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8 Items You Should Have on Your Resume

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Name. Job experience. Education. Check, check, and check. That’s all a resume needs, right? 

Not if you’re aiming to compete with the influx of candidates reentering the workplace following the Great Resignation. There’s currently a flurry of hiring — and a glut of qualified candidates applying for the same roles. You need to stand out when your 9-to-5 experience could look strikingly similar to other resumes in the pile. And one way to do that is by including unconventional experiences, facts, and features that will catch a hiring manager’s attention, even if it’s to say, “I haven’t seen that before!” Plus, you’ll give the person on the other end of LinkedIn a reason to see you as a whole human being rather than just a two-page PDF of bullet points.

The trick, however, is to balance a dash of the unconventional with all the requisite resume pieces. Carefully craft a solid resume, then choose one or two from these eight items you may not realize you should (or could!) have on a resume, according to the experts. 

LaShanda Houston, a chief resume writer at New Heights Career Services, says you can include “a quote that resonates with you, your experience, or your role.” Make it short and sweet, and keep your audience in mind. This may work for a more creative role, while a more traditional sector could be turned off by this unconventional addition. 

“While it’s not typical, you could include a snippet from a kudos or performance appraisal that showcases your amazing ability to perform your role,” says Houston. Make sure this goes above and beyond standard praise. A quote that speaks to specifics you’ve accomplished and how those impacted your team or company is even better. 

Daniel Lorenzo of Let’s Eat, Grandma (if you’re wondering, it’s a grammar joke) says, “Educational experiences like study abroad or post-grad years teaching English can be valuable in your education, volunteer, or in some cases, professional experience sections — if you’re only a few years into your career.” He adds that a full entry for your semester abroad would make less of an impact if you’re 10 years out of school.

For those who are further along in their career, experts also recommend including travel if it helps cover a gap on your resume. If you took six months off after leaving a job you had outgrown and used that time to travel, include it on your resume as you would any other experience.

While your Instagram feed full of selfies and beach vacations should probably stay private, a social media account that displays a sense for creative curation, pithy copy, and marketing strategy is fair game for a resume. Andrew Fennell, former recruiter and director at StandOut CV, explains, “Showing your creativity through the growth of an Instagram or TikTok foodie page could make you an excellent candidate for an entry-level social media and marketing role.”

Fennell says hobbies can be especially useful if you’re landing your first job or switching careers, where they can help provide experience that you haven’t yet gained on the job. He gives a few examples, including managing the finances of your local sports club on an accounting admin resume, organizing itineraries for group travel on an events resume, or selling your own DIY projects when applying for an ecommerce startup. 

While they shouldn’t take up an entire paragraph, an impressive personal accomplishment can make for an eye-catching tagline. CEO of Meseekna, Akhila Satish, recommends job seekers use this as an opportunity to show off their drive or teamwork in an unconventional way. For example, deciding to hike 25 mountains and accomplishing it shows motivation and follow-through. “Not only do those experiences help you set yourself apart from other candidates for their unique nature, but they also show your goal setting and fulfillment as well as your work ethic,” Satish says. 

Most job seekers know volunteer experience can be included in a resume, but Satish advises candidates also include civic leadership roles, since these often tie to professional skills. “Think of activities that show teamsmanship or community service like being captain of a rec sports team or participating on a town board. Add activities to your resume that support the overall picture of skills you bring to the table,” she says.

Most companies want to hire employees who are good team players, but is that shining through on your resume? Paola Accettola, principal and CEO of True North HR advises, “Highlighting specific group work could also give you a leg up in the hiring process as many companies function as a team. Incorporating hard evidence of teamwork in your resume would show employers how you work in a team setting.”



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