What is a Resume? (Definition, Types, & Examples)

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May 31, 2024
Edited by
Camille Trent
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min read

3 Key Takeaways

  • A resume is a professional document that summarizes your professional background, skills, and accomplishments and is used for job applications.
  • There are three popular types of resumes and twelve specific resume parts you should know about.
  • Teal's AI Resume Builder can take the time and stress away from writing and formatting your resume.

Landing an interview starts with a strong resume. But what exactly is a resume?

More than just a list of jobs, a resume is your opportunity to make a strong first impression on prospective employers by clearly summarizing your skills, qualifications, and achievements. It's how you say, "I've got the experience and the skills you're looking for," but on paper.

However, creating a great resume can be a lot to take on without the right information.

Below, you'll learn what a resume is, the key details it should include, and how it differs from other application materials. You’ll also find tips, examples, and tools to help you create a resume that stands out—every time you hit apply.

Ready to build a resume that gets noticed in just a few steps? Start with Teal’s AI Resume Builder for free.

What is a resume?

A resume or résumé is a professional summary document used for job applications. It showcases your professional background, skills, and accomplishments. It's an important tool when applying for a job (or even an internship) because it's usually required and provides potential employers with the information they need to decide whether or not you are a good fit for a specific position.

Think of it this way: You are a business, and your specific skills and experience are your products. Your resume is a sales document showcasing those products as your unique qualifications for a specific job.

Crafting a standout resume and knowing when to use it versus other application materials like cover letters or CVs is crucial. Understanding these nuances can directly impact your chances of landing an interview.

Example of what is a resume
A resume is a professional document that summarizes your professional background.

Purpose of a resume

A resume gives hiring managers a quick snapshot of your qualifications, helping them decide if you're a good fit for the position. It highlights your professional journey and emphasizes your relevant skills and achievements.

Is a resume the same as a CV?

When it comes to comparing a resume versus CV, these two documents are different.

While both are used in job applications, a CV (Curriculum Vitae) is typically longer and more detailed—it's often used in academic, scientific, and international job applications.

Comparison of a CV vs. resume

  • Length: CVs are usually longer, often several pages, while resumes are typically between one and three pages.
  • Content: CVs provide a comprehensive overview of your entire career, including education, publications, and research, whereas resumes focus on relevant skills and experiences tailored to a specific job.
  • Use cases: CVs are more common in academia and international job markets, while resumes are standard in most industries in the United States.

Is a resume the same as a cover letter?

No, a resume isn't the same as a cover letter.

A cover letter is a separate formal document that accompanies your resume. It provides additional context and a personalized introduction to your application.

Comparison of a cover letter vs. resume

  • Purpose: A cover letter explains why you're interested in a position and how your skills and experiences make you a good fit. A resume provides a detailed summary of your qualifications.
  • Format: Cover letters are typically formatted like letters, while resumes use bullet points and specific sections to organize information.
  • Content: Cover letters offer a narrative, focusing on your motivation and suitability, whereas resumes list specific achievements and skills.

Is a resume the same as a LinkedIn profile?

No, a resume isn't the same as a LinkedIn profile. A LinkedIn profile is an online or digital representation of your professional identity, while a resume is a document specifically tailored for a job application.

Comparison of a LinkedIn profile vs. resume

  • Format: LinkedIn profiles are digital and can be continuously updated, while resumes are static documents tailored for specific job applications.
  • Content: LinkedIn profiles often include more comprehensive information, such as endorsements, recommendations, and a broader range of experiences.
  • Use cases: LinkedIn profiles are used for networking and job searching, while resumes are submitted directly to potential employers.

Is a resume the same as a portfolio?

No, a resume and a portfolio aren't the same. A work portfolio is a collection of work samples (physical or digital) that demonstrate your skills and accomplishments, particularly in creative fields.

Comparison of a portfolio vs. resume

  • Purpose: A portfolio showcases your actual work, providing tangible examples of your abilities. A resume summarizes your qualifications and experiences.
  • Format: Portfolios can be physical or digital collections of work samples, while resumes are written documents.
  • Content: Portfolios include detailed work samples, projects, and case studies, while resumes list your professional history and skills.
What is a resume vs other application materials

What to include in a resume

A resume typically has a combination of some (or all) of the following sections. But while the parts of a resume may vary from person to person, the core sections tend to remain the same.

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

What is needed in a resume?

Contact Information

Potential employers have to be able to reach you. Include contact details like your full name, phone number, email address, city and state, LinkedIn profile URL, and personal website if applicable.

Target Title

A target title sits just beneath the contact information on your resume. It reflects the position you're applying for and sets the tone for the rest of your resume.

This title may change depending on the job you're applying to, aligning with the specific role's title. Aligning these elements makes it easier for a hiring manager to find you when they search for candidates with that title in an Applicant Tracking System (ATS).

Professional Summary

This is a brief statement that gives employers a quick overview of your years of experience and what you bring to the table. Your summary should reflect your unique professional journey and skills and should be tailored to the particular job you're applying for.

