What To Put On A Resume (And 10 Things to Never Include)
Trying to find out what to include on your resume? Learn what employers are looking for as well as what they much rather you leave out.
What could be worse than forgetting something on your resume? Putting something on there that doesn’t belong might be.
Don’t worry! We’ve got you covered with the complete list of what to always and never include when writing your resume.
Required Information On Your Resume:
- Accurate Contact Information
- Resume Opener: Summary or >Objective
- Work Experience
- Skills: Technical & Soft Skills
In general, anything beyond this list is optional unless specifically requested in the job posting.
Other things like certificates, awards, or volunteer work can add value but must be used correctly and in the right contexts. We’ll cover more on this later.
Let’s cover all the appropriate information for each section in more detail.
If after going through this guide you still need more help with your resume, consider working with our team of professional resume writers who can write your resume
What To Include In Your Contact Information:
Your contact information should always include these basics:
- Full First & Last Name
- Email Address
- Phone Number
Make sure to triple check the information in this section. One inaccurate character in this section, and you are going to miss out on opportunities.
You’ll note that a mailing address is not essential. We’ll go into more detail about this later in the article. You can, however, include your city of residence.
If you have a related business website or online portfolio, you should also consider putting this information in your contact section if it’s related to the type of job openings you’ll be applying to.
Should I Include My Social Media Handles on My Resume?
Your social media handles are not required. However, showing a strong social media presence can be an advantage, especially in technology or marketing fields. Depending on the platform, it can also boost your professional persona.
Here is our expert take on each social platform:
Highly Recommended: LinkedIn
It will highlight your professional network and work experience. Just make sure to perfect your profile and have an outstanding profile summary in place before you add it.
It Depends: Twitter
If you use your Twitter as part of your professional persona and tweet about industry-relevant information, then you can include it.
Rarely: Tik Tok, Reddit, Instagram or Facebook
The only exception is if it’s a business account or it explicitly links to your skillset in your industry.
As with anything you include on your resume, make sure each account is entirely professional and error-free before sharing them with a potential employer.
What Should I Include in My Resume Objective or Summary?
Before you start writing your resume opener, make sure you have something valuable to add in the first place.
A resume objective is better when you have less experience. A summary will sum up your most significant achievements throughout your career. It can be a powerful way to present your skill set. The top of your resume gets the most eye-traffic, so use it wisely.
If you need help determining if you should use an opener or not, check out our advice on this topic here.
What Should I Include in My Work Experience?
This is the most crucial section of your resume unless you are a recent graduate. If you have a considerable amount of work experience, you should include:
- At least 3 relevant positions in reverse chronological order (most recent first)
- 3-5 bullets under each role that highlight your accomplishments in the job
If a previous role has no relevance to the position you are applying to, you do not need to include it. Just make sure you are prepared to explain any gaps in work experience.
All writing on your resume should be concise and use action verbs. When describing your experience, use concrete examples and numbers when you can. Never just list your job responsibilities. Instead, share proof of how you were successful in your role.
Here are some other common questions that come up about the experience section of your resume.
Should I Include My Internships?
Internships usually are only appropriate to list on your resume if you are a recent graduate. However, they can also be valuable if you lack professional work experience, or the internship is very relevant to the position. Your resume has limited space, so professional experience should take precedence over internships.
Can I List Volunteer Work On My Resume?
Volunteering your time shows compassion and drive, which can help you stand out from the pack of applicants. However, if you have limited resume space, follow these best practices to decide if your volunteer work should make the cut.
Make room for volunteer experience if it:
- Makes up for your limited amount of professional experience
- Displays leadership skills that you don’t have in your career
- Explains significant gaps in employment
- Helps showcase transferable skills in a career change
Carefully weigh the benefits of controversial or political volunteer work before including it. Just like in real life, it can make it harder to connect with interviewers when you put polarizing opinions in the open during a first impression.
What should I Include in the Education Section of My Resume?
The general rule with resumes is to include only your highest level of education.
The only exceptions are if you are in academia or your highest level of education is not as relevant as previous education. For example, when switching careers, you may have an undergraduate degree in a field that is more relevant than your Master’s degree. In that case, list both.
Should I Include My High School Diploma?
If you are a current high school student or high school is your highest level of education, then you should list your high school diploma.
Active students should include their projected graduation date. Other than that, there is no need to list your graduation year.
Can I Include Academic Achievements and Awards?
Listing academic awards is a great way to boost your resume if you are a recent graduate. It’s typically not recommended or needed if you have professional experience. If you do include it, it should always be in the education section. Here is an example:
Bachelor’s of Engineering
Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth College
Graduated with Honors
As with academic achievements, you only should include your GPA if you work in academia or are a recent graduate. Unless specifically requested, your GPA is not required, so consider leaving it off if it’s below a 3.0.
