Résumé Tips:

Getting you started on creating a great Résumé

A resume is a summary of who you are and what you have done. A resume is personal and there are many ways to personalize it with formatting etc., but there are some definite DO's and DON'TS for getting it right!

Some of the DO's

  • Include your heading; name, mailing address, phone number & message number if available, and e-mail
  • Tell them what you are looking for (Job Objective / Summary of Qualifications / Profile / Position Desired, etc.)
  • Work history—start with your most recent job and work backwards OR the most relevant job first and work to the least relevant
  • Skills
  • Education/ Training / Certificates
  • Personal Attributes
  • Accomplishments / Special Achievements
  • Volunteer / Community Involvement

If you have some RELEVANT hobbies and interests and if you have room, you may want to include them.

Some of the DON'TS

  • Spelling ERRORS! Typos
  • Do not include your:
    • Age
    • Marital status
    • Reasons why you left your last job
    • Height
    • Weight
    • Religion
    • Social Insurance Number (SIN)
    • Picture
    • Race
    • Salary history or requirements

It is in your best interest to promote yourself with accurate and specific information on your resume. This way, you'll be able to target the jobs that really match your career personality and where you can best use your skills and experience. If employers hire you for your real skills and qualities, they will be more satisfied with their choice and you will perform better in the new role where you are the right fit!

A tailored resume multiplies your chances to land the position you want. You're about to start your job hunt, and you've come up with what you believe to be a plan: You'll put together the best resume you can, then fire it off to as many companies as possible, in the hopes that at least one job in one organization might pull through. It's the classic "throw a bunch of mud against the wall and see if any of it sticks" approach. It's a strategy that's great for helping you feel like you're really doing something for your job search but the problem is it's far more likely to be a waste of your time, energy and possibly money, than anything else. The one-size-fits-all resume (and its close cousin, the one-size-fits-all cover letter) just doesn't work in most cases. Put yourself in the employer's shoes, and it's easy to pinpoint some reasons why:

The Swamp Factor:

Most employers dread going through piles of resumes in the first place. They would rather be doing almost anything else, especially after they've seen too many resumes and interviewed a bunch of people who are obviously not right for the position. So when your one-size-fits-all resume shows up, along with dozens of others, the employer will likely give no notice to it and ‘file' it into the garbage.

It is important to make your resume stand out, personalize it and tailor it. You need to highlight why you think you are the person for the job and tell the employer what you can do for them. Employers want to know why they should choose you over someone else. In order to do this you need to highlight your strengths that directly relate to that position, the experience and skills you have that can be transferred to the job and why you think you would succeed in the position. This will get you noticed. Just saying that you have good communication skills, without giving examples or relating it to the job you are applying for, is not enough to get noticed.

Any Job Will Do:

Managers trying to fill positions in their organizations don't want to hear from applicants who are merely taking a shot at any job. They want to hear from people who really want their job. The people who do really want it are generally the ones who invest the time and energy necessary to customize their resumes and cover letters. If you were the employer, who would you be more interested in: the person who sent you the same resume he or she has sent everyone else, or the person who sent you a resume tailored to your specific wants and needs?

Details Get Noticed:

Most job listings contain clues about the specific experiences, skills and/or educational background the employer is seeking in the person they will hire. If you take the time to identify those characteristics and then highlight them on your resume (and in your cover letter), you'll have the chance to present your potential in the best light possible. In other words, you give the organization what it's looking for instead of trying to (usually unsuccessfully) tell them what you are looking for. Does customizing your resumes and cover letters take more time than the one-size-fits-all approach, you ask? Definitely. Does it involve more research, more energy, more work? Indeed, that too. Despite this, your chances for positive payoff are much greater. You waste less time, less energy and less money on a few fantastic, targeted resumes than on 20 or 30 blanket resumes. A quick glance over your resume can make or break your application. All your hard work in selling yourself will be for nothing if your skills, qualifications and achievements do not relate to the job, do not stand out or are not easy to see when an employer or consultant skims over it.

What do you do if you have gaps in your work experience?

You could start by looking at it differently. General Rule: Tell what you WERE doing, as gracefully as possible--rather than leave a gap. If you were doing anything valuable (even if unpaid) during those so-called "gaps" you could just insert THAT into the work-history section of your resume to fill the hole. Here are some examples:

  • 1993-95 Full-time parent -- or
  • 1992-94 Maternity leave and family management -- or
  • Travel and study -- or Full-time student -- or
  • Parenting plus community service

What if you have a fragmented, scrambled-up work history, with lots of short-term jobs?

To minimize the job-hopper image, combine several similar jobs into one "chunk," for example:

  • 1993-1995 Secretary/Receptionist ; Jones Bakery, Micro Corp., Carter Jewelers -- or
  • 1993-1995 Waiter/Busboy; McDougal's Restaurant, Burger King, Traders Coffee Shop.

Resume Resources:

Several job search engines have resume-building pages on their websites that will give you step-by-step guidelines to writing a resume. Some popular sites to check out include: