Format of a Resume


Research has shown that recruiters on an average have about thirty to forty seconds for each resume they screen before they decide whether to take it to the next round or discard it. Therefore, it becomes imperative that you prepare a resume that is as compelling and as attractive to recruiters as your work would be if you were recruited.

Many management graduates have worked for months on their resumes before placements, as the resume becomes the “passport” that either would let you into the next round or are discarded. Therefore, this article focuses on how you can prepare a classy and compelling resume with suggestions on how to format each section of the resume according to some established practices that have been arrived at after due research and due diligence.

  1. Skill Set

    This is the first section of your resume and must explain your core skills and accomplishments that are relevant to the job that you are applying for. You can tailor this section according to the job that you are applying for, as the skill, set requirements are different for each recruiter.

    For instance, if you are applying for a managerial position you must highlight the people management and project management skills that you might have whereas if you are applying for a technical position, you might like to highlight your coding skills or any specialized skills that you might have technically.

  2. Highlights

    This section is similar to the previous section and must be the place where you let the recruiter know how relevant you are to the job position.

    In other words, the previous section, this section, and the next section are the places where you would like the recruiter know the salient points of your candidature and the “fit” between them and the job that you are applying for. This section should ideally tell the recruiter what kind of a superlative person you are in terms of what you have achieved in life so far. Therefore, you must mention all the points that make you the best person for the job and this is the section where you would like to leave the competition behind and outpace them.

    Further, this section is also the place where you talk about your personal attributes such as your go-getter nature and your attitude as well as talk about the value that you can add to the organization, in other words, you must add value to your resume as well as mention that you can add value to the organization by mentioning the relevant details in this section.

  3. Areas of Specialization

    This section is sometimes optional as most jobs are generalist in nature and hence, the previous two sections should have covered all the details that are needed by the recruiters. However, we recommend that you keep this section so that you can delineate the areas that you excel at and the areas where you can shine with respect to the competition. Of course, it is your call as to whether you would like to merge this section with the previous one or keep it separate.

    No matter what you decide, it is important to note that your resume must be as truthful and honest as possible and the best resumes are those that can polish the details without resorting to misrepresentation. As we note subsequently, the temptation to misrepresent facts is very alluring and so, one must be careful and cautious when preparing the resume.

  4. Professional Experience

    This section is the “meat” of your resume and perhaps the section that can make or mar your chances at getting into the next round. This section should list all companies that you worked for any the years in which you worked as well as any other details like the position in which you worked and how many people were reporting to you and whether you had additional responsibilities.

    In case you are a fresher, you must mention that fact and concentrate on the academic details which we would be covering in the next section. Before that, we must caution you that for many candidates it is tempting to resort to unacceptable practices like faking the professional experience details. This practice has become so rampant that companies the world over have taken the help of agencies who perform background checks as well as the companies subscribe to a database that contains the professional details of the workforce. Though you might still think that you can get past these gatekeepers, we wholeheartedly recommend that you desist from any sort of misrepresentation of your professional experience, as it does not pay in the end.

  5. Academic Details

    This section is where you mention where you studied, the grades you got, and the years in which you studied.

    In other words, while the previous section indicates your professional experience and where you worked since graduation, this section indicates what you did prior to graduation and where and the kind of accomplishments that you accumulated during your education. You need to remember that this section is where many candidates are usually given the green light for the next round or discarded as many recruiters often look for consistent academic and professional record and not “flashes in the pan”.

    In other words, it is better to highlight the fact that you have been consistent throughout your education and that you have had a stellar record throughout. In case you feel that your educational achievements are lacking, then you must mention other relevant information such as whether you participated in extracurricular activities and any other accomplishments.

  6. Personal Information

    This section is where you mention your personal details like gender, date of birth, marital status, nationality, and any other information about yourself. Remember that recruiters are usually neutral about these details but yet they need to know these details in order to process your candidature.

    Of course, there are many who believe that these details are irrelevant as the recruitment process is supposed to be equal opportunity based in the sense that these personal details are usually not taken as the basis for evaluation. However, in the real world as it so happens with so many other things, recruiters tend to get swayed by these details and hence, it is better to mention them though in a judicious manner.

  7. Contact Information

    Perhaps this is the most important part of your resume as far as the non-content matter is concerned. What we mean is that a resume without contact information is useless since the recruiter has no means of contacting you for follow-up and contact. Therefore, you must provide the latest, most relevant, and up to date contact information on your resume which would indicate to the recruiter the means of taking the process forward.

  8. Professional References

    Last but not the least, professional references are very important in any resume or job application. There is a school of thought that recommends professional references to be given on demand or when the recruiter asks for it. However, there are others who believe that professional references ought to be mentioned in the resume before the recruiter asks for it as this indicates credibility and seriousness on the part of the job applicant.

    It is better to play it safe by mentioning 1-2 people as those who can vouch for your expertise and attitude as well as commitment. This is an indicator that you are not shying away from telling the recruiter that you do not have anything to hide and that the recruiter can refer to the professional references as the need arises.


This article has touched upon many of the relevant aspects of how to prepare one’s resume and the points that need to be taken into consideration when preparing the resume. The bottom line for any resume is the “narrative” which you as the candidate tell the story of your life to the recruiter and hence, it is important to note that your story must be as compelling and spellbinding as the stories by popular authors are.

While we certainly do not recommend that you must resort to fiction in your resumes, the point remains that you must try and prepare a resume that has a thread of consistency and a theme of excellence running through it.

Finally, the format suggested can be varied according to the requirements though the principles behind each section remain as relevant and pertinent to whatever format you might choose. Good luck and good wishes in your job hunt as you begin the exciting journey into your professional life.

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