What to Include in a Resume: 11 Key Elements

October 03, 2023

Your resume is your ticket to the professional world, your first impression on potential employers.

Crafting a compelling resume is essential to stand out in today’s competitive job market.

Your resume should paint a comprehensive picture of your qualifications and experiences.

In this article, we will delve into each of these elements, explaining their importance and providing tips on how to write them effectively.

11 Must Have Things to Include in a Resume

1. Contact Information

Including accurate and professionally presented contact information on your resume is a critical step in the job application process.

It ensures that employers can reach out to you efficiently and sets a positive tone for your application.

By adhering to these guidelines, you enhance your chances of making a strong and favorable impression on potential employers.

Keep your contact information clear and easily accessible on your resume. Typically, it’s placed at the top of the document, so it’s the first thing employers see.

Use a consistent and legible font style and size to ensure that your contact details are easily readable.

Make sure your contact information includes: 

  • Full Name
  • Phone Number
  • Email Address (use a professional email address that reflects your name or a variation of it.)
  • LinkedIn Profile (Optional)
  • Personal Website (Ideal for portfolios and creatives)

Why it’s important: 

  • Timing is critical. If a hiring manager is interested in your profile, they may want to schedule an interview or follow up with additional questions promptly. 
  • Having clear and readily accessible contact information streamlines this process. 
  • If you’re applying for a position that requires physical presence at a specific location or office, consider adding your address. It helps employers assess whether you are a feasible candidate. 
  • It saves both parties time and effort by ensuring that the role aligns with your geographic location.

While it’s essential to provide contact information, it’s equally important to be mindful of data privacy. 

Ensure that you are comfortable sharing the information you include on your resume. 

Avoid disclosing sensitive personal information beyond what is necessary for the application process.

2. Resume Summary or Objective

Write a concise summary or objective statement that highlights your career ambitions and key skills. 

Keep it around 2-3 sentences, and use clear and direct language.

Tailor this section to match the specific job you’re applying for, showcasing why you’re the ideal candidate.

Try to answer this question in your summary: What are your key strengths and achievements that set you apart from other candidates? 

Also, quantify your achievements whenever possible. 

For example, instead of saying, “Managed a team,” say, “Led a cross-functional team of 10, resulting in a 20% increase in productivity.”

Remember to incorporate relevant keywords from the job description into your summary. 

This can increase the chances of your resume passing through applicant tracking systems (ATS) and reaching human reviewers.

Why it’s important: 

  • Provides a brief snapshot of your career goals and what you can bring to the table. 
  • It helps employers understand your aspirations and whether they align with the job.
  • When done properly, it makes a strong impression and increases your chances of advancing in the hiring process.

Get a more in depth explanation on how to write a resume objective. Or you can gain inspiration directly from our best resume summary examples.

3. Work Experience

Your Work Experience section is the backbone of your application. 

It provides a comprehensive view of your professional background, accomplishments, and responsibilities, helping employers gauge your suitability for their organization and the specific role you’re applying for. 

Quantifying your achievements adds depth and credibility to your resume, making you a more attractive candidate in a competitive job market.

Use bullet points to highlight your significant achievements and responsibilities in each role. 

Accomplishments can include increasing sales by a certain percentage, completing projects ahead of schedule, or reducing costs by a specific amount. 

Responsibilities should outline the core tasks you performed in the role, NOT just listing out your daily duties.

What you should include in your Work Experience:

  • Company name
  • Job title
  • Dates of employment
  • A bulleted list of key accomplishments and responsibilities (remember, when possible, Quantify, Quantify, Quantify)

Why it’s important:

  • Provides a comprehensive view of your professional background, accomplishments, and responsibilities.
  • It is a testament to your skills, competencies, and experience. 
  • Serves as evidence that you can perform the tasks required for the job you’re applying for.
  • Helps employers gauge your suitability for their company and the specific role you’re applying for.

4. Education

Your educational background is crucial, especially for entry-level positions and when your degree is relevant to the job.

It helps potential employers understand your qualifications and possible fit for the role. 

