Perfecting the 5 Core Components of Your Resume

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Ensure Your Resume is Making to the Top of the Stack

Jun 3, 2019
resume review at a job interview


Creating a resume that appeals to everyone is nearly impossible. It's all about the industry you're in, who's looking at the resume, and your past experience. Recruiters, hiring managers, and supervisors have different likes and dislikes.  Some love a progressive artsy design, others hate bolded fonts, and some won't read your professional summary.

Resumes will vary depending on whether you’re a recent graduate, changing careers, or looking to move up the ladder. But no matter where you are in your career or what industry you’re in, every resume should have 5 core elements.

Bottom Line – it still remains a fact that creating an attractive, powerfully written, properly targeted, and well-organized resume can greatly improve your chances of landing that dream job.  Here’s how to construct the 5 core components of your resume such that it ‘pops.’  Before we trek into that, take a look at the ways a resume can kill your chances right out of the gate, “5 Deadly Resume Errors People Still Make” provides a clinic on the subject.

Contact Information

Don’t laugh this one off.  Especially phone numbers.  I’ve had them come in with phone numbers missing, wrong phone numbers(?), and phone numbers to Mom’s place – where the individual no longer lives.  Provide this information only:

  • Name
  • City
  • State
  • Phone number
  • Email address
  • Social Media Profile Link (1)
  • Personal Website or Blog (1)

Display this information prominently at or near the top.  Note there is no street address here – it is not necessary and is being discouraged by employers.  Include your professional social media profile link and a link to any personal portfolio, website, blog – that’s a maximum of 2 links.  Make sure anything you link to is cleaned up and consistent.  Take a look at Axelerate’s article ““Social Media Job Hunter: 5 Sites and 10 Things ‘To-Do’ on Them” for information about properly integrating social media into your job search – and cleaning it up.

Professional Summary

Now that your contact information is spot-on, the professional summary is the first place we’ll make this resume pop!  A summary statement is a short professional introduction that you can add to the top of your resume.  The goal of this statement is to highlight your most valuable skills and experiences in a few sentences.  Scott Vedder, a Fortune 100 recruiter and author of “Signs of a Great Resume,” says a career summary is the “movie trailer” of a resume: “It’s where you highlight upfront the most important things about you,” he says.

Bottom Line – it still remains a fact that creating an attractive, powerfully written, properly targeted, and well-organized resume can greatly improve your chances of landing that dream job.  

This section should be a brief paragraph (three to five sentences) that shows the value you bring by highlighting your skills and a couple of big career wins.  Do not label it “summary,” simply use a headline that encapsulates your credentials.  If done properly, the professional summary will be an easily read convergence of experience, accomplishments and skills.  Check out this example:

“Project Office Professional with 18 years of experience.  In-depth understanding of organizational transformation and IT Governance processes.  Competent team builder with a proactive leadership style that instills confidence in clients, peers and staff alike.  I have a documented ROI of over 20% on Project Office Rollouts”  

Now ask yourself, does it pass the experience, accomplishment and skills test?  Ask yourself the same thing once you’ve written your own.  Then read it again through the eyes of a hardened hiring manager, and ask “why should I hire you?”

The professional summary may only be a few sentences long, but that doesn’t mean it’s an easy write.  For a deep dive into the resume professional summary, checkout “Everything You Need to Know About the Resume Summary Statement.”  This article will provide you with plenty of examples to get you going.

Note:  The resume objective statement is likely the introductory statement you remember using in decades past. It focuses on the job seeker’s needs and future goals, with no mention of the those of the company.  It is obsolete – use the professional summary.

Professional Expertise / Skills

Every resume should have a skills section.  It provides hiring managers (as well as those who initially screen resumes) to skim through the resume and verify you have the skills their after.  This section has to be focused on the skills the employer is asking for – job specific, no options.

job seeker writing resume

If you’re applying for technical jobs the skill matching becomes especially important.  Employers of IT professionals are especially tuned to review resumes for hard skills, and ensure you’ve got what it takes to do the job.

Once your hard skills have been appropriately mapped to the job and entered, we don’t want to forget your soft skills.  It’s those rather difficult to define characteristics like problem solving, communication, leadership, etc.  DO NOT SKIP THESE.  Employers now concern themselves with your soft skills as much as your hard ones.  If the thought of this has got you feeling a little weak in the knees right now, worry not.  Checkout Axelerate’s article entitled “Soft Skill Clinic - The 10 Major Soft Skills for Success!”  This will provide you all the information you need regarding soft skills.

Since everyone uses an Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), you’ll want to incorporate the right keywords so that your resume is optimized for these systems.  If you’ve done a thorough job of mapping hard & soft skills, you’re in good shape.

Professional Experience

OK, here is the beef!  For a standard resume, you will use a “reverse-chron” format, meaning most recent work experience first.  Avoid making your experience a list of recurring duties.  Make your experience look like the solution to the job description you’re answering, not like another job description.  This is the most important thing you will do – turn your experience into accomplishments.

Showcasing your achievements is about citing quantifiable information – like numbers, dollars, or percentages.

For example:

Company ABC, Washington, DC (1/2012 to 1/2015)

Director, Project Management Office: Built and managed ABC’s PMO from the ground up including: PM Processes; PM Information Systems; Structure & Functions; and Organizational Development.

  • Developed strategic and detailed implementation plans.  Assessed Process Maturity across 11 key performance disciplines and designed a maturity roadmap.  Established top-to-bottom organizational buy-in strategy.
  • Designed Project Management Standards to include Project Proposals & Business Cases, Planning, Tracking, Control and Closeout doctrines. Built approaches for Strategic PPM.  
  • Managed the selection/deployment of an Enterprise PPM Information System to over 1300 people.  These systems eliminated redundancies, reduced project admin by half and vastly improved work and resource management.  
  • Trained and Mentored Project Managers in formal PM Methodology.  Developed 22 Project Managers into PMI certified “PMPs”

ABC’s PMO initiatives brought about significant improvements in organizational effectiveness and financial performance – indicated by aggregate Project P&L improvement $14 million dollars as well as the PMO’s YoY ROI of 22%.

For each of your employers, go through the same routine as you did for your professional summary - does it pass the experience, accomplishment and skills test?  Did you answer the hiring manager’s question, “why should I hire you?”


Even after all the work you did on the professional summary, skills and professional experience (not to mention the contact information), prospective employers will still get around to that education section.  It’s going in last so simply put it in its own designated section at the bottom, very easy for hiring folks to find.

Simply write where you went college and your degree. And, if you graduated with honors, highlight it.  For example:

ABC University – Washington, D.C.

Master of Science: Engineering Management - High Honors Graduate

Note: Recent college graduates should consider placing your education before your professional experience.  


Writing a resume can be intimidating.  But, rest assured, it’s doable. Take it one step at a time, for all 5 core components – from the contact information, to your education.  Put these tips to work and use the linked articles for inspiring examples.  

If you would like to try some automated assistance, take a look at our article entitled “5 Great Job Search Support Tools.”  You can examine the high-tech resume writer we’ve identified.  But don’t forget, the due diligence outlined here is still required.

Written By:
Kerrie Gill, PMP, ITIL

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