Resume Sections for Every Type of Job Seeker (With Examples!)

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May 22, 2023
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min read

3 key takeaways from the post

  • What resume sections should you have in your resume 
  • Does the order of your resume sections matter
  • How to use the Teal AI Resume Builder to create a document personalized to your experience

If you want to land your next interview fast, a sleek and professional resume isn't a luxury; it's an absolute must. Plus, with all the free resume-building tools at your disposal, the expectation is higher than ever that you'll provide personalized application materials tailored to a specific role, manager, and company. 

But for all those free tools, building your resume still isn't as straightforward as you might think. 

Lengthy gaps in your work history, lack of experience, education, or drastic career changes can make it hard to know which essential resume sections you should focus on (and where to put them!).  

In this article, you'll learn the answers to the question most job seekers ask when building a resume: "Wait, which part goes where and why?"

What resume sections should you have in your resume?

A resume typically has a combination of some (or all) of the following elements:

  • Contact Information
  • Target Title
  • Professional Summary 
  • Work Experience
  • Education
  • Certifications
  • Skills
  • Optional
    – Projects
    – Awards and Scholarships
    – Volunteering and Leadership
    – Publications
    – Interests

Many of these end up on all resumes (Contact, Target Title, Professional Summary, etc.). But in some cases, you'll have to choose whether or not to include some optional resume sections (like Projects, Awards, etc.).

The best answer to this ultimately depends on the role you're building a resume for, what your experience looks like, and how much you have.

1200+ In-Depth Resume Examples and Guidance

If you're reading this as a primer before you start building, we recommend exploring these 2023 resume examples curated around different roles. Browse these samples to help you with your resume.

Let's look at each of these sections in more detail. 

1. Contact Information 

Your contact information should be at the very top of your resume. You want employers to have easy access to these details to get in touch with you for an interview.

This section should include:

  • Full name
  • Phone number
  • Professional email address
  • LinkedIn profile URL (optional)
  • Portfolio URL (optional)

Many people think you need to provide your physical address, but this isn't necessary. Your email address and phone number are more than enough for any hiring manager to reach you. 

Contact Information resume section
Contact Information Resume Section

2. Target Title 

A target title, or resume title, is a brief description of the role you're applying for. It sits directly beneath your contact information and above your professional resume section.

Target Title resume section
Target Title Resume Section

Your target title aligns your resume with the specific job you're applying for. It's also a quick reference to your understanding of the position, and it instantly lets the hiring manager know what role you're applying to.

For example, your target title might be "Marketing Coordinator" or "Software Developer."

3. Professional Summary 

A professional summary, or resume summary, serves as a concise introduction that shines a spotlight on your most relevant qualifications and achievements.

Just below your "Contact Information" and "Target Title" resume sections, this particular resume section is an invaluable tool for grabbing the attention of recruiters, hiring managers, and prospective employers—encouraging them to dig deeper into the rest of your resume.

Professional Summary resume section
Professional Summary Resume Section

If you're worried about whether or not to use a summary or objective, rather than discussing future career goals or a resume objective, a resume summary zeroes in on your relevant skills, experiences, and highest achievements. Think of it as a highlight reel of your professional journey, emphasizing the key milestones and competencies that make you the ideal candidate for the job.

For your professional resume summary to be as effective as possible, it's crucial to tailor it specifically for the position you're applying to. To do this:

  • Read the job posting
  • Make a note of important keywords like skills or qualifications
  • Align your hard or technical skills, soft skills, experience, and impact to the job's requirements using those same keywords

And just like every job is different, every summary will be slightly different, too. But, for the most impact, each one you write should:

  • Include a time-based statement, for example: "With 4 years of experience…"  
  • Include at least two relevant skills and their related impact 
  • Be between 3-5 sentences—no more
  • Use the first-person voice, for example: "I've led the implementation of..." 

