Write Your Resume
All job applications require you to submit a resume. A well written one will help to sell your skills and abilities and provide you with the best chance of getting the job. Below is some information on how to structure and organize this important document.
Your resume should always start with your contact information:
- Telephone number
If you have multiple phone numbers or email addresses, it's best to just include one of each to keep the contact process simple for the potential employer.
You do not need to include any other personal information, such as birthdate, marital status, or number of dependents. Your age and family status are details that might cause an employer to unfairly discriminate against you, knowingly or not.
Work and volunteer experience
The potential employer will be most interested in your past experience and how it can be used to benefit their company. List your past jobs and order them starting with the most recent down to oldest:
- Include the name of the company, city, and dates of service for each position.
- Describe your tasks by their results, what you contributed and how. Potential employers like to see people who take action and solve problems. For example, you could write: "Lead a team of programmers to the successful completion of a software product. Managed all aspects including programming, testing and scheduling to deliver the product on-time and on budget". If you need additional words to descibe how you contributed, you can find ideas in Action Words for Resumes.
If you have little experience (ie: you are a recent graduate), you should include the following:
- Short-term or part-time jobs
- Unpaid experience (ie: high school work experience programs, volunteer work, clubs, community associations)
If you are an experienced worker, the employer will be more interested in your past industry experience, so highlight jobs and tasks related to your career but do not list unrelated jobs unless they are relevant to the job application in some way.
List the relevant qualifications you have and how skilled you are at using them, for example:
- Typing speed
- Relevant hardware and software systems you are familiar with
- Skilled labour tickets
- Other work-related skills such as first aid
You may also want to include additional personal information that may benefit the employer, for example:
- You can use your own car or other vehicle to travel to job sites.
- You know another language that may help the company better communicate with foreign clients.
Once the potential employer has reviewed your experience they will want to review your educational background:
- Start with most recent programs/courses (credit and non-credit) and work back in time. Include only courses relevant to the work you now seek.
- Clearly identify the name of the program completed or in progress.
- Indicate the level of the program (e.g., diploma, degree, certificate).
- If you are a recent high school graduate, give your graduation date and highlight the courses relevant to your current job application.
- Include any courses you have taken since leaving formal education.
Awards and achievements
Employers may be interested in additional recognition that you have received, if it relates to the job. Include items like:
- Work-related awards
- Academic accolades
- Recognition for volunteering in your community
Being a member of an organization can help to communicate that you are the right candidate to hire.
Professionals and experienced workers should include professional or business-related associations (e.g., CGA or IEEE, student membership) in their resumes.
Workers with little experience such as new graduates, should include school or community associations (e.g., Student Union Representative, Boys and Girls Club exec).
Beware of highlighting partisan memberships (e.g., political party). Personal opinion may screen you out of the running.
References are contacts who can verify your past experience and put in a good word for you with the potential employers. When listing references:
- List at least three references; ideally, two work-related and one personal.
- Do not include family members or friends.
- Be sure to contact your references for their permission before including their information. This also lets the references know that they may be contacted by the potential employer.
- Keep your references up-to-date and ensure the individuals you name are aware of your positive skills and abilities.
- Provide complete name, title, company (if employer), and contact information. Check to ensure that the contact information, especially the phone number and email address, is up-to-date before submitting your resume.
Okanagan College’s Writing Your Resume page contains information on how to write a resume and cover letter. It also lists information you should include, along with tips on how to structure and organize these documents.