Why You Need a Resume

Resumes are essential for any type of job search. Understand how to use a resume template to create your own in this free lesson.


Woman Giving a ResumeFinding employment can be challenging for anyone, but the job market can be especially tough for recent college graduates, people re-entering the workforce after time away, or someone who has been in a position for a long time. Competition is stiff; the market is filled with other strong job candidates, too. So how can you increase your chances for getting a great job in the field you love? For almost everyone, it starts with a resume.

In this lesson, you will understand what a resume is and the various ways in which it is used. We will also explore what information is contained in a resume.

What is a resume?

Resume sample

Whenever you apply for a professional-level position, you will likely be asked to submit a resume. Hiring managers look closely at certain resumes to see if a candidate is a good match for their open position.

A resume is a document that tells prospective employers exactly what you want them to know about you and why you would be a good fit for their open position. It should advertise your skills in an easy-to-read, logical, and concise format. Its purpose is as follows:

Think of your resume as your very own 30-second commercial spot. Hopefully, you catch the hiring manager's attention within the first five seconds so she'll keep reading. Otherwise, your resume may end up in the "No" pile.

Why is a resume important in the job search?

Most hiring mangers will tell you that they use a resume as a screening tool to select which candidates to interview and which to rule out. Some hiring managers perform this screening themselves, but many let someone else—even a computer—do the screening for them!

Did you know that some hiring managers may scan more than 100 resumes to fill just one position?
This means a hiring manager will likely spend less than 15 seconds scanning each one. Obviously, you'll want to make your resume worth a closer look!

A resume provides the hiring manager with his or her very first impression of you. A well-written one could be your ticket into an interview. You can use it before an interview to help you prepare your answers to the questions you expect to get, and it can even help you during the interview by giving you a way to direct the flow of questions.

Obviously, you will want to make a great first impression with your resume. So what do you need to include in a resume to make it really great? The following pages will lay it all out for you.

What should you include on a resume?

Each resume has its own layout, format, look, and feel. However, every resume should contain the same basic types of information.

Click the buttons in the interactive below to learn more about what to include on a resume:

edit hotspotsa resume template

Additional skills

This section can appear anywhere after your work experience. It should include any technical or career related skills. It may also include related skills that you gained outside your career, such as volunteer work or community service.

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The following professional graciously contributed to the content of these lessons:

Meet the experts

The following professionals graciously contributed to the content of this course:

Victoria Clayton is a senior manager in the contracts division of a large international software company with customers throughout all industries and in 114 countries. With more than 17 years in management, Victoria typically hires contracts administrators and specialists, customer support personnel, and office administrators.

Andy Preston is the district manager for Kelly Services. He has more than 10 years of experience and has held numerous positions within the staffing industry. He routinely interviews and places candidates in administrative, clerical, customer service, and light industrial positions.

Dana Davis, SPHR, is an HR director for an energy cooperative. In North Carolina, electric cooperatives provide reliable, safe, and affordable energy and related services to more than 950,000 households and businesses. With more than 13 years of hiring experience, her current recruitment focus is hiring experienced professionals with engineering, combustion turbine, or other unique niche experience within the energy industry. Within the organization, Dana also provides additional training and development to employees in an effort to further their career growth in the organization.

Cara Zalcberg is a managing partner of The Mint Restaurant in downtown Raleigh, North Carolina. She holds a B.S. in Economics from the University of Florida and an MBA from The George Washington University. Cara brings more than 10 years of business experience to daily restaurant operations. Having consulted for a number of private- and public-sector entities, Cara specializes in business process improvement. She hires various types of managers, culinary experts, kitchen assistants, front-of-the house staff, and other restaurant personnel.