4. Work Experience 

Your "Work Experience" section is the heart of your resume. This will tell hiring managers whether or not you have the necessary experience to accomplish the job you're applying for. 

You'll most likely want to list your work history in reverse chronological order, starting with your most recent position as long as it's relevant to the position you're applying for.

Remember, the job of your resume is to showcase the top 10% of your experience that's relevant to the job you're applying to.

For each role, include the following:

  • Job title
  • Company name
  • Location
  • Dates of employment (month and year)
  • 3-5 accomplishments per role
Work Experience resume section
Work Experience Resume Section

And when listing your resume accomplishments as bullet points, use quantifiable achievements alongside skills to highlight your impact, such as:

"Increased sales by 20% through data analysis using Tableau and leveraging effective communication and relationship building." or "Reduced project completion time by 15% by implementing Jira, Agile, and bi-weekly Sprint Review meetings."

The goal is to show a hiring manager that you can do more than just "talk the talk." Instead, you've proven yourself a valuable asset on teams in the past by showcasing your impact. 

5. Education 

In the "Education" section of your resume, list your relevant academic qualifications, including the degree earned, the institution's name, and the completion date.

If you're a recent graduate, consider adding your GPA (if it's above 3.0) and any relevant coursework or extracurricular activities you achieved while in school.

Education resume section
Education Resume Section

Pro Tip: If you find yourself short on space but have multiple degrees, your resume "Education" section can just present your highest level of education.

6. Certifications 

Certifications on a resume. They demonstrate your commitment to professional development and expertise in specific skills or industries. 

Certifications resume section
Certifications Resume Section

And while this can be considered one of the optional resume sections, there are many professions that actually require specific certifications—making it essential. For example, a project management role might require a PMP, while a software engineering position might require an Oracle Java Certification, etc.

If you have relevant certifications, list them along with the issuing organization and the date obtained.

7. Skills

The "Skills" section on your resume is an opportunity to highlight your most relevant and in-demand skills.

While your soft skills (like communication, teamwork, or problem-solving) should be incorporated throughout the other sections of your resume alongside impact, a dedicated "Skills" section is optimal for listing your hard skills or technical skills (such as specific programming languages or data analysis tools).

Skills resume section
Skills Resume Section

You'll want to tailor your resume "Skills" section to each job posting, focusing on those most applicable to the role.

9. Projects

If you've completed any significant projects relevant to the job you're applying for, consider adding a projects section in your resume. This includes work projects, academic, freelance, or personal projects demonstrating your skills and capabilities. 

Projects resume section
Projects Resume Section

Be sure to include a brief description of the project, your role, and any quantifiable results or accomplishments.

10. Awards and Scholarships

Awards and scholarships differentiate you from other candidates, offer evidence of your skills and competencies, and underscore how aligned your qualifications are with the position you're seeking.

Awards and Scholarships resume section
Awards and Scholarships Resume Section

Scholarships and awards on a resume should be as relevant to the job description as possible. Especially if you're a recent graduate, these accolades can add depth and dimension to your resume sections, highlighting your dedication, achievements, and potential for future impact and growth.

11. Volunteering and Leadership

Volunteering and leadership experiences offer a glimpse into your commitment to bettering the community and can highlight how well you align with company culture and values. These roles underscore your responsibility, time management, and other essential skills that potentially resonate with employers.

Much like the basic resume sections, listing volunteer work on a resume should be as relevant to the role as possible.

For example, suppose you're applying for a marketing management position. In that case, you might emphasize spearheading a fundraising campaign for a local charity or preparing compelling copy for nonprofit promotions. These experiences showcase your marketing skills and highlight your ability to apply them in diverse settings.

Volunteering and Leadership resume section
Volunteering and Leadership Resume Section

12. Publications

Publications showcase your enthusiasm and serve as tangible proof of your specialized knowledge and abilities.

Publications resume section
Publications Resume Section

Whether you're credited as the writer or cited as a specialist, and especially if you have minimal professional experience, adding this insight into your resume sections can boost your authenticity and give your resume a distinctive edge.

