Types of Resumes
- - - Shelf Resume
- - - Standard Resume
- - - Tailored Resume
- - - Curriculum Vitae
What goes into a resume?
- - - Personal Data
- - - Job Objective/Career Goal/Career Objective
- - - Skill Summary/Summary of Qualifications
- - - Work Experience
. . . . . . . . Sample Chronological Resume
. . . . . . . . Sample Functional Resume
. . . . . . . . Sample Combination Resume
. . . . . . . . Action Words List
- - - Education/Training
- - - Interests/Activities/Hobbies
- - - References
. . . . . . . . Sample References
Resume Writing Tips
Some Important Don'ts
Resume Proof Reading Checklist

Types of Resumes

The resume is a written document with one clear message - to present your accomplishments, experience and abilities in such a way that an employer becomes interested in interviewing you. Resumes come in four different types with slightly different uses.

"Shelf" Resume: A shelf resume is only for you. It contains all the details (dates, duties, supervisors, promotions, etc.) of every job you have ever had, every course or workshop you have taken, all volunteer experiences, and all awards certificates and accomplishments. A SHELF RESUME IS NOT GIVEN TO EMPLOYERS. From this shelf resume you will take the information necessary to make a resume, in one of the following three types, to give to an employer.

"Standard" Resume: A Standard resume relates information from your shelf resume to a particular job type. For example, you may work as both a construction labourer and an oilfield labourer, in which case you need two standard resumes. One will have construction information on it and will be given to employers in construction; the other will have oilfield information on it and will be given to employers in the oilfield. A standard resume is general enough to cover a variety of positions and employers in each job area. A good rule of thumb in deciding what to include in a resume is to ask yourself "If I were the employer, what would I want to know about the person I need to hire?" then include the answers in your resume.

"Tailored" Resume: A tailored resume is drafted for a specific position at a particular place of business. Most often it is used for an advertised job. A tailored resume addresses the requirements of the job as laid out in the ad or as you have discovered by research. A tailored resume might be able to be used for more than one application if both the job and the company are very similar. Most often, however, it will only be used to apply for one job. A tailored resume is always accompanied by a cover letter. While this might sound like a lot of work, it pays off in the end as the more clearly you can show the employer how you match the requirements of the job, the easier it is for the employer to see how you can fill the position.

"Curriculum Vitae": A curriculum vitae is typically longer and more in depth than a resume. It should be designed like a cross between a shelf resume and a tailored resume. In other words, it needs to include details about job requirements, projects, accomplishments, skills and abilities and how they were attained, but the information provided needs to be geared to the particular job you are applying for. Most people do not need a curriculum vitae. Those who should use one include aritistic or technical people, consultants, mid to upper management, or anyone else where this type of detail would be important for the employer to know in making the decision.

Back to the Top

What Goes Into A Resume?

Resumes work only when you give information that emphasizes how your history matches the job you are applying for. This takes a bit of effort on your part, but the pay-off is worth it. As you put together your resume, keep looking at it from the employer's point of view. Give the employer what is wanted and needed, in a format that is easy to read. Keep your resume brief and clearly written; one page is best (unless you need a curriculum vitae) and two pages is the maximum. References can be on a separate, third page.

Resumes usually include information in the categories that follow. Use these in a way that will best relate your skills and abilities to the employer and help him/her see how you fit the job.

PERSONAL DATA - At the top of the page state your full name, address, and a telephone number where you can be reached or a message left. Be sure to clearly identify if it is only a message number. Any further personal information is not needed and may be a disadvantage to you. There are some companies who immediately dispose of resumes that include personal information such as race, ethnicity, religion etc in order to protect themselves from human rights lawsuits.

JOB OBJECTIVE / CAREER GOAL / CAREER OBJECTIVE - Clearly states the job that you want to do and the industry you prefer to do it in, if appropriate. In today's business environment of cut backs and leaner operating, the person hiring does not have time to read through your resume and then decide if you might fit into the company. By using a job objective you immediately give him/her a way to start thinking of you in terms of their company, and they are more likely to read further. In addition, by determining an objective, you help focus yourself so that you know what is the most important information to include on the resume.


  • When you are changing careers this category is very useful for showing how skills transfer.
  • It is also useful when you are applying for work you have not done for a long time and your recent work history is in an unrelated area.
  • In addition, when you work in a field, such as carpentry, where the work is often short term and you continually move from project to project, this is a good place to summarize the variety and number of years experience you have since a full listing of work history would be too long.
  • Lastly, it is good for letting the employer know right up front that you have the certification, or other qualifications, required by the job (ie.driver's license, safety tickets, first aid etc)
  • It is essential to only include items important to the job you are applying for.

