How to Write a Professional Resume?|Ultimate Writing Guide & Tips


What to Put on a Resume?

While writing a resume, there is a common problem that bothers us all, whether you are a seasoned employee who has several years of experience in the workplace, or a fresher who just came out of college with no work experience.

“What to include in a resume?”

“What NOT to include in a resume?”

A professional resume should be able to serve its ultimate purpose of landing the interview. In short, after reviewing your resume, the hiring manager should at least be able to learn the 3 following information:

  1. Is the candidate qualified for this job position (in terms of skills, knowledge, and experience) ?
  2. What can the candidate contribute to the company (based on previous work experience and achievements) ?
  3. How to contact the candidate?

In order to answer the questions above, there are 5 basic components you need to put on your resume:

  • Contact Information
  • Work Experience
  • Education
  • Skills (technical & soft)
  • Achievements and Awards

This is to say, resume sections other than what are listed above are not essential for a resume. However, do note that cultural differences in the job search does exist around the world.

Reminder 💡

Including certain information (e.g. photo, personal background) might add value to your resume, while it can also be the deal breaker in other cases.

In general, only information and experience relevant to the job position need to be included on a resume. It is not suggested to add photos or personal details in a resume, unless the employer specifically requires them,

What to Include in a Resume:

  • Contact Information
  • Profile Summary / Career Objective
  • Education
  • Work Experience
  • Skills and Qualifications
  • Awards and Achievements

What to Exclude from a Resume:

  • Marital status
  • Photo (head shot)
  • Religious preference
  • Irrelevant Experience
  • Hobbies and Interests
  • Complete mailing address

Further reading:  Step-by-step Guide to Building a Resume from Scratch 

How to Write a Resume
- 10 Important Sections 

1. Resume headline/title

A resume headline is a title located at resumes’ header section. It briefly summarizes a candidate’s experience, strengths, and qualifications into an one-line phrase, to show that “I’m the perfect fit for the position”. Remember that a resume headline should be carefully crafted according to the job description, to quickly catch a hiring manager’s eye.

Here’re some tips to refer to while writing a resume title:

  • Utilize keywords
    Refer to the job post and read the description carefully. What are the required qualifications? If you have any of the skills or experience that the employer’s looking for, great, it should definitely be included in the headline.
  • Keep it concise 
    A resume title should be short but precise. An ideal headline should be within 10 words.
  • Customize 
    It is necessary to customize the headline for each resume when you are applying for different job positions, since every company has diverse job requirements (even when they’re hiring the same profession!).
  • Capitalize 
    In order to quickly catch a hiring manager’s attention, it’s suggested to capitalize the headline.
  • Put on top 
    Based on your resume format, a headline can be at the top of the entire resume, or under your name and contact information.

If you still have no idea how to write a professional resume title, here’re 2 easy formulas for you: 

Resume headline writing formulas:

📍 [An adjective describing your personal trait] + [Job title] + with + [Experience]

📍 [An adjective describing your personal trait] + [Job title] + Skilled in/Specializing in +  [Skill/Qualification]

Resume headline examples:

  • Creative Digital Marketer Specializing in SEO
  • Detail-Oriented Baby Sitter with First Aid Training
  • Multilingual Translator Skilled in Website Translation
  • Chartered Accountant with Analytical and Interpersonal Skills
  • Goal-Oriented Sales Representative with 5 Years of Experience in FMCG

📙 Read ➡ Resume Headline|Examples, Templates, Writing Guide for more details!

2. Summary for resume / Career objective for resume

A professional resume objective can be seen as an extension of your resume headline, more like a resume summary statement. Initially, career objective for resume is for job seekers to state their career goals. However, the purpose of resume objectives has transformed into a statement to summarize the candidate qualifications, instead of simply describing the needs of the job seeker.

Resume summary is a short paragraph with 2 to 3 sentences, outlining the candidate’s qualifications and career goals. It should include the candidate’s desired job title, skills, experiences, current job search status, and career vision.