13. Interests 

Adding hobbies and interests on a resume can be a strategic way to showcase your personality and differentiate you.

But including things you enjoy or activities comes with one firm guideline: It's only a good idea if they're relevant to the role you're applying to.

The following example belongs to a candidate applying for a data analyst position. Each hobby is applicable to the role.

Interests resume section
Interests Resume Section

Whatever you do, keep this section brief and relevant. While activities and hobbies on a resume can give potential employers insights into your character, skills, and adaptability, you should avoid any controversial or potentially polarizing topics like religious affiliation or politics unless you're pursuing a role in one of those specific areas. 

How to order your resume sections

Your order of resume sections depends on your level of experience and the role you're applying for.

Unfortunately, there is no "one-size-fits-all" answer to your resume section's order. It all depends on you.

If you have work experience that isn't relevant or are a student or recent graduate, the resume order of information might be presented differently to highlight your relevant qualifications and skills.

Does the order of a resume section matter?

There is no one perfect resume, but at the end of the day, the order of resume sections matters for showcasing the right skills and most applicable experience for the role you're applying to.

That said, if you have traditional work experience, a chronological resume format will be the one most easily recognized by a hiring manager or recruiter.

That typically orders information as follows:

1. Contact Information

2. Target Title

3. Professional Summary 

4. Work Experience

5. Education

6. Certifications

7. Skills

– Projects
– Awards and Scholarships
– Volunteering and Leadership
– Publications
– Interests

But sometimes, there might be a better option than a chronological order format. 

Perhaps you're returning from a long professional break, just leaving school, or changing careers altogether.

In those cases, you might need to decide on the best resume format to highlight all you have to offer. 

Need to reorder your resume, drop a section, or add something new to align your qualifications with the role you're applying for? Try the free Teal AI Resume Builder formatting feature. Using the Drag-and-Drop Editor, you can organize your resume to suit your needs as often as you'd like.

Now, let's focus on which resume sections you should include when a traditional format doesn't work.  

What sections to put in your resume (no experience)

Resume sections for career pivoters

If you plan to switch industries or job roles, a career change resume should be tailored to highlight your transferable skills and experiences relevant to your new position. 

That means instead of using a chronological format, you should create a hybrid resume. This structure will allow you to focus on your relevant skills and any other experiences, making it easier for potential employers to determine how well you align with a role.

Hybrid resumes usually contain the following resume sections:

  • Contact Information 
  • Professional Summary 
  • Skills
  • Certifications 
  • Work Experience 
  • Education 
  • Optional resume sections:
    – Projects
    – Volunteering and Leadership
    – Interests

Here's a good example of what a resume might look like when you're changing careers: 

Note that it places the "Professional Resume Summary," "Skills," and "Certification" sections before any relevant details. 

Bonus: Remember, the structure of your resume is important, but so is the content. Try these tips to better highlight your transferable skills in your resume:

  • Customize your summary: Use the summary or short professional bio to showcase your transferable skills and experiences.
  • Showcase relevant projects: If you've  completed any projects, side gigs, or volunteer work related to your new career, include a "Projects" section in your resume.
  • Include professional development and certifications: Include any relevant professional development courses, workshops, or certifications you've completed in a separate section on your resume to demonstrate your commitment to staying current with industry trends and developing new skills.

The trick is to make sure you convey how the relevant skills from your past work experiences can be applied to your future professional challenges. 

With Teal, you can actually write major sections of your resume with generative AI: 

Use the AI integration within Teal's AI Resume Builder to generate your professional summary.

This allows you to break through the blank page and create better resumes in less time. 

Sign up for your free Teal account today! 

Resume sections for new college grads

Recent graduates might be concerned about making a resume with no work experience when entering the job market. But your resume can still effectively showcase your skills, education, and accomplishments to help you land that job interview.

