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Resumes and Cover Letters  

 

Remember ...you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Make it a good one.

 

What is a Resume?

Resume Do's and Don'ts

Kinds of Resumes

Choosing References

Cover Letters

What Not to Put in a Resume or Cover Letter

Links to Resumes

Links to Cover Letters



What is a Resume?

A quick and easy to read summary of your educational background, work and volunteer experience, and skills.

The first contact the employer will have with you. Remember ...you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Make it a good one.

An extended calling card and memory jogger for the employer. Your primary goal must be to provide complete and relevant information for the employer.

Your "advertisement" that excites the "buyer"(the employer) to examine and evaluate the "product"(you). Its purpose is to get you that interview and is almost always introduced by a cover letter.


Is there one way to write a resume? No! There are many choices you can make around content and format of a resume. It is not just a matter of filling out a ready made resume format – whether from a printed or on-line source. To market yourself effectively, you need to strategize. Some factors to consider are:

What skills and abilities do I have that this job requires?
What is the most effective resume format for this job?

If you cannot answer the above questions, you may want to spend some time getting to know yourself as well as researching the occupation to find out its required skills and abilities. This helps you to determine what is relevant information to put into your resume for the job you are seeking.

Check out kinds of resumes to help you decide which kind you want to use. Each format will have its strengths and weaknesses. Certain employers may often prefer a certain format so you may want to research your prospective employer. The Job Search Handbook has some good examples that you might also want to take a look at.

 
Resume Do's and Don'ts

Do:
  • write your resume with commonly used language. Technical terms should only be used if they are necessary to describe the work you have done or the education you have.
  • use strong action words to describe your skills/experience. Use short, bulleted, point form statements, not sentences.
  • clearly set off headings/sub-headings and large margins with lots of white space.
  • outline your accomplishments.
  • use a computer and effects such as bolding and underlining.
  • print your resume with a quality laser printer or have copies printed on a high-quality photocopy machine
  • use white or light coloured (cream, grey, or ivory for example) 81/2 x 11 bond paper. Stay away from flashy colours or odd sizes.
  • staple the pages of your resume. Don't bind it or put it in any type of folder. include a short and simple cover letter.
  • proof-read! Avoid any typos or grammatical errors. Read it out loud. Have someone else check it a second and third time.
  • keep your resume two or three pages in length ( note: there may be exceptions where longer resumes may be the norm – do your research!).
  • be honest.

Don't:

  • Don't use the word "I", write in the third person.
  • Don't use abbreviations except those that are well known.
  • Don't present the information scattered around the page, BE ORGANIZED.
  • Don't use long paragraphs and sentences. This takes too long to say too little.
  • Don't submit a resume that is poorly typed and printed and that is hard to read. Your resume will look unprofessional and so will you.
  • Don't give only the bare essentials of dates and job titles. Tell them what you did; they want to see how you made a contribution to your previous place of employment, especially in the last 5-10 years.
  • Don't include personal information: height, weight, sex, health, marital status are not needed and should not be included on today's resumes.
  • Don't use fancy typesetting, binders, photographs or exotic paper. This confuses the reader. Clean and simple is best.
  • Don't lie. You can be fired for making false statements on your resume. Besides a resume is supposed to represent you and the skills you have, not someone else's.

 
Kinds of Resumes

There are a number of different resume formats that can be chosen. In choosing which format to use, you need to consider the strengths and weaknesses of each format and then choose the format that works best for you. Your strategy as to what to include and how to include can be critical to you getting an interview.

Chronological Resumes
Functional Resumes
Combination Resumes

Chronological Resumes

Characteristics:

- the most familiar type of resume

- lists education and experience in reverse chronological order, starting with your most recent experience and working backwards

- lists employers, dates, and responsibilities

Use it when:

the job is in line with your experience and academic background

your work history is stable and consistent

Avoid it if you have:

performance problems

not grown with your work

made many job changes

had long stretches of unemployment

decided on changing careers

Sample #1 Chronological Resume


Functional Resumes
Characteristics:

highlights skills and accomplishments

may omit highlighting past employment history entirely or may only highlight past employers with no job titles or responsibilities

Use it when:

you have held a number of unrelated jobs

the position you are looking for is outside your experience and training

there are long gaps in your work history

your career has taken a number of turns

you have been unemployed for a long time and you are now re-entering the work force

you have changed jobs frequently

Sample #1 Functional Resume

Other Resume samples


Combination Resume
Characteristics:

combines the chronological and the functional resume

highlights your skills and capabilities for the job you are targeting

highlights your past employment history with responsibilities and accomplishments

Use it when:

you want to emphasize your transferable skills as well as a steady work history with demonstrated growth

you have nothing you want to de-emphasize.

Sample #1 Combination Resume


 

Links to Resumes

There are many excellent on-line links for information on creating resumes. However do not forget to check out excellent print resources at your library, school or local career centre. You may even want to sign up for a resume workshop or seek individual help from a resume writing professional.

Here are some of our top on-line picks:

Resumes– Creative Job Search Manual – American
This site offers basic principles and strategies of writing resumes. Includes information on resume formats as well as how to list your skills.

Writing Your Resume- Okanagan College
Topics on this site include: Resume and Covering Letters, Action Verbs, Resume Organization, Pointers on Presentation.


Youth Canada


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