Write Your Resume

A resume is a communication tool. Job seekers use it to list their skills and experience. Employers use resumes to choose who to bring in for an interview. 

Resumes are not a list of what you did. They list what you can do. When describing work experience, start with an action verb. The worksheets below are adapted from resources provided by Ometz Agency in Montreal, Canada.

Action Verbs for Resumes (pdf)

300 Action Verbs to Add impact (pdf)

Key Words that Employers Value (pdf)

Good resumes use skill language. List the common skills and experience that employer’s want. Again, use your occupational research to know what employers want.

Resume Formats
A chronological resume (pdf) lists your work history starting with the most recent. This is the most common type. It is used by people who are staying in an occupation.  
A functional resume (pdf) groups your skills and experience by skill areas. These skill areas are called “functions.” It is used mostly by people with little to no work history.
A hybrid/combination resume (pdf) combines the other two formats. It groups your skills by function, and it lists a short work history. It is used by people who are changing occupations.  

New to the workforce? Here is a Sample Resume (pdf) that can help you develop your first resume. 

What to Include on Your Resume
Contact information tells the employer how to reach you. It is very important for setting up interviews. Most people list their phone number and email. 
summary statement shows why you are a good fit for your target. You can highlight your skills and traits that make you successful.  
Education lists your degrees earned and relevant coursework if applicable. Remember to include licenses or certifications.
Your work experience describes where you worked, your skills, and accomplishments.  
Your accomplishments and awards on the job or in school. Also include quotas that you met or money that you saved past companies, number of customers you helped, or other outcomes that help a business run well.

Online Resume Writing Resources

JFS Resume Writing Workshop
JFS has regularly scheduled Resume Writing Workshops. Contact CES to reserve your space in the next workshop.

From this workshop, candidates will:

  • Understand how to write their resume.
  • Gain knowledge about how to tailor and target a resume for a specific job.
  • Learn the process of creating powerful accomplishment statements.

What is the Purpose of a Resume?

The main goal of your resume is to obtain an interview. It must answer the questions:

  • Why should we hire you?
  • What can you do for us?

Your resume should:

  • Make a clear link between what you offer and the employer’s needs
  • Be authentic and truthful
  • Have impact, precision, and focus
  • Answer the question “What can you do for me?”
  • Highlight your experience and accomplishments

Identify your achievements and skills.
What makes you unique?

Because past performance is the best predictor of future performance, the more achievements you can identify, the easier it will be to impress a potential employer. Achievements illustrate your abilities and skills, and are indicative of your potential for taking initiative and solving problems; in short, delivering value to an employer.

The following questions can be used to trigger your memory of past achievements and skills:

  • What have you designed, created, or initiated?
  • Have you trained or taught people?
  • Have you ever developed a new process, system, or procedure?
  • What were you known for within your organization?
  • Did you satisfy a particularly difficult client?
  • When have you accomplished more with less (fewer people, smaller budget, etc.)?
  • Did you receive some form of recognition (award, title, trophy, etc.)?
  • Have you increased revenue or exceeded sales targets?
  • Have you ever been promoted or selected for a special assignment?
  • Did you make a suggestion that was adopted by your classmates, team, or co-workers?
  • Did you intervene in a situation that could have become a serious problem had you not?

Transferable Skills
Using the Transferable Skills (pdf) identify tasks you have performed well in previous jobs and think how that experience could be applied to situations in the future.

Other resume considerations:

Transferable Skills
Identify tasks that you have performed well in previous jobs and think how that experience could be applied to situations in the future.

Scannable Resumes
These are documents that use technology which enables employers to scan your resume for keywords. You need to research your industry and/or the requirements of the jobs you are seeking to make sure you’ve included relevant information.

Changing Careers
Remember that if you are looking at jobs in a different field your resume must be revamped to make it relevant to the new requirements and particulars of the current posting.

Choosing the Right Resume Format

There are 3 types of resumes: chronological, functional, and combination. They differ only in the way the job history is presented. Select the format that showcases your knowledge, skills, and accomplishments to your best advantage.