For your education, include:

  • Your highest level of education 
  • The name of the institution
  • Degree earned
  • Major or field of study
  • Graduation date

You can also mention relevant coursework, honors, or academic achievements.

If applicable, you can list specific courses that are directly related to the job you’re applying for. 

For instance, if you’re seeking a software development role, mentioning courses like “Advanced Algorithms” or “Web Development” can demonstrate your relevant skills and knowledge.

If you received any honors or awards during your academic journey, such as Dean’s List recognition, scholarships, or research grants, consider including them. 

These accolades highlight your dedication, exceptional performance, and commitment to your studies.

Why it’s Important

  • It provides valuable insights into your academic journey, skillset, and commitment to excellence.
  • It establishes a baseline level of qualification for the position you’re pursuing. 
  • For entry-level roles, it can be a primary indicator of your preparedness for the job. 
  • If your degree is directly relevant to the job, it demonstrates your foundational knowledge and competence in the field. 
  • Your educational history can reflect your commitment to personal and professional development.

5. Skills

Skills play a pivotal role in defining your suitability for a job and conveying what you can contribute to an organization.

Remember to tailor your skills section to match the job requirements. 

By doing so, you can demonstrate that you possess the specific qualifications and attributes sought by the employer. 

This customization can significantly increase your chances of getting noticed by recruiters and hiring managers.

It’s crucial to categorize your skills into two distinct categories: hard skills and soft skills.

Hard Skills: Hard skills are specific, tangible abilities that are directly related to the job you are applying for. 

They provide clear evidence of your capabilities and can often be keywords that recruiters and automated systems use to filter applicants.

These skills are typically acquired through education, training, or experience. 

They are quantifiable and can often be tested or measured. 

hard skills

Soft Skills: Soft skills are the interpersonal and communication abilities that are less tangible but equally important. 

Soft skills can influence how you work with colleagues, clients, and superiors.

These skills reflect your capacity to work well with others, adapt to changing situations, and contribute positively to the work environment. 

Soft Skills

Why it’s important: 

  • Skills are your unique selling points. 
  • They showcase what you bring to the table and whether you possess the necessary qualifications for the job.
  • They demonstrate your ability to thrive in various work situations.
  • Soft skills can indicate whether you share the company’s values.

For a more in-depth exploration of this section, you can refer to our article on “Skills to Put on Your Resume.

6. Achievements and Awards

Highlighting your achievements and awards can set you apart from other candidates. 

Employers are more likely to be drawn to candidates who have a proven track record of success.

List any relevant awards, honors, or recognition you’ve received, whether it’s an “Employee of the Month” award or a prestigious industry accolade. 

Briefly describe why you received the award and the impact it had on your work.

They can enhance your credibility and reputation within your industry or organization, making it easier for others to trust your abilities.

As your career progresses, your list of achievements and awards becomes a part of your professional legacy. 

It’s a testament to the impact you’ve had on your industry, organization, or community.

See how you can word and list your achievements in your resume to stand out.

Why it’s important:

  • It shapes your professional identity. 
  • It helps open doors to new opportunities and recognition. 
  • Employers are more likely to be drawn to candidates who have a proven track record of success.

7. Certifications and Training

Certifications and training programs are concrete proof that you have acquired the knowledge and skills necessary for a particular job or role. 

They demonstrate your competence and expertise in a specific area, which can be especially important in industries that require specialized knowledge, such as IT, healthcare, or finance.

When you list relevant certifications and training, it shows that you are invested in keeping your skills up-to-date and are willing to adapt to the evolving demands of your field. 

This commitment to continuous improvement is desirable to potential employers.

Also, certifications often come from reputable organizations or institutions, and they represent a certain standard of knowledge and competence. 

When you earn a certification, you are essentially vouching for your proficiency in that subject matter.

More importantly, in certain industries, certifications, and licenses are mandatory due to legal or regulatory requirements. 

For example, healthcare professionals, lawyers, and financial advisors must hold specific certifications or licenses to practice legally.

