your specific skills and experience that relate to the job in question.
  • References:  Some people like to include these on the resume; I do not.  I think a resume should be filled with specific statements and facts related to your skills, experience, knowledge, project summaries, etc. and that a separate document for references can be shared with the potential employer upon their request.  A simple “Reference Available upon Request” can be written at the bottom of your resume.
"I prunes a tree once, so technically I'm allowed to put "branch manager" on my resume."

“I pruned a tree once, so technically I’m allowed to put “branch manager” on my resume.”

Photo credit to

Have a question?  Did I skip over a category you would like to know more about?  Or maybe you have an idea for a future blog post topic? Please leave a comment or email me, I would love to hear from you!  I will soon be posting about how long a resume should be – I will give a heads up that the longer your resume is (more than 2 pages), the better chance of key information being overlooked by the potential employer.

And please check back often!  I am eager to write about some other common resume and cover letter questions and I will be posting more free resume help and advice soon!

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