What is a Resume Outline and Why You Need One

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  • How to Build Your Resume – A Step-by-Step Guide
  • Basic Resume Outline
  • Professional Resume Outline 
  • Resume Outline 2020
  • Resume Outline – Google Docs
  • Free Resume Outline
  • Resume Outline Examples

Resume Outline

A resume outline is, in simple words, a rough layout or plan for your resume. It is like a plain draft for your resume where you can make a note of everything you want to include, and arrange or rearrange the various elements. They also help you try new orders and structures. The reason a resume outline is useful is because different jobs look for different qualities in their candidates. An outline helps you categorise the information you want to display on your resume and then rearrange it according to the nature of the job. For example, if you’re applying for the post of a manager, you would want to highlight achievements that endorse managerial skills or leadership skills, so that a potential employer would notice these elements and consider your application. There are multiple steps you could follow while building your resume. A resume outline plays an important role in almost all of them. 

How to Build Your Resume – A Step-by-Step Guide

Resume writing typically comes off as a relatively easy, quick process. However, it does well to put a lot of thought into all the steps of the process, so that you can be informed about your job and your chances as an applicant. Here is a step-by-step guide in building your resume:

Research the Employer: 

No matter what the job may be, the first step you take is to find out as much as you can about the employer – the nature of the company, its policies, its employee relationship history, etc. Try finding the employer’s LinkedIn page. From there, you could head over to the profiles of some of the people who work for the company and read about their experiences. If you see someone who seems friendly, you could even drop them an email and ask them what it’s like to be working for the company. Try understanding the qualities and characteristics that the company is looking for. All of this is to get a fair picture of what would be expected of you if you get placed in the company. It also helps in seeming interested and genuine. But make sure not to flatter them or seem overenthusiastic, because this can be off-putting. Any and all inputs that you get through this process will help build your resume. For example, if you’re applying for the post of an assistant under a manager in a company, you could look up the manager (your direct head) and the founder or CEO of the company itself. You could observe the way they work, note their key skills, and try to adopt them into your own resume. 

Gather Your Personal Information: 

First, make a list of your educational qualifications, including the grade point average at each stage. Then, gather details about your work experience, including how much time you spent at each position and what you learnt from your experience there. After that, make a list of every detail that you want to display on your resume – anything you consider noteworthy. This includes awards, nominations, contests and prizes, certifications, special mentions etc. Keep your certificates as reference. These certificates will validate the resume and make it ironclad. When you have certificates as backing, no one can question what you state on your resume. That said, do not make false claims on your resume, or forge certificates. This can result in legal trouble. Several people falsify information on their resumes and CVs. This may help them land the job, but after they start their career, they can have a lot of trouble keeping up the lie. Remember, your work under an enterprise is a legally binding contract. Dishonesty in any way, shape or form has the potential to mar your entire career. 

Analyse and Categorise the Information

Compare the skills that the company is looking for with the skills you have. Identify which of your personal characteristics are best suited for the job, and highlight the achievements or certifications that endorse those skills, so that a potential employer would notice them. Your resume is the first impression you build in the minds of an employer. So, it is important to stand out. 

Then, divide this information into qualifications, experience, achievements, hobbies, endorsements and certifications. Endorsements are statements given my previous employers and colleagues that help in reinforcing your claims. Certifications include courses that you may have taken to learn new skills. Here, anything can count. A simple certification of learning a foreign language on a platform like Duolingo, or a certificate from a conference you may have attended while at college can also fall under this criterion. 

Feed this Information into an Outline or a Template: 

Once you have all of the information you need, use a template or a resume outline to arrange the data. An outline comes with specific slots for your name and contact details, qualifications, experiences and achievements. Most often, they also come with a feature that enables you to customise the template according to your requirements. While arranging your information, use the following order:

  • Name and contact details: Your full name, contact number, alternate contact number and residential address are details that help validate your resume. 
  • Educational qualifications in reverse chronological order: Write your educational qualifications starting from your latest qualification, ending at 10th grade. Mention your grade point average at each stage.  
  • Work experience in reverse chronological order: Write about each job you’ve ever had, starting from latest qualification all the way till your day jobs at high school. Make a mention of what you learnt at each one of these jobs. This shows that you are genuine and proactive, no matter what your job is. 
  • Achievements that endorse the skills that the company wants: Make sure to highlight the skills that match with what the company wants. This will show that you’re appropriate for the job. 
  • Other achievements: All other achievements that you want to display on your resume will go here. Don’t worry about relevance. The smallest achievements can contribute to your chances of employment. 
  • Hobbies and interests: This is an optional step. Some people prefer putting down these elements because they give the resume another dimension. You would be showing that you have more to your personality than just work.  

