How to create a job-winning resume outline?

Jelena Lukic

Published 26th October , 2020

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A good resume outline can help you break up the harrowing task of showcasing your skills into smaller tasks that are easier to focus on. Outlining is generally a great way to start any written project. Having an idea of how the finished product will look, and which information it will convey makes it easier to write, organize and format any document. So, without further ado – here’s all you need to know about resume outlines.

Resume outline explained

An outline for a resume can be compared to a blueprint. The end product may not be finished, but the outline helps you organize its elements and understand what you have to do with the building blocks. While an outline is not an integral part of writing a resume, you will have to decide where to place all the different elements, what information they need to convey, as well as their general formatting. When you have all, this knowledge, you can create the resume sections one by one, without worrying about forgetting anything. This is true whether you are making your CV on your own or using a resume maker.

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Ask a friend or a mentor for help if you get stuck!

However, an outline shouldn’t be set in stone. If you get a better idea, or are simply curious if something else will look better, don’t be afraid to do it, and make later changes to the outline itself.

The outlining process

Tailoring a resume to fit the job you are applying for can make or break a candidate’s effort. Hence, we recommend thinking about the company, the position, but also the industry itself, even before you start crafting your resume. This will help you decide which traits, experiences, qualifications, and skills to highlight.

Knowing how you want to present yourself, in turn, means knowing which sections are necessary for your CV. Here is our list of suggestions

  • Header
  • Introduction
  • Education
  • Experience
  • Skills
  • Certifications
  • Additional section(s)

Let’s see which ones should be a part of your CV.

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Highlight your best traits boldly!

Start a resume outline with a great header

The header of a resume should contain all relevant personal information – your first and last name, job title, and address, as well as all the ways an employer can contact you – email address, phone number, and (optionally) your LinkedIn profile link. Including a photo of yourself is optional as well. This section allows the recruiter to contact you, and hence, is mandatory in each resume.

Resume introduction

An introduction can be executed in many ways. This section isn’t mandatory per se, but it can give you a cutting edge if it manages to grab a recruiter’s attention. They do go through a huge number of resumes on a daily basis, after all.

Education and Work experience sections in a resume outline

Each of these two sections can come in front of the other. Their hierarchy depends on your relevant work experience up to the day of the resume’s creation. Everyone’s circumstances are different, and you should highlight the more presentable part of your resume. In other words, you should be listing your academic successes first if you have no work experience relevant to the position you are applying for, and vice versa.

When it comes to listing work experience, make sure to include your job title, the name and location of the company as well as your starting and ending dates there. On the other hand, if you decide to highlight your education, you should list your major, the name and location of the school. Including your graduation date is optional, as well as your GPA. Only include your GPA if it is 3.8 or higher.

The Education and Work experience sections are mandatory, excluding candidates with no previous work experience.

Skills and certifications

This is an opportunity to highlight your skills relevant to the job posting. Skills can be described either as hard or as soft. Hard skills are closely connected to the requirements of the job, and can be learned in different courses and classes. They are quantifiable and you have to go through some kind of testing to acquire a certification as proof you posses the skill in question. Some examples of hard skills are operating different heavy machinery, stenography or CPR.

Illustration of a resume.
Showcase your previous experience through the Work experience and Education sections!

On the other hand, soft skills are related to your personality, work ethic and professional relationships. There are no certifications for soft skills, and they have to be proved as time goes by. Some examples of soft skills include resilience, ability to work under pressure or good leadership skills.

Additional sections for a resume outline

Some other sections you can include into your resume are reference lists, languages (always stated with your proficiency level), volunteer work or personal interests and hobbies. None of these sections is mandatory, except when a listing specifically asks for them. However, they can be a good addition to your resume, as they show your dedication, personality and interests.

To conclude

Jobs are difficult to come by with the economic crash and a global pandemic happening. The competition for a single job is as fierce as it ever was, since openings are very rare and many people are unemployed. In this competitive atmosphere, only candidates with the best resumes can get an interview. Unfortunately, this means many are overlooked since their CVs don‘t fit the company‘s or posting‘s specifications. This, in turn, means that any serious job seeker needs to be able to rewrite and reorganize their resume to best fit the company and the posting. A good resume outline contains all the points you can include into your CV, and enables you to rearrange them with ease, as well as decide which elements are more or less important for a particular posting. It will also prevent you from overlooking or forgetting an important point.


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