Are you writing a resume for the first time?

Would you like to tweak your current resume to make it stronger?

Read on for tips to help you catch an employer’s eye.

How long should my resume be?

This will vary based on your experience, accomplishments, goals, and the industry and position you’re applying to.

In general, you should try to keep your resume to one page, especially if you lack experience at this point in your working life.

In most cases, employers will want applicants to keep it as short and succinct as possible.

  • If you’ve got a lot of experience - say a decade or more - and it all applies to the position, you’re probably fine. Just don’t ramble!
  • Remember: just because you’re trying to keep it to as short as possible doesn’t mean there’s not a lot to say.

Want more detailed tips on resume length? Find your local YMCA Employment office and book an appointment today.

What’s the best way to list my work experience and accomplishments?

  • Start with your most recent employment experience and work your way down. List the employer, your job title, and the length of time you worked there. For example:
    • Joe’s Garage - Mechanic
    • January 2010 - January 2015
  • Keep it brief, but detailed. Try to highlight your experience & accomplishments in a succinct manner. Use bullet points and try to keep it to 3 - 5, max.
  • Don’t be generic. Try to focus on the experience and accomplishments that benefited your own personal career growth or the company you were working for. For example:
    • Joe’s Garage - Mechanic
    • January 2010 - January 2015
      • Increased shop’s monthly rate of jobs by 10% through improved efficiency of quality assured repairs (i.e., faster work without reduced quality)
      • Directly increased monthly shop profitability by 15% as lead on oil changes, tire rotations and general repair jobs
  • Volunteer experience is okay, and could even be a bonus. Volunteer work is still work! Most employers appreciate that you went out of your way for unpaid labour - it can be seen as a positive sign of your passion and work ethic.
  • List education and credentials as well. You’ve likely obtained educational and extracurricular accomplishments such as certificates, diplomas, degrees, or awards. Be sure to include these.

How should I format my resume?

We realize a lot of people like to put a good deal of time and effort into the design of their resume, but that often means losing sight of keeping it simple.

  • Use simple fonts. Unique or custom fonts  are a risky choice. The goal is to make your resume easy to read so the employer can focus on your experience and accomplishments. The best choice is a standard font such as Times New Roman, Calibri or Arial.
  • Avoid lots of font size or spacing changes. Size twelve font, standard spacing.
  • Don’t get overzealous with design. While individuals applying to more creative jobs, such as graphic designers, may want to showcase their creativity through a unique looking resume, most industries expect a standard black text on white background. It’s your experience and accomplishments employers want to see, not your artistic ability.

Want more detailed formatting tips? Find your local YMCA Employment office and book an appointment today.

How many times should I proofread and edit my resume?

As many times as needed to ensure it is error free.

Proofreading and editing can be tedious  but it’s crucially important, so here are some tips that will help:

  • Take a break before you proofread the first time. If you’ve just finished writing or beefing up your resume, take some time away from it before you proofread.
  • Proofread it once. Then again. Then again. Be prepared to take multiple looks before you consider yourself done. And be sure to take breaks - always be fresh when you take the time to edit.
  • Ask others to look at it for you. Not only will someone else’s eyes help bring a totally new perspective to any grammatical or spelling errors, but they may even give you a tip or two for improving your resume. You never know what fresh eyes can help you find.

Where can I get additional pointers for creating the perfect resume?

The YMCA’s Employment Services professionals provide in-depth knowledge and support to help you build a stronger resume, learn how to confidently answer key interview questions, and present yourself in the most professional manner possible to help you land the job you want.