Many people are unsure about exactly what a resume should and should not contain. Here is an overview.
It should be a brief and concise summary of you relevant skills and achievements for the job field you are targeting. Targeting is the key word here.
It should show that you are a proactive person that determines what needs to be done and takes decisive action.
Every point on your resume should make the reader say “this is what we are looking for”.
It should not contain other information not relevant to your career goal, no matter how proud you are of it (this is the classic mistake). They don’t care if you won a sewing competition in high school, like to travel, or that you were a dancing instructor in 1992 – if you are going for an IT job.
It possibly could contain recent community service. That shows you are a community minded person which is good. But this should be impressive. You don’t say you participated in a walk-a-thon 5 years ago. Boring!
You do not list job descriptions. This is the second classic mistake. You need specific examples of what you did personally, skillfully worded as achievements (to the greatest possible extent).
You do not rely too much on flowery, essentially meaningless things like “team player” or “well organized”. Everybody says that. Many people have whole sections of their resumes devoted to goofy phrases like these. Bad idea. You need actual specific examples of being a team player or well organized.
You need to translate things into quantifiable, measurable results whenever possible. Claims need to be backed up, or else you are just blowing smoke. Now some things can’t be, I realize that. But try to quantify wherever you can.
You do not “grasp at straws”, listing weak or unimpressive points.
You do not try to cram your resume full of keywords. If there was a magic list of words that could get you to the top of a search engine result everyone would know about those words and it would be a meaningless exercise. Basic keywords will identify you in a search.
Contrary to the popular resume trends of the month, you might need a career objective. The first person reading your resume could be a junior HR person. The company might have hundreds of vacancies across the country. They are not going to sit there and try to figure out if you want to work on the sales desk or apply for the director of marketing. You need to tell them, and a career objective is a good way to do that. Then they can say – “this person wants to be a sales rep. Well we are looking for those – we will put this aside to read later.” Career objectives are not necessary if it is obvious what you want to do.
Listen to advice (including mine) with a critical mind. Do what makes sense to you, and don’t follow anybody else’s silly rules for resume writing.
That is a start. You could write a book on this.