It can be difficult to discern which resume items are most helpful to include when applying for a job. A resume should feature your professional and personal strengths in a comprehensive yet concise manner. The Wisconsin Job Center has a helpful and thorough guide to composing a resume. If you want to avoid unnecessary or unhelpful information while featuring the most relevant and useful aspects of your experience and qualifications, then this brief guide should set you one the right track.

Job Experience

One of the most important features of your resume to a potential employer is your employment history. You want to show a track record of pertinent and reliable career experience. It is certainly not necessary in most instances to list every job you have ever had. Part time jobs that have little or no relevance to the position your are applying for should probably not be included. You will want to include the most recent positions you have held, including your current position. If you have had lots of jobs, offer a listing of those positions that you have particularly excelled at and that demonstrate skills and competencies that qualify you for the job you are applying for. The key is to highlight the positions that demonstrate a reliable history of employment in relevant areas.

Educational Experience

You will also want to include a list of your academic qualifications. List any degrees or certifications that you have earned, as well as the institutions from which you earned them. Some employers will be more interested in the specifics of your academic experience than others, so you will need to use good judgement about how many specifics to offer (things like GPA, academic awards, etc.).

Special Skills and Experience

In this section you will want to include any specialized skills or experience you have acquired that qualify you for a position. This can include knowledge of computer programs, languages, certifications, internships, or any number of other items that demonstrate unique qualities and abilities.

Volunteer Work

Volunteer work may not always have direct relevance to the job you are applying for, but a history of service to others is an attractive quality to any employer. Among other things, it shows that you are willing to go above and beyond what is required of you. It also shows that you are willing to work well with others and to take their concerns into account. This section could include charitable work, tutoring, activities in church or faith-based organizations, etc.

Personal Qualities

It is helpful to be able to give a potential employer some sense of who you are on a more personal level. Including information about your interests, recreational activities, or hobbies can help to give a fuller sense of your personality. You could include your interest in books, movies, sports, or simply some interesting personal facts. It is important not to weigh your resume down with too much of this sort of information. However, some select personal highlights make for valuable resume items.

Again, the purpose of a resume is to honestly highlight your best qualifications in a concise, yet thorough, manner. Maintaining brevity and pertinence in the information you choose to include should guide your selection of appropriate resume items.

For more information, check out our resource that breaks down a number of tips for applying to graduate school