Chronological Functional Combination
  • Emphasizes relevant work experience, continuity and career growth
  • Highlights transferable skills not apparent in job descriptions or acquired in other ways
  • Good for beginning or changing career paths, immigrants, students, volunteers and people who traveled
  • A way to bring together disjointed employment experiences; cover gaps
  • Highlights both skills and experiences
  • Most detailed and comprehensive format
  • Good for targeting a specific job or industry
  • Exposes gaps in employment history
  • Skills may not be readily apparent
  • Reveals age and/or lack of experience
  • Long affiliations can be interpreted as not embracing change
  • Fails to provide support, with specific sources, for the skills highlighted
  • Does not represent a clear career path
  • Can be confusing, if not well written
  • Potential to lose focus

Creating a Polished Accomplishment Statement (pdf)

Remember, your goal is to identify special skills or abilities that set you apart from the competition. Your added value shows that you bring much more to the role than what is merely expected. It shows employers how you rise above the competition.

Examples of strengthening the language in your resume.

Sector Skill statement- basic Skill statement- stronger
Secretarial/Writing Writes reports and letters Writes letters, memos and reports that command attention and achieve maximum impact with clarity and consistency

Writes documents that achieve results

Computer Skills Handles computer problems Excels in diagnosing and solving computer malfunctions

Was instrumental in skillfully transferring manual functions to computerized systems

Construction Completed all projects Budgeted, planned, designed, and oversaw construction of commercial building projects of $54 million from site search to occupancy

Designed and managed Class 100 clean room for semiconductor manufacturer which increased product yield by 10-15%

Sales Managed existing accounts Consistently increased sales objectives by 40%

Provided exceptional customer service and developed strong client relationships

A Summary of Resume Do’s and Don’ts

Remember: Your resume is your marketing tool – You are the product!

DO: Ensure your resume is focused and matches the targeted position
DO: Make certain your resume is clean, lean, concise, and specific
DO: Maintain consistency with font titles and style
DO: Create a professional image with visual appeal on good quality paper
DO: Modify your resume to match each position
DO: Always accompany your resume with a unique cover letter
DO: Limit employment history to between ten and fifteen years

DO NOT: Include any information relative to salary on your resume or cover letter
DO NOT: Use your current work email address: create one for professional use and one for personal use
DO NOT: Use I in the resume
DO NOT: Include information that reveals your age, health, marital status, dependents, religion, height, weight, race,
DO NOT: Include a picture
DO NOT: Include reasons for leaving last employer
DO NOT: Use abbreviations, &, or Etc.
DO NOT: Put a title on your resume  i.e. Professional Resume
DO NOT: Have an overly long resume; it should not usually be over 2 pages
DO NOT: Send out a poor resume because you believe that it is better than no resume at all

Three Phrases to Ban from Your Resume

If you've been working with an older resume, take a closer look at your language, and ask: how many clichés do you have in there? Find ways to be detailed about your achievements and quantify how you’ve added to the company’s bottom line. Show who you are and what you’ve done to make you stand out. Here are 3 phrases you should ban from your résumé, and new, fresh ways to showcase your skills.

  1. "I'm a Team-Player."
    This is one of the most over-used clichés, so try to find a way you can show that you are this team player. Did you collaborate with someone or with a department to meet an objective? Put that on your résumé instead of a vague, clichéd expression. Be detailed about your achievement.
  2. "I Have Great Communication Skills."
    Communication skills can mean so many things, which is why using this term on your résumé only makes you lose your recruiter's interest. What communication skills did you use to contribute to your employer? Did you create a presentation, a press release or lead a conference call? State your specific achievement.
  3. "I Have a Strong Work Ethic."
    A strong work ethic - that sounds great, right? You're not the only one using this cliché, so freshen up your resume by stating how you go that extra mile. Did you take a class to improve your skills? Did you meet some really tough deadline? Show the hiring official what makes you this person with a strong work ethic, instead of using another cliché like your fellow applicants.

Show, don’t tell: Find ways to be detailed about your achievements, to make you stand out as the memorable candidate you are.  Fleur Bradley, Investopedia.com

Ten Phrases that Employers Value

  1. Excels in developing new markets
  2. Orchestrates successful programs
  3. Excels in building a powerful project management team
  4. Writes persuasively to achieve maximum impact
  5. Stays on top of emerging technologies
  6. Communicates with credibility and confidence
  7. Demonstrates success in reducing costs while maintaining high quality
  8. Generates fresh ideas
  9. Makes sound decisions under pressure
  10. Quickly grasps new routines and explanations

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