Resume 101

Resume 101

By Martin Buckland

A resume is a snapshot of you and your career with an emphasis on accomplishments, relative to your objectives. It’s your selling tool -- your window to the world to entice a reader to want to call you for an interview. A resume secures you an interview; it doesn’t get you the job. A resume should clearly portray that you are a dynamic person, able to offer a solid skill set and consistently perform. It can be used in the following ways:

  • in answer to a job advertisement, either in the print or online media
  • handed to a networking contact who has volunteered to pass it on to a person of influence.
  • a direct mail document sent to a specific person of influence at a company of your choice, most likely the head of the function where you want to work
  • an introduction to recruiters outlining the benefits to their clients on what skills, attributes and performance measures you possess
  • attached to a completed employment application form
  • a point of reference and discussion during the interview

A resume is a very succinct document normally scanned in less than 30 seconds.

The format used most in North America and most liked by decision makers is the combination style. It lists your positions in reverse chronological order coupled with a “pro-Jective” or “skills summary” positioned immediately under the name and address. This is a brief, powerful and impressive synopsis, or a snapshot of you. It separates the hard and soft skills to allow for easier reading, taking up the top 3 to 4 inches.

Accomplishments, accomplishments and more accomplishments is what you need to focus on in the professional experience section. Future employers are hiring performers, not couch potatoes or ride alongs.

Provide the company name and location on the left and dates employed on the right. Emphasize your position held by capitalizing and bolding it on the next line. List accomplishments, outlining each accomplishment based on STAR: “Situation, Task, Action and Result.” Always begin the bullet with an action verb. This is where you can be very bold and confident about your abilities. However, do not embellish!

Try to quantify your accomplishments with percentages or dollar values. To highlight a mass of figures that show progressive positive growth, I occasionally use tables. This attracts the eye. In short, the reader needs to look no further. You show in the table format that you are a performer!

Education follows. List the university, college or school, town and only the graduation dates in the right-hand margin. Emphasize the degree not the academic institution. So many people make this cardinal resume writing sin. Record Dean’s List, honour societies and academic awards.

Finally, to wrap up the 2 page document there are various other sections which are self-explanatory: Continuous Education, Languages, Awards, Membership, Affiliations and Community Involvement.

This is your opportunity to shine……Go for it!!

Martin Buckland is a Professional Career Management Expert with offices in Canada and the U.S. President of Elite Resumes, he is certified in resume writing, executive & career coaching, job search strategies, personal branding and interview coaching. For more information on his services, visit or call 1-866-773-7863.