3 Things Your Resume Must Include

3 Things Your Resume Must Include

by Kerry Scott on 30 November 2009


I almost hate to post resume writing advice.  It’s boring, and it usually feels a little obvious, and I get emails that say, “That was really boring and obvious.”  On the one hand, I see where those people are coming from…but on the other, I get questions about these things all the time, from people who don’t necessarily live and breathe job hunting like some of us. So make sure your resume has these three things:

  1. Contact information. Make absolutely sure that your email address is on the resume.  Yes, you’re probably either sending it via email or listing your email as part of the online application process…but make sure it’s on the resume anyway.  If you use a cell phone, you should put that number on as well.  In fact, make sure all of the phone numbers you list are labeled (i.e. home, work, cell, etc.).  That way people can call you at the right number at the right time of day.  This is very basic, but a lot of people forget.
  2. Context. It may be obvious to you what Acme Corporation does, since you’ve worked there for years.  It’s not obvious to everyone though.  Unless your resume includes nothing but very big names that even cavemen would recognize, consider adding a line under the title but before the bullet points that says what each company does, how big they are, etc.  This goes for titles too.  If you have a title that is obscure (like “Specialist III”), explain in your first bullet what that means.  The people who do the initial resume reviews in most companies are HR people, and they don’t necessarily know your line of work.  You’ll need to spell it out for them.
  3. Numbers. If you’re a manager, always say how many people you manage and how big your budget is.  If you’re a salesperson, tell me how much you’ve sold.  This seems hard for some jobs, but almost every business manages your work somehow…and if yours doesn’t you can measure it yourself.  If you’re a receptionist, track how many calls per day you take and how many visitors you greet.  If you’re a cashier at Target, track how many customers you help in an hour.  In fact, I went through the Culver’s drive-through the other day and noticed a sign on the inside that congratulated the team on breaking their record—50 customers went through that drive-through in one hour.  That’s impressive (and that particular Culver’s has the most efficient drive-through I’ve ever seen, which is why I always go to that one).  Those teenagers who work there should be putting that on their resume when they graduate and go on to bigger things.

Photo by buyalex

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Brian November 30, 2009 at 6:24 pm

Good tips. I would add another tip about phone numbers. When I was applying for a zillion jobs last year I noticed a lot of unknown and blocked numbers with no voice mails. I finally had an HR manager tell me she doesn’t usually leave a message on a cell phone because it might be company-owned and may not be private. I solved this problem by changing my greeting to “you have reached the personal voice mail of…”.

class factotum December 1, 2009 at 8:19 am

A friend who is in HR says she liked when the name and phone numbers are on each page of the resume and cover letter, too. This was 20 years ago when she was still in recruiting and getting strictly paper cover letters and resumes, but I suppose recruiters print resumes when they get them. My friend said that sometimes the letters would get separated from the resume and if she wanted to call, she had to go look up the resume to get the number and it was a pain. If the resume pages got separated accidentally and the name wasn’t on page 2, then she couldn’t match them.

I suppose the overall philosophy would be to make it as easy as possible for a recruiter to contact you.
.-= class factotum´s last blog ..Marriage 201, Lecture 36: The putting of the dibs =-.

Kerry Sandberg Scott December 1, 2009 at 8:30 am

Exactly. You want to make sure it’s never an effort to get in touch with you.

Charlie Judy December 1, 2009 at 2:21 pm

hey, kerry, what do you think about some brief (one sentence) explanation about why you left a particular role/organization for another. it always comes up in interviews and is important context…are you seeing this at all?
.-= Charlie Judy´s last blog ..Using Global Subtleties in HR Practice =-.

Kerry Sandberg Scott December 1, 2009 at 2:36 pm

Charlie—I think that belongs in the cover letter, unless you’re going to do it for every job listed…and although I’ve seen people actually do it for every job listed, it always strikes me as sounding a little defensive.

Sometimes a smoother way to do this is in the bullet points themselves. That’s how I handle changes between subsidiaries, promotions that aren’t always self-evident, etc.

Marianne December 4, 2009 at 4:21 am

Hi Kerry,

I love the design-job resume you used to illustrate this article! Where is it from?

.-= Marianne´s last blog ..The #1 secret to ensure you DON’T make a mistake in choosing your dream career =-.

Kerry Sandberg Scott December 4, 2009 at 6:57 am

Marianne—It’s from someone on Flickr (there’s a link at the very bottom of the post). I love it too. I have zero design ability, so I am in awe of people who can do stuff like that.

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