Once you've found a job you'd like to apply for, you've got to come up with a way to tell the employer about yourself.
A resumé is something everyone should have. You'll find that once you've built yours, you'll use it again and again. It'll grow with you, and if it's a good one, it will open a lot of doors.
Take a few minutes to consider all the experiences you have to offer an employer.
- Your work experiences, such as babysitting, life guarding, camp counsellor, newspaper delivery.
- All the courses and lessons you've taken – the highest level of schooling you have, swimming lessons, lifesaving courses, singing or other music lessons, babysitting courses, the online Passport to Safety test or the 2-day NB Safety Start program.
- Your volunteer experiences – fundraising activities, coaching, church events.
- All the computer programs you know how to use. Even knowledge of e-mail and Internet search tools are valuable.
- Extracurricular stuff like sports and reading.
- Bilingual or other language skills.
Jot it all down. Take some quick notes about your experiences, and figure out the dates of all the jobs you've held, and courses you've taken.
Once you have the raw information, you can put it all down on paper. Resumés often include the following headings:
- Work Experience: all the jobs you've had, starting with the most recent job and listing them backwards to your first job.
- Education: schools you've attended (high school, university, or college) and your current grade or education level. If you've taken courses outside of a school setting, list them under a Continuing Education or Other Courses heading.
- Skills: the computer programs you know how to operate, the equipment you know how to use, and other abilities such as bilingualism, good communication and analytical skills, to name a few .
- Other Experience: awards received, volunteer work, and extracurricular programs you've been involved with.
Remember that your resumé is your first and best chance to advertise your abilities. Think about the job you're applying for, and decide what past experiences you've had that are the most relevant to the job. Start your resumé there.
For example, let's say you're applying for a job in an office, and you have the following experience:
- A summer job as a camp counsellor and babysitting.
- Some volunteer experience working in the office at the local food bank during their annual fundraiser.
- Experience organizing and fundraising for a field trip to New York City for your school orchestra.
In this scenario, your work experience as camp counsellor and babysitter might not be as relevant to an office job as your other experiences are. Your volunteer and extracurricular experiences are likely more interesting to an employer in this case, so start there. You can even change the "Other Experience" heading to "Relevant Experience."
If you can, write your resumé using complete sentences. If writing's not your thing, point form is OK, just be sure you're getting the important information down on paper.
- Be honest. Sell your skills, but don't exaggerate them.
- A lot of people will tell you to keep your resumé to one page, but if you need to use two pages to tell your story, do it. Don't go to three pages, though. That's too long.
Create your resumé with a computer, using word processing software, and print it out.
For a listing of resumé dos and don'ts see: Writing a resumé.
Cover Letter Tips
Resumés should be accompanied by a cover letter. A good cover letter will help you sell your qualifications to the employer, so they're left with the feeling that you would be an excellent candidate for the position. Your resumé talks about what you've done in the past – so let your cover letter show how you'll take those experiences and successfully put them to work in the new position.
Create your cover letter on a computer, using word processing software, and have it printed out. Handwritten cover letters are acceptable, but aren't ideal.
For helpful information on writing a cover letter, check out: Cover Letters and More.
Job Application Tips
Be prepared. Some employers will do a short interview with you on the spot when you ask for a job application form so dress neatly. Also, review the job description or job ad before arriving so that you are prepared to answer any questions related to the job you’re applying for.
Some employers will ask you to complete a job application instead of submitting a resumé, or they might ask you to do both. Some employers use standard application forms so they can compare job applicants based on the same information .
If you can, take the application form home so you can take your time to fill it out. Just in case you're asked to fill it out right away, you should be sure to bring along all the information you might need. This can include:
- A copy of your resumé. Sometimes you can simply attach your resumé to the application, instead of filling it out. If you don't have a resumé, notes on your job history, including dates, addresses, contact names, and telephone numbers for your past employers will come in handy.
- Personal information such as your Social Insurance Number, your
driver's license number, and your citizenship information (if applicable).
- Contact information for your references.
Print Neatly. If you make a mistake, use white-out or correction tape.
Try not to leave any blanks. Your form should be as complete as possible.
Proofread everything that you plan to submit to the employer. Review your resumé, cover letter, and job application form for typos and grammatical errors, then put it down and leave it overnight. Review it again the next day with fresh eyes. Better yet, ask someone else (a teacher, friend, or parent) to read it, because they might see something you missed.
Deliver it. Be sure to review the job ad for any restrictions on the way the employer wants to receive applications. Some companies don't like to get
faxed applications, and others won't review e mail attachments, so be sure to check.
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