How to Create a Resume Outline

Nilda Melissa Diaz, CPRW
By Nilda Melissa Diaz, CPRW, Career Advice Expert Last Updated: February 29, 2024

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Creating a well-crafted resume doesn’t have to be complicated. Simply start with the basics by outlining your credentials. A resume outline can help build a customizable resume faster. You can use it as a framework for multiple applications and keep it handy to rebuild your resume. In case you’re wondering, “What is a resume outline?” and “How do you build a professional resume outline?”, you have come to the right place. 

In this guide, you’ll find:

  • A resume outline definition
  • Template examples to build your resume outline
  • Information to include in your resume outline

What is a resume outline?

A resume outline is the framework of your qualifications. It is a professional document with all the main sections of a resume, plus any optional additional sections and all the possible information you could include in each resume section. Use a resume outline as a blueprint to customize your resume by picking and choosing what is relevant to each application.

The outline of a resume builds/creates the foundation for your content and helps you determine which experience and skills to include according to the employer’s needs and what you bring to the table. 

Why use a resume outline

You’re probably wondering why create a resume outline if you’re about to work on a resume. Doesn’t it create more work? Well, no. A resume outline helps you discern what information to include. It’s like writing a shopping list before an important dinner. You want to make sure you have all the necessary ingredients and supplies to make it a successful event while avoiding a surplus of items.  

Once you are ready to start working on your resume, your resume outline will give you the foundation to create a professional, effective resume. 

When to use a resume outline

You can use a resume outline to help your resume writing process at any time. However, there are three instances where an outline for a resume will make the writing process easier and faster.

  • When you’re starting your career — If this is your first time building a resume, a resume outline can help you decide what to include and assess the skills that matter for the role.
  • When you’re changing industries — Reassessing your skills and qualifications to fit in a new role is easier when you have all the information in front of you. A resume outline will help you assess what you have to offer and organize it in your favor. 
  • Revamping your resume —  If you’ve been unsuccessful in securing a role you want, build a resume outline to determine what to keep, what to toss and have an easier time creating a targeted resume. 
 

Build a resume outline

A basic resume outline will have the five main sections of a resume, optional sections and all of your qualifications, education and abilities. Use this document to help you create multiple customized resumes for different job applications. Start with the basics.

1. Personal Information

A simple resume outline starts with personal information, which refers to your contact details, which include:

  • Your name.
  • A reachable phone number.
  • Location where you’ll be working from.
  • A professional email.
  • Your website or portfolio.
  • A professional networking profile, like LinkedIn or a membership organization. 

2. Statement

This is your elevator pitch, where you include what the recruiter must learn about you. Depending on your years of experience, you can choose a summary statement or a resume objective. 

A resume summary is a statement that summarizes your experience and what you bring to the table. To create one, include:

  • A descriptive word. 
  • Your job title.
  • Current experience level.
  • Strongest job-relevant skills.

While the summary doesn’t have to follow that order, it must include all four parts. You can also add optional information like relevant achievements as well as certifications and licenses. 

Use a resume objective if you’re starting your career and writing a resume with no experience or if you’re switching industries. 

3. Professional experience

Your work experience section is listed in reverse-chronological order. It should include experience relevant to the position you’re seeking. Ensure to quantify your achievements using action verbs for a powerful section. 

4. Education credentials

Hiring managers will ask for a minimum education requirement. List your highest level of education first and include the degree, name of the institution, year of graduation (if under a decade) and any honors, awards or recognition you received.

Still pursuing a degree? Include it with the expected graduation or completion date. 

5. Skills 

Skills will be present throughout your resume. A skills section will be dedicated to those abilities you want to highlight. While your focus will likely be in hard skills, don’t forget to include soft skills, particularly interpersonal skills. The skills section supports up to 12 job-relevant skills. 

6. Bonus sections 

Employers will receive applicants with qualifications similar to yours. Including these optional sections can help you stand out from the candidate pool. For example: 

  • Certifications 
  • Volunteer work
  • Hobbies — Only include it if it’s relevant to the industry; for example, a social media manager who is an amateur photographer. 

How to choose your resume format 

The placement of each section vary depending on the resume formats:  

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Resume outline examples

Still not sure where to start? These resume outlines examples will show you how to structure your information to catch the hiring manager’s attention according to where you want to go in your career. 

 Experienced resume outline

Your Name
Title
Contact information
LinkedIn:

Professional summary

Start with an adjective, your job title and years of experience. Move on to your strongest skill. Then, include one or two important achievements that highlight who you are as a candidate and what you could do for the employer. Approach this section as an elevator pitch and keep it under 5 sentences.

