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Explore 6 critical components of a winning resume. 30 seconds eyeball time of your resume is all it takes for a recruiter to decide if they want to call you for an interview or not. Write a winning resume and make the 30 seconds count by making a big impression in a small amount of time.

6 critical components of a winning resume

Photo by Tyler Franta on Unsplash

These are 6 critical components of a winning resume for you. Write a winning resume because your resume is paramount when it comes to securing a job. Get it right, and you’ll have an employer knocking on your door for an interview in no time, but get it wrong, and you may face rejection after rejection.

There’s so much conflicting information floating around about what to put on your resume. If you’re like most job seekers, deciding exactly what to include on yours can be confusing.

Should I use a resume objective? Do I need references? Should I mention that time I volunteered at a soup kitchen?

To help you write a job-winning resume, we’ve honed in on the six essential components that you need to include to catch the hiring manager’s attention. Let’s dive in.

6 critical components of a winning resume:

1. An eye-catching header

Your resume header is the first part of your application, so every hiring manager is going to see it. If you want to make a good first impression, your header needs to be perfect.

First thing’s first: to write a winning resume, your resume header is where you ensure the hiring manager remembers your name. To make it stand out, write your first and last name in large font size, or write it in all capitalized letters.

Then, check that the design of your header is attractive, adequately formal, and suites the format of your resume. For example, if you’re applying for work in a highly formal industry like law or accounting, a horizontal header that spans the top of your resume is a safe, traditional choice. 

Alternatively, if you’re applying for work at a startup or graphic design firm, placing your header in a vertical bar on the side of your resume gives your application a hip, modern look.

2. A convincing resume introduction

Most recruiters have to review hundreds of applications every day. They’re often so busy that the average one spends just six seconds reviewing each resume.

So how do you ensure that your resume is noticed? You grab their attention right from the start.

An important part of the 6 critical components of a winning resume is to open your resume with a succinct, convincing resume introduction. A well-written introduction provides an overview of your key qualifications and ultimately entices the hiring manager to continue reading your resume. 

Especially if you’re an entry-level candidate or transferring careers, starting off with an introduction gives you an opportunity to quickly explain how your skills and experience are transferable, or why you’re passionate about the position.

However, there isn’t just one type of resume introduction. The best type of introduction for you depends on your situation, experience, and what you’re trying to achieve with your resume.

Check out this helpful infographic below from ResumeGenius for more information:
How to write a winning resume


A critical component of a winning resume is having an ideal introduction part. With the ideal introduction, your resume is guaranteed to be more noticeable and convince the hiring manager to dive into your qualifications — improving your chances of getting an interview.

3. An achievement-oriented experience section

Your experience section is the core of your resume. Written well, and it should demonstrate to hiring managers your professional achievements and strengths.

It’s vital for a winning resume to have an effective experience section. To write an effective experience section, you need to do more than just list your previous positions and responsibilities. You must craft an information-packed, results-oriented overview of each relevant position you’ve held in the past.

Start by listing only your most recent work experience, with 3 to 5 bullet points under each entry. If you have a work history spanning many years, it’s tempting to list out all the jobs you’ve held. Don’t do it. It’s better to keep your resume focused for the sake of the hiring manager, and stick to 2 or 3 highly relevant positions.

One way to maximize the impact of your experience section is to describe your accomplishments using eye-catching resume action words. A strong verb highlights that you’re the initiator of the action, and leaves a more memorable impression with the reader.

Here are two examples pulled from actual resumes. The first uses the passive voice, and lacks strong resume verbs:

“Tasked with improving sales numbers.” 

Based on this description, it’s difficult to understand what the candidate actually accomplished, just that they were responsible for doing something. 

Here’s another bullet point, but where the candidate enhanced it with achievement-oriented language:

“Implemented a new sales strategy, generating over $1,000 in new sales each month.”

By using strong verbs, this candidate makes their achievements explicitly clear. Hiring managers are always on the lookout for this, so do so on your resume when you can.

See How to Get an Online Job of your Dreams

4. Your relevant skills and certifications

Employers want to hire candidates who possess a range of diverse skills — skills to get the job done, but also skills to work well with other employees at the company.

If you want to win over a hiring manager, you need to know the best skills to put on your resume for the position you’re applying to, and how to highlight them effectively in your resume.

To find out which skills you should emphasize, take a look at the job listing for the position you want. Usually, hiring managers include any skills required for the position in the description, as well as any additional skills that are highly desirable.

If you see something that’s repeatedly mentioned, that’s a sure sign it’s a skill they want candidates to have.

Then, make a list of the skills you noticed that apply to you, and include them in the skills section of your resume. You can also mention skills in your experience section, by giving hiring managers real-life examples of how you put that skill to work. An important aspect of these 6 critical components of a winning resume is knowing how to showcase the skills that the employer is asking for.

5. A to-the-point education section

While it might seem inconsequential, it’s actually important that you know how to list your education effectively.

Unless you work in academia, the majority of employers are only interested in seeing the following: 

  • Your highest degree 
  • The school you graduated from
  • The name of your degree

Avoid including any further details, like your GPA, awards, honours, or coursework unless you’re a recent graduate and have little to no formal work experience yet.

By keeping your educational background short, you free up more space on your resume for relevant information, like your work experience or related skills.

6. Some deal-sweetening additional accomplishments

By now, you should have a well-rounded resume that’s sure to impress most employers. But other people have great resumes too — that’s why the final step to perfecting yours is adding a few extra details that make you stand apart from those other candidates.

Do you speak multiple languages or have extensive volunteer work? Add these details to your resume to help demonstrate your unique qualifications.

Additionally, if you accomplished something exceptional at your last job, include it in your work experience section to show employers that you’re capable of going beyond what’s required of you.

Write a job-winning resume

Now that you know what it takes to craft an impressive resume, it’s time to get writing. To reiterate, any good resume should include the following components:

  • Noticeable header
  • Compelling introduction
  • Convincing, achievement-focused experience section
  • Detailed summary of your relevant skills
  • Simple education history
  • Enticing additional details

Each section combined will guarantee that you have a job-winning resume that is sure to impress even the most critical hiring manager.

See Shine at Work: Top 10 Must-Have Skills

Now that you have explored the 6 critical components of a winning resume, what can you add? Let’s hear from you. Add your comments below.

Catherine Adenle
Founder, Catherine's Career Corner. The career site empowering and inspiring ambitious candidates of all ages and professions to thrive and work smarter on their careers. Gladly helping all career-minded people worldwide to explore their career, manage change and understand how new technologies are changing and enhancing the future of work.
Catherine Adenle
Catherine Adenle

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