Get yourself hired: Write a winning resume

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By Noelle Munaretto

The average resumé only gets 30 seconds of an employer’s time.

So yours has to be good.

Resumé-writing is an art, not a science. It’s important that it be well organized, but your personality should also shine through. Format, style and approach will change depending on what kind of job you’re seeking.

Whether you’re applying for a part-time, full-time, volunteer or internship position, these tips will help you create a resumé that puts you at the front of the pack — not in the recycling bin.

The perfect resumé does not exist

No one method can guarantee success. Templates can be useful for first-timers, but overusing them is a common mistake.

“The biggest mistake is lack of focus in content,” says Aino Lokk, a career counsellor at Ryerson’s Career Centre, adding that filling in a template and not even thinking about the information won’t get you anywhere.

While templates should be avoided, it’s not hard to create a document that reflects your personal blend of appropriate qualifications and credentials.

Understand who you are

Think about your personality and your goals before you start writing. It will help you identify your career objectives and the skills that make you employable.

You can identify whether you have the necessary skills by asking yourself the following questions. They just might come up in a job interview:

Can you do the job? Do you have the skills and knowledge to get the job you want done?

Will you do the job? Are you interested in and committed to it? Do you have the drive and desire to work for this company?

Will you fit in? Are you a team player? Will you be ready to work with staff? What are your personal values?

Customize your resumé

Tailor your resumé for the position. An architecture student applying for a part-time retail position should highlight her customer service capabiliies (politeness, communication skills) rather than her experience drawing floor plans.

The most important information in your resumé should be skill sthat are “valued by the employer that wishes to hire you,” Lokk says. In other words, don’t waste valuable space extolling virtues that won’t matter for that specific job.

Research your potential employer. If you include a cover letter (a must for internship positions and post-graduates looking for a job in their field) make sure it has the company’s contact information.

Spell everything — especially all names, titles and addresses — correctly. Accuracy can go a long way, says Jason Dukhi, director of finance and operations at Mizuno Canada Ltd.

“You’d be amazed that about 60 per cent of resumés have spelling and grammar errors,” he says. As simple as it sounds, simple proofreading can help get your resumé to the next round of readthroughs.

Go to the company’s website and research its values and ideologies. Incorporate them into both your cover letter and resumé. This demonstrates that you understand and are familiar with the company’s corporate beliefs.

Get the name of the person to whom you are sending the resumé. Use web searches, call the company, address the resumé to the hiring manager in the Human Resources department. Use ‘To Whom It May Concern’ as a last resort.

The nuts and bolts

 Even though you should customize your resumé, standards exist. Include separate headings that present the information clearly. (See the graphic at right for examples of what headings to include and what information to file under them.)

Try to limit your resumé to two pages. Employers don’t have time to search through it for the important bits, but that doesn’t stop would-be employees from sending in novels.

“I get resumés that are seven or eight pages,” Dukhi says. Sticking to a limit will help yours stand out.

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