How to Write a Great Resume

When applying for any job, you have to have a resume. However, there are bad, good and great resumes out there. And, the way you write, layout and present your resume, could be what makes you lose to or beat out the competition.

At the very top of your resume, you should have your name nice, big (about size 22 font) and centered so that it catches potential employers eyes right of the bat.

Right underneath that one line, you want to have your address, email and phone number in a smaller font (about size nine), and centered just like your name.

In a resume, the main headings that you want to have on it are:

1) Objective

2) Education

3) Work Experience

4) Awards and Scholarships

5) Volunteer Experience


Your objective should be clear, concise and specific. If you’re just starting out in the workforce, you want to put something like, “To gain knowledge and experience in the workforce.” But, if you’re going into a career, you want to be more specific and put something like, “To gain knowledge and experience in the journalism field, particularly in the sports area.” Make sure you state whether you want full or part-time work.


Your education section is really simple. You just put done all education you have received to date. If it is your first resume and you’re still in high school, you would put your high school and elementary schooling. But, if you’re in university or college, you would leave out elementary school. Some people even recommend leaving high school out too.  You want it organized so it is easy for the employer to understand.

You start by putting a bullet and the diploma or degree you received in bold on the left side of the screen. On that same line on the right side of the screen, you would put the month and year of when you started to when you finished.

On the next line, underneath your diploma on the left side of the screen, you would put the name of the school that you attended. On that same line on the right side of the screen, you would put city and province that the school is in.

On the next line underneath that, you would put one or two bullets of things you did in school that relate to the job you’re applying for. If you are putting your grades in, only mention it if you have A-  average or higher.

Here’s an example:

▪ Diploma in Journalism September 2007-April 2009

Conestoga College                                                            Kitchener, ON

-Worked on the school paper, Spoke, as a reporter, production manager and photo editor.

-Maintained an ‘A’ average throughout the majority of program

Underneath that, you would put your next most recent education you’ve received and organize it just like the one before. Organize them in chronological order starting with the most recent to the least recent.

Work Experience:

When you first write your resume for your first job, obviously your work experience will be slim to nothing. But, the older you get, the more jobs you have and the more work experience you gain. Again, it is important to keep all of your job experiences and job descriptions in an organized manner.

You would start off by putting the name of the company that you worked for, the city you worked in and the province on the left hand of the screen all on one line one after the other separated by comas. On that same line, on the right side of the screen, you would put the month and year that you started the job to the month and year that you finished the job, or present if you are still currently working there.

On the next line, underneath the company name, city and province on the left hand of the screen, you would put your job description in italics so that the employer can pick it out easy. For example if you stocked shelves at a grocery story at night, you would put Overnight Stock Associate.

On the next line, underneath your job description on the left side of the screen, you would put two to five bullets describing what your core job responsibilities were/are. If we were to use the Overnight Stock Associate as an example again, it would be something like this:

▪ Stocked products on the shelves

▪ Customer service

Underneath that, you would put your next work experience down and organize it in the same way as the first one. Remember to put them in chronological order with the most recent first and least recent at the bottom of the list, just like you did with your education.

If you don’t have a lot of work experience, don’t fret! You can use “Relevant Experience” and skip to your Volunteer Experience.

Awards and Scholarships Received:

It may seem that you’re showing off by writing awards and scholarships you’ve won in the past. But, you’re not. It looks good to potential employers. It demonstrates that you are not afraid of working hard to achieve your goals, whatever they might be. When you list them, they should be in chronological order with the most recent award at the top and the least recent at the bottom, just like you did with your education and work experiences.

Volunteer Experience:

It may seem like a silly thing to put volunteer experience on a resume. But, it too looks good to employers. It demonstrates that you’ve gone out in your community and done something that helped someone else out. It demonstrates that you’re not selfish, and that you can help where needed and work with others to get things accomplished, which is an important asset to have in the working world seeing as you will be working with your fellow employees to get things done, that a fellow employee made need your help with a task, or you may need to ask for help from a fellow employee to get a task done t work. So even if it’s just the volunteer experience you did in high school in order to graduate, put it on your resume. Check out Andrea’s blog on why volunteering isn’t just good for the community, but it’s also great for your career development:

In regards to references, I was always told to never put them on a resume, but to provide them to the employer separately on a separate piece of paper. Normally when you apply for some retail job, their applications provide a spot for you to write your references in with their name, occupation and phone number. However, when you apply for a career job, the employer of the company you are trying to get a job in usually request or require you to have a few letters of references printed out to be given to them along with your resume. So, whenever you’re applying for a job, read the application carefully in regards to references and just do what they require, either a letter or a name and number.

It’s important for you to remember to bring that list of references too. I’ve never been told to bring one but I almost always get asked. Nothing looks worse than not being prepared. Make sure you inform the people you have listed as references that they may be getting a call. Maybe help them along if they don’t know what to say about you.

So, when trying to write that great resume that will catch employers’ attention, remember to outline your skills and attributes that will put you apart from the rest of them and demonstrates that you will be an asset to their company.

And, if you need any help on putting it all together, whether it be the cover letter or resume, go and see someone at career services on campus and they will be able to go over everything with you, and show you some examples on how to make your resume and cover letter look the most professional it can be.

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