Should I describe My Coursework?
Coursework is only relevant if you are a recent graduate with no experience. Make sure that the coursework is related to the role, and you focus on what you learned rather than just describing the assignments.
What Type of Skill Should I List on my Resume?
The skills section of your resume should present you as a well-rounded and capable applicant. To do this, you need to create a compelling mix of hard and soft skills. Here are some examples of desirable skills to list:
- Leadership Skills
- Communication Skills
- Organizational Skills
- Time Management Skills
- Computer Skills
- Customer Service Skills
- Language Skills
- Interpersonal Skills
- Certifications & Professional Accreditations
Make sure to review the job posting to pull out the hiring manager’s most valued skills. Put the most relevant skills at the top of your list, where they are most likely to be read. Also, use the same wording as the job description when possible.
Should I Put Hobbies on My Resume?
This question has been a hot debate in the resume world. Adding hobbies has the benefit of presenting your human side and helping you to be more than a piece of paper.
However, it can be unprofessional in certain industries or when applying to companies with a formal culture. It’s also hard to warrant the space if your hobbies don’t communicate a skill set that’s relevant to your career.
When you are doubting if adding a hobby is appropriate or questioning the value of the hobby to your resume, it’s best to leave it out.
What You Should You Never Put On Your Resume
Just as each section has a list of must-haves, there is also a list of things that should never make its way onto a modern resume. Keep reading to ensure you don’t commit one of these resume faux pas.
Your contact information may seem like that part of your resume that is cut and dry, but there are missteps you can make. Here are a few things that you should avoid.
- Never: An email address that is unprofessional
- Never: A physical mailing address
- Rarely:Include A headshot
- Never:Put Any Unnecessary personal information
Here you need to consider your actual email address and the platform. Email addresses from yahoo.com or hotmail.com are outdated. Gmail and Outlook are best for business.
Unless the company will need to contact you via physical mail, your mailing address is outdated. You can include your city of residence, so the company knows if you are planning to relocate.
The general rule in the US and the UK is to never put a photograph on your resume. However, there are some industry exceptions.
Things like marital status, gender, or ethnicity should not be on your resume. If a company would like this information, they will ask.
Your introduction is at the top of your resume and might be your first impression. Don’t make these mistakes and stop curious eyes dead in their tracks.
- Never: State that your objective is to get the job
The hiring manager knows that because you submitted your resume. If you are using an objective rather than summarizing your skills because you have a lack of experience, focus on the impact you would like to make at their company.
- Never:Include Salary or Benefits Expectations
Your resume is never the time nor the place to negotiate employment terms.
The Experience and Education Sections
The experience and education section is highly personal, so there are rarely black and white rules. With that said, here are some things you can usually leave out.
- Irrelevant experience
- Short-term or freelance jobs
- A list of job requirements or fluff (focus on accomplishments)
- Your GPA (unless you are a recent graduate or in academia)
When omitting work experience or employment details, make sure you are never intentionally deceptive. Never eliminate a job just because it ended poorly.
Professional Skills, Hobbies, and Volunteering Sections
These are typically some of the tightest sections of a resume. Everything included needs to be on point.
- Never: Fluff Words and Long Descriptions
This section should be to the point and impactful. Resume space and the hiring manager’s time are valuable. Don’t waste either.
- Never: Irrelevant Skills
In general, unlike hard skills, soft skills can transfer to any position, but you should tailor the hard skills specifically for the job. If you list engineering software skills for an apparel design job, you risk looking like you didn’t read the job description.
- Never: Strange Hobbies
While an odd hobby will help you stand out, it could be off-putting. If you wouldn’t offer up your hobby in the first few minutes of meeting someone, it doesn’t belong on your resume.
- Rarely: Controversial Volunteer Work or Hobbies
The topics of religion, politics, and sex are typically polarizing. However, there could be an exception for a specific company or industry. Use your best judgment.
There are a couple of things that have no place on a resume, no matter what section you put them in.
- Never: Anything Dishonest. Exaggerated or Inaccurate
It may seem like white lies are an easy way to improve your chances of getting the job, but this will likely catch up with you in the end and have lasting damage to your reputation.
- Never: “References Upon Requests”
This phrase and idea are outdated. It’s understood that you will provide references if the company requests it. When they ask to do, make sure you have a professional-looking references page with similar formatting (font, color) as your resume.
Even when you follow all the rules, everyone’s resume will look a little different depending on their industry and their amount of experience. You can rely on the job description to guide you to the most pertinent information.
No matter what you decide to include or omit, make sure everything is entirely accurate. A resume is one place in your career where a single mistake is unacceptable.