Skills

  • Use a bulleted list to add 6 to 12 skills
  • List skills to showcase your craft 
  • Include hard skills, like specific techniques used in your medium or industry
  • Add soft skills to highlight how you work with others and how you handle work. 
  • Match your skills to those in the job description.

Work experience

Position | Month/Year to Month/Year
Name of the company – City, State

  • Start with your current or most recent role and work backwards.
  • For each role, include three bullet points with quantifiable achievements
  • Repeat this process for each role, even if it is with the same company

Position  | Month/Year to Month/Year
Name of the company – City, State

  • Start with your current or most recent role and work backwards.
  • For each role, include three bullet points with quantifiable achievements
  • Repeat this process for each role, even if it is with the same company.

Education
Degree
Name of the educational institution Graduation year

Certifications

  • Name of the certification, issuing organization. Expiration date.

This is a good resume outline for an experienced candidate. It’ll help you keep consistent and job-specific information throughout your resume. A combination resume format will balance your skills and experience, helping you stand out from the candidate pool. 

Entry-level resume outline

Your Name
Title
Contact information
LinkedIn:

Career objective

Candidates starting their career benefit should use a career objective. It explains why you’re seeking the role with that employer. Include your skills and an important quantifiable achievement from your education or work experience.

Skills

  • Use a bulleted list to add 6 to 12 skills
  • Match your skills to those in the job description 
  • Include hard skills the employer is seeking
  • Add soft skills to highlight how you work 

Education

  • Degree
  • Name of the educational institution and graduation year

Work experience

Position  | Month/Year to Month/Year 
Name of the company – City, State

  • If you don’t have any official work experience, consider similar roles, like volunteering roles and extracurriculars. Internships qualify as job experience.
  • For each role, include three bullet points with quantifiable achievements.
  • Repeats this process for each role, if you have more than one experience.

Certifications

  • Name of the certification, issuing organization. Expiration date or Expected completion date

This resume outline is great for an entry level candidate, as it focuses on skills and education. Use this outline with a functional resume format to bring your strengths to the forefront. 

Applying to your first job? Our guide on how to write a resume with no experience will show you how to write your perfect resume. 

Managerial and executive resume outline

Your Name
Title
Contact information
LinkedIn:

Professional statement

This is your elevator pitch. Use language that shows you are a managerial or executive candidate. Open up with an adjective, your role and years of experience. Include your strongest skill and important accomplishment to showcase what you bring to the table.

Work experience

Dates of employment
Name of the employer and location
Position

  • Create a robust work experience by including important, quantifiable achievements. Percentages and numbers will bring your point home. 
  • Be thorough in your descriptions. You can use multiple sentences, but never forget that a resume is meant to pique the interest of the reader. The cover letter and interview will allow you to truly expand. 
  • Be consistent in your grammar. Use past tense verbs for all your work experiences and present tense for your current position.

Dates of employment
Name of the employer and location
Position

  • Customize each job experience to the job you’re applying for. 
  • Because managerial and executive positions require vast experience, you can build a two-page resume if necessary. 
  • If you’ve had different roles within the same employer, create separate entries.

Dates of employment
Name of the employer and location
Position

  • If you’ve received an award or recognition from the employer, add as one bullet point or include within a bullet point. 
  • You can include important tasks related to your employer, like leading a volunteering initiative
  • Avoid verbosity by using action verbs and strong adjectives. Unnecessary words take precious space. 

Skills

  • Use a bulleted list to add 10 to 12 skills
  • Match your skills to those in the job description
  • Include hard skills you’ve acquired throughout your career
  • Add soft skills to show your interpersonal skills and how you work with others

Education

Degree
School Name – City and State

Certifications

  • Name of the certification and expiration date

Organizations

  • Include any professional organization and, if applicable, your role
  • Add any awarded presented by the organization

This resume outline works great for managerial and executive candidates. It shows the importance of a longer career history. Using a chronological resume format is the best choice for executives, because it focuses on their extensive experience. 

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Resources to build your resume outline

Ready to start building your resume outline? We have the resources you need to create an outstanding resume, with the latest trends and professional advice. Our guides on how to write each section of your resume will help you create a great professional document. 

Key takeaways 

  • A resume outline provides the foundation for a professional resume.
  • Use the outline of a resume as a blueprint or framework to create a targeted resume. 
  • Include the main sections in your resume outline: contact information, experience, education, skills and a resume summary or objective with all your qualifications. 
  • Adding bonus sections can help you stand out from the applicant pool. Only add those relevant to the position.
  • A resume outline can help you decide what to include in your cover letter. 

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