Would Your Resume Stand Out?
After looking at hundreds of resumes in the past six years, I’ve seen some great resumes as well as some that weren’t quite so stellar. What can make or break a resume? Sometimes it will come down to personal preference and /or what type of industry you’re looking for work in. However, this is what I’ve found has worked successfully for the students I’ve dealt with.
You want your resume to catch the employer’s eye – for the right reasons. Look at other people’s resumes, whether it’s your friends or online, and get an idea of what you like and dislike and what other people are doing. Start with a clean slate and try new formatting techniques. Give your resume personality by adding a bit of colour, designing your own logo, or trying a different font (there are literally thousands of fonts out there, so try to avoid Times and Courier!). Stay away from templates; they’re inflexible because they’re next to impossible to change the formatting of, plus you don’t want your resume to look identical to someone else’s. After all, unless you have a twin, no one else looks the same as you! Try to fill up the two pages, but not so much that your resume starts to look like an essay; leave enough white space to make it easy for an employer to skim over your resume. Bullets and lines can also add good eye direction and help to separate the different sections.
Don’t undersell yourself by not including volunteer work or by not providing enough information about your jobs. Employers like to see that you have volunteer experience, especially if it’s related to your field of study. As well, it shows that you’re probably altruistic, a good personality trait!
When writing resumes, people often simply list the tasks rather than elaborating and including details about their transferable skills. Decide for yourself – which of the following do you think is more effective?
• Served customers
• Utilized interpersonal and teamwork skills to provide quality customer service and effectively work with colleagues when serving food and beverages to customers
If you would like to include information about coursework, instead of simply listing the course number(s) and/or title(s) – which means very little to most employers - write about what you learned in a course that would be relevant to an employer.
Sometimes the best thing to do is put yourself in an employer’s position; what information would you like to see listed first? Generally, it’s best to get the relevant information on the first page, and then organize that information to ensure that you highlight the most relevant, while at the same time making sure that your experiences are in reverse chronological order (ie. the most recent experience should always be listed first within a section). As a co-op student, this may mean that you showcase your work experience, volunteer experience, or education, depending on which one you think would be most appealing to an employer. Traditionally, most students put their education on the first page; however, keep in mind that co-op employers know that you’re an SFU student, which means that you could move this section to your second page.
A final tip: make sure that you’re happy not only with how your resume looks, but what’s in it. It’s an employer’s first opportunity to get to know you, so it’s important that your resume accurately represents you and isn’t misleading.
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