When I started out in the professional world, my resume was just half a page with only my contact details and educational qualifications. Thus, one of the first questions I asked myself was, what else could go in there? Well, it has been a long time since then and I have eventually come to realise that your resume is more than a list of jobs; it’s your personal narrative, a story that goes beyond skills and experiences. Many people ask me how we can make our resume or CV stand out, my answer is simple; don’t make it a prescriptive list of things, rather make it the story of your professional (or even personal) life using some interesting resume categories.
To make your resume truly stand out, consider incorporating some unconventional resume categories that offer a holistic view of your professional journey. So below I offer a mix of these conventional and unconventional resume categories that can help take your Resume to the next level. These will also ensure that your Resume truly communicates your personality as a whole.
I not only highlight the different resume categories but also provide my own personal examples of how I have leveraged these and some advice on how to weave these unique elements into your resume.
1. Contact Information
Starting with a basic resume category, the foundational element of your resume, your contact information which provides easy access for potential employers. Ensure it’s current and professional, including your phone number, email, and LinkedIn profile. Imagine being shortlisted for a job only to discover that the recruiter could never contact you (cries..)
EXAMPLE FROM MY RESUME:
Phone: (555) 123-4567
Email: [email protected]
CONCLUDING ADVICE: Keep this section crisp and professional, making it easy for employers to reach out and connect with you.
2. Professional Summary or Objective
Your professional summary or objective sets the tone for your resume, offering a snapshot of your career goals and what you bring to the table. For some people with a long CV and multiple experiences, this section might not be needed or can be even shorter.
EXAMPLE FROM ANOTHER RESUME: Results-driven marketing professional with a passion for creating impactful campaigns. Adept at leveraging data analytics to drive strategic decisions. Seeking a challenging role to apply and expand my skills in digital marketing.
CONCLUDING ADVICE: Ideally tailor this this resume category for each job application, emphasising your unique strengths relevant to the specific role.
3. Work Experience
Showcase your professional journey in reverse chronological order, emphasising achievements and responsibilities in each role. Freshers might have difficulty in filling this section, for a fresher resume it is important to fill any and all work done within this resume category.
EXAMPLE FROM ANOTHER RESUME: Marketing Manager – ABC Company, 2018-present
- Led a cross-functional team in executing a data-driven marketing strategy resulting in a 30% increase in customer engagement.
- Launched a social media campaign that garnered 50,000 impressions and contributed to a 20% boost in sales.
CONCLUDING ADVICE: As you can clearly see, each Resume point here has been supplemented with a clear quantifiable metric. Quantifying achievements to provide a clear picture of your impact in each role is the most crucial element.
Clearly outline your educational background including institutions, degrees earned, and relevant coursework.
EXAMPLE FROM MY RESUME: Masters, Urbanisation and Development, GSS Scholar and Recipient of the Best Dissertation Award.
Relevant Coursework: Economics of Urbanisation, Urban Theory and Policy amongst others.
CONCLUDING ADVICE: For recent graduates, this resume category is crucial. Highlight academic achievements that align with job requirements and make sure you also highlight relevant coursework to your job
Create a section showcasing your technical and soft skills, tailored to the job requirements.
EXAMPLE FROM ANOTHER RESUME: Technical Skills: SEO optimisation, Google Analytics, Adobe Creative Suite
Soft Skills: Team collaboration, adaptability, effective communication
CONCLUDING ADVICE: Use keywords from job descriptions to pass through some applicant tracking systems which might be looking for resumes with relevant keywords.
Highlight your commitment to learning by showcasing relevant certifications, including the certification name, issuing authority, and completion date.
EXAMPLE FROM ANOTHER RESUME: Google Ads Certification – Google, 2022
CONCLUDING ADVICE: Certifications are recognised by employers and can be a significant asset in your chosen field. If you are confused about where to get started in obtaining a professional certificate, check out this link.
7. Achievements and Awards
Set yourself apart by showcasing specific achievements and awards, emphasising your contributions and recognition.
EXAMPLE FROM MY RESUME: Indian Achievers’ Award for Young Entrepreneur, 2021-In recognition to the service of the nation.
CONCLUDING ADVICE: Provide details about the achievements and awards that demonstrate your impact in the workplace, no matter how small or insignificant you feel, your achievements are. Don’t think much, just put it in there.
8. Professional Memberships
Demonstrate your commitment to staying informed by listing memberships in industry-related associations.
