How to Create Résumés
Your résumé is one of the most important documents you will have to provide to your employer. It should showcase your strengths, experiences, and achievements.
Great Connections Career Resource Centre provides you with 5 steps for preparing, finding, and securing the perfect position for you.
Step #1: Prepare Your Résumé
Before preparing the résumé stop and think about your accomplishments and skills. Treat this as a brainstorming exercise used to help discover your strengths, your likes, and your dislikes. By identifying your accomplishments and skills you should be able to create a strong outline for your résumé, which will help enable your employer to have a better understanding of who you are and what you have to offer. Your brainstorming exercise should also include employment history, experience, knowledge level, and success.
Once you have reviewed your skills and accomplishments, you can then take a closer look at the different parts of a résumé and the technical specifications of the résumé layout.
Identify your accomplishments:
To express your accomplishments within your résumé you must discuss your professional and personal achievements. Shown below are some examples of accomplishments.
Once you have identified your major accomplishments you must be able to readily explain them. While doing this you must be sure to explain the challenges you faced, the actions you took in resolving the challenges, and the results which occurred.
- Reorganized a warehouse by setting up racking for materials, reorganizing work stations, providing team members with clear instructions on how to locate items efficiently.
- Reduced operating costs by 20%.
- Received an award for most sales
- Completed a database system that allowed company ABC to monitor material usage.
- Improved customer service ratings by 35%.
When looking at your skills it is important to focus on your abilities as a leader. By focusing on your leadership skills, your employer will be able to identify how your skills have led to your achievements. It also provides solid evidence of your values and work ethic.
You should use your brainstorming form as a reference when focusing in on your skills. Ask yourself, "Which one of my skills helped me to succeed in that situation?" then list those skills. Remember, there are two types of skills: general/soft and specific/technical.
Your general/soft skills determine your success in a wide range of positions and situations.
- Analytical ability
- Ability to motivate others
- Thinking strategically
- Ability to drive for results
- Focusing on customer needs
- Building relationships
- Managing profitability
- Demonstrating flexibility
The specific/technical skills: These skills will determine whether you are the right candidate for some unique positions.
- SAP programming skills
- Actuarial math skills
- Database management
- Financial analysis
- Public relations
Parts of a résumé:
A résumé is more than a piece of paper. It can be what gets you that first interview. The goal should be to impress your employer with your résumé. If written correctly, it should make your employer want to take a serious look at you. Below is a traditional formatted résumé that provides a brief explanation of each element within.
Your name, phone number(s), and e-mail address should be prominently positioned at the top of the page. Aim for the right-hand corner, so it is easily found when paging through a stack of paper and it is not hidden if there is paper clipped or stapled to other sheets.
Your objective is the job search mission statement. This should be easily identified to the prospective employer, and it should relate to the exact position you seek. It should define the job title and mention some of your character traits and skills you have which could be utilized for the position. You should tailor your objective to each employer you contact.
Discussing your experience and work history is traditionally done in reverse chronological order with your history listing of job titles and descriptions. It should include proven results, such as numbers and percentages to demonstrate the positive impact you had on an organization.
Here the focus should be on skills you have that can help towards the job you are applying for. Some of the most basic questions should be answered though your résumé. Ex: What computer programs do you know? Are you bilingual? What type of equipment have you used? This is where you can list any special, job-related skills you may have. You can tailor this list to fit the needs of the position for which you are applying.
In this section, list the schools you attended, the degrees you have earned, your graduation date, and your GPA if it is 3.0 or higher. Also include memberships in related honor societies and related certifications or professional licenses.
this is a way of telling your employer about some of your characteristics. These accomplishments say a lot about you and your work ethic. Awards can be both personal and professional, and should be listed in reverse chronological order.
Being a member of a professional association demonstrates a huge interest in your field. It will show the employer your interests outside of the work place. It is also a wonderful conversation starter. The same goes for affiliations with non-profit organizations. Showing the employer that you give back to the community speaks a great deal about your character.
- Has a professional format that is easy to read.
- Is on 8.5" x 11" paper, or is in electronic form.
- Has one-inch top, bottom, left and right margins.
- Has your name at the top of each page after the first, with a page number.
- Has a summary that highlights your experiences and qualifications.
- Contains your telephone number and email address, if available.
- Is PERFECT-meaning no grammatical or typographical errors.
- Is concise and targeted.
- Indicates the kind of work you seek in the Objective, if used.
- Showcases critical factors tied directly to your work objectives.
- Documents your work history in reverse chronological order, with places of employment, locations, dates and duties.
- Demonstrates a logical career progression with positions of increasing responsibility.
- Documents pertinent career accomplishments-problems or challenges faced, actions taken and business results achieved.
Step #2: Format Your Résumé
Résumé formats have really evolved over the past few decades. In the past, résumés were typeset and focused on job titles and experience by highlighting job descriptions. Today's résumé should still have a professional appearance, but the main content should be based around your achievements. In the past, hard copies of the résumé were a requirement. Even though nowadays this is still important, some employers prefer to accept résumés in a variety of formats, including traditional print, electronic and scannable.
