The whole purpose of a resume is to get you an interview for a job. Prospective employers give a resume a maximum of one minute. In those few seconds, you want to make sure that your resume makes you look as good as possible (without lying!), and at the end of that minute the employer wants to give you an interview.
To do this, your resume needs to be interesting and concise. You aren't writing your life story here. It's a quick snapshot that briefly summarizes your experiences, qualifications and skills as they apply to a particular job. As the man says, "Just the facts, ma'am, just the facts!"
What do I write about?
Well, to begin with, you need to ask yourself 4 questions:
1. who am I?
2. what have I done?
3. what do I know?
4. what would I like to do?
1. WHO AM I?
Your name, address and telephone number must be at the top of the resume. This gives employers an easy way to contact you to set up your interview.
2. WHAT HAVE I DONE?
By looking at what you have done, you can figure out what you know. Sometimes it's hard to figure out what you know. What if you've never had a job, or only had a part-time job?
Begin by listing any jobs (full or part time) that you've had in the past 5 years. If you have not had any jobs, list hobbies, interests, school courses and extracurricular activities.
Then, you can begin to figure out what you know.
3. WHAT DO I KNOW?
We often have skills that are in demand by employers even if we don't know it. Skills are the things we do well, and we develop them doing everyday tasks, at work, at school, at home or with friends. It sometimes helps to organize skills into three different categories:
Eg. Skills that relate to work (Computer-assisted drafting, or system design)
Eg. Teamwork, creativity, persistence
Eg Problem-solving, communication, goal-setting
Go through the activities you listed in the last section and under each, list the skills that you used and how you used them. For example:
Paper route 1999-2001
- Managed a list of subscribers names and addresses
- Organized subscription payment schedules
- Used creative persistence to obtain payment for newspapers delivered door-to-door
- Exceeded monthly goals to sign up 10 new subscribers with an average of 15 new subscribers for period of 6 months
By organizing your skills (eg what you know) into categories along with your experiences (eg what you've done), you are beginning to create the components of a professional resume!
It is never appropriate to refer to your disability on your resume. In some cases, your disability is not at all relevant to the job you're looking for. In other cases, with reasonable job accommodations, you will be able to do the job that you are applying for. No matter what the case may be, your resume is not the place to address this. To find out more about approaching the issue of disclosure, click here.
4. WHAT DO I WANT TO DO?
Now, this is the exciting part! Now that you know what skills you have, you can begin to see how they will help you in the job you want to do. Explore the rest of the WORKink Wizard site to get some ideas about jobs in science, math and technology.
Putting It All Together
Now that you've identified your skills and experiences, it's time to put it all together to create a resume that WORKS!
After your name, address, phone number and email address, most resumes include a CAREER OBJECTIVE. This is a one-line statement that summarizes what you're looking for from an employer as well as what you can offer to an employer. For instance:
- Summer employment that will offer experience in the field of system analysis and design; or
- To apply my proven research skills in a dynamic, scientific environment
A well-written career objective can help focus your resume, but be aware that a sloppy, or off-point one can result in your resume being filed in "File 13"
Using the work you did in the previous section (What have I done?) as a base, list your paid and unpaid (eg volunteer) working experience in reverse chronological order (eg most recent first). For each position include job title, name, addresses of an employer and dates of employment with a description of duties.
Using the skills that you outlined in the previous section (What do I know?), list between 3 and 6 skills that have relevance to the job that you are applying for. This can include special skills, knowledge of machinery, proficiency in foreign languages, honours received and membership in organizations.
You can use this area to list some of your hobbies and "spare-time" activities.
Never list your references here. In fact, you don't even need a whole references section. Just use the phrase "references available upon request" at the end of your resume. It is not necessary to list your references.
What Should my Resume Look Like?
There are 3 typical resume styles. No one style is more accepted or correct than another, however one style may suit your personality and work experience better than another. For instance, the Chronological Style is a really good choice for someone with consistent work experience that's relevant to the job that they're applying for. Functional and Skills-based resumes are better when you don't have a steady history of working, or if you're changing careers.
Experiment with the different styles until you find one that really points out why you are the best person for the job.
Remember, the purpose of your resume is to get you the interview!
This is the most 'traditional' type of resume. It lists education and work experiences in reverse chronological order beginning with the most recent and working backwards. In this style, group names, dates and places of employment together, and list education and work experiences separately. It is most often used when there are no gaps in work history.
Click here to see an example of a Chronological Resume
The Skills-Based Resume is becoming more popular as it allows people to focuses on the skills and talents they have developed and de-emphasize work experience. In this style, you should highlight your accomplishments rather than provide a list of previous jobs. Organize your skills and accomplishments by category rather than by chronology. The Skills-Based Resume useful for people who have been in the workforce but have had changes or gaps in their employment.
Click here to see an example of a Skills-Based Resume.
This type of resume allows you to emphasize the transferable skills that you have gained through any volunteer work, co-op education, internships, school activities, etc. while also listing any employment that you may have had. This is a good resume for anyone whose work experience is patchy work experience (eg internships and volunteer positions in different areas/industries).
Click here to see an example of a Combination Resume.