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What to Include on a Great Resume (Complete Guidelines for 2019)

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Read Time: 12 min

Time flies fast, it’s already the second quarter of the year. If you’re part of the population who vowed to find a new job this year, you need to get a move on. 

For starters, you need to know what to put on a resume. Adding a few bullet points to your old application won’t cut it. 

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This popular resume template from Envato Element has an attractive black and white color scheme.

You'll find resume guidelines on using a good resume template or resume design in this article as well as some professionally-designed resume templates. At the end of the article you'll know what to include in a resume.

What Makes a Great Resume in 2019?

Not only do you need to tell a compelling story about your career, you’re also expected to fit all this info into two pages max and make the whole document look good. 

Perhaps that’s why many fresh graduates and professionals back on the job hunt after years of employment dread this process. They don’t know what to include in a resume or what to omit. 

Don’t worry, this article will list all the things to include in a resume to win you a job this year. It'll cover what goes on a resume, such as:

  • Design. Font, margins, template, spacing
  • Keywords. Power words, action words, job-specific keywords
  • Content. Education, skills, and job experience

Resume Guidelines and 14 Good Things to Include in a Resume if You Want to Get Hired

It’s impossible to cover the nitty-gritty of what should be in a resume in one article. So, this list will give you a summary of the main points to remember for each item, then link to a comprehensive resource on that topic. 

1. Be Careful About Resume Length

Limit your resume to one page if you’re a fresh graduate or someone with less than 10 years of professional experience. You may use a two-page resume, however, if you've changed jobs several times, or your profession requires several skills or industry-expected licenses.

For more information on writing a concise resume and the debate on one vs two page resumes, check this tutorial:

2. Understand Resume Structure or Format

Did you know that not all resumes have a chronological job history? There are two other resume formats, combination and functional resume, each with their own pros and cons. 

Functional resumes, in most cases, are recommended for candidates switching careers or those with a job-hopping history. Combination resumes, however, are used by senior managers and executives with a long career history or several accomplishments that need to be grouped together and highlighted above their career history.

Read these guides if you’re not sure what is the right resume format for you:

3. Choose Resume Font and Size Carefully

Whatever you do, don’t use a font size 9 because that’s just too small to read. Don’t use Comic Sans or any of those cursive fonts you see on fancy wedding invitations. 

Resume Set that uses Roboto Font from Envato Elements

Stick to readable fonts like Calibri, Roboto, or Arial. If you want your resume to stand out, or aren't sure what font to use for your resume’s section headers, check out this guide on choosing the best resume font:

4. Improve Resume Design and Color Palette

Linda Allen, Editor of Ms. CareerGirl, cautions against the use of colored paper. She adds, “You have a decent chance of picking a color that annoys the recruiter.”

If you really want to use colors, use it only on section headers or columns—not the whole resume. You can even use your target employer’s brand colors to ensure you don’t annoy whoever reads your resume. 

Minimalist Resume template from Envato Elements that uses a simple color palette

5. Pay Attention to Margins and Spacing in Your Resume

Don’t use wafer-thin margins just to squeeze your resume into one page. Resumes like this are hard to read, and the Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) companies use to process resumes sometimes have trouble processing the resume information they contain. 

Articles don't often mention resume requirements for margins and spacing, but I think it’s an unspoken rule that the sections should be lined up properly so it’s easy to understand where one section ends and another one starts. Use bullet points, columns, and ample white space so the recruiter can easily scan your application. 

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Two column minimalist resume template from Envato Elements

6. Revise Resume Layout

If you’re still using the same resume you had from college, there’s a huge chance its layout isn’t appropriate for your work experience.

Unless you’re switching careers, your education isn’t as important as your previous work experience so it should be located towards the end of your resume.

The correct hierarchy for your resume’s layout is:

  • name and contact details
  • resume summary or highlights
  • work experience
  • skills
  • education and training

7. Include URLs in a Resume

It’s 2019 so almost everyone has a LinkedIn profile and website or portfolio. Include a link to all your relevant online profiles on your resume. 

Should your Facebook profile and Twitter handle be one of the things to add to a resume? The recruiter might look-up your profile but since these accounts are personal, these accounts aren't part of the good things to include in a resume.

8. Add a Resume Summary

Don’t use an objective on your resume, use a resume summary instead. Keep it concise with just five to six bullet points of your most notable achievements, preferably those related to the experience or skills mentioned in your target job. You can also include a one-sentence elevator pitch that describes your job and specialization.

Read this comprehensive guide for more information on what to put on a resume summary statement:

9. Include Education and Training

On the surface, the education section of a resume seems the easiest to write. That’s true for the most part, except if you've got more than one degree and several training under your belt. That’s where it gets tricky.

