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Resumes

Employers and popular positions can receive upwards of 200 resumes for a single job posting. Your resume needs to effectively convey who you are, your skills, qualifications, and experience to stand out to a prospective employer. The main purpose of a resume and cover letter is to showcase your fit for a role, and land an interview. Studies have shown that recruiters spend as little as 6 seconds reviewing a resume to determine if a job candidate is suitable for a position.

To create an eye-catching resume, you will want to:

  • Tailor your resume for each job

  • Use industry specific language / keywords

  • Highlight your accomplishments and transferrable skills

  • Qualify and quantify (#, %, $) your resume statements by adding relevant details

  • Consistently format your resume content

  • Avoid personal pronouns (I, me, my), jargon, and uncommon abbreviations

  • Proofread to ensure that your resume is free of spelling or grammatical errors

 

Here are 5 more actions to consider while assembling your resume:

Knowing the Industry and Company

Generic, "one-size-fits-all" resumes and cover letters are an automatic turnoff for employers. In today's competitive labour market, submitting fewer job applications with high-quality resumes will yield better results than countless general resumes. Think quality over quantity.

To increase your chances of an interview offer, customize both your resume and cover letter to the specific company and position that you are applying to by including keywords and relevant experience. You will need to research your target industry, company, and job to properly tailor your resume.

 

Industry Research

Keywords are the relevant skills, experiences, and qualifications that an employer is seeking and will often vary by industry. Career and occupational profiles can provide a good overview of a role and its core responsibilities:

National Occupational Classification (NOC)

Career Cruising (Username: ryersoncruise   Password: 00ru01f)

O*Net

 

Job and Company Research

If you have a job description, review it carefully and highlight keywords by printing out the job ad or saving a copy of the description on your computer. Identify the skills and experience that the company is looking for in a potential candidate, and ensure that your resume closely reflects the qualifications that are being asked for in the job ad.

You should also research the company or organization that you are applying for.  Read their website, annual reports, news features, LinkedIn Company Page, and blogs to find out:

  • Their vision or mission statement
  • What they do
  • The services or products that they offer
  • What their future plans are
  • About their organizational culture

 

Formatting your Resume

Your resume needs to be well organized, clear, and concise. Make your resume easy to read by following the tips below:

  • Keep your resume to 1–2 pages maximum; if you have a two page resume, try to fill at least two-thirds of your second page

  • Use 1 inch margins

  • 10–12 point font for body text

  • Include clear headers for each section of your resume

  • Use bullet points for your resume statements instead of short paragraphs
Selecting your Resume Sections

The information you include in your resume will depend on your job target and the resume style you choose to help you highlight your skills. Recommended resume sections include:

Header

Includes your name, address, phone number, and professional e-mail address. You can also add your LinkedIn URL, Twitter handle (if you use Twitter for professional purposes), and personal website or blog.

Highlights of Qualifications / Summary of Qualifications / Professional Profile

A brief overview of your most relevant experience, skills, and qualifications that relate to the position you are applying for. This section offers a snapshot of your professional strengths, accomplishments, and includes both soft and hard skills. It should be no longer than 4–7 bullet points, and skills should be backed up with evidence of how you gained them.

Work Experience / Professional Experience

This section summarizes the paid jobs you have held, the responsibilities affiliated with your roles, and your performance outcomes/results. Depending on your work history, you might indicate 5–10 years worth of work experience.

Education

List your post-secondary education such as degrees, diplomas, or certificates. You can also include relevant courses and/or projects here. You do not need to mention your high school diploma.

 

Additional sections that you might include in your resume:

  • Volunteer Experience

  • Extracurricular Activities

  • Relevant Experience

  • Academic Projects

  • Achievements / Accomplishments / Awards

  • Technical Skills

  • Professional Development

  • Workshops / Conferences Attended

  • Certificates

  • Professional Associations

  • Publications

  • Presentations

  • Licenses

  • Interests

 

References

Do not list references on your resume. To save room on your resume, you can also remove the line “References Available Upon Request.” If an employer is interested in you as a job candidate, they will ask for your references.

Writing your Resume Statements

Grab an employer’s attention with your resume and demonstrate your personality by showcasing the positive impact that you have had in previous or current roles.  Write accomplishment statements to highlight your skills, experience, and achievements. Avoid duty statements, where you simply state your responsibilities or duties for a position.  Duty statement example:

  • Greeted customers and answered telephone calls
     

Use keywords to briefly describe what you did for a role, and indicate your result or value added.  You can use the framework below to help you craft a strong accomplishment statement:

Action Verb

Start each accomplishment statement with a strong action verb, and use the appropriate verb tense (i.e. past or present). Add variety to your statements by using different verbs throughout your resume. Refer to the Career Centre’s Action Verb List for more ideas.

Duty

What did you do in a past or current role? Highlight responsibilities that would be relevant or transferrable to the role that you are currently applying to.

Result

What value did you add? How did the organization benefit from your contribution? Answer the question — “So what?”

 

Qualify (by adding relevant details) and quantify (#, %, $) your accomplishment statements, when possible. Each resume statement or “bullet point” is 1–2 lines in length.

Accomplishment statement example:

Action Verb

Revised

Duty

Company X’s customer rewards program by adding sign-up bonus and 10% off discount incentive for Gold members

Result

to increase program registration rate by 15% in 1 month

 

Final resume statement:

  • Revised Company X’s customer rewards program by adding sign-up bonus and 10% off discount incentive for Gold members to increase program registration rate by 15% in 1 month
     

You can add even more impact to your accomplishment statement, by starting your statement with your “result” (followed by your “duty”):

  • Increased Company X’s customer rewards program registration rate by 15% in 1 month by adding sign-up bonus and 10% off discount incentive for Gold members

Organizing your Content

When positioning the content on your resume, it is important to list your most relevant information first so that you hook the reader in and they want to continue skimming the rest of your resume. There are many ways to organize a resume; however, the "big 3" formats are:

 

Chronological

This is the most common resume format and usually the most preferred by employers. A chronological resume lists your experiences in reverse chronological order, with your most recent experiences listed first. Choose this resume style if you:

  • have relevant experience in your field,
  • your work history demonstrates increasing responsibility, and
  • you do not have frequent employment gaps.

 

Functional

A functional resume focuses on skills and competencies. Relevant experiences are grouped under 3–4 main skills categories. This format is used to show a clear relationship between your skills and the position for which you are applying. Choose this resume style if you:

  • have little to no work experience,
  • are making a career change, or
  • are re-entering the job market.

 

Combination

This resume style combines elements from both the chronological and functional format. It organizes information by highlighting your skills, and listing your experiences in reverse chronological order.  Choose this resume style if you:

  • have experience that demonstrates transferrable skills,
  • are making a career change, or
  • are re-entering the job market.


We usually encourage students and alumni to use either a chronological or combination style resume.

If you have sent your application out to employers, don't know if your existing job search tools are effective, and or have used the resources and events noted here, check  out the 'Resume & Cover Letter Advising' or 'Online Profile Advising' appointments available with a Resume & Online Profile Advisor at the Career Centre.

For more tips, read: 'Building Your Profile - Online & Hard Copy' in CAREER COMPASS

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