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Structuring a professional resume can be intimidating — that’s why we’re here to help you. When the pressure is on to present yourself to a prospective employer as the best candidate for the job, you can’t leave out important details. But, it’s not always easy to know what information to include, leave out or focus on. The good news is you don’t have to start with a blank canvas.

This resume outline guide provides you with everything you need to best showcase your skills and experience, as well as free resume outline templates and worksheets in a variety of formats to help you create a resume to land your dream job.

How to Use a Resume Outline

Use an outline as the framework to determine what information to include on your resume. Fill in the sections of the outline with your work experience and credentials. Once you have all of your information laid out in front of you, you can easily change the wording or rearrange, add or delete sections to tailor your resume specifically to match the job to which you’re applying.

Here’s a simple process to follow when using a resume outline:

Brainstorm to collect information. Before opening a blank resume template, take a few moments to reflect on what makes you a desirable candidate to a potential employer. Write down previous work experience, volunteer services, skills, achievements and programs you’ve participated in. You won’t necessarily be using everything you write down, but this gives you a bank of material to work with when filling in your resume outline.

Choose a resume format. Decide which resume format is most appropriate for your career — some formats are better suited for certain career phases and situations. For example, if you have a solid work history that shows an upward trajectory in your career, the chronological resume format is likely your best bet. But if you’re a recent graduate, have gaps in your work history or are changing careers, a skills-based functional resume format may be more beneficial.

Choose a resume style. Resume styles and formats are two separate pieces of the resume puzzle, and you’ll need to consider both. Determine whether a traditional, modern or creative resume style best suits your job search. The category you choose will help you decide on various elements of your resume design such as using a minimalist or traditional style, color or black and white fonts, and a one- or two-page resume.

Plug in your information. Fill in the basic fields listed on the blank resume template.

Customize the outline. To show you meet the prerequisites for the job you’re applying for, you can customize your resume by adding or deleting sections. You should also reorganize sections to best reflect your qualities. For example, if you’re a recent graduate without significant work experience but with relevant education, you may see a benefit in moving the education section above your work experience.

Proofread. Take the time to proofread the finished document, making sure it’s a great resume before you send it off to a prospective employer. Have a friend look it over as well.

With these guidelines in mind, let’s go over what information a professional resume typically includes.

Resume Sections

The most common sections you’ll see on a resume include:

Resume Sections

Include the following details:

  • First and last name
  • Phone number
  • City and state location
  • Professional email address
  • Professional website or LinkedIn URL (if applicable)

Example

Contact information

A brief statement explaining your job-seeking goals:

  • With a particular company
  • For a specific job
  • In a specific industry or field

Example

Objective

Best used in a skills-based resume format, this short summary lists job-specific:

  • Achievements
  • Awards
  • Publications
  • Skills

Example

Summary Statement

Include skills or traits that qualify you for the job, including:

  • Software
  • Technical
  • Organizational
  • Managerial
  • Leadership
  • Sales
  • Licenses and certifications

Example

Skills and Qualifications

Enter your relevant work history, including:

  • Company name
  • Location (city and state)
  • Dates of employment

Example

Work Experience

Include name, location and dates attended for relevant educational experiences, possibly including:

  • College
  • Trade school
  • High school
  • Relevant coursework
  • Internships
  • Continuing education
  • Advanced career training

Example

Education

Round out your professional side with personal and social details, such as:

  • Volunteer experience
  • Community service
  • Memberships
  • Affiliations

Example

Activities

Remember, not all sections will be necessary for every job seeker or job title. Whether a section is required or optional depends on the industry and which resume format you choose. Customize your resume to best suit your work experience and career field.

Free Resume Outline Templates

Simplify the process of applying to jobs by using our free customizable resume outline templates. The templates we offer below make it easy for you to rearrange and adjust sections of your resume to fit the job position you’re applying for. Use any of these worksheets and templates as aides to help you create a great resume.