Sunday, September 14, 2014

How To Write A Resume

how to write resume
When I was fourteen I was set on getting a job as a cashier at the local grocery store. Having a uniform and name tag, confidently clicking in codes from memory, exchanging brief pleasantries with customers, organizing their groceries into bags was all that I wanted. Alas I applied and applied again, but never did receive an interview. One good thing did come out of the process: my first resume, which I've since developed and used to apply for many positions, some of which with greater success than others. Just this past year, I used my resume to apply for residency.

Here is the basic resume template that I use:
how to write resume
how to write resume

Here's a brief run-down of what I put in each section:
  1. Identifying Information -- Name, address, and contact information (phone number, email).
  2. Objective (optional!) -- A "To..." statement of what you would like to achieve. Keep it general or use the name of the company to which you are applying. Half the time I forgo this section and write a cover letter instead.
  3. Education -- List of schools and dates attended. Provide the name of the degree obtained (for university). I may also include my GPA and the city that the school is in (if it is different from the city in which I am applying for the job).
  4. Skills (optional!) -- Point form list of skills/qualifications. I don't include this; instead, I elaborate on relevant skills in my cover letter.
  5. Honours & Awards -- If you have received any awards, list their names and the years that you received them. Descriptions of the awards are optional (for brevity I don't include them).
  6. Extracurricular Activities -- List activities and years involved; descriptions are optional.
  7. Volunteer Experience -- List organizations and years involved. In the description mention what position you held within the organization (e.g. museum interpreter) and what you did; alternatively forgo the description and just list the position after the organization name.
  8. Work Experience -- Similar to the Volunteer Experience section, but for paid jobs.
  9. Hobbies & Interests (optional!) -- While this section is optional, I think it's an important way to differentiate yourself from other candidates by showing employers a bit about who you are -- which can only help you to stick in their minds!
  10. References -- Although it is acceptable to replace this section with "References available on request." it's probably beneficial to list a few references. This not only shows that you were serious enough about the job to have organized references, but saves the employer the trouble of contacting you again to request references. Be sure to ask references (teachers, coaches, volunteer/work supervisors) whether they mind being listed on your resume as references to apply for scholarships/volunteer positions/jobs. Double check that you have their correct email and phone number!
Finally, some tips on keeping your resume looking professional:
  • spell check!! (it doesn't hurt to have someone else proofread it as well)
  • be consistent (with capitalization, spacing, verb tense, etc.)
  • make it easy to read (standard font, 12-point size, well-spaced)
  • 2 pages max. (there are exceptions; but in general try to keep it to 2 pages or less)
  • if printing a 2-page resume double-sided, draw an arrow on the bottom right corner
  • keep descriptions concise -- make every word count
  • arrange lists in a logical order (usually chronologically; otherwise by importance)
  • keep it updated regularly (it's easier to insert a line when you sign up for something new than to do a huge overhaul later, when you've already forgotten what you needed to add)
While this is the template I use, there are lots of other options (a quick Google search can give you some ideas). Most schools and universities have career/guidance councillors, who are good resources for resume help as well!

Whenever I submit my resume, I generally include a cover letter. Cover letters are often overlooked, but are an important opportunity to portray yourself as a good prospective candidate.

If you have any tips that may be helpful for resume writing, please leave them in the comments!

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