Resume Writing Tips

Your resume represents you and is usually the first introduction a company has to your profile. Keep your resume simple and easy for the reader to recognize that you have the experience they need.

Here are some tips and mistakes that may help you build a simple but effective resume.

  1. Format: Keep it simple. 
    Your resume will get scanned for 5-10 seconds so keep the format simple and easy to read.
    • Divide your resume into subsections including a Profile or Summary, Employment History, Education, Skills Summary
    • Use bullet form, not long paragraphs to succinctly describe your duties, skills and accomplishments. This will allow the reader to quickly scan for key requirements.
    • Save as a PDF to maintain format integrity across all users.
  2. Use a Chronological, not Functional Format
    • While a Functional resume allows you to talk about your overall career experience, it leaves the reader guessing which experiences are recent and what functions you performed in each role.
    • Employers want to know the specific functions you performed in your previous jobs. Choose an easy to follow Chronological format using bullets to detail your duties and accomplishments in each position.
    • You can summarize your experience and highlight specific skills in your introductory Profile or Professional Summary section.
  3. Dates
    • Always include the months in addition to the years you were working in each position.
    • Only listing the year creates suspicion and makes it unclear how long you were in a role. Having to clarify the months during an interview takes time away from discussing more important things such as your experience and the position.
    • If concerned about short employment periods, add a brief explanation if it was a contract, project or layoff.
  4. Length vs Content
    • Most resumes will be 1 to 3 pages in length, but do not leave out important information because you fear it will be too long.
    • Having all the relevant skills and experience on your resume will ensure you get a call for an interview which is more important than meeting a certain page count.
  5. Customizing Content
    • Have a generic resume prepared, then tailor it specifically to each job applied for.
    • The more closely the experience on your resume matches the job description, the more likely you will be called for an interview.
    • Add keywords, experience and skills that a job description is asking for IF you have the experience but did not include it on the generic resume.
    • Move any skills asked for in the job description higher up in the bullets of your resume and be sure to add them to your Skills section to give them further attention.
  6. Do not lie on your resume.
    • Expect all Employers will do background checks to verify employment history as well as education, certifications or developmental courses listed on your resume.
    • Do not include experience, skills or languages you don’t have.
    • Do not imply you have a degree/diploma/certificate if it is not complete. Use “in progress” or list the dates attended to show partial completion.
  7. Contact information
    • Phone: Use a contact number that has voicemail or get it for the period you are job hunting, otherwise you may miss an opportunity if an interested company is unable to leave you a message.
    • Email: Do not use your current work email address or a personal email that is inappropriate. Ideally it would be some variation of your name.
  8.  No pictures please.
    • Save your picture for LinkedIn. (see tips below)
  9. LinkedIn: Your online resume
    • Copy and paste your experience from your final resume to ensure your LinkedIn profile is consistent
    • Include skills and keywords that will increase your chances of coming up in a search by Recruiters and Employers
    • Include a recent picture on your profile. The picture should be more professional in nature than other social media sites.

Interview Tips

A good interview is all about proper preparation so you can be confident and enjoy the meeting.
Below are some important interview tips and mistakes everyone should be aware of.

  1. Review and rehearse.
    • Be prepared to answer standard questions you would expect to hear at any interview as well as those specific to your position or industry.
  2. Research who you are meeting.
    • Use LinkedIn or Google to find out what you can about who you are meeting with. This may help give you an understanding of the interviewer as well uncover some common ground and interests.
  3. Research and understand the company.
    • Review their website and search online for any current news on the company.
    • Research will prepare you for when asked “What do you know about our company?”, and shows you have a genuine interest in where you may be working next.
  4. Understand the role you are interviewing for.
    • Read and understand the job description.
    • Be prepared to answer questions about your background and how your experience relates specifically to the job requirements.
  5. Understand your resume.
    • Don’t be caught unprepared by your own information.
    • Be prepared to answer questions about the experience and skills YOU listed, particularly how it relates to the job you are interviewing for.
  6. Practice your handshake.
    • A firm and confident handshake is important and will set the stage for a good interview.
  7. Dress professionally.
    • First impressions are critical so no matter what level of position you are interviewing for, always look professional.
  8. Don’t be late. Don’t be overly early.
    • You should never be late for an interview but you also don’t want to be sitting awkwardly in reception for 30 minutes.
    • Arrive 5-10 minutes prior to your interview time, waiting in your car or a nearby coffee shop if you are too early.
  9. Answer the questions.
    • Interviewers have read your resume but they want to hear you articulate your experience and elaborate on the bullet points you’ve provided.
    • Don’t give just “Yes or No” answers. Be succinct and specific in your answers while leaving room for follow up questions and an open dialogue.
    • Don’t be a politician dancing around a tough question. If you do not have a piece of required experience, admit to it and offer related experience to offset it.
  10. “Do you have any questions?”
    • Have 3-5 questions prepared to assess if this is the right job and company for you.
    • Good questions show you are confident, have an interest in making the right career move for yourself, and have an interest in the company you are interviewing with.
    • Ask about the company, the culture, the role, or anything that will help you decide if it’s a good career move for you.
    • This is not the time to ask about compensation.
  11. Be positive. Always.
    • It may be tempting to say negative things about a prior manager or company if you left on not perfect terms. Stay positive when talking about why you left a position regardless of the reason.
    • Every role and every company you worked for was, if nothing else, a learning experience that helped build your career.
  12. Enjoy yourself.
    • An interview is the chance for you and potential new managers and co-workers to get to know each other. Be professional, but be yourself.
    • Don’t answer questions like a robot. Have a good two-way conversation to let your personality come out. The company wants to get to know you and you should be trying to get to know them.
  13. Video Interview.
    • Video interviews are more prevalent today and like any interview, having a good one comes down to preparation.
    • Follow the same tips in 1-12 and prepare for it exactly as you would a face to face interview.
    • A common mistake is to take a video interview too casual in dress or attitude, but all rules are the same.
    • Test your video, volume, room lighting and camera angle the day before and again an hour before the scheduled interview. Be prepared so you can focus on the discussion and not be distracted by sound or camera problems.
    • Mute or turn off your cellphone and ensure any other phones are not near you to avoid any unnecessary interruptions.
    • Disable your email so no distractions or notifications appear on your screen during the video interview.