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Career Corner: Writing an effective resume

Susan Coyne, Career Services Consultant | Career Services Consultant, Fanshawe Career Services | News | October 8th, 2007



Most job seekers appreciate that one of the most important tools required in the job search is the resume and covering letter. First impressions are lasting ones so your resume needs to stand out favourably. Much like writing an advertisement to sell something on eBay, your resume needs to be written effectively to promote your product (YOU) to prospective employers. Highlight your skills, education and abilities as they relate to each job you are applying for, even if it means more work for you in the long run by having to rewrite your resume each time.

We've learned over the years that you can't please everyone all of the time, and this can be especially true with regards to writing a resume. What constitutes a good resume is often subjective based on the reader's experience with reviewing resumes, job requirements and personal preference. And, while your resume won't get you a job, it should get you that all-important interview.

Here are some general tips on writing your resume:

1. Ensure that your resume is well organized, easy to read, factual, honest and positive.

2. Keep your resume to two pages. Any longer and it becomes work to read it. A one-page resume may not provide enough detail to arouse interest.

3. It should be to the point (you do not have to use complete sentences). Use descriptive verbs to describe your achievements, skills, responsibilities and activities.

4. Proof read and spell-check your resume. It should be error free!

Getting Started:

Start by creating a list of information about you. Many of the following headings will be appropriate.

- Name: If you call yourself Andy Scott, fine. If you are Andrew Scott, use that. Above all just be consistent.

- Address & Telephone: Make sure all the information about your postal address is correct — don't forget your postal code. Include all of your numbers (voice, fax, cellular,) as well as the correct area code.

- Email address: Here's where you may need to reconsider that cutesy email address bigdaddy@hotmail.com or sexychick21@gmail.com. Employers will identify with you for all the wrong reasons if you don't. Be professional and create an email address that has some elements of your name in it.

- Education: Start with your most recent education and work backwards. List College/University, High School, with Diplomas or Degrees granted, (or year expected), with the cities, provinces, years attended and years of graduation. It may also be useful to an employer if you mention relevant courses that you have completed.

- Skills or qualifications: Summarize the job specific skills you have to demonstrate to the employer. Include the skills that are relevant to the position you are applying for. Transferable skills are subjective, so if you include them mention where and how you developed them.

- Employment History: Again start with your most recent experience and work backwards. Include Employer/Company Name, with the city, province, the years and months, your job title, a brief description of your duties and responsibilities, and mention any special projects or initiatives that you completed.

- Volunteer work or community service: List the names of organizations you volunteered with, include the years, any elected position you may have held, and a brief description of your responsibilities.

- Awards and achievements: List any special awards from work, scholastic achievements or community activities.

- Hobbies and interests/memberships: Mention your spare-time activities. Include a list of memberships in professional organizations with their full name rather than just acronyms or abbreviations.

- References: Few employers check references prior to an interview so you aren't obliged to include references on your resume. Instead, have a separate page with your complete contact information on the top. List only appropriate references and make sure you contact each of them for permission before you list them. Confirm with them the proper spelling of their name, title or position, company, address and telephone number. Following any interview make sure to call your references to advise that the employer may contact them.

Need help writing your resume or cover letter? Why not drop by the Career Services office located in Room F2010 for a copy of one of our job search booklets, which contain helpful hints on creating your resume and conducting a positive job search. The Career Services staff are available to assist you on an individual basis. Visit the office in F2010 to arrange an appointment with the consultant responsible for your program or call 519 452-4294. For Fanshawe student job listings visit www.fanshawec.ca/careerservices
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