There are so many formats to choose from when crafting your resume and each one organizes the information slightly differently. But there are a few critical sections you need to have on your resume, no matter what format you choose.
It should go without saying, but unfortunately it doesn’t: You need a header that has your name, phone number, and email address. And when we say header, we mean it -- the first thing that anyone sees on the page should be your name and contact information! If a format you find online suggests putting your contact info on the side or the bottom, it’s wrong, plain and simple. Hiring managers need to be able to contact you quickly, and if they can’t find your information easily, they’ll call the next candidate. If you’re including other top-line info like address, IMDB links, LinkedIn, or a title, it goes here too -- that’s why it’s called top-line!
The bulk of your resume should be work history. If you’re writing a traditional resume, that means a reverse chronology of your jobs, inclusive of company name, dates of employment, location, title, and a few bullets outlining your responsibilities and achievements. Your reverse chronology needs to include all those elements, consistently, and for each job. Don’t assume people know that your company is LA-based since you are, or that your job function as a PA is obvious because all PA jobs are similar. If you’re creating a functional resume, your work history will be sorted by areas of expertise, highlights, or core skills. You’ll still need to make sure there’s enough context for a hiring manager to understand how/when/where you acquired the skills listed -- you’ll just display the information differently within the format.
Last, but not least, you need to include technical skills. These are generally computer programs you’re comfortable working with. You may balk at this -- doesn’t everyone know Microsoft Word? Isn’t it obvious that you know editing software if your last job was as an editor? Maybe so, but your resume shouldn’t force the hiring manager to do any guesswork -- nor should you risk being passed over by an ATS because you don’t match enough of the software keywords. It’s best practice to include proficiency in Mac, PC, and Microsoft Office (though if you are applying for more technically complex roles that rely on more advanced software, you can save space by listing only the more relevant software) and any other software that will show your ability to do the job.
You should always avoid sections like an objective, soft skills, ratings graphics, or company logos, but you can include other elements your resume, like a professional summary, areas of expertise, education (which you should always include if you have a degree or coursework, but if you haven’t pursued higher education, that’s okay too), foreign languages, professional affiliations, volunteer work, and interests. There is a certain degree of flexibility to crafting a resume; you want to make sure to give yourself the freedom to tell your story in the way that will best sell your skills. But keep in mind that freedom and anarchy are different -- freedom includes a base set of rules everyone agrees to follow -- and these rules will help you get on your way to a great resume!
Angela Silak & Cindy Kaplan