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Tuesday, 30-May-2017 05:09:39 EDT
basic tips for writing your resume

Most of us struggle to write nice things about ourselves. It's time to get over that because nobody will call for an interview if your overall message is, "My C++ skills are okay."

Your resume will be one out of hundreds for any given job position. Does it meet the required professional standards? How well does it stand out and do you stand a chance for an interview?

An organized, effective resume will get you interviews. The basis of a resume essentially becomes your 'brochure of skills' designed to pique interest amidst hundreds of others. What it is not: it is not your full biography or your complete body of work experience.

Experienced business executive Sheri Gammon Dewling suggests that the structure of your resume should include your contact details, objective, key qualifications, recent work history, and your highest and most recent level of education. The objective and the key qualifications should be tailored to the position you are applying for – and this requires specific alterations or revisions to each resume submission in response to the job ad.


Ms Dewling describes the main rules, emphasizing one in particular, "Spelling and grammar must be perfect. This is critical!"

If you're using Microsoft Word, a red squiggly line under a word means the word is misspelled. While this spell check is absolutely essential, be mindful that proofreading with the naked eye is also necessary to polish the differences between American and Canadian words or words like to, two, and too that will not be picked up as being misspelled. For grammar, Word shows a green squiggly line to identify poor sentence structure such as missed punctuation and run-on or awkward, fragmented sentences.

And it's not just that. Treatment of punctuation and grammar should flow with consistency throughout the resume – particularly when using bullets. See the example below for an art-based resume:

TFO: ‘Arcs & Textures’ educational television shorts;
Oxford Publishing: Grade 9 ‘Encounter Canada’ geography textbook;
Landscapes Magazine: ‘City Spaces – Village People’ article; and,
Ontario Home Builder Magazine: ‘Solving Urban Sprawl’ article.

9th Sphere: Internship Web Design, Toronto, 2011-2012;
Humber College: Diploma, Toronto, 2010-2011; and,
OCAD University: Fine Arts, Toronto, 2006-2009.


Another basic rule – maximum two pages plus a cover letter unless the job ad specifies otherwise. Of note, placing the cover letter content in the body of an email can be acceptable if you are delivering your resume electronically. Still, include your cover letter in your attachment with the remainder of your resume so that the interviewer only has to print from one document instead of two. The premise is to make things as easy as possible for the interviewer who is likely receiving hundreds. If extra work is required to retrieve your resume package, you may be overlooked rendering your resume unread.


Most of us struggle to write nice things about ourselves. It's time to get over that because an employer will not call a job candidate for an interview if the overall message promotes, "My C++ skills are okay."

Don't be afraid to highlight your achievements with results. You will probably be asked to elaborate during your interview so include the most relevant information. For example, if you lead a department that exceeded their budget by 40%, the line should read something like this:

• Managed team to 40% revenue growth in one year.


Another tip. Never underestimate your skills but a good resume is not inundated with extra words. Unnecessary inclusion of information creates the impression that your skill set is weaker than the job requires. For example, if you are experienced in three or more Microsoft tools, the line should read:

• Proficient at Microsoft Office Suite.


Generally, the order of headings in a resume is dependent on your level of experience. If you are fresh out of school, your Education section should be up near the top to emphasize that you have fresh industry-based ideas. If you have years of experience, that would be your emphasis – Qualifications and Skills & Assets near the top, pushing Education down to the bottom.


Last tip. Many of us think we know how to write. Bottom line, this isn't a creative essay writing assignment. There are different categories of writing that require unique writing skills by type. Ms Dewling concludes, "Resume writing should be professional, short, concise, and results-oriented."

It is likely that there is a position available because the interviewer is overworked and needs help. Accordingly, the interviewer doesn't have time to read a biography for each applicant or a series of words that could be shortened to become self explanatory. "A qualified resume with key words and results that jump off the page is likely to lead to an interview."

Proofread, pay attention to detail, and write your resume with the intent to make it powerful and yet easy to read. Be sure as well that you can support and expand on your skill set and qualifications during the interview process.

Sheila Quinn
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