Reminder 💡

It is especially suggested for freshers and career changers to include a career objective/resume summary in resume.

Like resume titles, resume summary/objective is not strictly required for a resume. However, a good summary/objective can spice up your resume and arouse the employer’s interest.

📗 Read ➡ Summary for Resume|Examples, Templates, Writing Guide for more details!

What is a good summary/objective for a resume?

Concise, eye-catching, and most importantly, it should be closely related to the job position and the culture of the company you’re applying for. 

How to write a summary/objective for a resume?

  • Keywords  
    Read through the the job post carefully and collect keywords of required skills, experience, and personal traits that match yours. Use them wisely in the personal statement to catch a recruiter’s (or an applicant tracking system’s!) attention.
  • Growth (optional)
    State your career goals and how the job/company can help you achieve them.
  • Value
    Instead of only gabbling on what you can gain from the company, an employer cares more about how you can add value to the company.
  • Accomplishment
    Remember to include your accomplishment at work to beef up your objective statement. It can be certification, license, and award that’s relevant to the position. If you would like to highlight any outstanding work performances in the past, don’t forget to utilize numbers!
  • Place at top
    A career objective should be placed under the resume title or the contact information depending on the format.

Here’re 2 simple formulas for freshers and career changers to write a good resume objective/summary: 

Resume objective writing formula for freshers:

📍 [Your major] graduate with [required skills for the position] skills.
Currently seeking a position as a [job title] at [company name], to [career goal].
Gained [required experience or ability] experience at [academic/extra-curricular activities], receiving/achieving [achievements or awards].

Resume summary writing formula for career changers:

📍 [Previous job title] with [required skills for the position] skills.
Currently seeking a position as a [Job title] at [company name], to [career goal].
Built [required experience or ability] experience at [work experience], receiving/achieving [achievements or awards].

Career objective example for freshers:

  • Computer Science graduate with proven front end coding skills. Currently seeking a position as a Frontend Developer at Amazon, to leverage coding & UX skills to help improve user experience and conversion rate. Gained application development experience at Tata Consultancy Services in internship programs, receiving Best Intern Award for excellent performance.
  • Marketing graduate with outstanding analytical skills. Currently seeking a position as a Marketing Strategist at Facebook, to apply my passion & knowledge for content writing and marketing strategic planning. Gained social media and offline marketing experience at student association as Marketing Lead, receiving Student Organization Leadership Awards for outstanding performance.

📕 Read ➡ Career Objective for Resume|Samples, Formats, Writing Guide for more details!

Resume summary examples for career changers:

  • Patient and detailed-oriented customer service agent with proven communication & organization skills. Currently seeking a position as a Product Manager at SoFi, to enhance customer loyalty and user experience. Built problem solving & UX research experience at Delhivery as Customer Care Specialist, achieving 30% increase of user retention rate in 3 months.
  • Elementary education teacher with lesson planning & classroom management skills. Currently seeking a position as a Classroom Teacher at Merion Elementary School, to apply my 10 years of teaching experience for creating better education contents.

Reminder 💡

A professional summary/objective for resume should be around 30 to 50 words. An summary/objective with more than 100 words is considered too lengthy.

Headline/titlePersonal detailsSkillsEducation 
Work experienceDeclarationReferencesHobbies

3. Personal details in resume

Generally, it is not suggested to include irrelevant personal information in resumes. You might wonder, “What personal details should I put on my resume?”.

Every personal profile in resume should include the following information:

  • Full name
  • Email address
  • Mobile number
  • Country and city you’re currently in
  • (optional) Active links to your portfolio
  • (optional) Active links to your LinkedIn profile

Personal details should not be included in resumes

  • Age
  • Marital status
  • Sexual orientation
  • Religious preference
  • Social Security number
  • Complete mailing address
  • Irrelevant social media links

📘 Read ➡ Personal Details in Resume|Samples, Formats, Writing Guide for more details!

