Why is an outline for a resume important?

A quick outline designs the first impression, reducing any second thoughts.

We understand that writing resumes can be a drag. But writing a killer resume can escalate up your job search, strengthen your status as a top candidate, and increase your chances of landing an interview. It is, in other words, a game changer.

To beging writing an excellent resume, you must first know how to choose the design for the basic resume outline. For some of the best examples of well desgined resumes you may try our free resume builder.

Secondly, it is important to know the customary resume outlines and how to balance your experiences within the chosen resume format.

Your resume outline is as important as the rest of your information as it determines the way the hiring manager perceives you.

Remember the following points while outlining your resume:

  • A good resume outline ensures you pass the 10 second test before the recruiter
  • It also benefits your ATS score as the machines scans each section of your resume
  • You have to strategize your resume outline based on the technology.
  • Your resume format is the first impression of your personality and your professionality
  • The goal of your resume outline should be to reflect the most important information about yourself advantageously at the top
  • Different resume formats highlight different aspects of your professional skills and accomplishments

So, choosing the correct resume outline that best fits your professional expereinces can invariably impact the recruiters.

The first function of a resume outline is finding balance between paragraphs and bullets and between your soft skills and technical skills.

Certain soft skills like leadership, negotiation, and communication skills, are okay in moderation. But be selective.

Employers are mainly looking for concrete skills. A resume for an engineering position need not comprise skills of Engaging Personality or Classroom Management Skills.

Your expert knowledge and your experiences should be as well balanced as your responsibilities and your achievements.

Instead of cramming everything from entry-level job and internships you have ever had into one or two sheet of paper, choose the most compelling and the most relevant roles for the job description you are applying for. This exercise will also increase your ATS score.

Well if you are not quite sure what to include in your resume, review an outline on our resume building tool. A resume outline reflects all the relevant and the important sections you need to fill in your resume and will help save you time when you write.

Here's a list of the topics we will cover in this blog:

How to use a Resume Outline?

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Finding a resume outline is the necessary start of your resume. It helps you understand the correct format that best fits your employment history and experiences.

There are majorly two steps once you have your resume outline ready.

  1. Collect all your relevant information.
  2. Fill the outline with that information.

A resume outline, however, is only a start. After readying your basic resume outline you can, and you should, make changes to it. You may reorder the elements of the resume outline if necessary.

For example, if you are currently a working professional, you should include your current profile immediately after your resume summary statement in the standard resume format.

You might also remove or add some information. For example, to brand yourself better you may take inventory of your accomplishments in your resume summary statement.

You can also change the style of your resume outline in terms of font or spacing. However, before optimizing your resume outline make sure that your resume includes relevant information that highlights your skills and qualifications.

Also, ensure submitting a proofread resume. You may find the difference in template between a basic resume outline and a professional resume outline among other resume outlines on our website

The Best Format for your Resume Outline

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The reverse chronological format is the most traditional format and most widely preferred by recruiters and hiring managers. It lays out your experience clearly in an orderly fashion with the most recent first.

For example, your job from May 2019 to April 2021 should be listed above your job from January 2017 to February 2019. Your master's degree should appear before your bachelor’s degree. This order makes your resume outline simpler and easier for the potential employer to check your highest level of achievements.

The reverse chronological resume format comprises the basic resume outline as it highlights focuses on dates and growth in your career.

Since hiring manaers rarely take the time to hunt through a resume to find the necessary, the reverse chronological format is also the most straight-forward and easiest format for them to analyze.

Functional resume formats are usually most benficial for immediate graduates or ones who have had a gap in their profession or are changing their industry. It showcases your skills rather than employment history and highlights transferrable skills in csse you are shifting.

In this format, a separate section is created in which points are grouped under relevant skills. While this is recommended by some resume experts for people who have gaps in their employment history or for people who have changed their jobs a lot, we at Hiration do not recommend using this format.

The hybrid resume formats is the best option if you have decent work experience with some notable gaps in employment or if your skills outweigh your work history. It helps minimize employment gaps and lack of work experience without having to hide them.

