Organizing a Resume in 2021: Which Information Goes Where?

As much as people talk about writing resumes, some of us overlook getting them in order. What does a well-organized resume look like anyway?

If you’ve written and proofread everything, that’s great! However, don’t send it out just yet. Two questions may pop before you click that send button: have you sorted your content out? Are you 100% sure that you’ve got the right sections covered?

Resume sections matter just as much as the content. If you’re unsure about where to place your information, look no further than this helpful guide. We’ll take things slow and show everything in a step-by-step process to make this entry easy to follow.

Let’s get started.

How Do You Organize Resume Sections?

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Step #1: Assess your current standing

Are you in the entry-level bracket? Or do you have a lot of professional experience? Is a career shift in the cards for you?

Your job history can help you pick out the content and format that suits you best.

If you’re a fresh graduate, your information should indicate your status. For seasoned veterans, your resumes should be skimmable in a few seconds. On the other hand, career changers should focus on relevant skills, knowledge, and experience to increase the odds.

Step #2: Think about what recruiters or clients need to know

Put yourself in a recruiter’s shoes for a few minutes and ask yourself: what am I looking for in an applicant?

A resume only has limited space. Stuffing every detail in the world is a no-no; recruiters will just place your application in their thick resume piles if you were to cram everything into a single page. Moreover, you can also discuss your job hunt concerns with a recruiter (such as Alex Gotch, for the law profession) who may also provide career advice to freshers.

Step #3: Gather the necessary information

You won’t have to stare at that blank page any longer. Compile information such as your phone numbers, current location, email addresses, job history, educational background, skillsets, and certifications or awards. You can list them all down in a separate document or go the old-fashioned route through a pen and a piece of paper for easy reference.

Step #4: Organize your details

Resume sections exist for a reason. They keep your documents looking organized and neat, making them easier for employers to scan. Sort each piece of information into appropriate categories to avoid mix-ups and confusions, especially when the time comes for interviews.

Recruiters should find the following sections in every resume:

  • Contact details
  • Objective or summary
  • Professional history
  • Educational attainment
  • Skills

Once you’ve covered all five basics, you can opt to add these extra sections:

  • Awards
  • Certifications
  • Organizations/associations
  • Languages
  • Trainings/seminars/conferences
  • Testimonials

Pro-tip: include these if they’re applicable for your target job. Margins exist, so be mindful of your inclusions. You don’t want walls of text on your resume.

Step #5: Choose how you want to highlight your information

Which sections do you want to emphasize? You may want to strategize which categories to highlight. Remember: recruiters only take an average of five to seven seconds to look at an applicant’s resume.

Let’s go back to step #1 a bit. Consider your current professional status when planning your arrangements. Traditionally, resumes list down information through this order:

  • Contact details
  • Objective or summary
  • Professional history
  • Certifications (if available and applicable)
  • Educational attainment
  • Skills
  • Extras (awards, organizations, etc.)

For fresh graduates, write a summary instead of an objective since you’re just starting your professional career. Swap out the professional history section for your relevant student experiences.

Mid-level job seekers can emphasize their history instead of their education since they have enough experience to bank on. Career shifters should only include transferable skills and experiences. After all, you are entering a new field.

Keep your resume sections clutter-free with these easy-to-follow steps. Don’t forget to add a little personalization to make your document uniquely yours.