Think of your resume outline as the skeleton of a human body.
On top of the skeleton are meat and flesh. In this sense, that’s your writing and resume sections. Having the skeletal structure there is what helps put everything together.
Right, this isn’t a human anatomy class.
But the main point is that your resume won’t be as organized and structured without starting with an outline.
Before you even do anything, you need a plan.
Interestingly, there’s another way to skip the research and outline process without sacrificing the quality of your application. If you want to find out how that works then be sure to keep reading until the end!
What a Resume Outline Actually Looks Like
There’s a lot of talk about how it’s good to plan and outline your resume first before writing it out.
The question is, what does this process actually look like?
Most job seekers use a standard Word document to create their resumes. Although they’re not fully optimized for building a CV, we’ll go through how they can be used to outline your application.
Outline Part 1
The first part of the resume outline involves making a note of the resume sections you’re going to use and the details that each block should contain.
Here’s an example.
- Job position
- Date of employment
- Duties, responsibilities, workplace achievements
Outline Part 2
The second part of the resume outline is where you fill in the points that’ve been made. Let’s follow on from the previous example.
- Marketing analyst
- May 2022-Present
- New York
- Organized and implemented Google Analytics data tracking campaigns to maximize the effectiveness of email remarketing initiatives that were deployed using Salesforce’s marketing cloud software.
Or, here’s how it would look inside Rezi’s resume builder.
Why You Should Outline Your Resume
A resume outline helps you write a comprehensive application.
It sets the direction and makes it easier for you to put together a coherent document about your employment background. Without pointing out the things you need to include, you may end up leaving noticeable gaps in your resume.
When you’re struggling to get into the flow of writing, it slows down the process. Worse, it becomes mentally draining.
In other words, outlining your resume saves time because you know what you’re going to talk about. It also allows you to get your creative juices flowing since you’re mainly jotting down ideas that come to mind.
When everything is laid out in front of you, you articulate your thoughts better.
And because everything’s organized, you’re able to write your resume in a logical structure that prioritizes the most relevant information first.
How to Create a Resume Outline in 5 Steps
There are 5 steps to follow to create a basic resume outline.
Don’t worry if you’re finding it challenging to come up with things to write about. After going through each of these steps, we’ll cover 7 places that can help you find ideas and inspiration.
However, the main gist is that you’ll need to reflect on your:
- Academic background
- Work experience
1. Decide on a Resume Format
Here are three main resume formats to choose from and who they’re usually best suited for.
- Reverse chronological resume: this is good for job seekers at all levels with versatile usage.
- Combination resume: this is good for job seekers with at least 2 years of work experience.
- Functional resume: this is good for students, graduates, and those making a substantial career change.
Alternatively, Rezi has its own resume formats for you to get started on that follow the best practices depending on your experience level.
2. Choose Your Resume Sections
All resumes need to include the following sections:
- Resume header
- Work experience
However, there are other resume sections worth including. The best ones to use depend on your strengths and professional experiences.
Here are a few examples:
- Extracurricular activities
3. Write Down What Each Resume Section Needs to Include
Once you’ve decided on the resume sections you’re going to use, the next step is to make a note of what needs to be mentioned.
For example, your resume header will need to mention the following details:
- Full name
- Phone number
And your education section will need to mention your:
- Academic qualifications
- Start and end date
- Place of study
For your skills section, make a list of all your areas of expertise and where you’re most confident in your abilities.
The additional resume sections are outlined depending on the angle you’re taking.
If you’re simply listing things out, then it’s worth following a similar approach to your education section. On the other hand, if you want to go into more detail about the things you’ve listed, then take a similar approach to the work experience section.
To summarize, this is where you complete outline part 1 as shown earlier on in this guide.
4. Fill In the Points
After completing the previous step, you know what to include for each resume section.
Now, it’s about filling in those points by writing them down. For example, here’s what the second part of the outline would look like for the resume header:
- Astley Cervania
- (621) 999 9999
- United Kingdom
Think back to your own experiences and professional background to help you fill the points.
There are no limitations with your resume outline. At this stage of the process, you’re still planning. Don’t hold back. Jot all your ideas down so that everything is written in front of you, which is what guides your draft.
To put it another way, this is where you complete outline part 2 as shown earlier on in this guide.
5. Refer Back to the Job Description
Not everything you’ve outlined will be used for your resume.
You’ll have to narrow it down by seeing what’s the most relevant, important, and useful information.
