Resume Building 101

While working as an Assistant Manager in retail, I was often shocked at the state of some of the resumes that were handed to me by job hunters in the neighborhood. Some of these resumes were riddled with problems: spelling errors, bizarre fonts, poor formatting, and more.

Your resume is a very powerful tool for selling yourself to a potential employer. It must be proofread, tweaked, and carefully formatted to be both eye-catching and tailored to the specific job you are applying to. Here’s a useful checklist of the basic building blocks for creating a stellar resume!

Start with your name and contact email at the top of the first page, in a clean font that is slightly larger than the rest of your resume. Then, give a brief summary/introduction and feature it prominently with the header “Objective” or “Profile.” This should describe who you are and what your primary goal is, i.e. “A Marketing graduate looking to join a successful team of sales professionals.” It is important to clearly illustrate who you are and what your intentions are.

When listing your education and work experience, use concise, direct language and keep verb tense consistent. Any inconsistencies in grammar or style could hinder your chances of making a good first impression on the hiring manager reviewing your resume. Take some time to reflect on which attributes you think are most relevant to the position you are applying for; don’t rush this, as it is very important that you clearly pinpoint the experience and skills that make you a good candidate.

After itemizing your work experience and your skill set, back up these statements with some facts and figures. For example, if you did really well in a particular class that is relevant to the job you are applying for, include the grade you received in that class. Another example: If you claim to be an ambitious go-getter, state how many promotions and/or raises you have received in past jobs. Statistics are an effective way to show that you are capable of going above and beyond the minimum requirements.

Here are some other tips for creating an impressive resume:

1)      Start from a solid template
2)      Include key phrases or buzzwords that appear in a specific job ad
3)      Keep your resume to two pages in length
4)      Proofread multiple times (get at least two other people to proofread your resume as well)
5)      Avoid exotic or hard-to-read fonts; coloured text should be used sparingly
6)      Include any and all forms of community involvement
7)      Include all contact information at the top of the page as a header
8)      Avoid decorative borders or pictures of yourself
9)      Always be 100% honest with regards to your employment and educational history
10)   Choose references that you are confident will provide a glowing recommendation

If one keeps these pointers in mind, you’ll be well on your way to creating a stellar resume and making a very strong first impression!

By Dan McDonald

Dan is a Sales and Marketing Development Associate at Baxter Media. He graduated from the University of Toronto in 2011.