What Is A Resume? (Definition, Types, Sections, Importance)

If you’ve recently started embarking on a job search, you might notice that job listings require a resume. If you’re new to the job hunt or have typically been hired from referrals or connections, you might not be familiar with what a resume is. This post will explain the resume definition, explore the types of resumes you can create, and the importance of creating a resume during the job search process.

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What is a resume?

A resume is a document that lists your contact information, your work history, education credentials, skills, and a resume summary. Those looking for a job will often be required to apply to a job listing with a resume. A hiring manager will accept resumes via their career website, a third-party website, or through social media, in particular LinkedIn.

Types of resumes

1. Reverse-chronological resume

This is the most common resume format to use. And it’s the one hiring managers and recruiters prefer the most. A reverse chronological resume just means you list your work history from the most recent to the oldest. So, your last or current job would be included first. Then, you would include the role before that, and so on. The reason why this resume type is so common is because your accomplishments should be improving as you build your experience. So, naturally, your last job will have the most significant accomplishments on your resume.

2. Functional resume

A functional resume puts less emphasis on your work experience and more on your developed skills. This works best for those with career gaps, career changes, or new grads. It lists skills categories to highlight your abilities and achievements in these skills.

3. Combination resume

A combination resume is a mash-up of both reverse-chronological and functional resumes as the name suggests. You’ll include your most relevant work experience while also devoting a section to your skills. Both your work history and skills section will showcase why you’re qualified for a job. These days combination resumes work well to help you pass ATS-filters through relevant keyword matching while still showcasing that you do have the relevant work history to warrant serious consideration for the position you’re applying to.

what is a resume

Importance of creating a resume

1. You can’t get many jobs without one

In some cases, you can apply for jobs through your connections, particularly in construction or similar industries. However, for office jobs or for jobs that are highly sought after, you’ll need to write a resume to land a position there. Most jobs do require resumes and some even require cover letters too. Jobs often require a resume so they can learn more about you. It’s hard to know who you are without the context of your work experience and educational credentials. And when it comes to hiring people don’t want to hire just anybody, they want to hire the best. So, naturally, they read over resumes to determine whether or not you’re a good fit for a role.

2. It’s an employer’s first impression of you

A resume is an employer’s first impression of you. Provided that you applied online, you’ll likely have your resume scanned quickly by a hiring manager (usually they scan for only a couple of seconds). So, your resume needs to be impactful and scannable to help you better land your next role. You’ll want to use data like KPIs you achieved or tasks you completed, such as the number of projects you developed. Anything you can add to your resume that’ll make a positive first impression on your accomplishments, work ethic, and what you’re capable of doing will be key to helping you land that next role. So, having a good resume will ensure your employer’s first impression of you is favorable.

3. Helps you stand out in the job search

While it’s true that almost everyone will be handing in a resume when looking for a job, you can use your resume to stand out in the job search. After all, these are your list of greatest work accomplishments. What makes you unique? How are you the best hire for this position? Incorporating these answers into your resume through your big achievements will help you stand out. Instead of listing the duties and responsibilities you did, you share what you achieved in your previous roles. And by doing that you’ll be able to better stand out amongst other job seekers. The content of your resume does get read even if only for a short few seconds. So those accomplishments have to be big.

4. It highlights your skills

The importance of a resume is that it helps highlight your skills. Through your achievements, you demonstrate what you’ve learned and mastered over the years through your job. Your skills get added to your skills section, but they’re also showcased in your resume bullet points too. Showing your accomplishments proves that you’ve really honed in and learned the skills deeply to achieve a goal, huge target, or other accomplishment. Recruiters and hiring managers look through your resume to see if you have the skills required to do the job they’re hiring for. So, not only do you want to list the skills but you want to illustrate how you’ve mastered them.

5. Explains what you’ll offer employers

A resume details what you’ll offer employers. So, what are the skills, accomplishments, and work ethic you’ll be delivering when you start the role. A resume gives people a peek into what you’re capable of. If you have really outstanding accomplishments, employers will imagine the possibilities of hiring you on their team. It allows them to envision a brighter future at the company with you on board. A resume showcases how much effort you’ll put into a job by digging deep into what you’ve done in the past.

6. Can help you land an interview

And ultimately, the goal of a resume is to help you land an interview so you can eventually secure a job. If your resume is impressive to a hiring manager, they’ll call you or email you to let you know they’d like to chat further about your professional experience.

resume sections

Who needs a resume?