Teal's Director of Talent, Mike Peditto, has some valuable advice for job seekers about professional summaries.

"If I can copy and paste your summary and put it almost word-for-word on somebody else's resume, and it makes no difference, it’s not a great summary for you.

If you're going to use the top of your resume for a summary, be sure that it stands out and really shows off what makes you a great fit compared to every other applicant. Provide some wins, experience, or insight about you that uniquely qualify you for the role!"

Work Experience

This section of your resume showcases your previous jobs and the impact you made. It's important because it shows your practical, hands-on experience and skills in a professional setting.

Use bullet points to highlight this part of your employment history. They should include key accomplishments alongside hard and soft skills and their results, focusing on quantifiable achievements (like metrics, numbers, and data).

For example, 


Your Education section lists your academic background, including degrees earned, institutions attended, and graduation dates. It shows employers your formal training and typically aligns with key qualifications or requirements.

Start with your highest level of education or highest degree and work backward. Unless you're still in college or just starting out without any formal education, you likely don't need to list your high school education.


Any relevant certifications that add value to your professional profile and align with the position you're applying to. They demonstrate specialized knowledge and skills that are pertinent to the job.


A list of relevant skills (such as tools and technical abilities) should be tailored to the job you’re applying for. This helps employers quickly see your areas of expertise.

Tips for making each part of the resume stand out

  • Use a clean, professional format with consistent fonts, white space, and resume bullet points to break up large blocks of text
  • Highlight key achievements in your work experience with specific metrics (e.g., "Increased sales by 20%")
  • Tailor your resume content to align closely with the job description using keywords and other important language

What is optional in a resume?

Not all resumes need every resume section available. Below are some optional parts and some reasons why you may want to consider including them.

Projects: Include any significant projects relevant to the job you're applying for. For example, mention projects where you've applied skills to achieve specific results. For example, developing a new software feature, leading a successful marketing campaign, or completing a complex research project.

Awards and Scholarships: This section can set you apart from other candidates. Highlight specific accolades showing your excellence and dedication to your field, like academic achievements, professional awards, or industry-specific honors.

Volunteering and Leadership: Mention if you have relevant volunteer work or leadership experience to show your commitment and ability to lead and work in teams. The key here, though, is relevance. Your time walking dogs at Wild Coonhound Rescue may not be relevant to your application for an entry-level data analyst position.

Publications: List any articles, papers, or books you have published if they are relevant to the job to demonstrate your expertise and thought leadership in your field.

Interests: Include interests if they are relevant to the job or if they can provide a more complete picture of who you are in a way that relates to the job you're applying for. For example, interests demonstrating teamwork, leadership, or relevant tools and tech.

What not to include in a resume

While there are plenty of elements you should always include in your resume, there are also some things you want to avoid.

  • Irrelevant work experience that doesn’t align with the job you’re applying for
  • Personal information like age, marital status, or your social security number
  • Unprofessional email addresses
  • Hobbies or interests that do not add value to your application

Resume types

Choosing the right resume type depends on your career history and the job you're applying for.

There are three standard resume formats, each with its own strengths and best use cases. They are:

  1. Chronological
  2. Functional
  3. Combination

Understanding these formats will help you decide which one best showcases your skills and experiences.

Chronological resume

A chronological resume (also called reverse chronological resume) lists your work experience in reverse chronological order, starting with your most recent job.

This format is the most recognizable and is ideal for those with a solid work history in a specific field. A chronological resume clearly shows your career progression. It highlights your job titles, employers, and dates of employment, making it easy for hiring managers to see your career trajectory.

What is a resume in a chronological resume format
Use a chronological resume to list your work experience in reverse chronological order.

Functional resume

A functional format (or skills-based resume) is a resume written to focus on your skills and qualifications rather than your chronological work history.

This format is less popular than the chronological resume and is only best for those with little to no work experience or larger career gaps. You should use a functional resume if you want to emphasize transferable skills and focus less on job titles or dates of employment.

What is a resume in a functional resume format
Use a functional resume format to highlight skills instead of a professional timeline.

Combination Resume

A combination resume (sometimes referred to as a hybrid resume) merges elements of both chronological and functional resumes by highlighting qualifications and skills equally.

A combination resume starts with a professional summary, followed by a dedicated skills section, and then transitions into a detailed (but relevant) chronological work history.

This format benefits job seekers who have a solid work history but also want to emphasize their skills and accomplishments.

What is a resume in a combination resume format
Use a combination resume to highlight qualifications and skills equally.

How to use Teal's Resume Builder

While there's no such thing as a perfect resume, creating a good resume that aligns with the job description of the role you're applying to can be simplified with the right tools.

What is a resume builder? A resume builder is an online platform that simplifies creating and updating resumes. It offers one place to input your professional details, customize formats with drag-and-drop editing, and fine-tune content with analysis and scoring tools.