For a more detailed list on resume formats check out sample examples. You may try different version on our resume builder tool

Resume Outline

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Follow the below given section order to make your resume:

  1. Resume Headline
  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
  9. References


Resume Heading

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The resume outline section that includes your name, address, personal phone number, and professional or formal email address. It is optional to include the URL of your LinkedIn profile or personal website. You may also list your existing job profile or expected job profile next to your name.

The usual resume heading follows the following pattern.

(First Name) (Last Name)
(City), (State), (Zip)
(Phone Number)
(Email Address)
(LinkedIn Profile URL)

It is not important to display your street address in your resume. The following examples will help you.

Example 1:


Example 2:


Summary Section

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Even in a basic resume outline, your resume objective, headline, profile, and summary and branding statements are different from each other. The following information will help you understand the differences:

Resume Objective (optional) 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.

Tailor your resume objective to match what the employer is seeking in the job description. However, most employers prefer a resume summary statement.

Resume Headline (optional) is a phrase that highlights your value as a candidate. To best describe yourself in a phrase, follow a simple exercise. Write at least ten to twenty adjectives which describe you. Then shortlist at least three and form a grammatically correct phrase.

Branding Statement (optional) is a very brief phrase of 15 words or less. It highlights your most relevant expertise and skills. If you choose to include a branding statement, you can elaborate on your skills and experiences in a resume summary statement just below it.

Summary Statement (mandatory)
A resume summary statement, is a pesonalized section consisting of skills, achievements, experience and traits relevant to the job you're applying for.

Professional Experience Section

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Professional experience is mainly your job profile in line with your profession. If case your are a teacher, your teaching experience comprises all tutoring jobs you have had.

A basic resume outline includes a list of the most recent companies you have worked for in the Professional Experience section of your resume. If you have extensive work experience you don't need to include more than the last 10 - 15 years on your resume.

Include the name of the company, its location, the dates of employment, and your job title. Also, include a bulleted list of job responsibilities and achievements:

City, States Dates Worked

Job Title
1 Responsibility/Achievement
2 Responsibility/Achievement

First, you must understand that work history comprises all the jobs you have pursued over the course of your life. Your generally provide a detailed account of your work history in your resume.

However, it is important that professionals choose their most relevant work experience for their resumes. Relevant work experience is any previous work in the same field as the job you’re applying for.

This means that in case you are applying for the position of a software engineer, you may refrain from including work experiences that include your skills as a belly dancer.

In this case it is helpful to carry a master resume to keep track of all your previous profiles and work history, responsibilities and achievements.

However, maintain the following points:

  • Don’t exclude jobs that will leave gaps on your resume.
  • Don’t exclude jobs which support your prospective job description.

Once you have your points, write each bullet point. First, start with an action verb. Next, make a quantifiable point. Finally, note a specific task.

For example:

Action Word: Negotiate
Quantifiable Point: Saved the company $5,000 annually on office supply costs.
Specific Task: Order office supplies for the company.

Training and Certification

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Including certifications on a resume catches the attention of a recruiter and the ATS. It may also be necessary fora few positions in your respective industries. They suggest that you are as qualified as a perfect fit for the position.

Most ATS (Applicant Tracking System) that screens resumes to determine your qualification for the position checks the required certifications.

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

  • Certifications (Better to list alone if you have multiple certifications)
  • Professional Development & Certifications
  • Certifications & Affiliations
  • Education & Certifications

You may also check our online resume builder to best understand where the Trainings section catches the recruiter's attention.

Education Section

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Include college, graduate school, continuing education, certifications and relevant seminars and classes in the Education section of your resume. If you are a recent graduate, you might move this education section to the top of your resume.

