What is a Resume

A resume is a personal marketing tool designed to get you an interview. It is a brief summary of your education, skills, experience, and interests which is relevant to the position you are pursuing.

Write a Resume that gets Interviews

Everybody can write a resume, but not everybody can do it right. In today’s competitive market, 40% of hiring managers spend less than a minute reviewing a resume, so having a strong and eye-catching resume that perfectly captures your relevant skills and work experience makes the difference between getting called for an interview or not. Remember, your resume should be tailored to the job you’re applying for —it’s not a one-size-fits-all document.

Tip: Make a Master Resume and customize it to the job you are applying for.

How to format your Resume 

  • Start your resume by opening a new document in your preferred word processor (like Microsoft Word, Google Docs, or Apple Pages). 
  • Make a memorable header with all of your info (contact info, LinkedIn, other platforms, etc.)
  • Font size 11 – 12 points; choose font wisely (suggestions: Calibri, Verdana, ITC Franklin Gothic)
  • Who is your target? i.e. be creative if applying for a creative job (logo, layout)
  • Lots of white space
  • Format your resume so that it emphasizes your most relevant qualifications.

Most jobseekers organize their work experience with their most recent job at the top because that’s what the majority of employers are looking for. This format is known as the chronological resume format.

Finally, try to keep everything on one-page, so you don’t overwhelm the hiring manager. Only write a two-page resume if all of your information is relevant to the job, or you’re applying for a senior leadership role.

Key Sections of a Resume

1. Contact Information

Hiring managers need to know who you are and how to get in touch with you:

  • Full name: Include your first and last name. The middle initial is optional.
  • Telephone number: Where you can be reached easily.
  • Email address: Make sure it’s appropriate and includes your name.

You can also add these optional details:

  1. Online portfolio or website (if relevant to the job)
  2. LinkedIn handle : If your profile can add value to your application, include the link but make sure it’s up-to-date.
  3. Mailing address (if you wanted to show you’re local)

What NOT to include in your contact information:

  1. Date of birth: Unless the job description states otherwise, the hiring manager doesn’t need to know when you were born.
  2. Unprofessional email address: It’s one of the most common resume mistakes and can be a huge turn-off for employers.
  3. Headshot: Unless you work in the entertainment industry or the job ad requires it, including your picture isn’t necessary.

Tip: Your name should always be the largest element on your resume to make it stand out, so use a font size larger than 20 points.

2. Objective

The first thing a potential employer reads about you is what you can do for them. A resume objective focuses on your professional goals and career path, and how they align with the company’s goals. For this reason, a resume objective is ideal for candidates who:

  • have just graduated from school, and lack professional experience
  • are writing a career-change resume

Here’s the formula for putting together an effective resume objective:

Resume Objective

3. Work experience

Many jobseekers make the mistake of simply listing past responsibilities in their experience section. However, to make a resume better than those jobseekers, you should instead focus on your achievements. This is where your STAR stories come in handy.

 Here is the format for the Experience Section of your resume:

  • Company name | Location | Dates
  • Accomplishments/Achievements/Successes using 
    • Strong Action verb + Description + Result
  • Relevant Experience (anything related to the position applying for). Can include:
    • Placement/Clinical
    • Work
    • Internship / Co-op
    • Volunteer
    • Related Academic Project Experience
    • Projects which are related to the position/prove technical skills
  • List projects as you would Experience
  • Other Experience (part-time work, etc. not directly related to position)
  • Volunteer Experience (not directly related) – (Current & Ongoing)

TIP: Use numbers & actions verbs throughout your resume

Here are some questions to help you with this:

  • How much cash did you handle every day?
  • How many customers did you help per day?
  • How many emails did you send out each week?
  • How have you helped increase profits or reduce losses?
  • What positive feedback rating have you received from your clients or students?

4. Education 

Your education section should normally come after all of your work experience, but you can place it first if you’ve never held a full-time job. 

Here is how you format your education section:

  • Program Name: full program name (Bold)
  • School Name (italicize)
  • Start year – Expected Grad
  • Key relevant courses – 4 max
  • Awards/Honours
  • Educational Highlights

5. Additional relevant resume sections

Depending on your experience and background, consider adding optional resume sections. For example, certifications and awards are great if they’re relevant to your chosen career, whereas hobbies and volunteer work are useful if you’re writing a resume with no experience.

  • Volunteer work — if you picked up skills relevant to the job you’re seeking
  • certifications — if you have many industry certifications (otherwise add them in your education section)
  • awards and achievements  — for example, “employee of the month” helps you stand out by showing you’ve been recognized by management
  • hobbies and interests — if they’re related to your target job

Proofread, Proofread, Proofread

Finished writing your resume? Don’t just fire it off straight away. Spend some time reading through it at least a couple of times. You’d be surprised how easy it is to make a typo and how hard it is to spot them in your own writing. You should also give your resume to a friend or relative to read through.

Save your resume as a PDF

When you’re sure your resume is finished, and you’ve checked for errors, you can save it. The best option is to save your resume as a PDF. PDFs save your formatting even if you use fonts that aren’t installed on the hiring manager’s computer, so they’ll appear exactly as you intend them to appear.

However, if the job ad specifically asks for your resume in Microsoft Word (.docx) format or some other format, follow those instructions.


Read more about crafting the perfect resume on Indeed.