Back to the Top

WORK EXPERIENCE - Your work experience can be presented in a variety of formats depending on what best relates your information to the employer.

The chronological resume lists your jobs from the current job, or most recent one, backwards. This format includes dates, names of employing companies, city and province of companies, job titles, and lists of job duties. It emphasized dates and jobs. The advantage of this format is that it focuses attention on your work history; this is especially good when you have a history of steady work in the same field as the job you are applying for. This format is a disadvantage if you have worked in more than one field, if you are going back to work you did some time ago, if you have long periods of unemployment, or if you have a spotty work history.

The functional resume groups experience into skill and accomplishment categories and only mentions time in terms of accumulated years of experience. It does not mention employers' companies or geographic locations. The advantages of this format is that it highlights most valuable skill areas and allows work experience that is not recent to be emphasized. It easily shows growth and downplays a spotty or interrupted work history. The disadvantage to using this format is that it does not allow employers to get a sense of the time frames of your history which may make them wonder if you are trying to hide something. Also, it is more difficult to be clear and precise in this format.

The combination resume combines the chronological and functional formats in whatever way best relates your information to the employer. Using a 'Skills Summary' or 'Summary of Qualifications' makes a combination resume. This type is very useful for students entering the workforce, people changing careers, people going back to work they did some time ago, and those re-entering the workforce after awhile away. It is also good for situations such as equipment operators where a summary of your certification and range of experience (such as types of equipment operated) is important up front so the employer knows if they wish to look at your history in more detail. The advantages of this format is that it allows you to highlight strengths in your history while downplaying weaknesses. It also presents a more complete picture than either form on its own, and it is more flexible than the other formats. The disadvantage is that it tends to be longer so you risk losing the employer's interest, therefore, it is ultimately important to be direct, brief and clear.

Generally, in developing your work experience section, going back ten years is enough unless history beyond that is directly relavant to the position you are applying for. Remember to focus on accomplishments and achievements, indicate levels of responsibility, use good action words, give concrete examples that show your skills, and highlight positive results such as promotions, awards or positive comments from supervisors.

Back to the Top

EDUCATION / TRAINING - Include high school, college or university, adult education, trade school, certification courses and/or armed forces training. Evening courses, workshops or seminars and special training sessions should be included if they are job related; they show you are interested, enthusiastic and have kept in touch.

Include the name of the school attended, the type of program, the degree or certificate received, and any special awards or recognition received. Training should be listed the most recent first with the year of completion noted. Education not directly related to the job you are applying for does not have to be included. If you have schooling beyond high school, it is not necessary to include high school unless the job specifically requires grade 10 completion or grade 12 diploma.

Where appropriate, particular courses of a certificate, diploma or degree may be detailed. For example, if you have a Bachelor of Social Work and are applying for a job counselling youth you should detail the child psychology and counselling courses you took.

Show how your education relates to the job. If the job does not require grade 12 and you did not complete high school or upgrading, the education category can be left off the resume.

INTERESTS / ACTIVITIES / HOBBIES - Optional - This category provides clues to your character, adds a personal touch to the resume, and creates an impression of a well-rounded person.

Keep it short and if adding this category will make a one page resume into a two page resume, leave it off.

Be sure to include membership in professional clubs and organizations if they are job related.

Be sure to include things that will end your resume on a positive note. The fact that you enjoy partying will not be a plus to most employers!

REFERENCES - These are a list of people who can let the employer know about you. They can be either work related or personal, but most employers wish to see work references. If an ad specifies which they want then provide what is asked for; if it is not specified then assume they want work references. If you do not have work references, personal references are better than none at all. A phone number where your reference can be reached during normal business hours for the company you have applied to is essential; things happen much too quickly for mailing addresses to be useful. Also, the employer usually wants to speak to the person so they have the benefit of tone of voice and pauses in the statements rather than just relying on the written word.

Two or three references are the most ususal number. The order that the references appear on the page should indicate their order of importance. Make it clear how the reference relates to you (ie. 'Personal Reference', 'Supervisor at . . .').

Be sure to check with people before using them for a reference. You do not want them to have difficulty remembering you or your work when the potential employer phones them.

