What to Put on a Resume in 2021 (with Examples and Tips)

What to Put on a Resume in 2021 (with Examples and Tips)

If you have ever written a resume, you have probably found yourself wondering whether or not you are including the right information. There are many elements that make up a strong resume and several formats to choose from. In this guide, we will help you determine exactly what to include on your resume in 2021!

Written by Ed Moss • Last updated on May 30, 2021

What are the different types of resume formats?

The first step to deciding what to put on your resume is to choose a resume format.

Different formats serve different purposes. The 3 basic resume formats are:

1) Reverse-Chronological

The reverse-chronological resume is the most standard resume format and hiring managers will generally expect to see resumes this way. This type of resume focuses mainly on showcasing your work experience.

Applicants list their most recent and relevant job first. This is then followed with previous jobs in reverse-chronological order to help show your career history & progression.

2) Functional

The functional resume is the preferred format for applicants with little to no experience. Rather than focusing on work experience, this format emphasizes other sections such as your skills or education.

3) Hybrid

A hybrid resume combines elements from both the reverse-chronological and functional formats. This works best for applicants who may have some work experience but not enough to fill an entire resume.

There is also an alternative to the resume known as the Curriculum Vitae, more commonly called the CV, which slightly differs from a traditional resume.

In the United States, a CV is primarily used for job applications in the fields of science and academia.

This type of document is much longer and more in-depth than the standard resume as it focuses heavily on achievements, skills and other relevant information like degrees, publications, coursework and certifications.

CVs are also the standard format used in international locations, especially in Europe. For applicants applying to jobs outside of the U.S. and Canada, creating a CV will be a necessity.

Beautiful resume templates to land your dream job

Which formats work best for different types of roles?

Generally speaking, you will want to use a reverse-chronological resume whenever possible.

Hiring managers and employers are not accustomed to seeing functional and hybrid resumes as often. This can be off-putting as it may not immediately meet their expectations especially if it isn't relevant for your background and the role.

However, you can absolutely make a functional or hybrid resume work in your favor. The key is to tailor every resume you write to fit the parameters of the specific job.

If you are applying to an entry- or intermediate-level job, you can use any of the 3 basic resume formats. Once you begin applying to higher-level jobs, then you may want to consider switching to a multi-page or CV format.

Check out our guide on How to Write a Two-Page Resume for more information on when and how to use a multi-page format.

What do I need to add to a resume?

A standard resume should always contain the following key sections:

  1. A Personal Header: This will include your name and contact information.
  2. Work Experience: An overview of your past jobs and professional experiences.
  3. Education: The level of education you have completed and any degrees earned.
  4. Skills: Any skills or proficiencies that make you especially qualified for the job.

These four elements make up the basic framework of a resume. However, there are several additional sections you can include as well, such as objectives, certifications or awards.

What do I include in the key sections of a resume?

In this section, we will provide you a clear breakdown of what information to put in each section of your resume.

We'll also cover additional sections to consider including to make your resume stand out even more.

1) Personal Header

Your personal header introduces you to the employer. This is where you will list your name and contact information on your resume.

There are 5 key pieces of information to include within a personal header on your resume:

  • Your Name = e.g. "John Smith"
  • Your Phone Number = e.g. "(212) 123-4567"
  • Your Email Address = e.g. "ed@easyresume.io"
  • Your Website = e.g. "easyresume.io"
  • Your Location = e.g. "Brooklyn, New York"

    Read our guide on how to include
    your location or address on your resume.

You may be wondering. Should you include your LinkedIn Profile?

Yes, and if you have not taken the time to optimize your LinkedIn profile, we recommend doing so.

LinkedIn is particularly helpful for applicants who are new to the workforce and are looking to network with other professionals, and most hiring managers will see this as a proof of your credentials.

Depending on the position you are applying for, it may also be useful to include links to your other professional social media accounts. LinkedIn and other social media platforms can serve not only as networking tools but as online portfolios as well.

For example, if you're a wedding photographer, you may want to include a link to your Instagram or Pinterest page.

2) Work Experience

Your work experience section is where you will detail your past roles and responsibilities.

It includes your:

  • Job Title (Position) = e.g. "Server"
  • Company = e.g. "The Olive Garden"
  • Start Date= e.g. "June 2020"
  • End Date = e.g. "March 2021" (or "Present" if it's your current job)
  • Location= e.g. "New York, NY"
  • Work Responsibilities & Achievements = e.g. See the following:

    • Organized the weekly staff schedule for a staff of over 20 servers
    • Completed daily bookkeeping using QuickBooks
    • Addressed customer questions and complaints with compassion and efficiency

When crafting this section, there are 3 key factors to keep in mind:

A) Relevance

How relevant are the jobs you are including to the job you are applying for? Are there keywords or skills you can emphasize that help to relate them more directly?

B) Timeliness

How recently did you hold the position you are including? Do you have any very recent jobs that you can include?

