Tips On Preparing a Résumé

Career Development Capability CFEE12.03.18

A résumé is a written summary of your work, education, and experience as well as other abilities you have that make you a candidate for a particular job. It is your “ad,”if you like, illustrating your strengths and abilities and why you would be a good person to hire for a particular job.

Most young Canadians have had little experience in preparing résumés. But yet résumés are an important tool for you in your job search. There is no standard format. You should investigate different approaches and styles to develop the résumé that best suits you and the job for which you are applying.

It is important to note that you should never send in your résumé alone.You should always include a covering letter.The covering letter should be specific to the job for which you are applying. You should introduce yourself, state why you are interested in the position, and why you think you are well suited for the job. Your cover letter should be no longer than one page – a page and a half at most.Therefore, conserve words. Be clear and concise. Most employers will have many letters and résumés to read and review. They won’t spend a long time on any single one. You will have to have yours make a quick, and good, impression.

In addition, check grammar and spelling carefully. Nothing will get a résumé to the bottom of the pile quicker than spelling mistakes and bad grammar.

The following are some general tips for preparing a résumé.

  • Don’t trivialize your accomplishments. Some things that may seem small to you may be a sign to a potential employer of particular skills and abilities. For example, babysitting may seem like a trivial thing to note.
  • Quantify your accomplishments where possible. How many children did you care for or supervise? For how long? How many children were you responsible for at camp? How many newspapers did you deliver? When the numbers help to convey the scale of your activity or responsibility, use them.
  • Use action words to describe your responsibilities and accomplishments, words such as: organized, created, demonstrated, supervised, managed, co-ordinated, developed. These words imply particular abilities and skills. Furthermore, even if the activity that you co-ordinated is unrelated to the job for which you are applying, the fact that you have served as a co-ordinator could be very relevant.
  • Your objective with your résumé should be to sell yourself. It should represent you well, covering all of your strengths, skills, accomplishments, and abilities. You want it to show, as best it can, how you stand out from other applicants.
  • However, considerable babysitting experience shows responsibility. It also shows that you took the initiative to get out and work and earn some income. The responsibility of looking after a child is far from trivial and can reflect the confidence that other adults have had in your abilities.
  • Be proud of things you have done. Think of what they may imply about you and your abilities.
  • Avoid gimmicks. They usually do not impress. Further- more, it is the content, rather than the style or format, that will make your résumé stand out. Therefore, don’t go to a great deal of effort and expense to have your résumé prepared in some fancy fashion.
  • Although content is more important than format, format is important too. Prepare your résumé neatly on good quality paper and bind it well and attractively if submitting a hard copy.
  • Do not include a long list of personal statistics such as age, height, and weight. This is excess information. Simply indicate your name, address, contact numbers, and any abilities you have in speaking various languages.
  • Keep in mind that your résumé should answer the following questions for a potential employer: Why should I pick you? Why are you right for this job? Why are you better than the other applicants?
  • When you can, present your résumé in person rather than by mail or e-mail. It puts a face to the paper and may provide you with an early opportunity to make a positive impression.
  • Keep the structure of your résumé as flexible as possible so that you can easily change it. You may recall something you want to add, or you may want to tailor it for a specific job application.
  • Keep it up to date. Change it when you acquire more education or experience – or when you develop a new skill.
  • Offer references upon request; do not include them on your résumé. Do not put a great deal of reliance on letters of reference. Most employers feel that it is the rare person who will not be able to find someone who will say nice things about him or her. Besides, it is often difficult for employers to know if the letters are from friends. On the other hand, some references may be particularly helpful if they are from persons known by the company – or who are with a company in a similar line of work. Often an employer will contact references before making the final decision to hire you. They will do so to make sure your references help support their decision, and to make sure there are no surprises.

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