4. Skills for resume (personal skills/technical skills)

What skills should I put on my resume? The answer is highly related to the qualification requirement of the job position you’re applying for.

On “Skills” section of resumes, it is suggested to categorize skills into bullet-point lists based on different skill sets. In general, skills in resume can be separated into 2 kinds:

  • Technical skills (Hard skills)
  • Personal skills (Soft skills)

Skill based resume 🔍

A skill based resume format, the so-called functional resume, focuses on the candidate’s skills and qualifications instead of work history.

Job seekers with employment gaps can utilize skill based resumes to draw recruiter’s attention away from the gaps.

What are the 4 fundamental resume formats? Check it out! (with Free Resume Templates)

If you’re wondering what can be counted as good skills to put on a resume, first refer to the job description. If you’re applying for a technical job, like software engineer, UI/UX designer, or IT specialist, hard skills become particularly critical on your resume.

On the other hand, certain personal and soft skills play important roles in specific professions. If there’s no special requirement for skills in the job posting, here are 2 basic skill sets you can add to your resume:

  • Computer skills
  • Language skills

📒 Read ➡ Skills for Resume|Examples List, Templates, Formats for more details!

How many skills should you list on a resume?

The point is not about the quantity, but the quality of the skills.

  • How are these skills relevant to the position/industry?
  • How can these skills make you qualified for the work?
  • How would these skills add value to the company?

If the skills put on your resume can help answer any of the questions above, leave it there. Otherwise, they’re unnecessary.

Reminder 💡

Listing skills on resumes is to showcase your strengths. Remember, there’s no need to include weakness in resumes, unless it’s been specifically asked for.

How to list skills on a resume?

Like mentioned above, resume skill section should be well organized into categories in accordance with qualification required for the job.

Here are resume skill examples for software engineers and designers:

Resume skill examples

Resume skill example for Software Engineers (Created via CakeResume)
Resume skill example for UI/UX Designers (Created via CakeResume)

Reminder 💡

From a perspective of recruiters, it is not suggested to show your levels of skill proficiency using bars, charts, or ratings. Here are the reasons:

  • First, it’s simply not an ATS (Applicant Tracking System) friendly format.
  • Second, it’s completely meaningless. It lacks credibility since YOU are the one who rated it.
  • Third, even if you did rate your skills with conscience, everyone has a very different perception of numbers and scales.

Therefore, you can simply list your skills in bullet points. Also, including licenses, certifications, awards, or accomplishments can be the objective proof of your skill levels.

Headline/titleProfile summaryCareer objective
Personal detailsEducation Work experience

5. Educational qualification in resume

Resume education section can be a vital factor in some countries for job seekers who just out of college.

How to list education on a resume?

Educational qualifications should be listed in a reverse chronological order, starting with your highest level of education. Usually, it is not recommended to include high school education on resumes. However, if it is your highest degree, it should definitely be included.

What do I put for education on a resume?

Here’re the basic elements:

  • School name
  • School location
  • Degree level
  • Major & minor
  • Graduation year
  • (optional) GPA
  • (optional) Relevant coursework
  • (optional) Academic honor (award, scholarship, publication)

The content and placement of the education section can be adjusted accordingly to a job seeker’s seniority. Freshers with no or few work experience should make the most of education section to highlight your achievements and knowledge learned.

Some of you might wonder whether it is ok to leave education off your resume.
If you’re a career changer with more than 5 years of work experience, simply state the school name, major, and graduation year of your highest level of education. Also, for experienced employees, it is suggested to place the education section after the work experience section.

The following questions might pop up when you’re writing education section on resume.

  • How to list education in progress on resume?
  • Should I include education on resume if i didn't graduate?

Here are some suggestions for you:

 How to list education in progress on resume? 💬

If you’re currently in college, you can still list the in-progress degree on resume with relevant coursework you’ve done. Simply note the expected graduation date beside the starting year.

