Your resume should be updated as you progress through your career, even if you remain with the same employer (permanent employee or as a consultant/contractor) to ensure each major change in responsibility and skill mix is captured/presented when you know the details best. This requires an organized and planned time investment on your part to create and maintain your resume in an orderly manner, rather than creating/updating it in a hurry when you start your job search. We all know that the quality and content will suffer if we do things in a hurry (especially some thing as important as the resume) – yet, all too often, this is exactly what we do.
The resume plays a major role in securing new positions (contract or permanent employment) – it must make the reader’s job easy, as they review it to determine how closely your experience and skill mix matches their requirement. The details must be factual, concise, complete, well presented/formatted, and free of grammatical errors. The most important thing to remember is that the resume must represent the real “you” and must not mislead the reader.
The following sections and notes can be used as a guide (with some minor refinements – to reflect your personal preferences) in preparing and maintaining your resume.
Use the words ‘Resume of’’ followed by your full name (first name, initials, and last name) to identify each page of your resume.
On the first page, state your home address, telephone number, and email address (if you have one).
Personal data such as Date of birth, Marital status, SIN number, etc. should not be included in the resume.
If applying for a permanent position you can either describe what type of position/role your are seeking in this section or address it in your cover letter.
For contract positions, this section is not as important so it can be excluded.
3. Experience Summary Vs Personal Profile
A Personal Profile is a high level summary of your resume, a useful document (no more than one page) for presentation on it’s own. It should not be included as part of the resume. Instead, the resume should contain your Experience Summary i.e. a high level summary of your work only because the other items (education, training, and personal interests/social activities) are presented elsewhere in your resume.
In your Experience Summary, indicate when your career started (as opposed to the actual number of years experience – this would require updating each year), your key skills/strengths, and achievements to date. Keep this section to 1-2 short paragraphs.
4. Technical Skills Summary
With the exception of Management positions, this section should always be included to summarize the products (Methodologies, Databases, Network/Communication Protocols, Programming Languages, Operating Systems, System Utilities, Application Packages, etc) that you have experience with.
5. Education and Training
Provide details on your academic achievements as well as any relevant training courses you have successfully completed. For each item, name the University/College/Training School, and indicate the month/year of completion.
If this section is more than 4-5 lines it may be moved behind the Employment History section.
6. Employment History For each employer (latest one first):
- Show your employment period (starting month and year, and ending month and year showing years only is confusing and raises more questions),
- Name of the employer, and your latest/final position title.
- For lengthy employment periods involving multiple positions, include a paragraph to describe your career progression.
- Itemize your achievements and projects, indicating size and complexity, your role, technology/products that you used, and the project’s significance to your employer.
7. Personal Interests/Social Activities
Including personal interests/social activities provides a good indication of your work/leisure mix.
You can include 2-3 references (Name of the individual, their position, name of the company/organization, and telephone number) but it is not a mandatory requirement. You should, however, state that ‘References will be provided upon request’ to show that have thought about the references.
Make sure you speak to the individuals, you intend to use as references, before you provide their details to any prospective employer. This way they will not be surprised by a reference check call and they will be better prepared to provide a quality reference.
9. Resume Size
The resume should not be more than 4 pages long, even better if you can keep it to 3 pages. Long resumes (more than 3-4 pages) certainly test the reader’s ability to retain pertinent data, as they review your document, and you may miss out on their decision to interview you.