Resumé Advice for Job Seekers

The world of resumé building has been evolving recently. Applicant Tracking Systems, online templates, and resumé building programs have changed how people create the document that they present to potential employers. Although some things have changed, the basics of resumé building are the same. In fact, some of the most traditional techniques are even more important today. Check out these seven tips that will help you whether you submit a digital application or a paper copy, and access more resources, activities, and articles…

Research and Focus

No matter your level of experience, get to know the company and the specifics of the role they are seeking to fill. Ensure that your content (experience, skills, references, personal profile, or objective) and word choices match what they are looking for.

Identify Key Skills:

By reading the job posting and researching the company, you should be able to list skills that you possess that are likely to help at your new workplace. List the hard skills that are relevant to job (experience operating machinery, knowledge of specific computer software, etc.), and be sure to show how your soft skills have been put into action (i.e., Rather than stating you value teamwork, list a time when you’ve been on a successful team in school, in sports, or at another workplace).

Choose key words carefully

Think of this in three ways:

  • A potential employer is only going to spend about a minute reading your resumé so ensure that your documents aren’t too wordy and that the words you do choose are effective.
  • Use active verbs to set off each bullet point that outlines your skills and experience.
  • Correctly identify your skills and use these words throughout your resumé. This is especially true if your document is submitted through an Applicant Tracking System. If the skills you list don’t exactly match the job description, your resumé may not make it into the hands of the recruiter.

Select the best references:

Ensure that the people you list:

  • Will speak positively about you and your skills.
  • Have roles in the community that will appeal to the type of employer you will be working for.
  • Know the role you are applying for and that you will be submitting a resumé with their contact information.

Appearance matters:

Make all elements of your application (resumé, cover letter, introductory email, etc.) look as good as you will when you show up for your job interview! Consider the:

  • Length- concise but complete. Often one or two pages, but possibly longer for career-based occupations.
  • Font- Consistent size and style.
  • Format- Lots of white space, tastefully bolded headings, starting new sections on a new page instead of carrying over sections from one page to another.


Even the most experienced writers miss their own mistakes since our eyes may scan over familiar work more quickly. You do not want a mistake on your resumé to be what costs you the role that you want! You should:

  • Reread your document at least three times, and ideally in different formats (on your computer, on paper, on a tablet)
  • Get a trusted person to read it carefully for you and suggest edits.

Understand the basics before getting creative:

There are many templates out there that you can use nowadays, but no matter how pretty your resume looks, if the content is too long, unedited, and/or unfocused, it is likely no one will consider your application.

Before using a resumé builder or online template:

  • Choose the headings/sections that will best represent you and show you are a match for the job you are applying for.
  • Ensure that you can print and save the document without being charged.
  • Consider that colourful, fancy templates may not print properly, and ATS systems may not recognize important content in a template’s columns.
  • If you are submitting your resume online, check to see if an ATS system may be used by the employer. This can affect your choices of font and format. See Terena Bell’s “Applicant tracking system” article for more considerations.