C) Longevity

How long did you hold your previous positions for? Do you have any examples of jobs you stayed at for a long time?

What if you have no relevant or limited work experience?

If you have limited work experience, you may need to include entries that are not as relevant as you would like. In this case, find ways to tie your role and responsibilities back into the new position you are applying for.

You want to make your job entries as relevant as possible to the job you are applying to.

In this example, imagine the applicant is applying for a role as an office assistant. Their most recent job was a position of a shift-lead at a restaurant.

The following would be incorrect:

Shift Lead, The Olive Garden
New York NY • June 2020 – March 2021

• Served over 10 tables at a time, providing excellent customer service
• Determined when to send other staff members home
• Led opening and closing tasks for the restaurant

Why is this wrong? Well, although each of these descriptions may be true, they do not highlight the applicant’s transferable skills.

The goal should be to emphasize how their role as a shift lead gave them the skillset to be an office assistant.

Here's a correct way of doing this:

Shift Lead, The Olive Garden
June 2020 – March 2021

• Organized the weekly staff schedule for a staff of over 20 servers
• Completed daily bookkeeping using QuickBooks
• Addressed customer questions and complaints with compassion and efficiency

In this corrected example, you can see that the applicant has highlighted their most relevant skills and responsibilities.

The role of Shift Lead may not be directly related to the role of Office Assistant. Yet, the applicant has made it relevant by emphasizing their management and office duties within the restaurant.

Your work experience section is one of the most crucial elements of your resume. Get extra help crafting this section with our guide on How to Describe Work Experience on a Resume in 2021!

Office Assistant

3) Education

Unless you are writing a CV, you will want to keep your education section as short and concise as possible.

The key pieces of information to include in this section are:

  1. Your school or university  = e.g. "Georgetown University"
  2. Your degree (when applicable) = e.g. "BFA, English"
  3. Your dates attended (when applicable) = e.g. "Georgetown University"

You'll want to add your highest level of education that you've received, this can be a college or university.

However, even if you lack higher education, it is still important to include this information. Omitting an education section altogether may seem suspicious to hiring managers.

Applicant Tracking Systems look for education sections on a resume. Excluding this section could worsen your chances of having your resume approved by ATS software. You can learn more about adding your education on your resume in our helpful guide.

Continue reading to see how to properly format an education section on a resume:

In this example, the applicant is currently in college. They need to relay to the employer when they will graduate and in what degree program

This would be an incorrect way of showing this:

Education
I am currently a student at a local university in Chapel Hill, NC. I will graduate later this year with a double degree. My current GPA is a 3.5 and I am a part of the Honors Society.

Why is this wrong? When writing your education section, it's important to be as specific as possible and to list out your details so it's easy to read.

You always want to include the exact name of the university and the date you will be graduating. Additionally, you should use bullet points to organize your information.

This is a more correct way of formatting your resume:

Education

University of North Carolina Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, NC
Expected Date of Graduation: May 15, 2021

• Bachelor’s Degree in Business; Double-Major in Business and Finance
• Cumulative GPA: 3.6
• Member of the Honors Society

A quick note on GPAs. Typically, you should only include your GPA if the employer has specifically requested it or its higher than a 3.5 average. Otherwise, it may be unnecessary information that takes up space and won't significantly help your case.

4) Skills and Proficiencies

Your skills and proficiencies section will vary in size depending on what format you have chosen.

In a reverse-chronological resume, the skills section will be smaller and more succinct. In a functional or hybrid resume, this section may be larger and more emphasized.

The key to creating a strong skills section for your resume is to focus on both hard and soft skills.

Hard skills are quantifiable proficiencies, such as the ability to use programming languages.

Soft skills are more abstract proficiencies, such as the ability to communicate clearly or work well in a team.

Here are a few examples of Hard Skills:

  • Copywriting
  • Bilingual in English and another language
  • Programming Languages (Python, JAVA, etc.)
  • Microsoft Office Suite
  • Adobe Creative Cloud
  • Cybersecurity
  • SEO Marketing

Here are a few examples of Soft Skills:

  • Time Management
  • Communication
  • Teamwork
  • Adaptability
  • Creativity
  • Networking Skills
  • Problem-Solving
  • Independence

Additional Sections to Include

If you do not have enough work experience or skills to fill an entire resume, you may need to add in some extra sections.

Additional sections that are good to consider adding include:

A) Resume Objective or Summary

1-3 sentences that outline the job title you are seeking and your career goals. Place this below your personal header. Read our guide on adding your resume summary.

B) Achievements and Awards

Listing key achievements on your resume can be a great way to signify your effectiveness as a teammate. You can do this by showcasing academic or work-related accomplishments. Examples include awards such as Employee-of-the-Month or inclusion on a Dean’s List.

C) Certifications

It can be helpful to include relevant certifications you earned through supplemental training.  Some jobs may even require specific certifications for applicants to qualify for the position.

D) Unpaid Experience

Unpaid experiences can include volunteer work, community service, and internships. These are great to include when you lack more professional work experience.

