Top Resume Tips
- Put the most relevant information on the first page – employers often spend as little as 6 seconds reviewing a resume!
- Tailor your resume to the job you are applying for – showcase your skills and experience that are transferable to those listed in the job posting
- Review your resume for spelling and grammatical errors and consider having someone at the SECC review your resume
- Use Action Words to begin your bulleted achievement statements – this will help you create a more powerful case for how you’ve developed the key skills the employer is looking for
Organization / Layout
- Try to keep your resume at 2–3 pages, with references on the third page; if applying to other countries, check their resume standards
- Present all relevant information in reverse chronological order (most recent to oldest)
Format / Design
- Keep job title on the left and date on the right
- If you are having trouble keeping your resume on 2-3 pages, consider using narrower margins or choosing smaller line spacing
- Use a common font style and size (Calibri, Times New Roman, 11 or 12 point size, throughout your document); ensure consistency with your cover letter
Social Media and Your Job Search
- Review all of your social media accounts and privacy settings
- Consider creating a LinkedIn profile which allows you to essentially upload your resume and connect with professionals locally and around the world
- For tips on how to build a professional student LinkedIn profile check out Leverage LinkedIn
Know Yourself and Your Audience
- Can you comfortably articulate your values, knowledge, skills, abilities and interests as they relate to job search documents? (If not, consider Taking a Career Assessment!)
- Did you perform an adequate amount of research on the prospective employer?
Choose a Format
- Did you choose a format that effectively markets your skills, accomplishments and proven abilities while also demonstrating your individuality?
Showcase Your Skills
- Are you using one of the two recommended methods to showcase your skills (Highlights of Qualifications or Summary of Skills)?
- Did you begin your bulleted achievement statements with action verbs?
- Were you mindful of creating statements that demonstrate your skills rather than just listing descriptive adjectives? (such as good communication skills) or job duties?
Polish Your Resume
- Is your resume limited to 2-3 pages? (Listing your references on the third page is acceptable.)
- Have you reviewed your document for spelling mistakes and errors?
- Did you prioritize your content by placing the most relevant information first?
- Did you organize your information in reverse chronological order?
- Did you present the most targeted information on the left side first (ie. job title(s) on the left, date on the right)?
- Were you consistent with format, verb tense and font?
- Did you begin your achievement statements with bullets and action words?
Include Your References
- Do you have at least three references who can attest to your work style, academic profile, and/or personal qualifications, and who have agreed to be a reference?
- Do your references reflect a cross-section of individuals who can attest to these strengths?
- If you choose not to include your references in your resume, be sure to bring your list of references and their contact information to the interview
- Once your resume is complete, provide a copy to each of your references
Before beginning your resume, take inventory! Reflect on your skills and experiences and how you want to showcase them in your document.
Questions to consider:
Your educational experiences?
What skills did you develop in previous work, volunteer and extracurricular experiences?
What were your major accomplishments?
Did you supervise or train others?
If you have a logical, progressive work history that you want to showcase to the employer choose Chronological (work history and experience highlighted)
Your past employment experiences are your selling feature and are relevant to the job you are applying for. Job titles and organizations are emphasized and accomplishments and responsibilities are described in detail.
Sample chronological resume:
Be sure to use a professional email address on your resume and ensure that you are checking your email regularly when applying for jobs.
If you have a LinkedIn profile, be sure to include a link to it on your resume. LinkedIn is a great way to connect with employers and to search for jobs.
A quick snapshot of your experience, skills, academic background and personal characteristics and attitudes as they relate to the position.
Summarizes the experience you have related to your job objective. (e.g. One year experience in graphic design.)
Describes your working knowledge of the various components or aspects of the position. (e.g. Budgeting, report writing, program planning, etc.)
Outlines the various skills you possess to do the work effectively. (e.g. Problem-solving, communication, time management, etc.)
May refer to any academic background you have that complements your practical experience. (e.g. Machine design, resource assessment, marketing, etc.)
Lists your personal characteristics and attitudes as required on the job. (e.g. Reliable, able to work under pressure, creative, etc.)
Should I include high school on my resume?
If you are still in your first year of university, then it is okay to keep your high school listed, however once you have completed your first year, you’ll want to remove it from your resume.
Begin with your most recent experience and work your way back (reverse chronological order).
Provide quantitative and/or qualitative details when possible. This helps an employer to better understand the scope of your experience.
Using Action Words to begin your statements will help you to create a more powerful and concise example of your skills and/or responsibilities.
Make your headings stand out by using bolding, underlining or italics. Try to avoid coloured font and shading as they can be distracting.
There are many headings that you could include in your resume. Choose those that best showcase the skills and experience that the employer is looking for in the job you are applying for.
Suggested Resume Headings
- Professional Experience
- Teaching Experience
- Key Competencies
- Career-Related Skills
- Computer Skills
- Coaching Experience
- University/Campus Involvement
- Community Involvement
- Professional Development
- Scholarships and Awards
- Hobbies and Interests
- Personal Achievements
Should I include a section on volunteering?
Volunteering is a great way to show commitment to your community and is viewed very favourably by employers. Including details about your volunteer experiences is a great way to build your resume.
Should I include an Interests or Hobbies section?
This is entirely up to you. For some people, it allows them to show a potential employer a more holistic view of themselves apart from their education and work experience.
Should I include an Activities and Interests section?
This is entirely up to you. It allows you to show a potential employer a more holistic view of themselves apart from their education and work experience.
Are references required?
Not necessarily, unless the employer has specifically asked for you to include references as part of your application. If you choose not to include your references in your resume, be sure to bring a list of references and their contact information to the interview.
References are people who can attest to your work style, academic profile and/or personal qualifications. You will want to include three references.
- Former employers
- High school counsellors
- Home stay families
- University staff members
If your formal experience is lacking or in a different field than the position you’re applying for, but you have the skills necessary to succeed in the role choose Functional (skills highlighted)
This approach highlights skills over work history. By examining the job posting, you can tailor 3-4 relevant skill-related sub headings and use bulleted points to provide evidence of your skills.
In place of a 'Highlights of Qualifications' section in a chronological resume, a functional resume may open with a 'Summary of Skills'. This section helps you to summarize the key skills that you possess that the employer is looking for in the job posting. Highlight skills you have acquired and how well you accomplish tasks.
Summary of Skills tips:
- Usually includes 2-4 subsections of skills that are chosen based on what is listed in the job posting.
- Begin statements with Action Words and think about showcasing an accomplishment.
- Be concise, but provide a clear example of HOW you have developed that skill.
- Each subsection usually has 3-5 bulleted points.
If you possess both the experience and skills necessary to fi ll the position and want to highlight both areas to the employer, choose Combination.
This approach stresses one’s skills and accomplishments, yet briefl y lists responsibilities and achievements from the chronological work history