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42 Résumé Dos and Don'ts Every Job Seeker Should Know

If this seems a bit much, try this more condensed tip site.

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Résumé Tips

Regardless of what type of job you are applying for, as you prepare your resume remember the following tips:
  • Address what the employer is looking for right away. If the job posting says that they want someone with a high school diploma that is reliable and has hands-on experience in the field, make sure you draw attention to those qualifications in your personal profile. If this information is not easy to find you may be screened out. Using key words will also help your resume get noticed. At the same time, if you are missing some of the items in the job posting it is not the end of the world. Often the job posting represents a wish list and employers are prepared to find the best fit based on the candidates that apply.
  • Demonstrate any and all practical experience you have in the field. This could be through previous jobs, work placements, or volunteering. The employer wants to see the action that backs up the words. Focus on accomplishments, use active verbs (e.g. achieved, sold, increased, improved) and try to demonstrate the results that were achieved.
  • Show them your human side. These are called “soft skills” or “employability” skills and involve who you are as a person. Employers are interested in your ability to communicate, work well with others, act responsibly, and deal with problems. Your Personal Profile is an ideal place to put the spotlight on these characteristics.
  • Use action verbs when describing your work experience. They give strength to your resume and make potential employers take notice of your accomplishments and skills. For example, rather than making a passive statement such as “responsible for invoices”, it should be phrased as “validated and processed invoices for payment”.
  • Use keywords to pass an electronic review. These days many employers scan resumes electronically, so use words that appeared in the job posting and on the company website. Also, use words that are specific to the occupation or industry.
  • When applying electronically it is best to develop an electronic resume. To create an electronic resume remove any text formatting (bold, underline, italics, etc.). Do not use columns or shading. CAPITALIZE words rather than using
     

    bold

    in order to draw attention to them. Use dashes (-) instead of bullets for lists. Do not tab any lines. Put your name and address on separate lines and use lots of white space to separate elements visually.

  • Structure your resume so that it highlights your strengths (education or experience).
  • Consider replacing “Employment Objective” with a “Personal Profile” or “Career Summary” that overviews your career successes.
  • Focus on your most relevant and recent work experience, not necessarily every job you have ever held.
  • In general, a resume should be no more than two pages in length. Be concise. Your resume should be easy to read and uncluttered.
  • Make sure your resume looks professional. Use good quality white or off-white paper and print on a laser printer.
  • Do not include irrelevant information such as SIN number, marital status, or birth date.
  • Never lie!
  • Include 3 references. They will likely help land you an interview, but make sure you get their permission before including them.
  • A resume should be typed, unless an employer indicates otherwise.
  • Double-check for errors and typos – your computer’s spell check will not flag an incorrect word that is spelled correctly. Ask someone else to review and evaluate your resume

Résumé Sections

While the order and structure will change depending on the format you choose to use, all resumes should contain the following sections:

Header

This is the section of your resume where you include all of your contact information. You should state your full name, complete mailing address, home or mobile phone number, and email address. Remember, make sure you have a professional sounding voicemail for whatever number you choose to include on your resume.

Skills & Experience

The skills and experience section is where you detail all relevant skills and employment/volunteer history. The look of this section will vary depending on the resume style you choose.

Education & Training

Generally follows the skills and experience section, unless your education is your greatest asset. This section outlines the level of education you have attained. Include basic details such as the name and location of the school, degree/diploma attained, your major, and your graduation year. If you did not graduate indicate the years attended and how many courses you have completed. You should also include any additional professional certifications, licenses, or special training you have received.

Other potential sections to include are:

Career Objective

The purpose of the career objective is to tell the employer what it is you want to do. It is best used when you have a specific position in mind. This section appears right after the header and should be short and specific.

Career Summary

Also appears right after the header. This is best used if you are not sure what positions an organization might have to offer. While you can use both a career objective and a career summary, it is best to choose one or the other. The career summary is generally one or two sentences that highlight specific skills that would be relevant to the potential job.

Computer/Technical Skills

Is an important section if you are applying for a job that requires specialized technical or computer skills.

Awards/Achievements

This section is an opportunity to showcase any awards that are relevant to the job opening.