EXAMPLE OF ANOTHER RESUME: Executive Member – Digital Marketing Association
CONCLUDING ADVICE: This resume category adds credibility to your resume and showcases your dedication to professional development, it also makes your employer value you more. Often it can be the case that some roles require you to be members of certain associations. For instance, many HR roles in the UK require a CIPD qualification or membership.
If you’re multilingual, mention it. This is especially valuable for roles requiring communication with diverse teams or clients.
EXAMPLE FROM ANOTHER RESUME: Fluent in English and Spanish
CONCLUDING ADVICE: Language skills can be a valuable asset in today’s global workplace.
10. Volunteer Experience
Always share your volunteer experience, focusing on the skills gained and contributions made. No matter how short, how small or how difficult it might have been for you. Any work that you have done for a cause must be mentioned.
EXAMPLE FROM MY RESUME: Volunteer – Masumiyat Foundation, 2019-2020
CONCLUDING ADVICE: This can benefit entry-level candidates and demonstrates a commitment to social responsibility. This resume category also highlights that you care for things and are ready to take on additional responsibility.
Create a section highlighting relevant projects you’ve worked on, emphasising your role and the project’s impact.
EXAMPLE FROM ANOTHER RESUME: E-commerce Website Redesign – ABC Company
CONCLUDING ADVICE: This resume category provides a practical demonstration of your skills and contributions.
12. Peer Reviewed Publications and Writing Samples
SUMMARY: Showcase your writing skills and industry knowledge through published articles or writing samples, if you have published a research paper or article do mention it!
EXAMPLE FROM MY RESUME: Shekhawat, V. (2020). Legitimacy of the Policies of Humanitarian Interventions. International Journal of Research and Innovation in Social Science (IJRISS)|Volume IV, Issue VIII, pg.68.
CONCLUDING ADVICE: Mention these in academic referencing format as done above. Furthermore, this is specifically valuable for roles that prioritise strong written communication and research skills. If you are confused about how to get started with your first research paper, reach out to me here.
13. Teaching or Mentorship Experience
Have you ever helped anyone learn something new? Even if you have helped your younger sibling learn math, it is a mentorship/teaching experience. As funny as it sounds, this demonstrates your ability to communicate and impart knowledge through teaching or mentorship experience.
EXAMPLE FROM ANOTHER RESUME: Mentor – Internship Program, Kenyatta University
CONCLUDING ADVICE: This showcases a valuable skill set beyond technical expertise, and makes you a valued candidate for senior roles requiring line management. Plus, it is quite an unconventional resume category that definitely helps you stand out.
14. Founding Experience
Highlight entrepreneurial skills and leadership through founding or co-founding experience. If you have started an Instagram page, a blog or anything else that is entrepreneurial in nature. Here is a category to mention in your Resume.
- Impacted over 5000 women and children get better education and necessities through social welfare projects in Urban Slums around India
- Led the organisation to become the youngest equal partner with UNESCO Delhi for our Policy Research Bootcamp which has trained over 250 students.
CONCLUDING ADVICE: Use this resume category to demonstrate innovation, leadership, and the ability to be entrepreneurial. Do not forget to use quantifiable metrics to emphasise your success.
15. Hobbies and Interests
Well not everyone is in complete agreement on whether a hobbies section should be in your resume or not. However, I believe there is not one definite answer to this question. Different people have different roles and different hobbies. You must decide for yourself, and if you’re confused I’m always happy to have a free chat through this link.
Anyway, through this section you can provide a personal touch to your resume by including hobbies and interests that align with your professional image.
EXAMPLE FROM ANOTHER RESUME: Photography, Hiking, Podcasting
CONCLUDING ADVICE: Use this resume category strategically to connect with potential employers on a personal level, but make sure you do it after consulting with relevant industry stakeholders and taking personalised advice.
This mixed bag of conventional and unconventional resume categories is perhaps the secret ingredient that can turn your resume from ordinary to extraordinary. From a resume that merely lists down things to a resume that tells a story.
As mentioned before, by incorporating real examples and personalising each section, you create a resume that not only stands out but tells a compelling narrative of your skills, experiences, and achievements. Tailor your resume categories for each job application, emphasising the most relevant details, and let your unique story shine through. Happy crafting and if you still need my help in writing your resume or CV reach out to me here.
Many thanks and do take care of yourself!