Teal’s Resume Builder removes the guesswork and stress of creating a resume, helping you not create a professional document that stands out. Here’s how to make a resume with Teal:

1. Get started

To start using Teal, create your account and get settled in. If you already have a clear picture of the job title you’re targeting or specific goals in mind, add these details during the initial setup to customize your experience.

Then, import your information (from an old resume or your LinkedIn profile) or start from scratch.

If you’re starting from scratch, imagine the Resume Builder as your career history’s home. Fill out the details in every section. Teal’s guidance will help remove the guesswork of "what goes where" so you can build a comprehensive database of your skills and experience.

3. Use AI to save time

Stuck on what to say? Don't waste time staring at a blank screen. Use Teal's AI to generate your professional summary and resume bullet points.

AI provides a great foundation you can tweak to fit your unique experience. (With Teal+, you get unlimited AI, allowing you to revisit and customize your resume for different job applications later.)

4. Run a resume analysis

Once your details are in, analyze your resume.

Teal’s Resume Checker helps you align your content with modern best practices. Use it to identify what’s missing or what could be polished.

How does it work? The Resume Checker gives you a score, showing you where the gaps are and offering suggestions for fixing them so you can increase your score. Aim for 60 percent or higher.

An graphic of how to find content gaps with Teal
Find and fix gaps in your content with Resume Analysis.

5. Integrate your job search

on’t jump back and forth across multiple platforms to save and apply for jobs.

Instead, install the free Teal Chrome Extension to easily save job listings from 40+ job boards with just one click. This saves time and powers up other features in the Resume Builder, like Match Scoring and AI Cover Letter Generation.

A graphic of Teal's Chrome Extension
Use Teal's Chrome Extension to save jobs in the same place where you build your resume.

6. Align your resume with job listings

Tailoring your resume to each unique job you apply for is crucial. Show prospective employers you have the skills and relevant experiences they’re looking for.

First, click the checkbox next to the relevant experiences and skills in your base resume. Then, click the “Matching” tab in the Resume Builder. Select a job from your saved roles (or upload a new one) to see how your experience and desired job align.

Teal’s Job Description Match tool analyzes the language in your resume and the job description to give you a Match Score. This number represents how closely your existing resume aligns with the job description. Aim for a Match Score of at least 60 percent. Increase your score by adding keywords from the job description identified by Teal’s Job Description Keywords tool.

7. Choose a resume template and customize design

Teal offers plenty of ATS-friendly resume templates, and you can customize the design and format of your resume.

Head to the Design tab, choose a template and use the Drag-and-Drop Editor to move around or rename your resume sections.

What a good resume builder can help you do to customize your resume design
Customize your resume design in just a few clicks without the stress.

You can also choose different font styles, colors, spacing, and more so your resume reflects not only your skills and experience but also your unique personality.

8. Write a custom cover letter

Before you hit apply, make each application stand out by tailoring a cover letter.

With Teal’s AI, you can write a unique cover letter in less than 30 seconds—customize a prompt, adjust the tone and length, and attach a specific job description. Teal+ offers unlimited AI, so you can generate as many custom cover letters as you need.

9. Save and customize unlimited versions

As you refine your resume, take advantage of the ability to save unlimited professional summaries, resume bullet points, and different versions of your resume in Teal.

Teal is your career database—choose the best data points for each unique role without deleting information. This makes tailoring for specific job applications faster and easier. Each version can be adjusted to reflect the nuances of different positions.

Write your resume with Teal

A strong resume will help you land an interview.

Instead of worrying about what goes where, which sections fit your experience best, or how to format your resume for every application, Teal's AI Resume Builder can help you create a professionally written resume quickly.

You might be struggling with the first steps of drafting your resume. Or trying to explain your achievements and coming up short. You may feel overwhelmed by the need to customize everything for different applications. Teal (and Teal+) offers features like easy import, AI generation, and analysis and matching tools to help make it easier—so you can apply confidently.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a college resume?

A college resume is a document that highlights a student's academic achievements, extracurricular activities, work experience, and skills. It is used to apply for internships, scholarships, and college admissions, providing a snapshot of the student's qualifications and potential.

How is a curriculum vitae different than a resume?

A curriculum vitae (CV) is a detailed document that outlines a professional's academic background, including education, research experience, publications, and presentations. In contrast, a resume is a concise summary of work experience, skills, and accomplishments tailored to a specific job position.

What is one difference in the content that a resume and cover letter contain?

A resume provides a structured overview of an individual's work experience, skills, and achievements, focusing on quantifiable results. A cover letter, however, allows the applicant to personalize their application by explaining their interest in the position and how their background aligns with the job requirements.

Kayte Grady

Kayte, Senior Copywriter at Teal and Champion of ADHD professionals, is a seasoned writer passionate about storytelling and career growth. With a data-driven approach to content marketing and a word-nerd knack for resume builder analysis, Kayte’s on a mission to empower job seekers to land a job they love. Constantly pivoting and reinventing herself, this social-worker-turned-marketer found growth and camaraderie in tech—a genuine surprise given her never-ending devotion to the paper calendar.

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