The Resume

Ideally, a resume is a concisely written summary of professional expertise, experience, skills and accomplishments. It may include the following sections:

  • Contact Information
  • Career Objective
  • Work Experience including volunteer work
  • Education/Training
  • Honours/Awards

Personal interests may be included to the extent that they relate to the prospective position.

References should be provided during the interview and only upon request. A formal statement that references are available upon request is a good way to end the resume.

Detailed listings of specialized technical skills and academic publications should be included in appendices and NOT in the body of the resume.

Resume Style/ Content

There are countless resume styles and formats to choose from. Your ideal style will depend on your personality, personal and professional background and career goals. Whether or not to tailor your resume to each position is a matter of personal preference. However, if you do so, it is important to keep track of the different resume versions. If your resume is generic, your cover letter should draw the parallels between your resume and the prospective position. The following is a list of tips on writing the body of the resume:

  • Be concise yet specific Remember that your resume is a summary. Include only information that would be of interest to an employer. Outline just the last 15-20 years of your work history. If you are a seasoned professional, the best way to address this is with a summary statement in your cover letter indicating your years of industry experience. Leave out personal information such as your height, weight, marital status etc. as well as salary expectations. Do not include copies of transcripts, letters of recommendation or awards. Use the interview as an opportunity to present this information.
  • Choose your words carefully The wording of your resume should reflect the level of position and salary that you are seeking. For example, if you are seeking a management position, choose words that emphasize your initiative, supervisory abilities and competence. Analyze the job ad for key words. Try to write in verb phrases and not sentences. Do not use personal pronouns. In addition, always remember to check your spelling and grammar.
  • Prioritize the content Use a reverse chronological approach (most recent information first) and include specific dates. In addition, be sure to list the most important information first to grab the reader's attention. Remember that busy recruiters and employers will only give each resume an initial 5-10 second glance.
  • Appearances Your resume should have a unified appearance with consistencies in type settings, margins, spacing, page breaks and fonts For most professional and technical positions your resume should be e-mailed. This will avoid problems caused by scanning and character recognization. Make sure to check that it is in a format that any application can read. If you are uncertain, send it out in multiple versions (i.e. MS Word and Rich Text Format). Don't cut and paste your resume. It is best to send your cover letter and resume as one attachment. In addition, don't use fancy fonts that are not commonly distributed. Finally, be sure that your e-mail address is professional.
  • No Excuses Do not include a statement of the reason that you are no longer working with a particular organization. If necessary, address this during the interview process.
  • Honesty Never fabricate information to impress. While it is important to present yourself in a positive light, only do so to the extent that you are fully able to justify your claims. Your resume should be as accurate as possible.
  • Handling Special Circumstances
    1. Being out of work Include any interim activities relating to employment such as self-employment, volunteer work etc.
    2. Being Fired Include this employer on your resume to avoid appearing dishonest. However, be sure to prepare yourself on how to address this during the interview.
    3. Varied Job History/Changing Careers/Too Little Experience If your work experience is sparse, varied and/or unrelated to your present career goals, you may wish to write a skills-based resume. This will give you the ability to sell yourself based on your transferable skills. If you choose this format make sure you include your career history in reverse-chronological order with your title, dates and a brief description of your duties as well.
    4. Lack of Education You may opt to omit the education section entirely or alternately, to outline specific courses completed, even if you did not obtain the degree/diploma.

The Cover Letter

Your cover letter should be written in standard business letter format, with proper spelling and grammar (consult a writing handbook if necessary). Once you have chosen your ideal format, reflect on what you want to communicate. Ideally, your letter should be personalized. Obtain the name of the hiring manager so that you can formally address him/her. In addition, include information about the organization in your letter. Some good sources of company information include brochures, annual reports or web-sites.

Most importantly however, your cover letter should explain why you are ideal for the job. It should concisely summarize your RELEVANT work experience, education/training and personal/professional skills/expertise as it relates to the position that you are applying for. It should also highlight your professional accomplishments and relay how they relate to the job in question. It is important that your letter draw parallels between your strengths as a candidate and the position in question.

Sample Resume

Joan Smith
225 Oriska Street
Smiths Falls, Ontario K5R 3B8
Phone: 613-267-9867
CAREER OBJECTIVE: A sales management position that will challenge my customer service, administrative and interpersonal skills.
EDUCATION: 1985, M.Sc., Biochemistry, McGill University
1980, B.Sc., Chemistry, University of Western Ontario

Sales Manager, JBS Pharmaceuticals,
Eastern Ontario Division, 1996-present

  • Managed 6,000 customer accounts
  • Supervised and trained 150 sales reps
  • Developed and administered reward program

Tools/Techniques: Verilog, Cadence, Synopsis, TCP/IP, etc


Sales Associate, Dynamic Pharmaceuticals, 1990-96

  • Achieved record sales growth
  • Initiated and developed and new customer relations
  • Administered existing client profiles

Tools/Techniques: Verilog, Cadence, Synopsis, TCP/IP, etc


Sales Representative, Chemist Biomaterials, 1985-90

  • Continuously exceeded annual sales goals
  • Created client sales presentations
  • Maintained customer service for existing clients

Tools/Techniques: Verilog, Cadence, Synopsis, TCP/IP, etc

VOLUNTEER WORK: Chemistry Instructor, United College, 1990-present
Co-designed course material for up to 40 students
Supervised and monitored student progress
PROFESSIONAL AFFILIATIONS: Executive Director, The Chemists' Club, 1986-present President, The Biochemistry Society, 1984-87 Member, Chemistry Today, 1980-present
HONOURS/AWARDS: Volunteer of the Year, The Chemists' Club, 1995
  References Available Upon Request