Stick to the general resume guidelines below for the education and training section of your resume:

  • Always include the degree or certification you received, name of the institution and where you got it.
  • If you've got multiple degrees, list the highest educational attainment first.
  • Multiple post-baccalaureate degrees should be listed in order of completion, and only if they're relevant.
  • Remove your graduation date, GPA, and other coursework if you’ve been employed at least five years.
  • For certifications and licenses, include the name of the certification, the locations where it’s valid, date obtained, and the institution that gave it to you.

This article on listing education and continuous training on your resume will give you more details:

10. Review Job Experience

The job experience section is the most important part of the resume, yet very few candidates take the time to write a compelling narrative for their work history. Follow the strategies below to write a work history that'll compel recruiters to call you in for interview:

  • Remove any mention of responsibilities or duties and replace it with achievement-oriented tasks.
  • Turn vague statements into quantifiable achievements by adding numbers, percentages, or time duration.
  • Paint a picture of your accomplishments by adding details about your work’s clientele, projects, or services.
Heather Rothbauer-Wanish of Feather Communications adds, “Be careful with employment dates. You don’t have to include every single job you ever had. If the jobs you had 10 or 15+ years ago are still relevant to your current role, remove the employment dates.”

The strategies above aren’t the only ones you should keep in mind when writing about your job experience. Consider the years of experience you've got, your promotions, the skills required for the job, and the resume format you’re using. 

Visit the guides below to find out what should be on a resume work history:

11. Include Hard and Soft Skills

Is online research still listed on your resume? What about Microsoft Word? Any fresh graduate or applicant employed in the last 10 years should have these skills. 

No recruiter or hiring manager will be impressed upon seeing them on your resume. Review a few job ads and LinkedIn profiles of people with your job title to see the common skills expected for your profession, and then list them on your resume. 

Include a combination of soft skills, job-related skills, and nice-to-have skills that complement your job. 

Check out this comprehensive article on what to put on a resume skills section for more information:

12. Use Power Words 

Avoid using cliché words like “manage,” “responsible for” or “led.” Use power words that add emphasize your achievements without making you sound like every other job applicant. 

The example below is a good comparison:

  • Improved process for resolving customer complaints to shorten resolution time by 2 days.”
  • Streamlined process for resolving customer complaints to shorten resolution time by 2 days.”

Improvedis such a common and vague word whilestreamlinedisn’t used as often. It also implies that the applicant shortened the process for handling customer complaints, which makes it a better word to describe the accomplishment in this example.

Visit this tutorial for a list of 100+ power words that you can use for almost any skill or accomplishment on your resume:

13. Use Keywords

Power words boost the impact of your skills and achievements. But first, you've got to make sure what you’re emphasizing is in line with what the recruiter looks for in applicants. This is why keywords are a top priority when it comes to the things to put on a resume.

Keywords include the skills, work experience, education, and training an applicant needs to do the job as expected. These are the words a recruiter types into an ATS when filtering resumes of qualified candidates. 

Where should you include keywords in your resume? 

Everywhere. Use them as much as you can and use synonyms and acronyms of those keywords where possible. For instance, instead of just using “social media marketing,” you should also include the acronym “SMM” and related keywords like “social media management” or “Facebook Marketing” — if that’s one of the channels you specialize in.

In most cases, keywords are skills or job titles, but they can also be licenses (CPA), education (MBA, PhD), or even industry jargon (mergers and acquisition). That’s why the only way to know which keywords are worth including is to review the job ad you’re applying for and make sure all the important keywords are listed in your resume. 

Read this tutorial for a complete resume guidelines on what should be on a resume in terms of keywords:

14. Remove Obsolete Phrases

It’s 2019, so no recruiter would expect your application to be labeled as “Resume” at the top or have the phrase “References Available” at the bottom. Those two phrases are obvious, so don’t waste space on them.

You should also remove the phrase “Duties included” or “Responsibilities” commonly found before the bullet points that follow every job entry in your work history section.

How to Make a Great Resume Quickly (With Templates)

You don’t need Photoshop or the help of a graphic designer to create an impressive looking resume. There are lots of ready-to-use templates available online for a reasonable price. Envato Elements, for example, has a monthly subscription where you can use all the resume templates, portfolios and other career paraphernalia you want for a low monthly fee. 

A selection of resume templates from Envato

If you can’t find a design you like on Envato Elements, try searching for resume templates GraphicRiver. Since it’s not a subscription-based service, just purchase the template you want without worrying about recurring costs.

Envato Elements has over 800 resume templates to choose from, so to make it easier for you, we rounded up a bunch of easy to use templates for you here:

Does Your Resume Make You Look Outdated?

A Hotmail email address makes your resume look outdated, that much is obvious, but there are a lot more factors that affects how recruiters perceive your application. Outdated design, not-so-impressive skills, and long blocks of text are just a few of these factors.

So, if you haven’t updated your resume in a while, just follow the resume guidelines in this article to bring your resume up to speed with what recruiters expect. Even if you only follow the tips on using a good resume template or resume design and on writing a powerful summary, that'll go long way in boosting your application’s credibility.

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