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Writing Riveting Resumes Mark Swartz, M.B.A. M.Ed.

About the Author

Mark Swartz, MBA, M.Ed., is Canada's Career Activist. His insights reach millions yearly as the Workopolis.com Career Advisor, as author of the best seller "Get Wired, You're Hired," also as a professional speaker and coach on career/work issues. A former Toronto Star careers columnist, Mark's advice is forthright and practical. For Canada's biggest directory of free career articles, and for personalized coaching, please visit www.CareerActivist.com.

Riveting Resumes

Create a Dynamite Resume

The resume is one of the most important tools of a job seeker. It's a vital part of your marketing strategy and when written and formatted properly will jump out at prospective employers to say 'invite me in for an interview!' The resume is basically a written summary of your education, work experience, past achievements and interests that are assembled in a standardized manner. When putting together your resume it's important to keep it short, focused and accurate.

The resume itself contains certain components that are common to all. These include:

contact information
a career objective statement or personal summary (one or the other is acceptable)
education
skills and abilities
work experience (with an emphasis on your accomplishments and results)
volunteer work (optional)
activities and interests, and
references (optional)

Parts of the Resume In More Detail

Each of the above-stated parts is of significant importance:

Contact Information: Place your full name at the top of your resume, and include your address and telephone number. If you have a fax number or e-mail address include this as well.

Career Objective: This is a statement that outlines your career goals. It should be very brief, a sentence or two, and give a strong sense of where you are heading in your career path. Personal Summary: A concise review of your skills and expertise, particularly as they relate to the position being applied for.

Education:Any relevant education should be included here, such as college, university or any technical schools you may have attended. Your high school education can be included as well, however, do not include elementary school. Any awards or scholarships can be outlined separately. Courses you have taken and workshops you have attended outside of school can be listed as well if they are relevant to the position you're applying for, and demonstrate your willingness to be a 'lifelong learner.'

Skills and Abilities: This section allows you to highlight all those attributes you have been honing through school, past jobs, volunteer work and personal activities.

Work Experience: In point form list your past jobs in chronological order. Include the dates, name and location of the company, as well as the responsibilities and duties you had in each position. Any volunteer experience you may have acquired can be included in this section.

Activities and Interests: Some employers prefer a candidate who appears well-rounded and has varied interests, including some diverse activities. This will signal to employers that you have gained some effective personal skills.

References: Indicating that 'References available on request' is appropriate, though not essential (it's understood you'll supply them if asked). Ensure that you have prepared these references from your academic, employment, or personal background should you be asked to supply them.

Types of Resumes

There are three different resume formats depending on those components you would like to emphasize. The most common style is the reverse chronological resume. Two other versions are the functional and combination format, which we will look at next week.

Chronological Resume:
Organized in reverse chronological order so that your latest schooling and most recent job are listed first. This style emphasizes your job achievements and may be used if you have a fairly steady work history, and if your most recent experiences relate to your desired field.

Tips on Preparing Your Resume

Try to keep your resume organized, easy to read and brief. Use point form beginning with action verbs that accentuate your strengths and positive experiences. Avoid the use of 'I' when emphasizing your accomplishments.

Chronological Resume Sample

JAMES ROBERTS, B.Com.
102 Pape Ave.
Toronto, Ontario, M79 3B4
(416) 555-9233
jroberts257@sympatico.ca

EDUCATION

2001 -- 2005BACHELOR OF COMMERCE
York University, North York, Ontario
Relevant courses: Sales/Marketing, Accounting, Business Law, Microeconomic

WORK EXPERIENCE
ACCOUNTING ASSISTANT

June 2005 - Present
Drake Office Systems, Mississauga, Ontario
- processed orders and prepared end-of-month statements for clients, leading to higher levels of customer satisfaction
- assisted in designing new accounting software package for the firm, that saved hundreds of dollars per month by allowing us to better track outstanding receivables
- responsible for customer inquiries concerning their accounts Summers

TELEPHONE REPRESENTATIVE

2002- 2004
Triumph Advertising, Scarborough, Ontario
- conducted telephone interviews with clients regarding new, innovative consumer products
- achieved top sales award for the month of June in 2003 and May 2004
- diligently performed routine duties such as filing and photocopying

MEMBERSHIPS
Canadian Business Association -- Associate Member

INTERESTS
- Enjoy reading many business magazines including 'Canadian Business' and 'Fortune'
- Recently awarded first prize in fourth year business simulation project at York University
- Active member of the Toronto East Softball Association

REFERENCES
Available on request


Functional and Combination Formats

As discussed above, your resume is one of the most important tools of a job seeker. In this installment we'll look at variations on formatting your material: in particular, we will work with the Functional and Combination versions.