A resume is needed by anyone looking for a job. If you’re planning to apply for a position online, you’ll need a resume to complete the application process. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been working for 25 years or are looking for your first job. You’ll likely need to present a resume to a hiring manager to be considered for a role. If you are looking to land a job by going to the business directly, you’ll likely hand in a resume in person. In general, a resume is the document you’ll need to create to be able to be considered for an interview.

Mandatory sections of a resume

1. Contact

The most important part of your resume is the contact section. While it doesn’t share the insights into your career, it does share how to reach you. If you don’t have a valid email address or phone number on your resume, you won’t get any call backs. So, double checking the information for accuracy is key. You’ll want to have a professional email address listed, such as your name with a number or two at the end in case you have a common name.

2. Summary

A resume summary is a one to two sentence summary about yourself and why you’re a great fit for the position. You want to highlight your main value proposition for why you should be considered for the role, although you never explicitly state that. For example, a resume summary might read, “Results-driven sales professional with over 10 years of experience. Proven track record of generating over $30 million in sales. Skilled at relationship building and closing deals through effective product-client fit.”

3. Work experience

Your work experience is the main focus of your resume. This is where you have to best sell yourself as the perfect candidate for a role. You’ll want to include your biggest achievements in all your roles. Focusing on achievements instead of duties will help ensure you showcase why you’re the most qualified candidate for a position. Include between 3-5 bullets per job, and include about three of your most recent and relevant positions. That’ll most likely keep the resume to one page. You don’t want to include your entire work history on your resume. And while one to two pages is standard for a resume, it’s best to keep it to one page.

4. Education

Including your education is crucial to showcase where you first learned the skills. For example, an engineer needs to include proof that they went to school for engineering and are qualified and legally allowed to work as an engineer. A doctor also needs to have graduated from medical school. So, including your education is important. If you’ve been out of school for over 10 years, you can remove your graduation year. Hiring managers do require certain certifications or degrees for certain roles, so having that education can help you land better positions.

5. Skills

While both your education and work experience will show how you developed your skills, it doesn’t hurt to include keywords in your resume. ATS filters resumes for keywords. So, with technology possibly rejecting your resume without anyone looking at it first, it’s crucial to ensure you add the relevant skills or keywords listed in a job listing to better pass the ATS filters so you can inch closer to landing that interview. There are resume tailor tools that highlight the keywords in a job listing to allow you to add them to your resume in only a couple of clicks. Adding keywords of skills you’ve developed is a common practice and crucial so you can ensure your resume better aligns with what the hiring manager is looking for.

Optional sections of a resume

1. Certifications or licenses

Some jobs require specialized certifications or licenses to be able to perform required duties. For example, a nurse may be required to be certified in first aid, CPR, and so on. Mechanics often need ASE certifications. Servers and bartenders need certifications to be able to sell alcohol to others. You also need a specialized license to drive a forklift. So, depending on what job you’re applying for, you might need to list your certifications and licenses (and make sure they’re still valid).

2. Languages

In some roles where being multilingual is necessary, you’ll want to list the languages you speak fluently. For example, in Canada some roles require employees to be bilingual in English and French. Alternatively, in some roles, such as Embassy offices, language schools, or community centers for ethnicities, you might be required to speak two languages fluently.

3. Awards

Have you ever won an award for something in your career? If so, you might add awards or honors on your resume to better stand out as a candidate.

4. Volunteer work

In cases where you’ve done relevant volunteer work, you might choose to list your work on your resume. This is more common for students and new grads with little work experience. It’s not as common to be used in working professionals. However, if you want to share some volunteer work on your resume to showcase your qualifications, you can list the achievements you’ve had in your volunteer experiences.

5. Publications

Have you ever had your work published online? If so, you can share links to the publications that either wrote about you or that you wrote for.

Time to create a resume

Now that you know what a resume is, it’s time to craft your first resume. You can use a resume builder like Huntr to build your resume for the role you’re applying to. Huntr’s AI resume builder helps you craft your resume with step by step guidance and a little help from AI. It also includes a resume checker, which grades your resume to ensure you have all the relevant details needed. If you’re planning to create a resume, sign up for Huntr today!

Nicole Martins Ferreira

Nicole Martins Ferreira

Nicole Martins Ferreira, Senior Writer at Huntr, brings a rich background in marketing, tech, and ecommerce to craft insightful content on job search strategies and career advancement. With experience from Super Magic Taste to Shopify, she excels in creating engaging, actionable advice for job seekers.

Nicole's expertise in SEO and content marketing, honed across diverse roles, enables her to effectively guide individuals through the complexities of the job market. Her contributions at Huntr are vital, offering readers valuable tips and strategies to navigate their professional journeys successfully, making her work an invaluable resource for job seekers everywhere.

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