Résumés for Starters

By Emily Hutton

Want a summer job? Entering the workforce for the first time can be nerve wracking, especially if you’re not properly prepared. A professionally structured résumé can really help.

There are many dos and don’ts when creating your first one. Suzanne Nourse of the Protocol School of Ottawa says if a person hasn’t had any job experience, it is always best to include volunteer work.

“Even if you aren’t getting paid, volunteer work still does count as work experience. It is still utilizing all your skills, it is still work and it is still contributing,” Nourse points out. “Even some of your school projects, where maybe you were the leader of a team assignment, can be included in your résumé because it is experience that can benefit your job.”

The key element in a résumé is the contact information, including phone numbers and email addresses. This is the time to get rid of an identifier such as superstud99, missprincess2000 or anything that can look off-putting to a potential employer. The first part of your résumé the employer notices is your name and contact information so you want to make sure it is up-to-date and professional.

­­ When creating your résumé, it is essential to be honest. If you got fired, and unless you left on bad terms, it is important to include the job information. If you leave a job out you will have a noticeable gap in your work experience timeline. This could be reason enough for a potential employer to throw out your résumé without giving it a second glance.

Keep your résumé consistent and organized; don’t try to make it look pretty by using different styles or fonts. “Some companies even have a specific format they want you to follow; if you haven’t formatted it the way they want then that’s another reason why it will get thrown out,” says Nourse. “There is a place to be unique and a resume isn’t one of them.”

What’s more, it is always important to make sure your social media accounts are clean because 93 per cent of prospective employers check social media before hiring. You don’t want a potential employer going to Facebook or Twitter and seeing some nasty comments and posts. You can lose a job because of it.

“I think that when you sit down to clean up your social media accounts you’re a little too late; you should always be aware of what is going on when you’re on social media. We only have to look at some recent events in the news to know that nothing is private,” says Nourse.

The last thing you should do before handing your résumé out is proofread and then proofread again. “People have to keep in mind that a company gets so many résumés that they are looking for reasons to throw a résumé in the recycling bin,” says Nourse. “Anything from a grammatical error to inappropriate contact info can have your résumé thrown out.”

Working on your first résumé can be a challenge, but will give you confidence when you succeed in getting your first job. u

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