Why it’s important:

  • Enhances your credibility. 
  • Increases your competitiveness in the job market. 
  • Demonstrates your ability to meet industry standards and job requirements. 

8. Projects and Portfolios

Mention any projects you worked on and explain any achievements or improvements you made.

For example, “Launch XX campaign and boost brand engagement over 90%.”

Your online portfolio serves as a living showcase of your talents and expertise in your chosen field. 

Include a link to your online portfolio or attach relevant work samples that showcase your abilities. 

Briefly describe each project, emphasizing your role and the impact of your work.

what to include in a resume

Whether you’re a designer, writer, developer, or any other professional, including relevant projects and work samples allows others to see your skills in action.

It provides real-world evidence of your capabilities, making your claims about your abilities more credible.

Why it’s important: 

  • Demonstrates your skills and expertise.
  • Tells a compelling story of your professional journey. 
  •  It provides a visual and interactive representation of your skills.
  • Your portfolio can serve as an excellent conversation starter during interviews or networking events.

9. Languages

Proficiency in multiple languages showcases your ability to engage with people from diverse cultural backgrounds.

Many companies operate on a global scale, and having employees who can communicate in the native languages of international clients, partners, or customers can be a significant advantage. 

Especially for a multi-racial country like Singapore, multilingualism is highly prized as it helps bridge gaps.

Adding different dialects of a language is a plus!

In some industries and roles, language proficiency is a prerequisite. For example, a translator, interpreter, or foreign correspondent must have advanced language skills. 

Also, mention your language certifications, such as TOEFL, IELTS, or language-specific proficiency tests.

These certifications are recognized worldwide and can serve as concrete evidence of your abilities.

Here’s an example of how to present your language skills on your resume:

things to include in a resume

Why it’s important:

  • Enhance your marketability and suitability for a wide range of job opportunities.
  • Language proficiency can serve as an indicator of various soft skills.
  • Having language skills can help you stand out.
  • It demonstrates your willingness to invest in personal development.

10. Volunteer Work or Extracurricular Activities

Include any volunteer experiences or involvement in clubs, organizations, or community activities. 

This is especially important for fresh graduates and entry-level positions.

Describe your roles and responsibilities, highlighting any leadership positions or significant contributions.

When showcasing volunteer work and extracurricular activities on your resume, it’s essential to be specific and highlight the skills, accomplishments, and personal growth you’ve gained from these experiences. 

Quantify your achievements where possible and emphasize how these activities align with your overall goals and values. 

Why it’s important:

  • It offers a unique window into your character, interests, and values.
  • Your volunteer and extracurricular activities can offer a glimpse into your diverse range of interests and experiences. 
  • This diversity can show employers a more well-rounded and culturally aware persona.

11. References

 Although it’s not mandatory to include them directly on your resume, maintaining a well-prepared list of professional references is a wise practice.

Hiring managers often want to ensure that your qualifications, experiences, and achievements are accurately represented. 

When they contact your references, they can gain a better understanding of your work history and skills, making them more confident in their decision to hire you.

When handling references, it’s crucial to follow some best practices:

  • Seek Permission: Always ask for permission from your potential references before sharing their contact information with prospective employers. 
  • Select Appropriate References: Choose references who are relevant to the position you’re applying for. Ideally, these should be individuals who have directly supervised or worked closely with you and can speak knowledgeably about your qualifications and character.
  • Keep Your List Updated: Regularly update your list of references to ensure that their contact information and professional status are current. 
  • Provide Guidance: When you provide your references’ contact information, it’s helpful to share the job description and your resume with them. 

Why it’s important:

  • Offers validation, credibility, and additional insights into your qualifications and character.
  • Demonstrates your transparency and willingness to have your capabilities and work history scrutinized.
  • Enhance your chances of landing a job by providing employers with assurance through references.


In conclusion, these 11 key elements are what to include in a resume in order to create a comprehensive overview of your qualifications and experiences.

Remember to tailor each section to the specific job you’re applying for, emphasizing the skills and achievements most relevant to the position. 

A strong resume can be your ticket to landing your dream job, so invest the time and effort to make it shine. 

Diane Wong