Job Search Skills
A resumé (pronounced reh/zoo/may) is a summary of your skills, training, and experience. Its primary purpose is to interest the employer in you as a potential employee. A well-written, carefully planned resumé will help get you an interview that may lead to a job offer. It may be included with a letter of application, attached to an application form, or handed to a prospective employer when you are interviewed. Copies of your resumé may also be given to instructors, friends, or family members who have agreed to help you in your search.
Resumés and cover letters are essential tools for finding jobs. You can use these tools to sell a potential employer on your skills and abilities. In the past, resumés were used only in professional and management level jobs. However, today most employers require a resumé. Even when one is not required, a well-prepared resumé can help you get a job.
Parts of a Resumé
There are a variety of formats you can use to present your resumé. However, no matter which format you choose, all resumés usually contain the following (Figure 22):
Name, address, email, and phone number
Your name, address, email, and phone number should be given on your resumé so that you can be easily contacted for an interview or possible employment. Make sure you leave a number where messages may be left for you. Do not leave your current work number, as your present employer may not appreciate personal calls during work time.
The employment objective identifies the type of position you are seeking. If you are looking for a range of different jobs, leave the objective out or tailor each resumé to the situation. You could also include your employment objective in the cover letter.
Avoid using specific job titles. Be concise and specific. Concentrate on the job you are seeking right now, not 10 years from now. For example, you might say “a challenging position as a First Cook or Chef de Partie.” Do not include vague, self-gratifying statements such as “so I might become a better person.”
Show educational qualifications, starting with the most recent and most relevant. There is no need to give the name of your secondary school if you have completed college or university. Identify any relevant training courses you have taken in high school or outside of a formal training institution if they are relevant to the work you are seeking. Take your cues from the job advertisement or the information you received from your contacts. For example, you might include first aid training if the job is in a remote camp.
Areas of knowledge and experience
Identify your skills and experience in past jobs and volunteer experiences. Keep the statements brief and to the point. Focus on the needs of the employer. Include your accomplishments from community activities and hobbies only if they are relevant to the job. If you are applying to a catering company, the statement “planned and catered a banquet for the regional soccer championship (100 guests)” would be relevant. An employer is not likely interested in whether you are a fly-tying expert. Be honest and be sure that you can back up every statement. Do not claim skills in any area in which you do not have practical experience, and don’t overstate your experience. Don’t claim to have managed the kitchen or created the menu if you have only assisted in these tasks.
Use verbs (action words) to describe your accomplishments. The following provides a list of verbs associated with different types of skills:
Creative and technical
Working with people
Business or administrative
You should list any related activities, such as membership in professional or trade associations or volunteering that relates to your application. Be sure to list any responsibilities that you held in these positions as often these activities are great ways to demonstrate experience you have not gained in your work experience.
References may be listed in your resumé or they can be listed on a separate sheet. You should have at least three references lined up when you apply for jobs. Be sure to get each person’s permission to use her or him as a reference. Supply the reference with a copy of your resumé and a copy of the job ad or posting so that he or she can speak knowledgeably about you when contacted. Have the person’s full name, title, position, company name, address, and phone number for each reference.
The most important factor to keep in mind when choosing references is that the person has a favourable opinion of you. The person should also have a title that shows responsibility, especially responsibility relevant to the position you are seeking. If your reference is someone the potential employer likes and respects, so much the better.
Do not use a relative, especially one with the same last name. Do not use anyone who shares your address as a reference. Make sure that the people you select can communicate well orally and in writing. Always make sure that your references are people with whom you have had recent contact with. A good borderline is within the last two to three years. Try and keep in touch with your references by an email or phone conversation so that if they are called to give an opinion on you, firstly, they remember you, and secondly, they have recent knowledge of what you might be doing currently.
Chronological and Functional Resumé Formats
Chronological resumés list your experience and education from the most recent to the least recent. Under each position or employer, you should list the skills and experience gained at that employer. This style of resumé highlights a steady employment record. It emphasizes growth and development in employment history. However, it can expose drawbacks such as gaps in employment, frequent job changes, lack of related experience, or lack of career progression. This type of resumé is suitable if your most recent employment is directly relevant to the job for which you are applying. Figures 23 and 24 present examples of chronological resumés.
345 Any Street
To obtain a position as a sous-chef in a full-service restaurant
2009 to present
Kitchen helper and dishwasher (part-time)
Active Member of the Anytown chapter of the Canadian Culinary Federation, currently responsible for planning student culinary competitions
Member, BC Restaurant and Food Service Association
Available on request
A functional resumé (Figure 25) is a good way to display your most relevant skills and accomplishments. Under the heading “Experience” or “Skills and Accomplishments,” you list your capabilities under broad headings such as supervision, food and beverage cost control, menu planning, an so on. Under each heading, list all of the skills you have related to that topic without regard to where you acquired that skill. Your previous positions and employers are briefly listed under the heading “Work History.”
This resumé format minimizes drawbacks such as gaps in employment and lack of directly related experience. It is most useful when you have acquired a broad range of skills relevant to the job through many different employers. It can also be useful if your job titles did not adequately reflect the duties performed. It is harder to prepare a functional resumé. Functional resumés can be confusing to read if not well written.
345 Princeton Street
To gain a position as an Executive Chef in a full-service hotel
Food and beverage cost control
Supervision of staff
2005 to present
Chef de Cuisine certificate
Tourism Supervisory Development Program: Food & Beverage Option
Cook Certificate of Qualification with an Interprovincial endorsement
Professional Cook Certificate
In-house training on Squirrel Food and Beverage and Inventory Management packages
Active Member of the Anytown chapter of the Canadian Culinary Federation, currently Membership Chairperson
Member, BC Restaurant and Food Service Association
Available on request
Tips on Preparing a Resumé
There are several websites that offer free templates for building different styles of resumés. It is important that the presentation is professional and well laid out.
When preparing your resumé, keep the following points in mind:
- Use good quality 8.5″ x 11″ stationery in white or cream for print copies
- Use perfect grammar, spelling, and punctuation; check and recheck your resumé
- Use ample margins and white space to enhance the appearance and readability of your resumé
- Limit your resumé to two pages
- Label the second page with your name and page number as well in case the two pages get separated
- Staple your resumé pages together
- Print the resumé using a good quality printer
- Be clear and concise
- Be accurate; the employer may check on what you have written
- Be consistent in your format and style
- Be positive in tone; focus on results and accomplishments
- Tailor the resumé to the employer’s requirements
- Be complete; make sure that you include company names; do not abbreviate
- Use headings and paragraphing to organize the content
- Avoid company jargon when presenting accomplishments; they may not be readily understood
- Resume by go2HR. Used with permission