Anatomy of a Resume

by Admin on April 14, 2012

Writing a resume isn’t too hard if you compartmentalise it, breaking it down into its individual parts. Regardless of whether you’re an experienced professional with a long employment history writing a chronological resume or a transitional worker crafting a resume using the functional format, approaching a resume systematically is vital. Let’s examine a resume using the top-down approach to see how to easily write an effective resume.

Contact Information

The first thing a prospective employer should see is your contact information so they will know right away how to reach you for an interview.

  • Name: your actual legal name. First name and surname are just fine, no middle name unless it’s something you always do. Don’t include nicknames; you can do that after you’ve been hired.
  • Address
  • Daytime phone number
  • Email address: Make sure your email address sounds professional. If it’s the one you’ve had since you were in your teens, it probably isn’t. The goal is to present yourself as a mature professional, so feel free to get a new address from one of the free online services or your ISP if necessary.
  • What not to include: no personal information like date of birth, religious or political affiliations. No photos.

Personal Career Objective: This should be a quick summary of a short-term or long-term career goal, but this goal must be related to this job opening. If this job itself does not relate to a true goal or you just haven’t decided on a long-term objective, it’s not a big deal and you can leave this section out.

Work History

A resume writer needs to format their C.V. so the most relevant facts are listed first. Seasoned professionals with a long history of experience who are looking for a new job in the same field need to use the chronological resume format. This format details to duties and accomplishments of the employee’s latest job first, then their second most recent position and so on.

When listing a work history, it’s important to remember two things. First, you need to list accomplishments instead of duties. Achievements are dynamic, concrete examples of your effectiveness as a worker. Bland lists of duties, on the other hand, just tell the employer what you did, not how well you did it. Second, you must tailor your resume to the opening. You need to list past achievements that match the job’s requirements first, filling out the list with other accomplishments afterward. This tells the prospective employer right away exactly how you fit the job.

Relevant Skills

For job seekers who are changing careers or students just now joining the job market, the proper resume format is the functional style. These people will be applying for entry level jobs for the most part, and they won’t have real experience in the field. This means that any skills gained in other jobs, at university or through personal pursuits that may translate to effectiveness in this position should be stressed right away.

Examples of relevant skills could be languages spoken, computer skills, examples of teamwork ability and more. These and other “soft skills” which can be used effectively at any job are a plus for inexperienced job seekers.


In this section, writers need to summarize their academic history. Just like the work history, the education history section is listed in bullet points in reverse chronological order. All degrees should be detailed here, along with professional certifications and possibly extracurricular activities and student organisations, as long as these extras are professional and build a picture of you as a hard-working, diligent employee.

The education section can be abbreviated to just the relevant degrees and dates for experienced professionals, since they need more room for work history, the most important part of a chronological resume. For a functional resume, however, this section should be expanded. Even relevant courses could be listed if they relate to the job.


This is typically the final section of a resume. Even if the job posting doesn’t specifically ask for references, it may be a good idea to list three professional sources anyway, since they will certainly ask for them sometime. They will probably appreciate the convenience.

The key to having good references is to contact them ahead of time. It’s not just a matter of courtesy. Rather, calling former employees, co-workers or professors to ask for references makes them prepare themselves for the call. The more prepared they are, the better reference you are likely to get.

When you’re finished working through your resume template, be should to have someone proof read it for you. You need to be positive that it flows well, is easy to read and error-free. Your resume is a selling tool as well as a preview of your abilities, including your skill in crafting business communication. You need to make sure it is professional, neat and effective and they will think the same of you.

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