The first step of the job search process is to create a resume that represents you as the ideal candidate for the position you’re applying for. This can seem like a daunting task because a strong resume requires you highlight your skill sets and past job experiences in a way that will impress prospective employers and stand out against the potentially numerous candidates applying for the same role.
For current students and alumni of Robertson, we encourage you to reach out to our Career Services department for support with your resume writing. Our representatives are well versed in the elements of a strong resume that make it stand out to employers.
We also encourage you to read the 15 tips below to help guide your resume writing.
1. Begin the Writing Process With Research
It’s important to customize your resume for each job you are applying for. If you submit a generic resume to each prospective employer, your resume will seem too broad and will not adequately address the needs of each position you’re applying for.
Research the employer and the job description, identify the challenges the employer is facing, and demonstrate how you can overcome these challenges in your cover letter and resume.
2. Organize Your Thoughts Before You Begin Writing
Employers and hiring managers often look at each resume they receive for less than 30 seconds on their initial read-through.This means you have 30 seconds to clearly communicate your readiness for the position.
Organize your resume so that the most pertinent information or required qualifications are summarized at the top of the page and can easily be discovered by prospective employers.
One tip our Career Services advisors suggest is to jot down bullet points that list the job experiences you’d like to highlight in the order they will appear on your resume. This will act as a skeleton for the resume you will eventually create.
3. Highlight your Skills Rather Than Past Duties
When tackling the ‘summary’ section at the top of your resume, illustrate what skills you have demonstrated in the past rather than including detailed descriptions of your duties.The ‘summary’ section can also include your areas of expertise, key career accomplishments, and how your skills can benefit the prospective employer.
Leave out personal information like your family and interests, and avoid simply listing your skills. Overall, when writing your resume, do not think of it as a biography of your career, but more of a marketing piece demonstrating the value you can provide to a company.
4. Place Keywords From the Job Description into Your Resume
One easy way to make your resume stand out is to insert direct language from the job description into your application. For example, if the employers ad asks for ‘qualified office assistant with two years experience in the sales industry’, you may consider mentioning in your resume that you’re a ‘qualified office assistant with over two years in the sales industry’.
Of course, this is only applicable if the information you’re replicating from the job description accurately describes your own training or work history.
5. Proofread, Proofread, Proofread
Spell-checking and using proper grammar and punctuation go a long way to demonstrate your professionalism to prospective employers. Proofread your resume two or three times, and when you’re done, have someone else proofread it too. Again, we encourage current students and alumni of Robertson to reach out to our Career Services department for support with resume writing, including proofreading.
6. Include Measurables in Your Resume
If possible, mention specific measurables in your resume from past employment opportunities, For example, if 80% of client interactions were converted into sales at your previous job, include this information in your resume. Concrete, measurable targets help prospective employers get a sense of how you can truly impact their business.
7. Omit Irrelevant Work Experience
If you worked as a dog groomer for a summer during high school and are now applying for a position as a pharmacy technician, it probably doesn’t make sense to include this outdated, and irrelevant job experience on your resume. Make sure that each piece of information included on your resume speaks towards your readiness for the position you’re currently applying for.
8. Keep Your Resume Simple
When our Career Services representatives coach students on how to make their resumes standout, they always mention that simplicity is key. This means leaving out any fancy fonts or colourful templates, and opting for easy-to-read layouts organized by bullet points and headers.
There are great online references for simple resume templates, and many electronic writing platforms provide their own simple templates for free.
9. Don’t be Afraid to Use Headers
We receive a lot of resumes for job openings at Robertson that read like one long letter. It’s important to break up your resume into organized, chronological headers that are further divided into categories such as ‘work’, ‘education’ and ‘volunteer’.
The easier the information contained within your headings is to find for hiring managers, the more likely you’ll be selected for an interview.
10. List Your Education at the Bottom of Your Resume
While many job hunters place their education at the top of their resumes, this isn’t necessarily the best approach in terms of highlighting content that is most relevant to the prospective employer.
If the employer has asked for all candidates to have some sort of education or training they will know to look for this information under the corresponding header, but what is different about your resume is the unique work experiences that have brought you to apply for this specific job.
Beginning the resume by listing your last employer and the tasks you were responsible for will immediately showcase what sets your resume apart from the competition.
11. Include Relevant URLs in Your Resume
One way you can make your resume stand out is by including links to relevant URLs at the top of your application along with the rest of your contact information. Do you have a Linkedin page you actively update? Do you keep a website that includes past work examples?
Details like this will give your resume that extra touch of professionalism and thoughtfulness that employers look for when making tough decisions about which candidates to bring in for an interview.
12. Add a Cover Letter
In the same way you’ve learned to customize your resume for each employment opportunity, you should also consider including a customized cover letter in your application.
A cover letter is easy to create and is intended to act as another opportunity to highlight the skills you possess that will benefit the prospective employer. A cover letter should be no more that one page with approximately 3-5 paragraphs and should only include the top examples of how your education and past job experiences will allow you to excel in the role you’re currently applying to.
13. Include Up-To-Date References
Whether you include your references on your resume or you send them over to an employer after they’ve requested you to do so, it’s very important that you give the individuals you’ve chosen as references a warning they may be contacted.
This will allow them to prepare their thoughts and review any examples that highlight skill sets necessary for this particular job opportunity.
Another consideration regarding references is to choose people who have a recent understanding of your work ethic. An instructor from the last 3 years or employers form your last two long-term jobs are always good bets. For current students and alumni of Robertson, consider asking a favourite instructor to act as reference for your resume.
14. Give Your Resume a Proper Name
Naming your resume, ‘Resume’ will signal to employers that you’re sending the same copy to multiple organizations. Instead, consider including your initials in the name of your resume as well as the title of the job you’re applying for as listed on the job description.
This will not only help employers note who the application belongs to, but it will also indicate that you’ve taken the time to customize your resume.
15. Send Your Resume in a PDF Format
This tip is small but important – send your resume as a PDF so that the formatting isn’t compromised when you send a copy over email. Converting your resume into a PDF will also ensure it isn’t tampered with and remains true to the content you originally created.
Whether you’re applying for a job opportunity with Robertson, or another reputable employer, ensuring your resume is well structured, error-free, and clearly highlights the relevant skill sets for the job in question, will undoubtedly raise your chances of receiving an interview. If you’re a current student or an alumni, we hope you’ll reach out to our Career Services department for support with every point listed above and more. We’re here to help!