Should I include education on resume if i didn't graduate? 💬

If you did not complete the degree (and you're not going to), it is not suggested to include it on your resume, unless you don't have any other education or training.
To list an incomplete degree, you can include the name of the school and program, and also relevant coursework you finished. Do note that you should not mislead employers in believing that you've graduated.

📙 Read ➡ Education on Resume|Examples, Templates, Writing Guide for more details!

Education resume examples:

Created via CakeResume
Created via CakeResume

6. Work experience in resume

Work experience is the most important section of a resume. It can fully demonstrate your competency, qualification, and experience in a proper manner. In this section, full-time/part-time/contract/freelance works and internships can all be included as long as they are relevant to the position.

How do I describe my work experience on a resume?

Here are 3 basic reminders:

Reminder 💡

  • List the experiences in a format of reverse chronological order, with 3 - 5 bullet points for each experience to indicate the skills learned and goals accomplished.
  • Use past tense while describing work and goals you’ve achieved, no matter they’re in your past or current jobs. It is allowable to use present tense for current jobs, but do notice to keep the tense consistent under each item.
  • Make use of action verbs to construct strong statements. Also, adopt active voice instead of passive voice to write the sentences, which can create a positive image.

How to write work experience in resume?

Here are 5 tips to help you write a powerful work experience section on resume.

  • Customize 
    Tailor-make the resume work experience section for different positions and companies. Read the job description carefully and do research on the corporate culture and industry trend, to select the experiences and accomplishments that will help you stand out from other candidates.
  • Consistency 
    Make sure your work experience appears to align with you career goals or path. “Should I include irrelevant work experience on a resume?” Since there’s a length limit for resumes, it’s only wise to exclude experiences that stray from the current career path. Trial and repeated job duties should also be removed.
  • Keywords 
    To catch recruiters and Applicant Tracking System’s attention swiftly, insert keywords (e.g. specific skills, qualification, and requirements) from the job post directly in the sentences.
  • Quantify
    Numbers can be eye-catching among a pile of words. Quantifying your achievements and experiences enables employers to understand your value more quickly and precisely.
  • Explanation 
    Since recruiters can’t be experts in all fields, try to further explain some abbreviation, proper names, and status when necessary. Besides, if the resume is meant for a foreign company, do utilize further explanation to highlight your experience.

📗 Read ➡ Work Experience on a Resume|Samples, Formats, Writing Guide for more details!

How many years of work history/experience should be on a resume?

It depends on the candidates’ seniority levels. Generally speaking, there should be 3 - 5 relevant work experiences (jobs) included on a resume, which can be traced back to 10 - 15 years ago for some senior-level job seekers.

Reminder 💡

If you are a fresher just out of college, you can include your academic, extra-curricular, volunteer, and internship experiences in college. However, it’s not suggested to add high school experiences on resumes if you’re a college graduate.

How to include work projects in resume?

CakeResume is a multimedia online resume builder. Users are able to include maps, links, videos, images, and slides in their resumes to showcase skills and profession. Adding projects and portfolios can make your resume more appealing and professional, especially for designers, software engineers, and marketing professionals.

How to include work projects in resume? - Resume Samples

Created via CakeResume
Created via CakeResume

In addition, you can make an attractive resume on CakeResume with 0 cost! ➡ Try it Out

7. Declaration in resume

Resume declaration is a statement where job applicants assure their potential employers that everything included on the resumes are accurate and without any misleading information. It usually comes with the writer’s signature and the date.

Declaration for resume is common during job application process in India, and it can also be found companies or organizations with formal application processes (e.g. Traditional enterprises, government agencies, academic institution).

Reminder 💡

Some candidates might struggle to come up with the best declaration for resume, but don’t forget the purpose of a declaration statement in resume is to urge job seekers to stay true and honest.
A long declaration statement won’t the decisive factor to win you the interview, so an clear, sincere, and straightforward sentence would be adequate.

How to write a declaration in resume?

Here’s the resume declaration sample and format.

Resume declaration sample and format

I, [You Full Name], solemnly declare that all the details above in my resume is true and accurate. I take full responsibility for the correctness of the information mentioned.