Why should there even be more than one way to structure a resume? Basically so you can highlight your experience and achievements to employers in ways that bring out your best. Remember that employers are busy people who see lots of job applications. Yours has to catch their eye somehow and put you near the top of their list.

You can do this by ensuring your content is directly related to the job opportunity, and that it's accurate in terms of facts, grammar and spelling. Up next is presentation. This includes style, which is how the document looks (e.g. layout, font types, graphics) in addition to format, which is how you arrange your information (reverse chronological, functional, or combination).

Chronological Resume:
Organized in reverse chronological order so that your latest schooling and most recent job are listed first. This style emphasizes your job achievements and may be used if you have a steady work history, and if your most recent experiences relate to your desired field.

Functional Resume:
Focuses on skills and abilities, while de-emphasizing job titles and employers. It can be used if you have little experience in the work force (including summer or part-time jobs), or if you want to highlight specific skills and strengths that your most recent jobs don't necessarily reflect. People who have taken time off to pursue other interests and career changers often elect to use this format too.

Combination Resume:
As a modified version of the above formats, this style emphasizes both work-related duties and particular skills so that you can highlight strengths from various past experiences.

Functional Resume Sample

RUTH CHANG, B.A.
885 Robson St.,
Vancouver, B.C., V8T 4N6
(604) 555-8744
rchang99@hotmail.com

OBJECTIVE

To contribute my experience in graphics design, communications and administration to a full-time entry level position in advertising.

SKILLS AND ABILITIES

Advertising and Public Relations
- Effectively performed advertising duties for small public relations firm.
- Gained experience in many creative aspects including story board layout and the development of marketing strategies for clients.

Detail Oriented Team Player

- Thoroughly researched sales and industry guidelines for advertising convention held last year.
- Demonstrated ability to work well in a team setting, and assist others to meet their deadlines.

Communications

- Experience in business writing and accounting procedures within department.
- Recognized by firm for ability to communicate effectively with clients and keep them up-to-date on their accounts.

EDUCATION

BACHELOR OF ARTS - ENGLISH

University of Victoria, Victoria, B.C.
2002 -- 2004

WORK HISTORY

Part-Time Account Assistant, Orono Advertising Vancouver, B.C.
2003 - 2005



ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

- Keep abreast of industry by reading publications such as Marketing Today
- Awarded Most Valuable Player at university basketball meet in 2003
- Completed Saint John's First Aid Course in December of 2002


Combination Resume Sample

MICHELLE LEDUC, Dip. Accounting
3600 Avenue du Parc, Apt 323
Montreal, Quebéc H2X 3R2
Tel: (514)555-3921 Fax: (514)555-6497
leducmich@broadband.ca

EDUCATION
2001 -- 2003
BUSINESS ACCOUNTING DIPLOMA

Ecole Polytechnique de Montréal - Montreal, Quebec

WORK EXPERIENCE
Sept 2005 - Present
JUNIOR ACCOUNTING ASSISTANT

Premador Installations, Montreal, Québec
- organized accounts payable and accounts receivable procedures
- helped prepare annual accounting statements including balance sheet
- trained new employees on relevant accounting software

Aug 2003 - Sept 2005
SALES ASSOCIATE



Hudson's Bay Company, Montreal, Québec
- sold sporting goods to customers and responded to customer inquiries
- achieved sales above quotas that were established for each month
- participated in year-end inventory of products

SKILLS AND ABILITIES

COMMUNICATION

- Effectively instructed and presented staff with new accounting applications
- Diligently responded to customer needs and generated high levels of sales

ANALYTICAL

- Demonstrated ability to work well with numbers in preparing accounting statements
- Researched and formulated amounts for various expense accounts

ORGANIZATIONAL

- Assisted in preparing sales floor and department for inventory procedures
- Coordinated the accumulation of sales and costs figures for each department

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

- Active member of the Montreal Board of Trade
- Volunteer annually in the Variety Village Walkathon

Make sure to show your completed resume to a number of people and allow them to critique it for you. One advantage to having your family, friends, and others close to you look at your resume is that they can pick up on important skills and strengths that you may have failed to mention.

