FAQs on Resumes

FAQs on ResumesDo I really need a resume?

Yes! Employers are looking for a simple, concise description of who you are and what you've done. Even a really good resume won't give an employer a complete idea of who you are - but it will get you an interview. And once you're in the interview, then you can showcase the real you.

What if I don't have very much work experience?

If you've been to school, volunteered, had a job, or learned a skill, there's something to say on your resume. It's just a matter of presenting the information in an assertive, positive, truthful manner.

Which is better: a functional or chronological resume?

Functional and chronological presentations each carry advantages and disadvantages. A chronological resume is the preferred format for most HR departments.

A chronological resume highlights progressive advancement in responsibility, provides a clear picture of employment history, and enables you to tie your responsibilities and accomplishments together in a logical fashion that makes hiring authorities most comfortable.

A functional resume, on the other hand allows you to highlight major accomplishments up front regardless of where in your work history they occurred, categorizes accomplishments from different positions, and eliminates repetitiveness in a work history consisting of very similar positions. A functional resume should only be used as a supplement to a chronological resume as many HR professionals view these types of resumes with suspicion - thinking the job seeker has something to hide. With the tremendous labour shortages, many employers are a lot more forgiving about frequent job changes and absence from the workforce. What they don't like is having incomplete or misleading information.

What about personal information: should I include marital status, health, hobbies, and personal interests?

Personal information such as marital status, health, number of children, and birth date are potential discriminators for which an employer can face severe consequences under the law. For this reason, it is better not to include this information in resumes intended for use in the North American market. If you are seeking an overseas position, inclusion of this information may be appropriate. If you are of foreign origin, you will want to include your immigration status, for example, Citizen, Permanent Resident/Landed Immigrant, or Green Card holder, so potential employers will be assured of your eligibility for hire. Hobbies and interests are generally not included unless they are considered unusual enough to spark the reader's interest and serve as an ice breaker, indicate an exceptional level of accomplishment or skill (e.g., Olympic medallist, marathon winner), or are particularly relevant to your target position (e.g., avid amateur photographer applying for position as a medical photographer/journalist).

How long should my resume be? I've heard it should never be longer than one page.

Your resume should be as long as necessary to adequately portray your qualifications and experience. It's as simple as that! If this task can be accomplished in one page, great! If it takes two pages, that's fine, too. The critical factor in any case is to make absolutely certain that your reader's interest is piqued within the first half of the first page. If you've sparked their interest, they will be hungry for more.

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