You might also choose to include your GPA if you are a current student or very recent graduate:

College, Degree
Awards, Honors

As a high school student, you should place the education section at the beginning of your outline for resume despite having miniscule work experiences. It should then focus on your activities as a student in high school and majorly list:

  • GPA (if above 3.0)
  • Relevant Coursework (Preferably courses that are pertinent to the specific position you are applying for)
  • Academic Achievements

As a college student or a recent graduate, 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 along with bucketed lists of your respoinsibilities and achievements.

As 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)

The following is an ideal example of the education section in the outline for resume for a working professional. You may also use our online resume builder for more resume outlines.


Honors and Awards Section

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Although your Honors/Awards may be included with your education block yet a separate heading emphasizes the word honors for the recruiters. In case you have fewer than three honors then you may combine relevant activities with honors under a block titled 'HONORS AND ACTIVITIES'.

This section may include:

  • Academic honor societies
  • Co-curricular or extra-curricular activities
  • Scholarships
  • Awards
  • Membership and offices held in professional societies

Extra-curricular or Co-curicular Section

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Next add a list of qualifications and skills related to the job for which you are applying in this section. A bulleted list is the best way to format this section.

Skills are the areas of expertise you have developed and perfected over the years. They are different from qualifications, which are certifications of achieving a particular degree of knowledge in the subject.

This section is the same in all resume formats. Remember to use this section as a hub for keywords found in the job posting. Regardless of which format you choose, keywords will always help improve your chances of making it through ATS.

The following points denote how to include the extra-curricular and co-curricular section that matter:

  1. Your may add specific honors & awards which had directly contributed to your graduation, incase you do not make another section for your awards.

  2. Include academic honor societies in this resume outline section. You can include participation in professional societies as long as your rewards do not stand out.

  3. Add any academic achievements, such as scholarships, state level participations in various sports, etc.

  4. Avoid writing awards and certificates like that of best student, best holiday project, etc. in your professional resume.

Additional Information

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When you want to include additional information about yourself which is outside the domain of your education and work history you may use the additional information section.

The additional information section in your resume outline may include civic activities and important recognitions, relevant volunteering work which does not go in other section, or cultural skills like language or even travel. It is a relevant area to add your areas of interest as well.

Maintain these three points while writing your additional information:

  1. Include information that is directly relevant to your prospective job
  2. Exclude controversial information
  3. Avoid filler for filler's sake

It may also comprise interests and activities that may showcase leadership and other beneficial character qualities as shown in the resume outline examples on the website. Community projects managed by you, or technology skills outside of your employment history are other details you can add to this section.


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The references section in your basic resume outline enlists your contacts in the industry who may testify your work and skills. You may list any associations or affiliations that meet the standard of your prospective industry.

However, you do not need to add "References available upon request" at the bottom of your resume regardless of not having ready references. Employers will ask specific references, if they require, at the end of the hiring process. HRs do not usually have the time contact all the list of references.

So, they wait until they have narrowed down to the final applicants.

If you are unable to decide whether to add references in your resume then you can just stick to a resume without one. Although it is mentioned in the resume outlines, it is almost a redundant section.

You may find out the relevance of references from some resume outline examples from the resume outline templates in the website.

Resume Outline: Key Takeaways

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Conclusively, we may note the following points:

  1. No matter which format you decide to go with, your resume outline should ideally fit one single-sided, well-spaced page for experiences below 10 years and two-sided pages for experiences above 10 years.

  2. You must choose a resume outlines which can pass the initial 10 seconds interest of your recruiter.

  3. Your outline for resume should comprise professional fonts, such as Sans Serif, Arial, Verdana, Times New Roman, Tahoma, etc.

  4. The general rule of any resume outline is to set your margins at one inch on all sides.

  5. Your outline for resume can be in three different formats:

  • Reverse Chronological Format
  • Functional Format
  • Hybrid Format
  1. All resume outlines essentially comprise the following information:
  • Header
  • Resume Summary Statement
  • Professional Experience
  • Training and Certification
  • Education
  • Honors and Awards section
  • Extra-curricular or Co-curicular
  • Additional Information
  • References

Still have more doubts around your resume?

Write to us at team@hiration.com and we'll be at your service right away!