Categories of Resumes

The information you want to present on your resume should be grouped into certain categories to allow prospective employers to quickly find what they are seeking. There are some categories you should always expect to use, such as Education and Experience, as well as other categories that are used on certain types of resumes.

Education | Experience | Additional Skills | Other Categories
A Note About Job Objective

Education

For most students, education represents the most significant accomplishment and is listed first. List your degree (Bachelor of Arts), graduation date, name and location of the university and major. If you studied abroad, wrote a thesis, or conducted original research, it should be included. You may add specific coursework if it relates to the field in which you are interested.

If you have a significant number of relevant honors from college, you might consider listing them under a separate heading entitled Honors. High school academic honors, activities, and experiences should be included if they are of major significance and/or relate to your field of interest.

Once you have had several years' work experience after college (generally 5 years in total), many people choose to move the Experience category into first place on the resume and move the Education category to the bottom. Whether or not to do this is not universally accepted and we encourage you to check with a career counselor for advice on your particular situation.

Experience

Alternative titles for this category include Work Experience and Employment.

In most employers' minds, experience is the most important section on the resume. They readily admit, however, that experience, and therefore skills, are gained not only through paid employment. Internships, volunteer positions, and campus activities can develop valuable skills which you will want to highlight.

It is essential in this category to pay close attention to your choice of wording. Remember to useaction words, short phrases, and the appropriate tenses. Also, if the jobs that you have held have no real job titles, develop a title which conveys the essence of your job. Be as accurate and specific as possible when describing a particular job and giving yourself a title.

It is frequently useful and effective to emphasize experiences specifically related to the job by listing these under titles such as Communications Experience, Leadership Experience, Volunteer Experience, Organizational/Administrative Experience, Editing/Writing Experience, etc. The addition of such specific headings is often a hallmark of a functional resume.

Additional Skills

Alternative titles for this category include Skills, Related Skills, and Additional Qualifications.

A skills section lists both specific and general skills that are noteworthy, such as knowledge of foreign or computer languages, familiarity with statistical or laboratory techniques, and typing speed.

Other Categories

If you have published a piece of research or belong to any professional organizations, this fact may merit inclusion under a separate heading. An Interests or Interests/Activities category is quite often used to include features such as domestic or overseas travel, hobbies, or relevant background information.

A Note About Job Objective

Alternative titles for this category include Position Sought, Professional Goal, Career Objective, and Summary.

A job objective identifies the type of work you are seeking, the field in which you are interested, or the skills you would like to use on the job. Including this category on a resume used to be a requirement; it is rarely used now. We do not advise recent graduates to use an objective but if you are a seasoned worker looking to change fields, it may be appropriate. Please consult a career counselor to discuss your specific situation.

The reason why job objectives are no longer widely used is because they are intended to be very narrow and specific -- and both employers and job-seekers now want more flexibility. Objectives must be worded carefully so as to simultaneously demonstrate clear interests as well as a willingness to adapt. Many employers found that they were not considering otherwise appropriate candidates because the person's job objective did not effectively communicate their relevance to the position offered.

Today, cover letters are a much better way to target the specific position for which you are applying. See our Cover Letter Guidelines for more information about how to utilize cover letters in conjunction with your resume to get noticed by employers. Also, consider the possibility of creating 2 or 3 resumes, each directed toward different job objectives.