[You Formal Signature] [Date]

📘 Read ➡ Declaration in Resume|Formats, Examples, Writing Guide for more details!

Headline/titleProfile summaryCareer objective
Personal detailsSkillsEducation 
Work experienceReferencesHobbies

8. References on resume

Reference page for resume is not strictly requested in general cases. Adding reference in resumes used to be common in the past, but the trend is now fading out. However, it doesn’t necessarily mean that references are not important during the job search process anymore.

References can help employers further evaluate the candidate based on an objective perspective, which might play a crucial role in the final decision, so you can see the significance of references.

When should I put references on a resume?

If the recruiters specifically request applicants to add reference in resume, or it is clearly indicated on the job posting, you should for sure put references on your resume or attach a reference page/sheet in mail.

How to put references on a resume?

It is appropriately to list 1 - 3 references on a resume with the following information:

  • The referee’s full name
  • Relationship between you and the referee
  • The referee’s current job title
  • The company which the referee’s current working at
  • The referee’s contact information (e.g. Email, phone number)
  • (optional) A short description of the projects you worked together on

Reminder 💡

Remember to start the reference list with the one you had the best working relationship with and to previously confirm the referees’ willingness.

If you’ve decided to write reference in resume, you next question might be “Where to add references in resumes?”. Here are some suggestions:

  • Add a reference section at the end of the resume
  • Add a reference page/sheet with the resume
  • Attach another reference page/sheet with the cover letter mail

Since the ideal number of references is around 3 (it’s not suggested to list more than 5 referees considering the quality), simply adding a reference section in resume would be adequate.

📕 Read ➡ References on Resume|Formats, Samples, Templates for more details!

9. Hobbies in resume

It’s one of the most common questions asked by job seekers.

Should I put hobbies on a resume? 

Generally speaking, it is not suggested to include hobbies in resumes, since usually they can’t directly prove you’re qualified for the job. However, the following 2 conditions can be the exceptions:

  • Your hobbies and interests are highly related to your profession or the position you’re applying for.
    For example, writing, blogging, and podcasting can be attractive hobbies on resumes for Brand and Marketing specialists; volunteering and community service can be good hobbies on resumes for people applying for jobs at NGOs; and sometimes even playing video games can be the best hobby if you’re trying to get into the gaming industry!
  • Your resume is less than a page and you have nothing else to put on it.
    It you’re writing your very first resume, and you don’t have any skill, work experience, or major achievement to write in it, the section of hobbies for resume can be your savior. Due to the lack of experience, the only things you can leverage are your personal traits, characters, and personalities, which can also be associated with your soft skills.

Make the most of hobbies and interests section in resume to show your future employers that you’re a responsible person, a self starter, a fast learner, a team player, and even a leader!

📒 Read ➡ Hobbies and Interests in Resume|Examples, Formats, Writing Guide for more details!

What are good hobbies to put on a resume?

Here is a list of hobbies and interests to write in resumes:

Hobbies & InterestsPosition/Company/Industry
Pet CarePet industry
Child CareTeacher position / Child Care Services Industry
PhotographyPhotographer position
Cooking, BakingRestaurants and Food Services industry
Art, Sketching, PaintingDesigner position
History, Culture, TravelingTour guide position / Tourism Industry
Reading, Writing, BloggingWriter position / Publishing industry
Networking, Public speakingSales position / Business developement position
Languages learning, TravelingTourism Industry
Writing, Blogging, PodcastingMarketing position
Computer games, Video gamesGaming industry
Sports, Exercising and healthcarePersonal trainer position / Fitness industry
Video production, Filming, MoviesVideo editor position / Film and Television Industry
Volunteer work, Community involvementSocial enterprise / NGOs
Listening to music, Making music, Playing an instrumentMusic industry

Headline/titleProfile summaryCareer objective
Personal detailsSkillsEducation 
Work experienceDeclarationReferences

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