A solid resume outline can help you create the organized, compelling resume you need to land your next interview and job.

You would never dream of building a garage without some type of plan. No one ever buys wood and other materials and just begins nailing things together without a blueprint to guide them and ensure that their final product meets their needs. Proper planning is needed to prevent a poor outcome. It should come as no surprise then that the same principle holds true for resume creation. To ensure that you end up with the resume you need, you should always start your resume-creation process with a resume outline.

In this post, we will explain how a resume outline can benefit you and examine the various elements you need to include in your outline. We'll also provide an example that you can use as you draft your own. By the end of this article, you should be well on your way to building a resume outline to create a great resume that helps you land that job.

What is a resume outline?

A resume outline is exactly what it sounds like: an outline to guide you as you create a compelling, informative resume to use in your job search. While you could simply start writing down all your skills, experiences, and achievements in a haphazard manner, you can imagine what the result would be—a disorganized collection of details that no hiring manager would want to sift through. To avoid that outcome, you need a clear outline to help you create an easy-to-follow document that sells you as the best candidate for the job.

Just as important, you only need to create one resume outline for your entire job search. With it, you can craft a resume that you can tailor to fit any job. Since your outline will detail the basic structure of your resume, you can save time and ensure that each resume you send out has all of the information it needs to make the best possible impression. Of course, the outline will take some time to develop properly, but once it is done you will have a much simpler time creating that resume.

What are the 6 key parts you need to include in your resume outline?

Before you can create the perfect resume outline, however, you will need to identify the parts you will want to include in that blueprint for success. For this exercise, we will assume that you want to stick to the standard six parts that are commonly included in many of today's best resumes:

1. Heading (contact section)

This should be the very first section of your outline and your resume since it will provide all your contact details to ensure that the hiring manager knows how to reach you. It should include the following information:

  • First and last name. You can also include your middle name or middle initial if you choose.

  • Your address, which today includes only city, state, and zip code.

  • Your phone number. If you have a house phone and a cell phone, you can include both.

  • Email address. If you currently have a fun, whimsical address, consider getting a more professional email address to use for your resume.

  • LinkedIn address if you use that platform.

To get an idea of how this contact information looks in an actual resume, check out any of our resume examples here.

You can also include a resume headline or title beneath your contact header. A headline is designed to draw attention to your skills and experience using just a few select works. You can learn more about how a headline works by reading How to Write a Resume Headline (With Examples).

2. Summary

The summary statement comes next and provides you with a brief opportunity to capture the reader's attention and entice them to read the rest of the resume. A summary is simply a condensed elevator pitch that describes your experience and talents in a way that sells the value that you can provide to the prospective employer. That makes it different than the old resume objective statement, that focused more on your objectives than the employer's needs.

3. Experience history

Your resume experience section is where you will provide details about your work history. Here, you will want to include the names of the companies where you worked, your job title, and your role. If you have limited experience, you can also include any internships that you have held, freelance work, and similar experiences that demonstrate your qualifications. Remember to include specific and quantifiable successes you achieved in each job, so that prospective employers can readily see just how valuable you can be to their organization.

If you're worried about gaps in your work history, check out this great article that can help you address that challenge: How to Handle Gaps in Your Employment History.

4. Education

You will also need a section for your educational history, so don't forget to include it in your outline as well. This section will include the name of any schools you attended, your degrees, and any additional achievements or honors that you earned. Include this information for every college or trade school, as well as any relevant online certifications or degrees. You can usually omit your high school information if you have a college degree.

5. Skills

Your skill section should include hard skills and soft skills so that the employer can get a full picture of your capabilities and potential value. Remember to be as specific as possible when listing your skills, so that the employer can better understand your talents. When it comes time to write your resume, make sure that you tailor each skill in a way that matches each potential employer's specific job description language. That can ensure that the skills you list perfectly match the skills needed for that role.

6. Other relevant information

You should also include a final section that provides other information that may help to differentiate you from the competition. This section can include volunteer work, outside hobbies and interests, commendations you have received, and additional language proficiencies. Try to avoid oversharing, however. Instead, include details that are as relevant to the open position or company culture as possible.

Things that you don't need to include in your outline

When creating your outline, there are some things that you should leave out of the template and any future resumes. For example, there is no need to include that standard line about references being available upon request. Every hiring manager already understands that you will provide references if they ask for them. You should also omit any information that might distract from your abilities and experience. Remember, the goal is to create a concise and clear outline that you can use to draft a similarly concise and clear resume.

Resume outline example

The sample resume outline below can be used to help you create your own resume roadmap.

Contact Information

John Smith


Anytown, Anystate 55555


LinkedIn URL

Marketing Expert

Brand specialist | Digital Marketer | Project Management


Limit this section to three or four sentences that describe your professional persona, experience, and skills. As we mentioned before, this is essentially an elevator pitch designed to showcase your best qualifications and sell the reader on your potential as an asset to the company. Remember to use powerful, compelling words and write in the third person. 

Skilled marketing professional with 9 years of experience in digital marketing and branding. Effective project manager who has shepherded multiple projects from conception to completion, with an emphasis on efficiency and profitability. Dynamic and motivated professional focused on building functional teams, adapting to changing market needs, and strengthening the bonds between companies and their customers.


Job #1 (your most recent or current job)

Company Name

  • Company city and state

  • Start and end date

  • Job responsibilities, quantifiable achievements

Job #2 (your second-most recent job)

Company Name

  • Company city and state

  • Start and end date

  • Job responsibilities, quantifiable achievements

Job #3 (your third-most recent job)

Company Name

  • Company city and state

  • Start and end date

  • Job responsibilities, quantifiable achievements


School Name #1

  • Degree

  • Graduation date

  • Awards or other notable achievements

School Name #2

  • Degree

  • Graduation date

  • Awards or other notable achievements 


  • Skill #1

  • Skill #2

  • Skill #3

  • Skill #4

  • Skill #5

  • Skill #6

  • Skill #7

  • Skill #8

  • Skill #9

Try to include a mix of hard and soft skills and be as specific as possible. Also, you may want to limit your skill list to a multiple of 3 and then format that section in 3 bulleted columns for easier reading.

Other Relevant Information

In this last area of your outline, you can plan for one section that includes all of those other relevant bits of information or multiple sections. For example, if you know a second language, have volunteer experience, and obtained a safety certification in your previous role, you may be able to include all those details in one extra section. If you know several languages or have obtained multiple certifications, you may want to break them out into separate sections. Use your best judgment.__________________________________________________

How to use your resume outline to create your resume

Once you have your outline created, you will have a much easier time writing that final resume. You should have already compiled information about your work history and education and created a list of your relevant skills. With your outline in hand, you can simply start adding those details into the appropriate sections, along with some compelling power words and quantifiable achievements that enable the employer to see just how valuable you can be.


Most of us are not as comfortable as we would like to be when it comes to writing our own resumes. But that doesn't mean that you can't create your own resume; you may just need a little help. You can use this guide to craft your own resume outline and be well on your way to drafting your own resume.

Whether you choose to write your own resume or simply want to let the experts handle it for you, TopResume has the resources you need. On our site, you can receive a free resume review to see how your resume measures up, or contact us to learn more about our resume-writing services and how they can benefit your job search efforts!

Recommended Reading:

How to Write a Standout Career Summary

Here's the Right Way to Format Your Resume

How to Write a Chronological Resume (Tips + Examples)

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