For that, you'll likely want to use a resume format that prioritizes skills and overall experiences rather than the timeline of your work history.

Sometimes called a functional resume format, consider arranging your resume sections like this:

  • Contact information 
  • Professional Summary 
  • Education (Including relevant coursework)
  • Skills 
  • Work history (If applicable) 
  • Optional resume sections:
    – Projects
    – Volunteering and Leadership
    – Interests

Feel free to list relevant coursework, academic projects, or any extracurricular activities that showcase your skills and knowledge applicable to the job.

Applying to new jobs can be intimidating, especially when you're just entering the workforce and you've never been through the application process before. 

Consider the following tips to help you create a resume that, at the very least, gets your foot in the door: 

1. Focus on your education: As a recent graduate, your education is one of your most valuable assets. Place the education section near the top of your resume, right after your professional summary.

2. Internships and part-time jobs: If you've completed or held part-time jobs during your college years, include them in your work experience section. 

3. Volunteer work and extracurricular activities: Volunteering and activities can help demonstrate your commitment to the industry, leadership qualities, and teamwork skills. 

4. Skills section: As a recent graduate, you may have acquired various hard skills through coursework, internships, or extracurricular activities. 

5. Awards and scholarships: If you've received any relevant academic honors, scholarships, or awards during college, include a section on your resume to highlight these accomplishments. 

While you may not have spent much "time in the trenches" in your field, you may find yourself at an advantage. Some hiring managers will be eager to bring fresh talent that they don't need to retrain. 

What sections to put in your resume (varied experience)

Resume sections for entry-level job seekers

You may wonder how to create a resume that effectively showcases your skills and potential to employers as an entry-level job seeker. Even with limited work experience, your resume can still help you stand out in the job market. 

Let's start with the type of resume you'll likely want. 

If you have some work experience under your belt (even just a year or two), you'll likely want to go with a hybrid resume format. This blends your limited work history with technical skills to demonstrate you have what it takes to work at the company.

A hybrid resume will likely have the following sections: 

  • Contact information 
  • Professional Summary
  • Skills 
  • Work History (including internships)
  • Education 
  • Certifications (if applicable) 
  • Optional resume sections:
    – Projects
    – Volunteering and Leadership
    – Interests

Here's an example of a hybrid resume format with someone who has a few years of experience but may still need to take an entry-level role if switching companies:

In some cases, you might not have any work experience. For that, a functional or skills-based resume would be fitting (like we saw for new grads). 

When crafting your first resume, however, keep the following in mind:

  • Start with a professional summary: A professional summary is a great way to introduce yourself to potential employers and express where you are in your career. Use it to explain your passion for the industry and how you hope to contribute to the company in a few sentences.
  • Focus on internships, part-time jobs, and volunteer work: Any internships, part-time jobs, or volunteer work you have completed can help demonstrate your ability to apply skills in real-world situations. Be sure to frame each of these experiences in a way that connects them to the role you're applying for. 
  • Skills section: Your skills section is an opportunity to highlight your technical and soft skills relevant to the job. 

And remember: this is the hardest resume you'll ever have to write. As you advance in your career, you'll add more experience to strengthen your application in the future. 

Resume sections for mid-level and experienced professionals

At this stage in the game, you've got some professional experience under your belt with concrete results to show for it. For mid-level and experienced professionals, a traditional reverse chronological order format is commonly used to showcase their career progression and relevant work experience. 

This format emphasizes your recent positions and accomplishments, highlighting your growth and expertise. Here are the sections you'll need:

  • Contact Information
  • Target Title
  • Professional Summary 
  • Work Experience
  • Education
  • Certifications
  • Skills
  • Optional:
    – Projects
    – Awards
    – Publications

Here's an example of a reverse chronological order resume: 

But going after more senior-level roles can get competitive. That's why you should follow these three tips when crafting your resume: 

1. Highlight leadership and management experience

As a mid to senior-level professional, emphasize your leadership and management abilities. Showcase your experience leading teams, managing projects, and driving strategic initiatives.

