Are you ready to apply for your first job? Maybe you’ve been working for awhile but want to move on to something new. What do you need to apply for that job? A resume.
Below, we’ve outlined some important information you should include on your resume and some of the do’s and don’ts of resume writing. Use this guide as a reference and remember that you can always adjust the formatting and information of your resume to suit what you think matters the most. At the end of the day, it is up to you to create a resume that represents you in the most authentic and complimentary way possible.
WHAT IS A RESUME?
A resume is a document that tells an employer who you are and why you are a good fit for the job you’re applying for. There are a few key pieces of information that an employer wants to get from your resume. Before you start writing your resume there are a couple things you’ll need to do.
HOW TO START
Start by listing out all your experience including jobs, work experience, classes you’ve taken, volunteer positions and personal projects. You will refer to this list for inspiration about what to put into the sections of your resume.
Next, think about who your references could be. A reference is someone that a future employer will contact to ask questions about your work experience and work ethic to make sure that the job is a good fit for you. Employers can be a good reference if you left on good terms. Other great references include someone you have done volunteer work for, a teacher or school counselor, or a family friend. It is important to ASK these people if they are comfortable being a reference before you add them to your resume.
Who does not make a good reference? An employer from a job which you left on bad terms, a close family member such as a sibling or parent, or someone you haven’t known very long.
WHAT TO INCLUDE
When an employer picks up your resume there are a few things they want to know right away: What is your name? Where are you located? How do I get a hold of you?
These questions should all be answered at the top of your resume.
1234 Alphabet St., Victoria, BC
Some people choose to put a summary into their resume. If you choose to add a summary to your resume, make sure it is unique. “Obtain a full-time position with your organization” is very vague. Employers know you want a job, that’s why you gave them your resume in the first place.
Instead, tell the employer why YOU deserve the job. Try something like this: “Hard-working labourer with 2 years of construction related experience. I will add value to a team of like-minded individuals with a goal of exceeding client expectations safely and efficiently.” This tells the employer a lot more about who you are and what kind of employee you may be. If you have any accomplishments you want to highlight, you can add them here as well. Here’s an example: “voted employee of the month in August 2019 for my excellent communication with customers.”
Work and volunteer experience should be listed reverse chronologically (from most recent to least recent). Start each job with a heading that includes the position you worked, the name of the company and the dates you were there (month and year).
Under the heading include the key tasks you performed. Think about what you did at the job. Maybe you were responsible for handling money, cleaning or customer service. Whatever you did on the job, this is where you list it.
Here is an example of listed work experience:
Labourer, XYZ Construction, February 2017 – October 2018
- Assisted carpenters in framing and concrete forming
- Performed cleaning and maintenance tasks to ensure the jobsite was safe and free of obstructions
Senior Basketball Team Captain, John Smith High School, September 2016 – June 2017
- Used teamwork and interpersonal skills to lead John Smith Senior Basketball team to regional championship
- Organized and oversaw fundraising initiatives for travel expenses
The education section is used to list any formal education you have received that may be relevant to the work you are applying for. Any credentials should be listed here. When including education always list the name of the program and credential, the name of the education institution and the date the credential was received.
Here’s an example: Dogwood Diploma, John Doe High School, June 2017.
You can also list any employment certificates in this section. Employment certificates can include Workplace Hazardous Materials Identification System (WHMIS), First Aid, Food Safe, etc. When listing these certificates, always add the expiration date (if applicable).
An example of this could be: Occupational First Aid Level One, ABC Ambulance, October 2018 (Expires September 2021).
This is where you tell the employer what you will bring to the table. What can you do better than everyone else? What have you been complimented on in the past?
It can be very tricky to answer these questions yourself. It may take some time to come up with what you’d like to add here. If you struggle to come up with skills to add to your resume, you can talk to some of the people you are close to; a parent, colleague, boss, friend may be able to tell you what skills they see you demonstrate.
Here are some skills employers may take notice:
- Detail Oriented
- Self Motivated
- Problem Solving
- Critical Thinking
- Interpersonal Skills
- Active Learning
- Decision Making
- Customer Service
A great way to show these skills are to highlight them in your experience as well. Look at the examples in the “experience” section to see how these skills can be worked into the section.
References are usually found at the bottom of your resume. Included with each reference should be the persons name, your relationship to them (ex. “manager at ABC Pizza” or “Wood Shop Teacher at John Doe High School”) and their phone number. People listed on your reference should be reflected somewhere in your education or relevant experience sections. An employer will be confused if you use a reference from a company that is not listed previously in your resume.
Here is an example of a reference:
Jane Doe, Foreman at XYZ Construction
When the employer sees this resume, they will look at my experience and see that I worked at XYZ Construction from February 2017 to October 2018, making Jane Doe a relevant person to talk to about hiring me.
One Page Only
Remember, you’re writing an entry-level resume. You want to highlight your strengths; not list everything you can do. An employer is going to search your resume for what they want to see. Make it one page so the employer can find what they want at a glance. If they want more details from you, they’ll ask in an interview or phone call.
Don’t compress three pages worth of information onto one page by using tiny font and margins. Leave some white space to give the employer’s eyes a break.
Just like in the last tip, employers are looking for bits of information, not an essay. If an employer wants to see exactly what your best skills are, they don’t want to search to find it. They want to see a relevant heading as soon as they look at it.