When writing your résumé, keep in mind that you are trying to sell yourself to the potential employer. Your résumé says a lot about you, both as a person and as a potential employee. It is the first thing your recruiter will read about you before he/she decides if they want to interview you. The font you use, the layout you select, the weight/kind of paper on which you print it and the way you deliver it all reflect on you. There is no doubt that it is very important to look good on paper!!
Usually, you should take a conservative approach when creating your résumé. Select the right font so it is easy to read, and use white or light-coloured paper that is heavier than normal copy paper. It should also talk about one's character. Of course, keep in mind that acceptable formats vary by field and company. If you are applying for a management position, you might take an extremely conservative approach. On the other hand, you might be applying for a skilled woodman's position and you should take a more knowledgeable approach regarding tools and techniques.
Electronics is one of the fastest developments that history has ever witnessed. Anybody trying to target an employer in a specific industry should be taking advantage of this medium. Online job boards have made E-résumés almost essential. The E-résumé is one of the fastest growing forms of advertising your résumé.
There are different ways to present an E-résumé: Post it to an online job board or create your own web page displaying your résumé.
Online Job Posting:
Online job boards are one of the newest and fastest growing ways to expose yourself to potential employers. There are all kinds of services that allow you to post your résumé for free allowing employers to view them. Use of E-résumés is growing rapidly; it is even more effective than e-mailing your résumé to one employer because you can use online job boards to target a larger market of viewers. It is also a good way to gain the attention of tech-savvy recruiters.
There are different ways to present an E-résumé. Post it to an online job board or create your own web page displaying your résumé.
Step #3: Job Search Letter
There are three categories of job search letters:
No matter what kind of letter you are writing, it has to be perfect. We're talking an error-free zone, with regard to both grammar and spelling. Proofread every piece of correspondence and have a trusty friend read your letters and offer comments and suggestions. In addition, make sure the name and address on the envelope is correct. Simple mistakes can lead to missed opportunities.
- Cover letters
- Thank you letters
- Follow-up letters
A cover letter is just as important as a résumé. It introduces you to the company and allows you to tailor your qualifications to the job opening. It is also meant to generate interest and get you an interview. To do this, it needs to be concise and catchy. It should not be a synopsis of your job history, or a long-winded self-description using words like "assertive" or "highly motivated." Instead, demonstrate these qualities by describing your accomplishments. Here is how to set it up:
Identify the position for which you are applying, where you saw the ad and/or how you learned of the position. Your information must be clear, ensuring that your résumé gets to the right person.
I am responding to your posting on www.jobs4u.com for the Multi-access Representative position at your Toronto Canada headquarters.
Explain how your performance in the past will be an asset and talk briefly about the position as you understand it. You should be able to do this from the job description given at www.jobs4u.com. Do this by outlining related assignments, accomplishments, and similarities to your current position. Hit them with hard facts such as numbers, programs established, significant achievements, and skills.
My qualifications appear to fit the position you have described:
- Your requirements: Three years experience in a call or contact center.
- My Experience: Over four years experience as a customer service rep in a multi-access center.
- Your requirements: Proficiency in contact center technology.
- My Experience: Completed contact center courses in VoIP, Web call back, page push and more. Fluent in French and English.
- Your requirements: Able to provide helpful, knowledgeable service to our customers.
- My Experience: Received Great Connection award of Excellence for quality service in both 2004 and 2005.
Time to wrap it up. You can include any of the following in your final paragraph.
Your final sentence should request an interview. For example:
- Salary range you seek -- only if the ad requested specification
- Geographic preferences, if appropriate
- Convenient interview times or when you cannot be reached
- Necessity to keep your search confidential
I would appreciate an opportunity to discuss how my background and experience could benefit your organization. My salary expectations range from the mid- to high-twenties. A résumé is enclosed for your review. Thank you for your time and consideration.
Shaun J. Levy
Thank You Letters:
Send a thank you letter after your first meeting with a business contact name. Thanking your potential employer expresses gratitude, appreciation, and interest in the position. A thank you letter should be sent within 24 hours of an in-person conversation.
I enjoyed meeting with you to discuss the position of Design Engineer with LMOC Corporation. I appreciate your open and honest answers to my questions.
This position is exactly what I have been looking for, and I sincerely hope that I am the person you are looking for as well. I can be reached next week at (416) 333-3333. I look
forward to talking to you further.
Shaun J. Levy
After meeting with a colleague or business contact or after conversing at a job fair, send a follow-up letter. This is not just a "Thanks for your time." It is an opportunity for you to review the conversation and describe your qualifications. You should include similar information you might include in a cover letter. Listed below are some excellent points describing when and how to follow up.
Keep the following points in mind:
- Mail your letter within 48 hours of the meeting.
- Address your contact by name and title.
- Express appreciation for his/her time.
- Review the important points of your conversation (to show you were listening and remind the recruiter/interviewer of your conversation).
- Express enthusiasm for the project and/or company.
- Ask for the assignment or an interview if appropriate.
- Include a copy of your résumé.
