Why is an outline for a resume important?

A resume is the first point of contact between you and a hiring manager.

The more you can organize your resume, the more you can impress hiring managers to get an interview opportunity.

When you are unsure about what to include in your resume, a resume outline can guide you by adding relevant information and sections to present your experience and accomplishments effectively.

Here are some frequently asked questions about resume outlines:

What is a Resume Outline?


A resume outline is a checklist of information and sections you want to include in your resume. It functions as a resource of all your professional experiences and achievements, without any edits or modifications.

When you create a resume for a specific job, a resume outline helps you keep all your professional details in one place so that you don't miss out on adding relevant information to the resume.

How to Create a Resume Outline?


Before creating a resume outline, read the job description carefully and understand what you need to add to the resume.

You must customize the resume outline based on the job you're applying for.

Below are the steps to take to create a resume outline:

1. Brainstorm Sections


Your resume outline will depend on many factors, such as the role you're targeting and your experience. For example:

If you are a fresher, follow this order to make your resume:

  1. Resume Header
  2. Objective Statement
  3. Internships
  4. Education
  5. Honors & Awards
  6. Community/Campus Involvement
  7. Volunteer Experience
  8. Additional Information

If you are an experienced professional, follow another order to make your resume:

  1. Resume Header
  2. Summary Section
  3. Professional Experience Section
  4. Training & Certifications
  5. Education Section
  6. Honors & Awards Section
  7. Extra-curricular or Co-curricular Section
  8. Additional Information

2. Think of the Best Format for Resume Outline


The next step is to see which format you'll use to create the resume outline. There are three resume formats available in the industry.

If you are an entry-level professional or have a consistent track record of work, use the reverse-chronological format.

If you have a career gap or you want to switch careers, use the functional resume format.

If you want the best of both, the combination format would be your best bet.

Also Read:What format to choose to write a resume?

3. Create the Resume Heading


After you choose the resume format, you can start with creating the resume outline.

Start with the header section, where your personal information will be, such as:

  • Resume header
  • Profile title
  • Email address
  • Phone number
  • Location
  • LinkedIn/GitHub

Resume Heading Example 1:

Outline-header-1

Resume Heading Example 2:

Outline-header-2

Also Read:How to create a stellar resume heading?

4. Draft a Suitable Summary or Resume Objective


Next, keep a section for the resume summary or objective section. If done properly, it will help you gain the interest of the recruiters.

Resume Objective is a brief statement of your expectations from the career you are going to pursue and your employment goals. It is mainly used by freshers or people changing their industry.

Summary Statement is a personalized section consisting of skills, achievements, experience, and traits relevant to the job you're applying for.

Also Read:How to write an attention-grabbing resume summary?

5. Professional Experience Section


The professional experience section is the main section of your resume.

You'll need to add the relevant experiences in this section in the reverse-chronological order.

If you have extensive work experience, you don't need to include more than the last 10 - 15 years on your resume.

Make sure to keep in mind these important points:

  • Don't exclude jobs that will leave gaps on your resume.
  • Don't exclude jobs that support your prospective job description.
  • Start the bullet points with action verbs
  • Add stats and figures in the bullet points to back up your statement.

Below are the elements you need to add in the professional experience section:

  • Company name
  • Location
  • Job title
  • Start and end of employment
  • One-liner points

Also Read:How to craft a professional work experience section for a resume?

6. Create a Key Skills Section


Recruiters only have 7.4 seconds to scan your resume.

In this short time, recruiters can't see all your skills. Due to this, you need to create a separate key skills section and add all your skills to this section.

Below are some tips for creating the key skills section in the resume:

  • Read the job description and add the skills relevant to the job.
  • Make sure to add the skills you have. Don't add skills for the sake of it.

Also Read:How to craft the key skills section in a resume?

7. Create a Training and Certification Section


Including certifications on a resume catches the attention of a recruiter and the ATS. It may also be necessary for a few positions in your respective industries. It increases your expertise and shows that you proactively keep yourself updated with new industry trends and information.

The majority of ATS (Applicant Tracking System) that screens resume determining your qualification for the position checks the required certifications.

A few possible headers for the certifications section are as follows:

  • Certifications (if you have multiple certifications)
  • Professional Development & Certifications
  • Certifications & Affiliations
  • Education & Certifications

Also Read:What is the best way to add certifications in a resume?

8. Create the Education Section


It is important to include college, graduate school, and relevant degrees in the education section of your resume.

For High-School Students

You should place the education section at the beginning of your outline for your resume despite having minuscule work experience. It should then focus on your activities as a student in high school and majorly list:

  • GPA (if above 3.0)
  • Relevant Coursework (Relevant to the position you are applying for)
  • Academic Achievements

For College Students

You should place the education section after any relevant work experiences in your outline for a resume.

In case you do not have any relevant work experience, make sure to include the education section at the top. Here is what you should include:

  • GPA
  • Degree Name
  • Name of University
  • Location
  • Graduation Year
  • Relevant Coursework

For Working Professionals


For a working professional, the education section is very straightforward. It is mostly to testify that you have an educational degree of some sort. It is ideally placed below the professional experience section.

A working professionals' educational section format follows the pattern with the name of the most recent graduate school:

  • Name of School
  • School Location
  • Type of Degree/Field of Study
  • Graduation Year
  • GPA (if above 3.5/4.0)

Outline-Education-section

Also Read:How many educational qualifications should you include?

9. Honors and Awards Section


Although your Honors/Awards may be included with your education section, a separate heading emphasizes the word honors for the recruiters. In case you have fewer than three honors, you may combine it with other activities under the title Honors & Awards.

This section may include:

  • Academic honor societies
  • Scholarships
  • Awards

10. Additional Information Section in Resume


Since you've added all the important sections in the resume, you can add some additional sections that will add value to your candidacy.

Maintain these three points while writing your additional information:

  • Include information that is directly relevant to your prospective job
  • Exclude controversial information
  • Avoid filler for filler's sake

Let's see some of the additional sections you can add to the resume outline:

Leadership Experience & Campus Involvement


If you are a recent graduate, it would be helpful to make the most of your time at the university. In this section, you can include details like:

  • Co-curricular or extra-curricular activities
  • Leadership experience or membership in clubs

Here is where you can also add your membership to sports clubs. If you held senior positions like Treasurer, Captain, Coordinator, etc., make sure that you emphasize them.

Also Read:How to Determine What is Your Leadership Style in 2022?

Volunteer Experience


Do you have any relevant volunteer experience? If yes, add it to the resume outline. It can be beneficial for showing your soft skills if you are a fresher. You can avoid including it if you are an experienced professional, unless your field is Social Work or jobs that require volunteer experience.

Also Read:How to add volunteer experience in resume in 2022?

Hobbies & Interests

While this is optional, if you feel your hobbies and interests will add value to getting the job, add them to your resume.

Also Read:How to add hobbies and interests in resume in 2022?

Resume Outline: Key Takeaways


Here are some of the key takeaways from the blog:

  • No matter which format you decide to go with, your resume outline should ideally fit one page.
  • Always double-check the contact information you're adding in the resume outline.
  • In the professional experience section, always add quantifiable achievements and one-liner bullet points.
  • The general rule of any resume outline is to set your margins at one inch on all sides.
  • Use the reverse chronological resume format to create your resume.

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