To find out what’s best to include and omit, refer back to the job description to see where the gaps are. Ask yourself how your knowledge and expertise bridge those gaps because that’s what’s going to help you match the expectations of your hiring manager.
Since you’ve brainstormed your ideas, it’s easier to find what details stand out the most.
How to Come Up With Ideas for Your Resume Outline
What if you get stuck during the second part of the resume outline because you’re not too sure about what to include for each point?
Or, you may have little to no work experience. So your resume could do with more information but you’re unsure if there’s anything else you could mention.
Not to worry – we’ve got your back.
We’ll go through 6 steps you can take to help you come up with ideas and find inspiration to write an impressive CV.
Consider the Key Moments in Your Career
Reflect on the key moments in your career timeline. This could include things such as your:
- Workplace achievements
- Significant experiences
Put yourself in the employer’s shoes and consider the things that they should know about you as a professional.
Try asking yourself the following questions too:
- When were the times you grew the most in your career?
- How did you step out of your comfort zone during your time of employment?
- Are there any events you experienced in the past that were eye-opening to you?
Consider the Key Moments in Your Academic Background
Next, reflect on your academic background. Think back to what you’ve learned and achieved throughout your years in education.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself:
- Were there any coursework or projects that helped you develop a skill?
- Any particular awards you’ve earned that you’re proud of?
- Have you taken part in any extracurricular activities?
- Is there anything specific you want to continue learning about?
Think About Your Hobbies and Interests
This time, think about your own personal background as opposed to your professional background.
- Is there anything you did outside of the standard academic environment? E.g. extracurricular activities such as being part of a sports team.
- Did you complete any online programs or accredited courses in your spare time?
- Was there a language you learned or anything else you self-studied as a hobby?
Some of these activities may have contributed to your growth as a person. Plus, if it’s something you did on a regular basis, it can also imply a sense of commitment and discipline.
And if you’re someone with limited work experience, you might find that there actually are more things you could talk about than what you expected. It’s a bonus if you can link it back to the company’s needs so that it’s relevant.
Look at Resume Examples for Your Job Position
An effective way to get inspiration for your resume is to look at what’s worked for others.
That doesn’t mean copying what someone else has written. But, seeing how they’ve phrased or approached different resume sections.
Ideally, it’s good to read through resumes that got the candidate hired in the same industry you want to get into. So if you’re applying to become a software engineer in the tech industry, then find a proven software engineer resume example that got the person hired for a tech company.
Look at Resume Examples for Your Job Experience Level
Alternatively, look at resume examples based on your job experience level.
For instance, if you’re an associate level professional, then look at other associate level resumes.
This is another way to draw some inspiration. See what people at your skill level have talked about, what sections they’ve used, and how they’ve structured their application.
Use An AI Resume Writer
If you’re using Rezi’s resume builder, the outline is already done for you.
The more interesting part is that you can use an AI resume writer to complete each resume section based on your own career background.
All you would have to do is edit and personalize it from there.
Here’s how it works.
Step 1: Sign up for a free account on Rezi.
Step 2: Click on “create new CV”.
Step 3: Enter the basic details about your professional background.
Step 4: Fill out each section by using the AI writer feature to generate information.
Step 5: Edit and personalize your application.
Watch the 47 second clip below to see the resume AI writer feature in action!
You Don’t Need to Follow All the Steps in This Guide...
In this article, we’ve discussed how to create an effective resume outline to guide your application.
But we have a confession to make…
Did you know that you could completely skip the step of creating a resume outline?
With Rezi’s AI resume writer, you now have a solution to create a tailored resume faster in minimal time and effort.
The benefits you gain from using Rezi’s AI writer are that you:
- Save time by not having to outline or draft your resume – get straight into editing after using the AI feature to generate the points for you.
- Create a tailored resume without having to do constant back and forth research.
- Find all the keywords you need to beat the resume scanners in an instant.
- Speed up the job search process.
- Remove stress and make the resume writing process more enjoyable.
Of the 176,000+ users who created a resume with Rezi, 62.18% have secured an interview.
In other words, just creating a resume with Rezi increases your chances of landing a job interview by more than 50%.
The best part about it? You can get started for free, no card required.
Apart from knowing how to create a resume outline, you know where to get inspiration and how to skip more than 50% of the resume writing process.
Most of your time is usually spent on doing the research to match the job description to tailor your application. Even if you have great things to say for yourself, ultimately, it’s about meeting the needs of the company.
Jumping straight into the deep end and learning as you go is one option.
But, it’s faster and easier if you have a rough plan to follow. So then you can dive into it with minimal obstacles slowing you down along the way.