What goes on a resume, stays on a resume. So why waste a resume saying nothing?

Most resumes are written generically - your name followed by a record of your previous job roles, and a few keywords stuffed where they usually do not belong.

Well, writing isn't always about using big words to impress. It's also about using simple/effective words in an impressive way. So, now the question is what to put on a resume to make it simple, effective and impressive.

Just like metaphors have a way of holding the most truth in the least space, a resume reflects the same. A resume essentially helps make the prospect a more informed buyer with content.

The following sections would answer the question, "What to put on a resume?" and will allow you to create content with purpose.

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What's on a resume?

Before we proceed further, ask yourself: whom are you writing the resume for?

Are you writing it just for the recruiter? Or are you writing it for the ATS (Applicant Tracking System)?

Both, actually. You need to cater to both the machine and the person behind the machine.

When you click on 'Send Resume', your profile is first parsed by a software, or the ATS. The ATS is now a standard practice used by emerging companies and conglomerates alike. When the number of applicants go beyond 1,000, it makes sense for a company to go for an ATS to streamline the recruitment process.

The ATS assigns a rank to your resume based on how much it responds to the job description. It processes all the resumes in a similar fashion and assigns a rank to them all.

This sets the stage for the recruiter to now decide what all applicants to process. If the ATS gives you a low ranking, the recruiter might not even reach your resume.

What does it mean?

It means that there's no point in sending a generic resume to all the vacancies you come across. That's a rookie mistake. You can only boost your chances of getting shortlisted and parsed by the ATS if you tailor the resume to each job listing.

You don't have to spend more than 10 minutes on this.

The question, "What to put on a resume?" makes writing a resume difficult as there are two audiences. After the parsing through the ATS, the non-technical HR clerk receives your resume first. Once it gets past the clerk, it arrives at the desk of your prospective employer.

Your resume should have elements tailored w.r.t. to both these people and the question "What to put on resume?"

1. The HR clerk

The first person to see your resume is a non-technical clerk. He reads more than 10,000 resumes a day corresponding to a list of all available positions.

He arranges a pile for each of those positions. Your job is to make sure you get into one of those piles.

The problem here is that this person does not know the difference between UNIX and Solaris, or that if someone knows Solaris 2.5 then they are hirable for a Solaris 2.6 job. Luckily, this person only reads the top part of every resume, so you can play to that: make sure that you have an Objective and a "Skills" section that are customized for him. do not say "Solaris 2.6", say "Solaris 2.x" or just "Solaris" (people have forgotten about Solaris 1.x by now). So, this is one of the answers to the question, "What to put on a resume?"

2. The Hiring Manager

Each pile that the clerk created is handed to an appropriate "Hiring Manager." This person does understand the technology (or at least thinks they do) that you will be working with. So the rest of the resume must be in their language.

The most common mistake that people make is that they do not write anything for the clerk. Therefore, their resume never gets to the hiring manager. The "Objective Statement" at the top of your resume is what the clerk reads. Make sure your resume has one, and make it a good one. This is the second answer to the question, "What to put on a resume?"

What to put on a resume?

The most persistent question that stays is "What to put on a resume?"

Well what to put on a resume, you ask? What goes on a resume essentially answers the question individually.

It tells the recruiter how you can employ your skills to carry out your responsibilities smoothly and achieve success. The most resume perfect information is the one that deals with roles and responsibilities of the applicant along with mentioning the impact of the action taken.

Things to put on a Resume

  • Header
  • Contact Resume Information
  • Objective or Summary Statement
  • Professional Experience Section
  • Education Section
  • Other Resume Information Sections

What to put on a Resume Header?


Your name should ideally be the largest text in your entire resume. It should be around 16 points in size.

Contact Resume Information

Contact resume information should be placed on top of your resume. It should be easy and quick to read.

E-mail address

Avoid using unprofessional e-mail address such as: hot_boy12 or sweetie96.

Include the address for your website or online portfolio.

Phone numbers

Remember to check your outgoing voice mail message for loud background music, slang, or improper language.

What to put on a Resume Objective/Summary Statement?

One of the most important answers to the question, "What to put on a resume?" is Objective/Summary Section.

An objective statement clearly states the purpose of your resume. Not every resume has this. Use it to let an employer know your specific job or career goal.

Tailor your objective to the type of job to which you're applying. If you decide not to include it in your resume, be sure to state an objective in your cover letter.

Example: "To obtain a challenging position as an administrative assistant in the financial services industry."

A summary statement grabs the employer's attention by highlighting your qualifications. It is used in place of an objective statement.

An employer may not read your entire resume. A summary will give them a snapshot of your work experiences, achievements, and skills.

To be effective, it should be very brief (4-5 lines of text). It should also be written for the position you are applying for. Use keywords and power verbs when creating your summary statement.

Example: "Resourceful planner & coordinator with extensive knowledge of inventory control and online inventory systems. Recognized by management for innovation and initiative in implementing JIT techniques as well as interdepartmental communications and supervisory skills."

What to put on a Resume Professional Experience Section?

You can present your work experience in a variety of ways. The most straightforward way is the reverse chronological format. List your current or most recent job, and work backwards in time.

Employment history is another answer to the question, "What to put on a resume?"

Include your job title, name of the organization, the city and state in which it is located. Also list the start and end dates (month and year) of your employment. For each company, make sure to give a one line description involving figures around the company's revenue and employment base.

While drafting your employment history, make sure you include the following:

1. Action verbs

2. Cause-Effect points

3. Quantifiable data

4. Key Achievements

Your employment history section should ideally consist of all the above mentioned things.

What to put on a Resume Education Section?

To list the educational  qualifications, start with your highest degree.

Start with the name of the institution, its location, the dates in which attended college, and the name of the degree.

The ideal template for including your educational qualification section is:


<Name of Institution> <Location> <Dates (in mm/yy-mm/yy)>

<Degree Name>

What to put on a Resume Other Resume Information Section?

Include relevant resume information that relates to the job to which you are applying.

This may include memberships of organizations, volunteer work, military experiences, computer skills, awards, and hobbies and languages.

However, avoid mentioning religious, political, or controversial affiliations unless they directly relate to the job you want.

Don't include references on your resume. Employers assume that you can provide them with these. Learn how to select references.

So, these were the things to put on a resume. Now, lets talk about what not to include in your resume.

What not to include in your Resume?

  • Resume as a header
  • Additional Personal Resume Information
  • Additional Professional Resume Information


Let's talk about the word "Resume" seriously.

People who read it, know it. So, do not label your resume as "Resume." One look at your resume, and your recruiter knows what type of document it is.

In fact, begin with your name and personal information.

Also, do not simply name your resume file as "resume" when you save the file. Use your name as the file name, so the hiring manager knows whose file they are looking for.

Additional Personal Resume Information

Refrain from including personal information other than your email address, phone number and location.

Resume information which is often not required are:

  • Age
  • Date of Birth
  • Race
  • Sex
  • Sexual Orientation
  • Religious Preference
  • Political Affiliation
  • Names of Relatives
  • Social Security Number
  • Driver's License Number
  • Credit Card Information

Additional Professional Resume Information

  • Salary
  • Reference Available Upon Request
  • Names and Contact Information for Former Supervisors
  • Date and Signature