E) Hobbies

Adding hobbies and interests on your resume can help to humanize you more to employers. They also can give hiring managers more to ask you about during an interview to get a sense of your personality.

Office Assistant

What should I not include in my resume?

There are a few pieces of information that you should generally omit from a resume. These include:

1) Full Mailing Address

Physical addresses are no longer a staple of resumes. This is because employers will contact you primarily through phone or email. Read our article on Should I Put My Address on My Resume? for more information on when and how to include an address on your resume.

2) References

Including references on your resume can take up a lot of space and be distracting. Wait for the employer to specifically request references before providing them. See our guide to learn when it is an appropriate time to include references on your resume.

3) Personal Social Media Accounts

Never include your personal social media accounts. It is a good idea to keep personal accounts private while job hunting.

4) Multiple Phone Numbers

Including more than one phone number is not necessary. Include only the number you use the most often and be ready to answer the employer’s call!

5) Unprofessional Email

Many of us have personal email accounts with custom usernames. However, if your email is crazyfrog69@gmail.com, that will likely turn an employer off.

Use only professional emails on your resume, like johnsmith@gmail.com

What do I include in my resume if I’m a first-time job-seeker or have little experience?

Writing a resume without work experience can be tough.

The key to overcoming this challenge is to use a different resume format that shifts the focus away from employment history like we mentioned earlier in this article.

As a first-time job seeker or someone with limited experience, you will want to focus much more heavily on your skills, education, and certifications so you choose a functional resume format.

Also, if you are still currently in school, make sure to mention this on your resume. You may even want to create a larger education section that details your academic accomplishments.

Need extra help writing a resume with minimal work experience? Read our guide on How to Write a Resume with No Work Experience in 2021 (with Examples).

Final Takeaways

When writing your resume, it is important to include all the best information about yourself.

Here are 5 key takeaways on what to include on your resume in 2021:

  1. Always tailor your resume to fit the job you are applying for
  2. Choose a resume format that will best fit your needs and experience level
  3. Include both hard and soft skills within your skills section
  4. Omit overtly personal information, such as personal social media accounts
  5. Always use bullet points to make your key sections more organized and readable

Easy Resume is here to help you create the perfect resume. Be sure to take a look at our entire collection of free guides and career advice for even more examples and tips!

Office Assistant
Ed Moss is an author for Easy Resume

Ed is a co-founder of Easy Resume. His background in scaling teams at tech startups over the last decade has given him extensive experience and knowledge around how to hire top talent and build successful teams. He enjoys mentoring, coaching, and helping others reach their career goals. When he's not writing about career-related advice, he's playing with his dog, Lilo, or going on long hikes in upstate New York.

View Author ProfileLinkedin

Get inspired with more resume examples

More advice that will accelerate your career path

How to Create a Resume in Microsoft Word (Step-by-Step Guide)

If this is your first time creating a resume in Microsoft Word, the process may seem overwhelming. Luckily, this article is here to help! In this step-by-step guide, we will cover how to create an effective resume from start to finish using Microsoft Word.

Read this career advice article

What is the Difference Between a CV and a Resume in 2021?

If you’ve done any research into the different types of resumes, you’ve likely heard the term CV before. A CV is a type of document with a much more specific purpose than your standard resume. In this article, we will cover exactly what a CV is, how it differs from a resume, and when to consider using one.

Read this career advice article

How to Explain Employment Gaps on a Resume in 2021

Your journey to discovering your career path can be full of twists and turns. Sometimes, life circumstances can result in gaps in your work history. In this guide, we will teach you all about how to include and explain gaps in your employment to keep your resume looking and sounding strong!

Read this career advice article

How to Write Your Resume Objective Statement in 2021

Including a resume objective statement on your resume can help clarify your intentions to employers. Plus, it can help to show why you are a good fit for the job! In this guide, we will be covering exactly what a resume objective statement is, when to use one, and how to write it effectively.

Read this career advice article

Read our how-to guides on making your resume perfect

How to Write Your Resume in Reverse-Chronological Order

When setting out to write the perfect resume, choosing a format is an important decision. Reverse-chronological resumes are the standard format, so knowing how to craft one is key! This guide will teach you how to write the best reverse chronological resumes.

Read this resume guide

How to List Contact Information on Your Resume

Learn how to format contact information on your resume and what information to share with the hiring manager.

Read this resume guide

How to Write a Two-Page Resume (with Examples & Tips)

Don't know whether you should write a one-page or two-page resume? Find out when it is appropriate to write a two-page resume and learn how to write it correctly.

Read this resume guide

How to List References on a Resume in 2021 (with Examples & Tips)

In this guide, we will cover everything you need to know about including references on a resume, from how to format them to how to know when they should be included at all.

Read this resume guide

Professional resume templates to help land your next dream job.

Choose from one of our many resume templates to help you stand out from your competition.
Create your resume,
fast and easy.
Edit this Resume