Writing an effective resume
Writing an effective resume is always a "work
in progress." You'll change jobs, take on new responsibilities
and apply for a variety of positions during your career. Each
time this happens means another alteration to your resume.
Despite these changes, however, there are a few key points
to consider whenever writing or updating your resume, such
What is a resume?
What should a resume include?
Additional resume tips
What is a resume?
Just as you are searching for a particular position,
hiring managers are looking for candidates to do a specific
job. Your resume is the first step in their decision of why,
or why not, they should choose you.
Essentially, a resume is a document that highlights
and explains your education, experience and accomplishments
related to your field of employment. In today's job market,
a resume is an essential tool that you will use to advertise
and market yourself to prospective employers.
People sometimes confuse a resume with a wish
list. The purpose of a resume is not to summarize what you
want, but instead what you can do for a potential employer.
What better way to do that, than to show them what you've
already done? Your resume should therefore be a summary of
your most relevant achievements and responsibilities related
to the position you're applying for. Those experiences that
are irrelevant to the job should be left out.
The bottom line is that your resume is one of
many under consideration. In order to get the interviewer's
attention, and hence get an interview, keep your resume focused
on the specific position that you are applying for, and highlight
those points that will entice the hiring manager into wanting
to meet with you. To do that, focus on the points that illustrate
why you are a suitable and qualified candidate for the position.
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What should your resume include?
||Contact information, including
your name, address, phone number and e-mail address, should
be clearly stated. Omit your work number if you do not
wish to be contacted there.
||Do not list your marital status,
weight, age, race or gender. This information does not
belong on a resume.
||Never list your
salary expectations. You can be guaranteed the salary
you list will either be too high or too low, and you will
ultimately place yourself out of opportunities.
||Do not include the reason why
you left or want to leave a position. These things are
always better explained in person.
Summary of qualifications
||Begin with a short list of
qualifications that are relevant to the position you're
||All technical knowledge should
be summarized at the beginning of your resume. Include
a list of all operating systems, hardware/software and
programming languages that you have experience with.
||Forget the objective at the
top of your resume. Such information is more suited to
a cover letter, and stating a specific objective could
result in your being overlooked for alternative positions.
If you must list one, make sure it is relevant.
||The body of your resume should
be structured in such a way that your work experience
is listed in reverse chronological order (most recent
position first). Include your title or position held,
company name, location and dates of employment, including
the month and year. When you omit dates from your resume,
it could look like you're trying to hide something.
|| Include a description of your
responsibilities and major achievements at each position.
This is your opportunity to brag about yourself, and in
turn, to show future employers what you can do for them.
||Keep it detailed. Always list
specific responsibilities, achievements and technical
skills. Never assume that the reader knows what you do
and how you do it.
|| Concentrate the most detail
on your most recently held position, and put less emphasis
on formerly held positions.
||Remember to show where you
used specific technology throughout your resume.
|| Don't "sell yourself
short." Too many people leave out important experience
by trying to keep their resume to a certain page limit.
|| Eliminate gaps in your work
history wherever possible. If this is not feasible, then
make sure that you have a good explanation ready for the
||List all your post-secondary
education, including degrees, diplomas, certifications
||Include all education, whether
it is completed, current or ongoing.
||Include where and when your
education was completed (with dates).
||List only those achievements
and experiences that are relevant to the position you're
applying for. Examples are related volunteer work, awards
|| Eliminate irrelevant information.
A resume is not about what you like or enjoy, it is a
tool to show an employer what you can do for them.
||Do not include a list of your
"hobbies/interests." Your resume is not the
place to make mention of your love of gardening, dog walking
or weightlifting. While these activities are important
to you, they are more fitting for a personal ad than a
resume, and all such points should be omitted.
||Keep this section brief - too
much information can be detrimental.
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Additional resume tips
||Never submit your resume for
a position that you are not qualified for. Doing this
makes you look unprofessional, and it shows a potential
employer that you have not taken the time to read the
requirements they took the time to write. Besides, you
are not going to fit a square peg in a round hole!
||Don't limit your resume to
one or two pages. Your resume is your opportunity to advertise
your skills, and your chance to show a potential employer
how you can be an asset to their team. Don't limit yourself
to merely listing a few "duties" from your last
position. A resume can easily be 3-4 pages in length -
as long as the information is relevant and pertains to
the position you're applying for.
||Avoid being a "jack of
all trades." While it is valuable to have adaptable
skills, most hiring managers are looking for specialists,
and listing a variety of irrelevant skills shows a lack
of focus. Bottom line: if it's not suitable, then don't
||Don't use the first or third
person. Avoid words like "I" or "my"
as such terms are unprofessional. Instead, begin sentences
with assertive words such as "Developed..."
or Managed a team
" Furthermore, do not refer
to yourself in the third person, for example, "Johnny
was the team lead
" or "Sarah successfully
||Remember to use bullet points,
as they are easier and faster to read than paragraph format.
||Use "action" words
such as lead, organized, achieved, administered, developed,
implemented, planned, maintained, devised, established,
||Avoid spelling, grammatical
and typographical errors. These errors are both inexcusable,
and a guaranteed way to take yourself out of contention.
Always have someone else proofread your resume just to
||Do not indicate that your "references
are available upon request." This is a given.
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