As well, if you are having trouble preparing your resume, or maybe need some advice, make sure to visit your school's Career Centre. They are there to help you overcome some of the stumbling blocks you may encounter.

Preparing Your Resume for Submission by E-Mail

Over the last few weeks we've reviewed the essential ingredients of an effective resume. We've also looked at three different resume formats, including Reverse Chronological, Functional and Combination mode. Now we'll examine the best ways to send your resume (and cover letter) via e-mail.

These days sending your info electronically can be a bit confusing. Some employers are using advanced scanning technology to receive and sort resumes automatically. Others are only half-way there. They may have the ability to receive resumes by e-mail, but then a real person has to open the file and read through it. Then there are the laggards, who still prefer to get your resume by fax or regular post. Fortunately employment ads often specify, or at least hint at, the preferred mode of accepting submissions.

If there's any uncertainty at all about how your recipient will be opening and reading the application you send by e-mail, I strongly recommend that you include two distinct versions: a 'plain text' format (one that is stripped of fancy fonts and other visual enhancements) directly within the body of your e-mail message; as well as an attached, 'fully formatted' version of the same documents (say, an MS Word file with a .doc ending). This reduces the risk of your material being unreadable at the other end. It also puts your cover letter and resume right there when the message is opened, rather than making the reader take an extra step. And it gives them a version that is guaranteed scannable (the plain text one) - in case they have an Applicant Tracking System. Plus they also have a more attractive version (the MS Word file) they can print out and show around to others if they want to.

When pasting your text into the body of an e-mail message, it will automatically be converted to ASCII (plain text) unless you specify the use of HTML. I suggest for now that you leave things as plain text in case the end-user is not using a current e-mail reader. Always double check the alignment of your text before you send it off. Also, mention in your opening words, just above your cover letter and resume text, that you've provided a plain text version for scanning, plus a fully formatted attachment for their convenience.

By making sure that the recipient of your e-mail can read your resume directly, or else scan it into their database if they want to, you have taken away one more barrier to making the final cut.

Sample 'Functional' Resume in Plain Text (ASCII) format

RUTH CHANG, B.A.

885 Robson St., Vancouver, B.C., V8T 4N6

(604) 555-8744 rchang99@hotmail.com OBJECTIVE

To contribute my over 3 years of experience in graphics design,
communications and administration to a full-time entry level position in advertising.

SKILLS AND ABILITIES

* Advertising and Public Relations
- Effectively performed advertising duties for small public relations firm. Prepared targeted mailings, worked with distribution supplier and followed up with phone calls to check response rates.

- Created a campaign to raise awareness of endangered wildlife in development areas outside of Vancouver. Package included colour brochure made of 100% recycled material.

* Detail Oriented Team Player
- Thoroughly researched sales and industry guidelines for national advertising convention held last year. Tabulated results and presented final report to Senior Management Committee.

- Demonstrated ability to work well in a team setting, and assist others to meet their deadlines. Taught colleagues in my department how to use new PR software.

* Communications
- Experience in business writing and accounting procedures within department.

- Recognized by firm for ability to communicate effectively with clients and keep them up-to-date on their accounts.

EDUCATION

BACHELOR OF ARTS - ENGLISH

University of Victoria, Victoria, B.C. 2000 -- 2003

WORK HISTORY

Account Assistant, Orono Advertising 2004 - Present Vancouver, B.C.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

- Keep abreast of industry with publications such as Marketing Today
- Awarded Most Valuable Player at university basketball meet in 2003

Additional details on electronic resumes available at www.rileyguide.com/eresume.html.

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