Resumes and tools to apply for work

Tools to apply for work are the documents you will submit to an employer, they help determine if you are a good candidate for an interview. These tools highlight your key experiences and attributes that are linked to a specific job. 

  • Experiences: Paid or unpaid work, volunteer, education, training, professional development opportunities, and other relevant experiences (ie. student groups, job shadowing). 
  • Attributes: skills, interests, philosophies 

A resume, cover letter and other application tools must be made or altered for each job application. You do not need to include all experiences in every application, only highlight relevant information that effectively showcases your candidacy.

Components

Not all jobs require you to include all of these components, typically you will need a resume and cover letter. If other components are required, this will be listed in the job posting.

  • Resume: A resume is a document that provides an overview of your experiences and attributes that are relevant to a specific job application. 

  • Cover letter: A cover letter gives you an opportunity to substantiate a few of your most relevant experiences and/or attributes. 

  • Curriculum Vitae (CV): CVs are similar to resumes, they are generally used when looking for work in academia or research. Content focuses on research interests and experiences, publications and academic presentations. 

  • Portfolio: A portfolio is a collection of documents that illustrate achievements, skills and personal traits. 

  • Online Profiles: Online profiles, such as a Linkedin profile, accompany a resume or CV and can also be used to look for work. 

Resumes

There are four components to consider when writing a resume:

  1. Content:
    • Highlights relevant experiences and attributes.
    • Provide specific details and examples to qualify your content.
      • “Demonstrated interpersonal communication skills by advising 10 - 15 clients weekly and providing them with labour market information in one-on-one consultations.” 
    • Target language to your readers. 
    • Use connector words, for example: through, such as, for, which, etc.
  2. Formatting:
    • Resume Types: There are three types of resumes
      • Chronological Resumes: Highlights experiences in reverse chronological order (newer to older).
        • At the Career Centre, we typically focus on chronological resumes as they are easier for employers to scan and can be targeted with relevant sections.
      • Function Resumes: Highlights skills/key competencies.
      • Combination Resumes: Highlights key competencies and outlines work history.
    • Sections and Sequencing:
      • There are no specific rules as to what sections you should include in your resume, so you can create section titles that are relevant to a job and your experience.
      • Sequence sections based on relevancy of experiences to the job.
      • Common section titles: Note that not all sections need to be included
        • Highlights of Skills: A couple points that summarize your application.
        • Education: Post-secondary education
        • Experience: Work/volunteer
        • Technical Skills: Computer skills, software skills, languages, etc.
        • Additional Training: Workshops, seminars, certificate program, etc.
        • Professional Development: Professional associations and memberships
        • Extracurricular Activities
  3. Wording:
    • Target your resume by using keywords from the job posting.
    • Use action verbs that describe specific, transferable skills.
    • Place the keywords and action verbs at the start of content points
      • "Co-facilitated presentations for the International Student Work Study Program to help..."
      • "Initiated the design of workshops for..."
  4. Presentation: 
    • Can your resume be easily read and scanned? 
    • Tips:
      • Use type formatting, such as bold and capitalization, to create a hierarchy (but keep it simple and do not over do it)
      • Ensure consistency of font, alignments, hierarchy of information and spacing.
      • Adjust margins to ensure that there is enough white space around the text, which helps to make it easier to read (optimal line lengths are 50 to 70 characters across)
      • Limit your resume to a maximum of 2 pages


Consultations

The Career Centre offers individual reviews of resumes, cover letters and other tools to apply for work. 

Book a consultation

Samples

Chronological resume (targeted position: Career Coach)

Combination resume (target position: Career Coach)

One Page Resume (target position: Career Coach)

Things to remember

  • Maintain consistency - documents should all utilize the same font, organization of information, type sizes and formatting. 

  • Target your application - use keywords, action verbs and phrases that come directly from a specific job posting. Targeted language typically reflects key skills employers are seeking. 

  • Proofread! Double check for grammatical, spelling and formatting errors. 

  • Use bullet points, not paragraphs - this makes it easier for employers to scan for key words.

  • Rank by relevancy - list the most important, relevant information at the top of your resume or cover letter. 

  • Tailor you application - Modify, or rewrite, your resume and cover letter for each job application. 

  • Keep it short - Your cover letter should be one page and your resume should be a maximum of two pages. 

  • Make sure you have the correct information for the organization and person you are sending the application to.