Step #4: Networking with Others
It is said that it is not only how much you know but it is who you know as well. Even though knowledge is power, you must still be able to take that knowledge and sell yourself to your potential employer. When looking for your dream job, sending out a search party is always smarter than searching on your own. Here are some ideas for your initial contacts. There are many different ways to network yourself: by searching the Internet, reading current newspapers in your area, or visiting job fairs. All these methods can help you start creating contacts with others and give you the opportunity to network your abilities with them.
Initial Contacts: People you Know
Family, friends, and associates can be your greatest networking contacts in searching for a job. It is necessary to rank these people according to their ability in helping you out. Keep in mind that your contact should be someone that works at the company or that knows someone important at the company. It is also beneficial to find out if he/she is in good standing with the person they know.
The list below will give you some ideas for your initial contacts:
- Co-workers - current and former
- Employers - current and former
- Business club members and executives
- Politicians, Town Council Members
- College alumni
- Teachers - including college professors and advisors
- Social acquaintances - from clubs and organizations
- Neighbours - current and former
- Family contacts
Step #5: Preparing for your Interview
Interview preparation is very important. You have taken the first step if you have completed the Skill/Accomplishment I.D. Now it is time for you to get ready for your one-on-one meeting with your potential employer. A good idea is to have a friend or family member ask you the following questions. Before you leave for the interview, look over our list of interviewing dos and don'ts that we have provided for you. We recommend that you review our list of sample questions you can ask during the interview. This will help you make small talk with your potential employer.
Many interview questions are designed to determine how well your skills fit the requirements of the position. Most large firms will have a standard set of behavioural questions for different positions, and here are some answers to behavioral questions
Also, you should be prepared to answer specific, technical questions in your area of experience and be prepared to answer traditional questions. These questions are usually how a large firm will measure how well you fit the role in their organization.
Answers to Behavioral Questions
There are two types of interview questions: Traditional and Behavioural. Traditional questions usually trigger a yes-or-no answer. As tempting as it might be to answer with a yes or no, we advise you to slow down your thought process and this way you can give the interviewer a longer, more informative statement to answer the question.
Listed below are some examples of our traditional/behavioral questions. We suggest you take the time to answer the following questions in order to prepare yourself for the upcoming interview.
- Do you like to work hard?
- Are you a "people" person?
- Are you a leader?
- This is a pretty high-pressure environment. Are you comfortable with that?
- Do you consider yourself to be detail-oriented?
- Have you done a lot of troubleshooting?
- Do you consider yourself to be decisive?
- Tell me about a time when you were very persistent in order to reach a goal.
- Tell me about a time when you had to provide service to a stubborn, arrogant customer.
- Give me an example of a time when you used facts and reason to persuade another person to take action.
- Tell me about a high-stress situation when it was desirable for you to keep a positive attitude.
- When have you found it useful to use detailed checklists/procedures to reduce potential for error on the job? Be specific.
- Give me an example of a time when you were effective in doing away with the constant surprises and emergencies at work.
- Describe a situation in which you had to draw a conclusion quickly and take speedy action.
Dos and Don'ts
There are many things you should be aware of when preparing for your interview. You never get a second chance to make a first impression. Listed below are some of the most important dos and don'ts you should be aware of before heading into your interview. They may seem obvious, but do not underestimate their importance.
- DO make sure you have clear, detailed directions to the location.
- DO scout it out a day or so before the interview, in case you are unfamiliar with the area.
- DO arrive about 10 minutes early for the interview.
- DO arrive well groomed.
- DO smile frequently.
- DO project confidence.
- DO answer questions honestly and without hesitation.
- DO show sincerity.
- DO talk in terms of the employer and what you can do for the company.
- DON'T walk into a private office with a dripping umbrella.
- DON'T carry a large handbag or heavy brief case.
- DON'T wear dirty, baggy or extremely tight clothing.
- DON'T take a seat unless offered one.
- DON'T smoke without permission.
- DON'T chew gum.
- DON'T fidget.
Questions You Can Ask
Having questions in mind is very important. Before having your interview you should have thought of many standard questions you could ask any employer. The questions you ask are just as important as the questions you answer. By asking good solid questions during your interview, you are showing the recruiter that you are interested in their business. This is your chance to learn more about a company's philosophy, details of the position available, and what is expected of employees.
Asking solid questions not only gives you more information about the company, but will also show the recruiter you are a serious candidate interested in the position that is available.
Listed below are examples of questions you should ask during your interview.
- What is the mission? Vision?
- What future plans does the company have?
- What are the challenges the company is facing?
- What is the culture like? What are the values?
- How would you describe the atmosphere of this department?
- Is this a new/existing/revised job? If it is new/revised, why was it created?
- Where does this position fit within the company's structure?
- How does a person in this position divide his/her time? What activities will he/she perform?
- Can you give me more detail about the position's responsibilities?
- What are the two/three most important things you would want this person to accomplish?
- With whom does a person in this position interact?
- Is there an opportunity for growth and advancement? If so, what other career opportunities might be open to me here?
- How would your employees characterize your management style?
- Where would you like this (department/organization) to be in five years?
- How do you evaluate performance?