For a large portion of the university, maintaining a job throughout the school year or obtaining annual summer jobs is a somewhat daunting but necessary part of adulthood. In the past I had really minimal experience with writing resumes as I obtained many of my jobs by referral. When it came time to find a new job for myself I always found myself feeling stressed and overwhelmed. To this day I still get a little stressed out about it but I’ve had enough practice and help along the way that I also feel confident in the resumes I have produced recently. From several years of job searching, job interviewing and job experience I am attesting to what I have found to be effective at grabbing a potential employer’s attention.
If you are one of the individuals who is still using the resume that you drafted in high school for grad credits: I highly suggest you stop. Sure, it is convenient, covers most of your professional bases and technically counts as a CV, but it also is super generic. Depending on the position, your employer may be looking for something a little different in your job history than another position, so for this reason it is helpful to look up sample resumes for the position in particular that you want. There are a variety of online templates that you can look at, resume builder websites and resources such as the UNBC Student Career Centre that can give you some guidance or inspiration to create something more unique.
To really stand out, personalize your resume to each job you apply for and incorporate key words from their ad into it. If there are important phrases or skills, also try to work those into your resume. This is particularly helpful when applying to jobs online as many have programs that scan resumes and search for those keywords. You are a lot less likely to be passed over by a screening program if you try your best to approximate the essence of what the job ad was searching for. This being said, online programs have an easier time reading word documents than PDF’s so consider a PDF only if you are giving your resume to a person or have important formatting you really do not want to lose.
Given that the ideal resume fits on one page, consider every space on the page as valuable and eliminate information that is not necessary or relevant. When giving contact information, give your cell number and email address as these are both ways in which you can be contacted but do not bother to include your home address; your address is essentially only beneficial for the paperwork after you have already obtained the position anyways. The objective statement is also an easy thing to remove and save some space on your CV as the employer can assume that you giving them a resume or applying to a job ad is indicative of your objective to obtain a job. Lastly, do not include a photo of yourself unless you are applying to a job that specifically requests one (such as a modeling job).
Much like legal documents, it is ideal to have a CV that is clear of any grammatical or spelling mistakes. I would suggest you either run your resume through programs such as spell check or grammarly (or both) and then have a trusted friend, family member or colleague read over your final draft. While online programs are effective, they sometimes miss basic mistakes or more nuanced errors that may be specific to regional dialects for example.
If you can, keep examples of what you have done to provide backup for what you have stated in your resume. For example, if you were a writer then offer copies of your previous articles, or if you were a researcher then provide a copy of the research that you worked on. This collection of your past work is what is called a professional portfolio and can be helpful for more than just job applications too.
My last bit of advice saved me a bit of space given the way I used to format my old resumes: unless the job ad specifically requests you have references, do not include them in your application. Do make sure you have them in a separate word document that can be provided upon request, but the only reason an employer needs to check references is if you have caught their attention already.
While I understand that these tips are also pretty generic and their effectiveness may not be 100% for everyone, I challenge you to consider how effective your resume is and whether you could be doing something to make it stand out more.