Writing Professional Resumes

Resumes are a marketing tool used to tell a potential employer who you are and what skills, experience, education, and qualifications you have to offer. It should be updated frequently throughout your university career and customized to different types of jobs and occupations. There are various resume formats but it is most important that you use a format that best reflects your abilities and is most relevant to the job you are applying for. Always keep the employer in mind and think about what information they want to know about you. Remember, how your resume looks and is presented is as important as the content. It should be neat and easy to read. You resume can be either one or two pages in length but should not be more than two pages in length. Always spell check and grammar check your resume before giving it out.

Do not falsify any information on your resume as this can be grounds for dismissal after you are hired.

Customize Your Resume

Targeting your resume to each position is extremely important. It is your responsibility as a job seeker to research the position and company to determine what skills and experiences are most valued or necessary to the employer. Even if you are applying to similar types of positions, there will still be differences in the companies and changes that can be made to each resume. Think quality over quantity.

The order of the information on your resume should start with the most important down to the least. If an employer does not see anything that catches their attention on the first page, they may not look at the second page. Some information will appear on most resumes you send out, while other information may be omitted or only mentioned briefly, possibly the order of information may change. Always think about what the employer values and is looking for in a candidate. An employer will never assume you have certain skills, so it’s up to you to highlight what you have in a clear and concise fashion.

Use Strong Action Words

The way in which you describe your skills and experience on your resume can set you apart from the competition. People often write a list of job duties for each position, regardless if they are related to the work to which they are applying. You want to describe what you achieved, how you contributed, and what the result was. Any experiences or courses that you are describing in more detail should be in a bullet list format with each bullet describing a different accomplishment. Each bullet point should start with a strong action word. For example, instead of saying you have customer service experience, cash experience, and product sales experience, you might instead say: provided prompt and courteous service to customers in a fast paced environment; and collaborated with a team of 4 sales associates to exceed monthly sales goals by identifying and meeting customer needs.

Sample Resume Headings

  • Contact Information - At the top of the page, include your full name (bolded and larger than main text.), address, telephone number and e-mail address. Do not include any further information such as SIN, date of birth, etc.
  • Objective/Career Goal - This heading is optional, however it is beneficial to communicate to the employer your job focus/career goals. The objective should be as specific as possible. For example, “To obtain a position of ______, where I can develop my skills in_______ and _______.
  • Summary/Profile/Highlights- This optional section would be included after the objective (or in place of the Objective) and should only be used to highlight a maximum of 5 points that are VERY related to the position you are applying for. Anything mentioned here should be elaborated upon later in the resume.
  • Education - As with any information presented in the resume, proceed from most recent information to least recent. Begin with university education first, then any other diplomas or degrees. Include the degree program, name and location of institution attended and dates. You do not need to include High School.
  • Work Experience/Employment History - Indicate your job title, company name, location, and dates of employment. Emphasize and highlight the skills developed relevant to the job you are applying for. Focus on describing accomplishments and achievements rather than duties. Describe the positive results of your experience and indicate scope of responsibility using strong action and descriptive words to qualify experiences and quantify information when possible.
  • Relevant Experience - If you do not possess extensive work experience, use this heading to combine a variety of related experiences within the areas of work, school, volunteer, and internships. This heading will enable you to re-arrange and prioritize the most applicable experiences gained from all domains so that you have a really effective first page of your resume. The more related something is, the more in-depth the description should be. Be sure to indicate titles, company/school/course names, and dates for these and follow the same guidelines as the Work Experience section with how to describe what you did.
  • Other Experience- This heading can be used when you want to mention experiences that are not as relevant to the job, only describe these experiences briefly.
  • Relevant Courses or Projects- Rather than make a long list of the names of courses you have taken, choose a few that will demonstrate related skills and experience. Do not assume all professionals are familiar with the university curriculum, state relevant topics, assignments, software, etc. Alternatively, this section could also be a sub-heading under the Education section.
  • Other Areas - You may want to include other information that will give the employer some insights into your personality and suitability for the job. You should include dates with these. Consider using one or more of the following headings:Volunteer Work or Community/University Involvement, Activities /Interests, Memberships/Associations, Awards/Certifications, etc.

Other Resources

For more information on creating professional resumes view webinars in the Employment Toolbox, check out the Calendar of Events for upcoming workshops, check out the External Resources, or book a one-on-one consultation with the employment advisor.