Resume 3 mins read

The Essential Resume Sections: What to Include and Why

Picture this: you're the perfect candidate for the job. You have the skills, the experience, and the drive to succeed. But your resume? It's a hot mess. It's disorganized, filled with irrelevant information, and about as eye-catching as a pile of old newspapers. Sadly, even the most qualified candidates can get overlooked due to a poorly structured resume.


Don't worry – this blog aims to save you from that fate! We'll break down the essential resume sections, why they matter, and how to make yours truly shine.

Must-Have Sections: The Building Blocks

  1. Contact Information:

    • This seems obvious, but you'd be surprised how many people mess this up. Include your full name, phone number, professional email (no, and your city and state.

    • You can add a link to your polished LinkedIn profile or online portfolio, especially if those showcase work relevant to the role you're targeting.

  2. Summary/Headline

    • Think of this as your resume's elevator pitch. In 2-3 sentences, highlight your top skills, years of experience, and what you bring to the table. Tailor this to each job you apply for!

    • Example: "Results-driven marketing professional with 4+ years of experience in content strategy, SEO, and social media growth."

  3. Work Experience

    • This is where you showcase your career journey. List your previous jobs in reverse-chronological order (most recent first). Include:

      • Company name

      • Your job title

      • Employment dates (month/year)

      • 3-5 bullet points highlighting achievements, not just duties. Use quantifiable metrics whenever possible (e.g., "Increased website traffic by 15%...")

    • Action Verbs: Start each bullet point with a strong verb like "managed," "designed," or "collaborated."

  4. Skills

    • List a mix of hard skills (software, technical proficiencies) and soft skills (communication, problem-solving) that align with the job requirements.

    • Be sure to sprinkle these same keywords throughout your experience section, too – this helps you pass through Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) used for initial screening.

  5. Education

    • Include the degree(s) you attained, the university name, and graduation year. If you're a recent graduate or your GPA is stellar (3.5+), add that as well.

    • If relevant, you can list a few key courses that demonstrate skills directly applicable to the job.

Optional (But Sometimes Powerful) Sections

  • Projects/Publications: If you have personal projects or published work showcasing industry-relevant skills, briefly list them.

  • Awards/Certifications: Include these only if they are prestigious and significantly boost your credibility for the specific role.

  • Languages/Volunteer Work: List these if they demonstrate fluency in a sought-after language or show dedication in an area valued by the potential employer.

Resume Red Flags: Mistakes to Avoid

  • Paragraphs of Text: No one wants to read a novel. Keep sections concise and bullet points snappy.

  • Irrelevant Hobbies: Unless you're applying to coach a sports team, your weekend hobbies likely don't belong on your resume.

  • Outdated Design: A modern, clean format makes a world of difference.

  • "References Available Upon Request: This takes up space and is assumed by employers.

Leveraging AI for Advantage

AI-powered resume builders, like AcePrep, excel at analyzing job descriptions and your input to suggest optimal section choices, phrasing, and formatting. This can take the guesswork out of how to present yourself most effectively.

Next Steps

Now that you understand the core structure get ready to dive deeper! In the next blog of this series, we'll tackle how to tailor your resume for different experience levels.

Want to jumpstart your resume makeover? Try our free AI resume builder tool today!

Other blogs in this series


  1. The Essential Resume Sections: What to Include and Why

  2. Resume Design Matters: Formatting Tips for Readability and Impact

  3. The Power of Keywords: Optimizing Your Resume for Success

  4. Action Verbs vs. Buzzwords: Crafting a Compelling Resume

  5. Tailoring Your Resume: The Key to Landing Your Dream Job

    Experience-Based Guides

  6. Crafting a Winning Entry-Level Resume: Highlight Your Potential

  7. Resume Transformation for Career Changers: Sell Your Transferable Skills

  8. The Mid-Career Resume: Showcasing Growth and Achievements

  9. Senior Executive Resume: Highlighting Leadership and Impact

  10. Freelancer & Consultant Resumes: Project-Based Success Stories