Once you have fed the input, try out different patterns and structures that highlight your most-prized skills. For example, if you are applying for the post of a research assistant, ensure to highlight skills like critical and analytical thinking, problem solving, technical skills, etc. Also make a mention of other generic skills that you may have, such as, communication skills, teamworking skills, planning and organising, etc. These are called soft skills, and are considered beneficial for all jobs.  


This is arguably the most vital step in the process. Carefully read the resume over at least three times and correct the mistakes. Often, you may find that a lot of details added to your first resume draft are unnecessary, irrelevant, inaccurate or redundant. Refining your resume is an important step in making sure that it stands out. Sometimes, it is better to hand the resume over to someone else that you trust, and have them proofread the document instead of you. Another pair of eyes are more objective, and they will help you keep a check on any shortcomings. 

Fair it Up: 

Having made sure that the resume is error-free, create a final, fair version. This step is more relevant if you have handwritten the resume until the previous step. If you use a computer for these tasks, then this step doesn’t really hold much importance. Simply print your resume and keep at least two copies in handy – one for yourself, one for the employer. If you have handwritten the resume till now, carefully type it out on a computer, and check it at least three times before finally printing it. 

Basic Resume Outline

A basic resume outline is something you can create by yourself. These don’t have any fancy design elements going on. It’s a format where you present your facts, plain and simple, in the correct order. You can create such a template on software like Word – simply enter your text in the form of bullet points with relevant attachments and links. You can also find simple templates for your resume on the internet. These can be customized according to your requirement. Many employers prefer such resumes, since they don’t have anything that would distract them from the actual information you are trying to present. Excessive use of design elements can be distracting and unnecessary. 

Professional Resume Outline 

A professional resume outline is, as the name suggests, built by professionals for professionals. There are dedicated graphic designers who create these templates for a price. You might need to pay for these templates, but consequently, they have more features and are more customisable. They are very well designed – you can be sure to have a good-looking, professional resume at hand. Most businesses that offer such templates sell them as part of a premium membership, which also opens up a world of other items like icons, logos and fonts. You can also hire a graphic designer to construct your resume for you. Having a classic and minimal design without excessive or flashy elements can go a long way in making your resume stand out.  

Resume Outline 2020

Like several other professional aspects, a resume format also changes with time. It changes with changes in the society, work environment and professional ethics. For example, in the mid-1900s, Western companies made it compulsory for you to disclose your gender, religion and ethnicity on your resume. This is because there was heavy discrimination against certain sections of society. However, over the past decade, this practice has vanished, in an attempt to curb workplace discrimination. In fact, some of these details are listed among the things that you should never mention on your resume.  

So, it is good to find out what the format for a resume is and what successful resumes look like in the current year. In 2020, as awareness about workplace harassment and discrimination grows, it is most advisable to create a resume that follows a fairly simple pattern with no questions about irrelevant personal details. There are professionally designed templates available for any profession, free of cost, updated every year. You could use these templates If you’re not sure what to include and what not. 

Resume Outline – Google Docs

Outlines also come in the form of Google Docs documents, an easily accessible cloud-compatible tool that works just like Microsoft Word. The advantage of this template is once you download it, you can safely store it on Google Drive or other cloud-storage services, and reuse it whenever you need to. Apart from these, Google Docs itself has its own inbuilt, customisable resume templates. These are very useful, because you can write and design your resume using one single software.  

Free Resume Outline

Having an outline is beneficial in multiple ways. It helps you organise your facts, rearrange the information and make multiple revisions easily. It also makes the process much faster. So, you can spend more time organising your thoughts and talking to potential employers than you spend in actually writing the resume. Sometimes, resume templates offer you insights and ideas that probably didn’t occur to you previously. You may have created a list of elements that you want to include on your resume. But using a template may generate new ideas and new elements for you to consider. Templates available on the internet are free and efficient. They help you save time and think more deeply about the job itself, than about constructing the perfect resume. 

Resume Outline Examples

Many successful resumes have been built on resume outlines. You could use these as examples while creating your own resume. This will give you an insight into the minds of the professionals and the way they work. Using these as examples will also help you understand what kind of skills you need for the job. Here are some of the example outlines available on the internet. 

With all the information available, resume construction can seem like a daunting task. But, using a proper, clean outline and organising your information will help make the task much easier.  

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