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“You know the six-second rule, right?” asks Stacie Haller, chief career advisor at Resume Builder. “You have six seconds” to impress a hiring recruiter considering you for a position.

That’s why it’s critical to get your resume right when applying for jobs. Mirroring the job description language and using big numbers help. But getting the format right will certainly make it easier for hiring managers to decipher information quickly.

The standard template is three sections,” according to Gorick Ng, Harvard career adviser and author of “The Unspoken Rules.”

“First, at the very top, is your education. That takes up about 20% of the page,” he tells CNBC Make It. “The second section, which takes up about 70% of the page, is your professional experience. The last 10% is your skills, languages and interests.”

This can vary depending on where you are in your career. Here’s what experts recommend considering:

Recent grads: ‘Your education needs to go on top

Your resume is meant to highlight your most recent, relevant experience to the job first. If you’re a recent graduate, that means your education and degree.

“Early in your career, when you get out of school, your education needs to go on top,” says Haller. “That flags you as entry level.”

Once you get some professional experience under your belt, even within a year of your first position, you can move that education section below your experience and above your skills.


If you included your GPA, this would also be the time to remove it.

‘Show your resume to three of your closest friends

For those who like to include a summary, put it below your contact information and above your experience.

If you’re not sure whether you need it, Ng suggests trying an exercise: “Show your resume to three of your closest friends and ask them, ‘If this resume were thrown on your desk, what would you trust this person to do? And how competent do you think this person is?’”

If they tell you they would consider you as a good, competent fit for the role, you can forgo the summary. But if they’re not sure based on your resume content, include a summary at the top explaining why you’re the right candidate.

“If people don’t see anything else, you want them to remember this about you,” Ng says. “That’s what the summary is all about.”

Check out:


Don’t include your full address on your resume―here’s why

Should you put your GPA on your resume? Not ‘if you graduated by the skin of your teeth’


‘Don’t go over 2 pages’: How long a resume should be, according to experts

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