Resume Writing Guide

An effective resume is essentially a marketing document wherein you are the product.

Studies show that employers spend no more than 20 seconds glancing over each resume they receive. Your resume should present a well-organized profile of your qualifications, work experience, education, achievements and overall career objectives. What’s more, it’s vital that the information you present be visually appealing, consistently formatted, and error-free.  Canadian employers typically expect to see the following information in a resume:

1. Contact Information  Be sure to include your name, current home address, telephone numbers including area codes, and your personal email address.

2. Professional/Career Objective  Your professional/career objective is basically your resume’s opening statement. It defines the field or position for which you are applying. It’s important that your career objective be clear, concise, and customized to the job you are applying for.

3. Education  This section of your resume should detail your academic background beginning with your most recent degree. The standard format lists your college or university followed by your degree, major and graduation date.

4. Experience  Your career/job experience is what most employers pay particular attention to. Recent graduates with no working experience should include any part-time employment as well as summer jobs, volunteer work and internships. This section should list company names, location and employer for whom you have worked in a logical and consistent manner. It is also advisable that you include a bulleted “job responsibilities list” that outlines your particular job functions and achievements for every job you specify. Remember to include the names and locations of organizations for which you have worked, your position/title, and dates.

5. Qualifications or Skills  It is advisable to include a section, which briefly states any skills and qualifications that relate to your professional objective in a bulleted format. Examples include:

  • Knowledge of Microsoft office, the Internet and all associated applications.

6. Honors and Activities  Some resumes also contain a section that summarizes any honors and/or activities that demonstrate strong academic abilities, i.e., honorary societies, scholarships, and/or extra-curricular activities. Employers pay attention to how a candidate’s personality and personal tastes/lifestyle fits in with the company’s corporate culture and vision. Any material you include that casts you as a balanced, well-rounded individual may in fact endear you to a potential employer.

7. References  You may choose to include your references or simply state, “References are available upon request” or something to that effect at the bottom of your resume. However, if you do choose to include references be sure that the people you list can still be contacted at the telephone numbers you give. Moreover, if you feel that a potential employer may call your references be sure to advise the people you’ve listed that they may receive a call from a potential employer.

Resume Writing Tips:

  • Spell-check your document! Make sure that punctuation, grammar, and spelling are error-free.
  • Include a customized cover letter with your resume. A cover letter is your chance to express why you believe you’re the best person for the job. You may also use this format to effectively communicate your “professional disposition”. Remember to address your cover letter to the employer/manager and include the company name as well.
  • Include “action words”. Action words are terms that describe your job functions such as: Achieved, acquired, addressed, analyzed, centralized, coordinated, created, demonstrated, designed, eliminated, enforced, implemented, improved, maintained, managed, organized, oversaw, performed, reorganized, reviewed, selected, supervised, surveyed, trained.
  • Avoid using paragraphs or long sentences. The bullet style — use of an action word followed by an account of the action you performed — enables you to include a lot of information about your work-related duties, responsibilities and achievements in as condensed a form as possible.
  • If posting your resume online, it is generally advisable to do the following:
  • Left justify the entire document
  • Use a standard font, size 10-14 only
  • Avoid boldface, underlined or italicized print
  • Avoid parentheses, graphics, shading, tabs and hard returns

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