Back to the Top

Resume Writing Tips

1. Write your own resume. A really good resume must be written by you. Someone else can type it, proof read it, and make suggestions on layout, but the words need to be yours and only you know what is most important to the employer in your history and experience.

2. Research the job you are applying for. The most successful resume is tailored to a particular job and what its requirements are. Make your resume show how your skills and experience can meet the employer's needs in the job you are applying for.

3. Use action words. Action words vividly bring your resume to life and lend it a sense of strength. Avoid using "I" or "my". Use present tense (responsible for ...) rather than past tense (was responsible for ...); present tense is stronger and gives a feeling of 'what I can do now' rather than 'what I did'.

4. Emphasize accomplishments and achievements. What are your unique selling points? What have you done for other employers that you can also do for this employer?

5. Keep it simple and clear. One page, two pages at the most (unless the employer will expect a curriculum vitae). If you have more than one page, put your name and the page number at the top each page in case the resume pages get separated.

6. Be truthful. Don't exaggerate or misrepresent yourself. Avoid overblown statements such as "They could not get along without me." which threaten your credibility. Employers check information, so be accurate. Getting caught in one misrepresentation brings all of your statements into question.

7. Edit, edit, edit. Then go back and edit some more. Avoid rambling sentences. Use a minimum number of words, but avoid abbreviations. Use point form to break up information.

8. Looks are important! Because computers are so common, employers expect a computer generated resume. Type the resume with lots of white space and one inch margins to create a clean, professional impression. BE NEAT and make sure there are no spelling, punctuation or grammar errors. Columns are an easy format to read so place headings on the left and details related to the headings indented toward the right.

9. Have someone read your resume. This can tell you if there are any areas that are unclear or confusing; you know what you are trying to say so may not notice such things. They may also be able to make suggestions for improvement, or if they need to ask for more information, then you need to provide more detail.

10. When appropriate, send a cover letter with the resume. If you are answering a job ad always send a cover letter. If you are doing cold contact calls, a cover letter is not necessary, but you should make a good attempt to actually speak to the person who is responsible for hiring. If you do enough research so that you have a particular person to address it to, a cover letter for a cold contact call will be a real plus in the employer's eyes.

11. Provide a good, clean copy of your resume. You should not provide a copy that has perforated computer paper edges. If you are sending a photocopy of an original, make sure there are no smudges, grey areas etc.

12. Keep copies. For your own information, keep a copy of everything you provide to an employer. You should also keep a copy of the ad, if applicable, and information about when you contacted the employer and what happened or was discussed. Once you get a job, keep a copy of your resume for future reference and update it regularly so you do not forget important information.

Back to the Top

Some Important Don'ts

Don't be too different in the appearance of your resume. Use standard 8.5 X 11 inch paper in white or a light conservative colour (no pink or mauve). Paper clip the top, do not use binders, fancy folds, or cover sheets. If the employer does not like these things, using them can cause a negative impression. A resume should be able to stand on its own. If you want to do something extra, invest in some good quality white paper.
Don't use 'etc'. A resume is never complete, and the employer knows you did more in your jobs than you could ever include in a resume.
Don't give reasons for leaving a job. Be prepared to answer questions about this in an interview though.
Don't mention salary. They don't need to know what you earned, and salary negotiations should occur only if you are offered the job.
Don't, generally, mention sex, marital status, ancestry, religion, colour, or national origin. Not hiring based on this information is a violation of human rights, so some companies immediately destroy resumes containing this information to protect themselves from lawsuits. However, some government positions or positions in agencies that serve a particular population are open to particular groups only; if you apply for these jobs identify as appropriate though the cover letter is a better place to do it than the resume.
Don't mention political, religious or fraternal organizations as they may be a source of discrimination. If you wish to use volunteer experience with these organizations in your resume, then use a general designation such as 'political organization' rather than specifics such as 'liberal party'.
Don't make any reference to height or weight.
Don't include a photograph. You are appling for a job not a passport. If the job requires knowing your appearance, such as in modelling work, then examination of your portfolio will be part of the hiring process.
Don't sign or date the resume. This is done on the cover letter.

RESUME PROOF READING CHECKLIST - This is a link to a form that you can use to make sure you have considered all the important aspects of writing your resume. It can be filled out online then printed, or it can be printed first, then filled out at your leisure.

Back to the Top

Home | Services | Careers | Jobs | Staff | Site Map | Contact Us