2. Quantify achievements and impact

To demonstrate the tangible results of your work, quantify your achievements wherever possible. Include metrics in percentages and concrete numbers to showcase your impact in previous roles. 

For example, mention the percentage increase in sales you achieved, the cost savings you implemented, or the number of clients you managed. Quantifying your accomplishments helps recruiters and hiring managers understand the value you can bring to their organization.

3. Emphasize strategic thinking and problem-solving skills

Employers seek professionals who can think strategically and solve complex problems at the mid to senior level. Highlight your ability to analyze situations, develop innovative solutions, and make data-driven decisions. Include examples of critical projects or challenges you successfully navigated, showcasing your problem-solving skills and strategic mindset.

4. Demonstrate industry knowledge and thought leadership

As an experienced professional, showcasing your industry knowledge and thought leadership is important. Mention any industry-specific certifications, publications, or presentations you have participated in. Highlight your involvement in professional associations or conferences. This demonstrates your commitment to staying updated with industry trends and your expertise in the field.

So far, we've seen the resume sections you need for career pivoters, new grads, and professionals in every stage of their careers. 

Now, let's turn our attention to the nuts and bolts of the issue: how to bring that resume to life. 


How to create a resume that’s structured for your career

The best way to create a resume structured to your job is with Teal's AI Resume Builder

Step One: Sign up for Teal

Signing up for Teal is a simple and quick process. Just click on this link to get started.

Step Two: Build your resume 

Navigate to the "Resume Builder" icon on the left side and click on it. From there, select "New Resume" at the top.

If you prefer to create your resume from scratch, you have the option to import content from your LinkedIn profile with just one click:

Now, you'll be ready to format your resume based on where you are in your career. 

Step 3: Determine your resume format 

Throughout this post, you learned about the importance of choosing the right resume sections for you. The format of your resume will change depending on whether you're a new grad, an entry-level employee, or a seasoned professional moving up the ranks. 

Teal makes this easy with pre-made templates.

Teal's Templates

Straight from your dashboard, click the "Formatting" icon in the top menu bar:

Format and use professional templates with Teal's AI Resume Builder to make your resume stand out:

Next, you can modify the following template settings:

  • Font
  • Accent color
  • Margins
  • Location
  • Date alignment
  • Date format
  • Work experience groupings
  • Work experience date range

Each of these settings can be changed with a clickable drop-down menu. To learn more about Teal's template selection and what they look like, you can explore over 100 of our resume templates here.

Optimize your resume sections with Teal

Every section of your resume tells a part of your professional story.

And whether or not you're just starting out or a seasoned pro, the Teal AI Resume Builder gives you full control over how you format sections of a resume so you can structure your story the way that's best for you!  

Ready to get started?

Sign up for Teal today and start building the application materials you need to advance your career. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know which sections are most important for my resume?

The most important sections to include will depend on your experience level and the type of job you're applying for. As a general rule, the Work Experience and Skills sections should take priority. For recent grads, emphasize Education. For career changers, focus on transferable skills. The key is choosing sections that allow you to showcase your qualifications.

Should I include references on my resume?

No, you do not need to include references or “References Available Upon Request” on your resume anymore. Simply have a separate reference list prepared to provide employers when requested. Use the extra space to highlight your skills and achievements instead.

How far back should I go with work experience on my resume?

In general, only include about 10-15 years of relevant professional work experience on your resume. Anything older than that is unlikely to be of interest or seem dated. However, influential or senior-level roles from early in your career could still be included if highly relevant. The key is making sure your resume focuses on your most recent, impressive achievements.

Nathan Thompson

Nathan is a professional content marketer who's been lucky enough to write for some of the best SaaS brands on the planet, including Twilio, Trello, OptinMonster, TrustPulse, and more. When he's not obsessing over performance metrics, Nathan spends most of his time wrestling around with his kids.

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