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Advice / Job Search / Resumes

4 Better Ways to Organize Your Resume, Depending on Who You Are and Where You're Going


You’ve quantified your bullet points, you’ve curated your skills section, and you’ve proofread it from top to bottom. Sounds like your resume’s all set to go, right?

Almost! There’s actually one more step—and that’s putting all the sections in the correct order. Like with everything job-search-related, this should be tailored to the position and your specific situation. To give you an idea of where to start, here are four great ways to organize your resume depending on where you are in your career.

1. For Most of Us

  • Summary Statement (optional)
  • Experience
  • Professional Organizations / Community Involvement (optional)
  • Education
  • Skills and Certifications

This is where most people begin when it comes to organizing a resume. If you’ve had a lot of different relevant experiences, it might make sense to have a summary statement that helps tie it all together (here’s what that looks like), but if it’s all in the same field, it’s not necessary. The section on professional organizations and community involvement is similarly optional.

The best reason for using this layout is that everything is where a recruiter would expect it to be, which means it’s easier to find and skim your qualifications. And this almost always gives you at better shot at getting called in for an interview.

2. For Recent Grads

  • Education
  • Experience
  • Leadership
  • Awards and Activities (optional)
  • Skills

New grads are in a slightly unique position. While there are plenty of supposedly “entry-level” positions that require two to three years of experience, there are also many opportunities geared specifically toward recent graduates. With this in mind, it makes good sense to signal that you’re new to full-time employment by keeping your education at the top.

With that said, you don’t want to sell yourself short by not including your extracurricular activities. There are tons of transferable skills gained though leadership positions in clubs—and you need to make sure to highlight them in a separate section. Read this for a step-by-step guide on your post-college resume.

3. For Career Changers

  • Objective (optional)
  • Relevant Experience
  • Additional Experience
  • Professional Organizations / Community Involvement (optional)
  • Education
  • Skills and Certifications (option to move up)

As if changing careers isn’t hard enough! The trickiest resumes to craft are ones that need to show how experience in one field is relevant and transferable to another. There are a few ways to do this effectively.

You can offer an objective that explains your career change and the strengths you would bring to your new field. (More on that here.) Or, you can split up your experience into “relevant” and “additional” in order to highlight specific experiences. (Pro tip: Instead of “Relevant Experience,” label this section “Editorial Experience,” “Sales Experience,” or whatever makes sense for your new field.) Or, finally, if you have limited relevant experience, you can simply spell out your skills and certifications and place that section above your experience section as a way to drive that home.

4. For Senior-Level Candidates

  • Summary Statement
  • Experience
  • Professional Organizations / Community Involvement (optional)
  • Education
  • Skills and Certifications

You’ll notice that the senior-level resume looks an awful lot like the standard resume layout. You’re not wrong; just because you’re at a higher level doesn’t mean you can get away with a convoluted format. How easy it is to skim your qualifications is important, no matter how far along you are in your career.

Of course, there are some differences. If you’re applying for a senior-level position, you’re usually in the clear for submitting a two-page resume. Also, with so much experience and a two-pager, it’s absolutely necessary for you to have a summary statement at the very top. This isn’t really negotiable anymore.

While you don’t want to deviate too much from what’s expected, you do want to personalize it a bit to your own experience and needs. As a starting point, give one of these layouts a whirl and go from there.