Using Alternate Headings in Your Resume

Education and work history are two headings that most people include on a resume. Many alternate headings can be applied to the resume, also, depending on the circumstances. In a functional style, an achievements, highlights, or skills section may be set aside to draw attention to specific details, leaving the work summary section to list the basic information of job title, employer, and dates. The samples provided use a variety of headings to showcase different accomplishments or highlights from a person's background. Note that not all of the highlighted information is from work-related experience. Experience from volunteer work, internships, and positions within organizations can all contribute to a list of achievements and highlights. Sample headings used to highlight achievement-related activities from the samples in this section include: Qualifications, Selected Leadership Highlights, Telecommunications Highlights, Highlights of Value Offered, Skills Summary, Strengths & Accomplishments, and Experience Summary.

Because the recent high school or college graduate presents a unique set of challenges to resume writing, many other areas of a person's history may end up on the resume that probably would not for those who have a few years of work history behind them. These listings are appropriate but should only be used if they help support the goal of the resume; that is, they should only be listed if they support the candidate's position that he or she is the best person for the job. Listing that you were a member of the football team may not help you if you are seeking a position as a laboratory researcher, but it may help if you are applying for a position that requires a great deal of teamwork. Whatever you decide to put on your resume, ask yourself if it will help position you as a stronger candidate than your competition. If the answer is no, or even a maybe, leave it off. Unnecessary or weak information can be more detrimental than no information. The following is a list of potential headings frequently used for new graduates or those just entering the workforce.

Internships

If you took part in internships and the experience was directly related to your job target, this could be included as a separate heading. Similarly, if you do not have paid work experience but do have internship experience, this can be used in lieu of the work history.

Certifications/Training/Professional Training/Licenses

Many specialized degrees and related jobs require certification or training above and beyond one's degree. If you hold certifications that add credibility to your standing, include them on the resume (but only if they support your candidacy—many people have outdated or current certifications that are no longer relevant to the types of positions they are currently pursuing). Similarly, any additional training or licensing beyond your formal education that can set you apart from other candidates should be included, particularly if the training or licensing is challenging or requires prerequisites to obtain. Some jobs require that applicants hold specific certifications or licensing; if this is the case, be sure to include this information. Not doing so can be a reason for immediate disqualification.

Computer Skills/Technical

In today's workforce, computer literacy is almost always a must. Even listing basic computer knowledge such as Microsoft Office lets the employer know that you are capable of using a computer. For jobs that require an intimate knowledge of advanced or specialized computer software, be sure to include this on your resume. If you are seeking technical positions, list all of the languages and programs you know that are still relevant.

Professional Affiliations/Memberships/Organizations

Any involvement in professional organizations related to your target job can be included on your resume. If you hold any positions or leadership roles within these organizations, mention that on your resume and what your duties are or were. Listing your length of time as a member may also serve you well if you have been with the organization for a long time (if you have recently joined, leave this information off). If you are a member of an organization considered "standard" for your field, be sure to include it. This will help demonstrate that you are familiar with the field and its common practices and expectations.

Volunteer/Activities/Collegiate Activities/Leadership Positions/Community Involvement

While these types of activities can be incorporated into a work history, your level of involvement and responsibility may warrant placing this information under a separate heading. If you have limited paid work experience, a section on your activities might highlight your commitment to your field or your community much better than your limited experience in the workforce. Any leadership roles or other positions that you hold or held during your involvement can be included to demonstrate your abilities to work with others and your commitment to getting things accomplished.

Languages

As the world economy continues to change and grow and as employers open offices across the globe, communication is an ever-more important issue. If you are fluent or can communicate in any foreign languages, include this on the resume, and in a prominent location. Those who are bilingual or multilingual may have a distinct advantage over their competitors, as businesses, services, and educational facilities are increasingly more interested in competing in the global marketplace.

Academic Honors/Awards

Depending on the honors or awards you may have received, referring to them on your resume may be to your advantage. Listing academic honors can be particularly useful for those continuing in or entering education fields, although this information may be useful for other fields as well.

Interests/Personal

Personal information is also generally left off for a number of reasons. First and foremost, this information could be used to discriminate against you, whether done consciously or not. Purposeful discrimination against a candidate based on personal information such as marital status, religion, race, and age is illegal. However, for those seeking international positions, this type of information may be included if it is standard practice in the country in which you are applying. Many countries routinely include personal information on resumes. If you are intimately familiar with the target country's practices, include whatever information is deemed standard.

As with all aspects of resume writing, there are exceptions. Personal interests that support your job search may sometimes be included if they have a direct relation to the job you are seeking. If golfing is one of your hobbies and you are seeking a position as the landscaper of a golf course, this information would be relevant.

Quotes from Others

While not a separate heading, including quotes from supervisors, teachers, or other persons in positions to support you can add some pizzazz and credibility to your résumé. Always seek permission from the person being quoted before using the quote.

References

As with personal information, there was a time when references were either added to the resume or the standard line of "references available upon request" was included toward the bottom. Listing references is no longer a common practice; it is generally assumed that a candidate will be able to provide such a list if necessary.