The Most Important Parts of a Resume (2023 Edition)

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September 8, 2023
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19
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Your resume is the cornerstone of every job application, and the parts of a resume tell the story of your professional experience.

But the approach to crafting a well-rounded overview of your career has shifted.

Adhering to a rigid structure, including every detail of your experience, and keeping irrelevant information to fill a page are outdated techniques.

Modern resume practices are about precision, tailoring, strategy, and impact.

So, what elements of a resume really matter? And how can you curate the perfect resume, with the right sections, for each unique opportunity?

3 key takeaways

  • Parts of a resume
  • What to include in each part of your resume
  • Using the Drag-and-Drop Editor in the free Teal AI Resume Builder to highlight the right content for each unique job

The resume puzzle

Think of the elements of your resume like puzzle pieces. Each piece represents a part of your professional journey. But there's a twist: not every piece is equally important for every job opportunity. 

Does this go against the advice you've read over the years, like the traditional "mandatory 5 parts of a resume" or "required 7 parts of a resume"? Possibly, but here's why.

One size may not fit all

Your resume is a collection of pieces made up of your qualifications and experiences. You also need certain information (like your contact information and education) to complete it.

On the other hand, every role you apply for during your job search represents a unique puzzle with specific requirements and expectations, and your resume needs align with those demands.

Tailoring your resume for every job

With each new application, aligning your puzzle pieces (key qualifications, experiences, and resume sections) with the shape of the job's puzzle highlights only the essential elements that matter most to that particular job—showcasing your top 10% that's 100% relevant to the role you're applying for.

For instance, your resume for a position with a job posting focusing heavily on certifications and hard skills will differ from one for a job focusing exclusively on professional experience.

Aligning your details and resume parts to different roles takes time, effort, and consideration to make sure that every piece fits seamlessly (and strategically) into place.

Adapting to modern guidelines

Your resume should only be around one page for ten years of experience or less and two pages for ten years or more. In addition to tailoring your experience, you also need to adapt its content accordingly to fit within these parameters, too.

Hiring and Recruitment Consultant Mike Peditto says,

"Fewer words, more impact is one of the biggest pieces of advice I can give in the current market of too many applicants and short attention spans.

Don't bloat your resume with extra stuff that doesn't have an impact on your ability to do the job like you're trying to hit a word count.

Ask yourself with every line on your resume: "Does this impact me getting the job I'm applying to?" If it doesn't, use that space for something that does."

Essential parts of a resume

As you start creating, updating, or editing your resume, some elements will stay consistent, but the details and pieces can and should shift and change to fit a new shape—every time you hit apply.

Remember, the sections below need to fit the specific puzzle of each job application to be essential—reflecting a tailored approach.

1. Contact information

What are the important parts of a resume that will always be consistent? Well, up first is your contact information. 

Including your contact information in every resume ensures recruiters, hiring managers, and potential employers can contact you with ease.

Your "Contact Information" section should have the following: 

  • Full name
  • Professional email address
  • Location (excluding physical street address)
  • Full LinkedIn URL 
  • Optional: Portfolio link or URL
  • Optional: Personal website link or URL

2. Target title

As long as the role you're applying for has a title, your resume can (and should!) have a target title, too.

And, believe it or not, this title may not be the same as any position you've held.

While your target title and any professional title you've held should have some similarities in the role's requirements, your target title should align as closely as possible with what a recruiter or hiring manager has specified in the job ad.

For example, let's say you've held the title of content writer; in that case, your target title might be copywriter, content manager, content strategist, or content development specialist, depending on the job description.

3. Professional resume summary

Unlike a resume objective (which talks more about your career goals), think of your professional resume summary as an "About Me" resume section. This is your opportunity to talk about your career in aggregate with a high-level overview of your most impressive (and relevant to the job!) achievements. For most applications, this is one of the resume components you'll want to include each time.

With every application, you should tailor the content of this summary to address the job's requirements by incorporating keywords and language from the job description. It should be around 3-5 sentences, written in the first person voice, and include:

  • A time-based statement
  • "Backend engineer with 7 years of experience in the SaaS industry..."
  • At least two key skills and the impact of those skills
  • "Proficient in Python programming, I apply my meticulous attention to detail and problem-solving skills to reduce system errors and improve efficiency."
  • At least one metric (numbers or data)
  • "This approach has resulted in a 15% reduction in application downtime, improving application efficiency and user satisfaction."

Final result: "Backend engineer with 7 years of experience in the SaaS industry, specializing in optimizing system performance. Leveraging Python programming, attention to detail, and problem-solving, I reduced errors and improved efficiency, leading to a 20% reduction in system response time, enhanced user experience, and increased overall system reliability."

4. Work experience

Your resume "Work Experience" section connects your previous jobs to your potential in a new role. 

