What is a resume outline?
A resume outline is a plan for the layout of your resume. Your resume outline helps you determine which areas of your resume to focus on, whether it be on your stellar career trajectory, your skills or your education.
There are three main resume outlines, also called resume formats, to choose from — chronological, functional or combination. To determine which one to use, study our guide to resume formats. Or use our professional Resume Builder, which offers a selection of resume templates in a variety of styles. These are, in essence, perfect resume outlines, meaning all you’ll need to do is fill in your personal information to craft a strong resume.
Do I need a resume outline?
Learning how to write a resume can be an intimidating process for some job seekers but using a resume outline can help simplify the process.
Think of a resume outline as the skeleton of your resume — it provides structure that you can then build upon as you make your resume. Using one will help you organize your thoughts and help you know the critical information you need to gather to write a standout document.
4 Resume Outline Examples
Resume outline example #1
Resume outline example #2
Resume outline example #3
Resume outline example #4
5 elements of a resume outline
As you can see from the examples above, all resumes have five standard sections. Below, we outline what information belongs in each resume section to help you complete your resume outline:
Add your name, location (city and state), phone number, email address and links to your professional website or LinkedIn profile, if applicable.
Professional summary or resume objective
If you have some work experience, you’ll want to write a professional summary. It should include information about your most relevant experience and skills, plus a mention of your most impressive professional accomplishments.
If you have little to no work experience, you’ll want to write a resume objective, which outlines your transferable skills, relevant education and training, and your career goals.
Work or relevant experience
If you choose a chronological or combination resume format, the work experience section of your resume will take up a substantial portion of your resume. When writing your resume outline, gather the names and locations of the companies you worked for, your job title and dates of employment. Listed in reverse-chronological order, each entry should include three to five bullet points that highlight your responsibilities and your professional accomplishments.
Those with little to no experience should choose a functional resume format, which devotes less space to the work experience section. This alternate format does not typically provide detailed information about work responsibilities or accomplishments.
Skills and certifications
When you are creating your resume outline, you’ll want to study the job description before you start writing your resume skills section. There, you’ll find the most important skills for the job. Make a list of those skills you possess, then make a list of other skills you possess that would be helpful in the role. If you have completed professional training or certifications that are relevant to the role, you’ll want to add those here, too.
Your education is a critical part of your resume outline. When adding this information to your outline, list the name and location of the education institution where you studied and the name of the degree you received. Only list high school in this section if it is the highest level of education you have completed. Also, don’t list your date of graduation unless you are a very recent graduate.
Additional sections to consider for your resume outline
In addition to the five critical sections every resume should include, there are additional sections to consider for your resume outline. These are all optional but could help you stand out from similarly qualified applicants. They include:
Adding awards is a great way to show potential employers that you bring your A-game to everything you do. In this section, add any academic, professional or volunteer awards you have been given.
If you have done extensive volunteer work, especially if it is relevant to the role you are applying for, be sure to list it on your resume. This is especially helpful for those job seekers who have minimal work experience as many of the skills required to perform volunteer work, such as project management and customer service, can be transferable to the workplace.
Listing your professional associations is a great way to show recruiters and hiring managers that you are up to date with industry trends. Limit those you list to organizations that are related to the role you seek.
If you are fluent in another language, it could set you apart from the competition. Be sure to list it on your resume.
Some job seekers choose to include this section to show that they are well-rounded individuals. While completely optional, this section could create interesting talking points in an interview. However, be careful not to include anything that could be off-putting to a potential employer, such as political or religious organizations.
- Think of a resume outline as a plan for the layout of your resume.
- Writing one helps create structure that will assist in the completion of your resume.
- There are five critical sections to any resume. Gather information for each when writing your resume outline.
- Additional sections are optional but could help you stand out.