Résumé Tips

It may have been years since you last updated your résumé, or you may be wondering why so many good job opportunities have passed you by without notice. The answer may lie in the impression your résumé makes, as in this example.

How To Get The Most From Your Résumé

The job market is highly competitive and there may be dozens if not hundreds of applicants applying for the same position. Today, résumés have to be written better just to get read. You can overcome many of the competitive obstacles by turning your résumé into a fact-filled, sell sheet, presenting you and what you currently have to offer a prospective employer in a positive manner. The résumé must not just express what you have done in the past, but demonstrate what you can offer the employer who hires you.

A good résumé serves to:

  • open doors for you by grabbing the reader’s attention
  • help to get you an interview
  • organize your thoughts and help define a probable career path
  • present your transferable qualities in a clear and concise manner
  • become your own personal sales brochure
  • become the key instrument that a recruiting firm uses to more effectively represent you to employers

Résumé Styles

There are three basic styles of résumés used in industry today, and numerous guides can be found on this subject. For a clear and easy to read comparison refer to “Building the Perfect Beast” in “Get Back to Work! A No-Nonsense Guide For Finding Your Next Job Fast” published by Fitzhenry & Whiteside (author – Charles Grossner).

The chronological résumé is the most popular, easiest to read, and preferred by people doing the initial scanning. It is organized chronologically with the most current employer at the top of the list and then sequentially back in time, position by position, usually for 10 years (up to 15 years for people with extensive and relevant experience). It includes job titles, dates, responsibilities and accomplishments.

The functional résumé organizes your work history according to your accomplishments. You may have had success in production, marketing, operations, administration or human resources. These successes become the main points or headings of your functional résumé. This approach is often used when repositioning for a new career, or, when seeking a middle management or senior position where the emphasis is best placed on your core competencies. Additionally, the functional résumé is useful if you have had a seemingly unrelated series of jobs and you need to make sense of your checkered background.

The Curriculum Vitae (c.v.) is often confused with a résumé. It is actually a longer version of your life and work experience generally used, but not restricted to, the academic world. It elaborates on your educational experience including teaching, research, grants, awards, published papers, and affiliations. It is useful for individuals with the appropriate background applying for positions in an academic institution, scientific or research facility, or a consulting opportunity.

It is our experience, however, that the chronological résumé that presents your work history in sequence (most current experience first) combined with a strong Summary (positioning statement) and listing of Key Strengths, is the most popular with Human Resource professionals. Given a well organized design and judicious use of white space, it is particularly easy to scan and enables easy identification of applicant skills.

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Follow This “Format Guide” to Help Produce a Stand-Out Résumé…

Scroll down and point and click on each of the numbered “hotspot links” to view a full explanation of the résumé tutorial.

Summary numbers_02

Experience numbers_04

Work History numbers_05

Education numbers_07
numbers_01 Header
numbers_08 References

numbers_03 Strengths


Quick & Easy Résumé Preparation…

Here are a few helpful hints that will assist your résumé writing effort. Think back to all of the accomplishments you have achieved at your current and past employment.

It is usually only necessary to go back about 10 years in time to compile relevant material (15 years if your experience is extensive and related to the job you are targeting). Describe each of these accomplishments in a sentence, writing one per single sheet of paper.

As you document each of these “accomplishments”, ask yourself if you have adequately expressed the Problem you faced, described the Action you took, and explained the beneficial Results in terms that a new employer is able to appreciate. When you have completed the exercise, categorize each of your accomplishments according to its general content. For example: stack all the sheets that illustrate your “Leadership Ability” in one pile; the ones that exhibit “Interpersonal Skills” in another, and so on.

Next, review the career ads in the daily newspaper or those found on the electronic job boards (e.g. Workopolis.com or Monster.ca) for a period of one week, noting the words and terminology that the employers use to describe the skills they are seeking. For example, these might be: “results oriented & focused energies”, “a strong communicator of ideas”, “decisive” and the like. Highlight or copy down the words or skills that you feel describe you as well. Using your set of accomplishments, build a list of generic core strengths using the terminology that you copied from the ads. You will use this list of transferable strengths in the body of your résumé.

Research your target company and outline your skills, accomplishments and the benefit of hiring you in a strong and self-promoting manner. Each time you compose your résumé, write it to appeal to the reader’s specific interest.

Hints & Tips:
Remember, résumés are always written in the third person, but cover letters are composed in the first.

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