In a chronological resume layout, which is widely recognized and preferred, present your relevant experience in reverse chronological order, starting with your most recent position. 

For each company, include the following details:

  • Company Name: Clearly state the company's name, and for smaller companies, consider adding a brief description to align with keywords from the job description of your target role.
  • Job Title: Your job title signifies your level of responsibility.
  • Location: Include the city and state of the company. If you worked remotely, mentioning "Remote" can be beneficial.
  • Dates of Employment: Specify the duration of your employment, including start and end dates, with the month and year to provide transparency.

Then, for each role, highlight 3-5 key achievements (not just a list of job duties) as bullet points to offer concrete evidence of your impact, contributions, and value.

This is how one example of work history should look:

Writing work history with no professional experience

What if you're starting out or transitioning careers and creating a resume with no relevant work experience? 

Well, in that case, you may need to replace your "Work Experience" section with more relevant elements of a resume like the "Education" section, a "Projects" section, or "Volunteer Experience." Check out "How to Make a Resume With No Experience in 9 Steps" for more specific guidance. 

Once you know what works best for the role you're applying to and your experience level, you can easily swap sections of your resume and showcase your most relevant accomplishments using the Drag-and-Drop Editor in the free Teal AI Resume Builder. Here, you can arrange each section—ensuring optimal positioning.

5. Education

If you have traditional work experience, your "Education" section will likely be consistent (or close) across job applications.

You can limit this section to your highest level of education. However, if a job ad mentions a specific undergraduate degree or other educational requirement, incorporating that into your "Education" section will help align your qualifications to the role.  

Here's how you should list your educational background:

  • Degree 
  • Institution
  • Completion date
  • GPA (optional)
  • Coursework (only if you're creating a resume with no work experience) 

If you're a recent high school or college graduate, consider adding your GPA (if it's above 3.0) and any relevant coursework.

6. Certifications

While not necessarily one of the main parts of a resume (especially if you don't have any), certifications help you align your credentials to the qualifications hiring managers, recruiters, and prospective employers are looking for.

If you plan to incorporate any certifications into your resume, make sure they're:

  • Relevant to the role
  • Formatted identically
  • Current

7. Skills

Incorporating your skills throughout various sections of your resume highlights how you made an impact.

If you want to add a dedicated resume "Skills" section highlighting your relevant hard skills (like Microsoft Word, Python, or specific language skills), that's okay. But be mindful that while you can include soft skills (like communication or collaboration) in this skills section, these are more challenging to measure objectively.

 Additional resume sections to consider

Especially if you have non-traditional work experience, there are some optional sections you can consider including in your resume to align your qualifications with the role you're applying to.

  • Projects: If the skills you used during a project are relevant, create a dedicated "Projects" section similar to a traditional "Work Experience" section.
  • Awards and Scholarships: Strategically select the scholarships or awards on a resume that support the job you're targeting.
  • Volunteer Work and Leadership: Highlighting skills you've developed (using keywords) can align these experiences with a potential role.
  • Publications: Whether you're the listed author or a featured expert, publications provide evidence of specific expertise and skills. 

How to arrange the sections of your resume

Your experience and the position you're applying for play an important role in arranging the sections of your resume. Let's take a look at a few examples.

Resume components for traditional work experience

  1. Contact Information
  2. Target Title
  3. Professional Summary 
  4. Work Experience
  5. Education
  6. Certifications
  7. Skills
  8. Optional
    – Projects
    – Awards and Scholarships
    – Volunteering and Leadership
    – Publications

Resume sections for someone pivoting careers

  1. Contact Information
  2. Target Title
  3. Professional Summary 
  4. Skills
  5. Projects
  6. Education
  7. Certifications
  8. Optional
    – Volunteering and Leadership
    – Publications

Elements of a resume for a recent graduate

  1. Contact Information
  2. Target Title
  3. Professional Summary 
  4. Education
  5. Skills
  6. Volunteering and Leadership
  7. Awards and Scholarships

The Teal AI Resume Builder makes it easy to adjust the sections of your resume to showcase the details of your most relevant accomplishments. Use the Drag-and-Drop Editor to position each section in as many ways (and as many times!) as you want.

Optimize the essential parts of your resume with Teal

The most important parts of a resume are those that align your career journey with the role you're applying to. Just like puzzle pieces, these sections must fit seamlessly into place for every application to create a compelling picture of your qualifications.

Ready to craft a well-rounded resume tailored to every job opportunity? Sign up for Teal and piece together your career success today.

Frequenty Asked Questions

Kayte Grady

Kayte, the Senior Copywriter at Teal, creates compelling content that builds connection, trust, and brand loyalty to drive conversions. With a data-driven approach to writing and a love of people, she's found growth and camaraderie in tech—a pleasant surprise given her never-ending devotion to the paper calendar.

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