While some of the following information can be applied to any job search, the material in this document relates specifically to the process at the City of Toronto.

If you have not updated yours for some time, or if you have never prepared one, this guide will assist you in working through the process.

An effective resume:

  • is only two to three pages long
  • markets your strengths
  • stresses your accomplishments and achievements, rather than listing your duties
  • is customized for the specific job to which you are applying
  • addresses how your skills and abilities meet the key qualifications of the job
  • is easy to read
  • creates a positive visual impact

Resume style and design tips

  • List your work experience in reverse chronological order (begin with your most recent work position).
  • Summarize your work experience of more than 10 years ago (unless directly relevant to the job for which you are applying).
  • Select a simple font that is easily readable and proportionally spaced, (for example, Arial, CG Times, Times Roman, size 11 or 12).
  • Don’t mix more than two types of fonts in the same document.
  • Use bolding sparingly. Do not use shading when formatting.
  • Avoid using all capitalization, italics or underlining as they can make the document more difficult to read.
  • Avoid the use of fancy graphics or visuals as they can distract the reader from the content.
  • Leave plenty of “white space” with generous margins and indentations.

Sections to include in your resume

Personal information

Include your name, address, phone numbers (including area code), and e-mail address


Highlights (or summary) of qualifications

Use this section to market your most important and relevant qualifications. It should immediately follow your name and address section. Often, the highlights section includes a statement about your strengths as they relate to your work experience that makes you a suitable candidate for a particular job. It sometimes helps to imagine how someone who knows you might describe your strengths.

Highlights may include:

  • the number of years of relevant experience
  • any specialized training or formal credentials
  • a significant accomplishment or successful endeavour
  • a statement about your level of commitment, work attitude or values

Work Experience

In a chronological resume, list your work experience in the reverse chronological order of years worked in each of your jobs. (Do not include months unless you have been in a position for under a year.) Your job title and division/employer should be clearly recorded (in bold). Address your experience as it relates to the key qualifications for the position you are applying to. Use four or five one-liners to describe your significant accomplishments. Whenever possible try to quantify your achievements with successful results.


Education

List only your degree or diploma (or highest grade achieved) and the educational institution. Put your highest education level or most recently attained degree/diploma first. If you have had post-secondary education, do not include high school information. Academic awards and/or scholarships can be mentioned. Do not list specific courses unless they are directly related to the position. It is recommended that this section appears at the end of your resume. If you have had very little work experience, your list of courses can appear immediately following your personal data, before the work experience section.


Additional resume sections

Include additional resume sections only if they are relevant to the position for which you are applying. Additional sections may include:

  • languages (list verbal and written skills)
  • awards
  • publications (list published work)
  • professional affiliations memberships
  • volunteer experience/community involvement (may also include if you have minimal paid work experience)

Resume do's and don'ts

DO'S

  • Ensure there is a match between your skills and experience and the key qualifications on the job posting.
  • Highlight your experience as it relates to the key qualifications for the position you are applying to. It is recommended that you create a new resume for each different job you apply for.
  • Prioritize one-liners outlining your achievements and accomplishments in each section, putting the most significant ones first.
  • Tell the truth! Do not misrepresent or falsify any information on your resume as it will be verified later.
  • Highlight job achievements and accomplishments rather than duties.
  • Use data to quantify and support your accomplishments.

DON'TS

  • Don't copy and paste the exact wording from the job posting. Find a different way of saying the same thing in order to demonstrate your qualifications.
  • Don't include a list of references or a statement that references are available on request as this is assumed.
  • Don't include confidential information, such as your date of birth, marital status, or your social insurance number. As the Ontario Human Rights Code prohibits discrimination on the basis of such information, do not include it on your resume as it is not relevant or required.
  • Don't include a sentence stating your career objective. This serves no useful purpose if it merely repeats the title of the position for which you are applying.
  • Don't use acronyms, abbreviations, clichés or jargon.
  • Don't forget to spell check or ask a co-worker/friend/family member to proofread for you.

Resume checklist

  • Is it clear and concise?
  • Does it stress accomplishments rather than duties?
  • Are your action verbs consistent and in the right tense?
  • Have you quantified accomplishments whenever possible?
  • Are your most important one-liners at the top of each section?
  • Did you address your experience as it relates to the key qualifications for the position you are applying to?
  • Are your jobs listed in reverse chronological order?
  • Have you included your address, telephone number and e-mail address?
  • Is your name on each page?
  • Is it well spaced and easy to read?
  • Have you edited carefully? Did you ask someone else to proof-read it for you?
  • Are your pages numbered?

Accomplishment Verbs

Consider using some of these action verbs to highlight your skills.

achieved
expanded
improved
pioneered
reduced
resolved
spearheaded
transformed

Cover Letters

Use your cover letter as an opportunity to introduce yourself to the reader and demonstrate why you are a suitable candidate for a particular position. A well written cover letter can create a positive first impression.

Use the cover letter as a means of expressing your interest in the position as well as highlighting why you are an ideal candidate. The cover letter also provides an opportunity to share anything special that you feel will set you apart from the competition. If you claim a skill or accomplishment in your letter, make sure that it is substantiated in your resume.

What you can highlight in a cover letter:

  • Written communication skills
  • Organizational skills
  • Social skills
  • Personal style
  • Management approach
  • Focus and priorities

Writing one-liners

A one-liner is a means of describing an accomplishment, skill or responsibility as brief and concise as possible, using point form. One-liners prevent you from using unnecessarily wordy sentences in your resume.


How to structure a one-liner

  • Start each one-liner with an action verb, using present tense (for example, prepares or develops) for current job and past tense for previous jobs (for example, assisted or monitored)
  • State what you did and what you accomplished using many verbs – quantify and qualify your points to demonstrate your experience fully, as well as the depth and breadth of knowledge, skills and abilities you possess.
  • Show the results of your actions and the benefits to the organization.
  • For example:
    • how you saved money, and how much
    • how you increased productivity
    • how you solved a problem
    • how you built a relationship

Examples of one-liners

  • Handled all in-bound telephone calls, re-directed them to appropriate staff or took messages as needed
  • Followed-up on requests and ensured client service standards were maintained in a high volume client focussed environment
  • Rearranged the office filing system based on a personally devised plan, which led to more efficient file retrieval by the staff
  • Developed an extensive equipment maintenance program resulting in reduced downtime, lower repair costs and improved service

Creating a good cover letter

A well-written cover letter will:

  • will generally be one to two pages in length
  • express interest in the position
  • catch the interest of the reader
  • highlight how your skills meet the employer’s needs
  • direct the reader’s attention to your strong points
  • set you apart from the competition
  • illustrate why you are a good fit for the position
  • indicate how your strengths meet the key qualifications of the job posting
  • show that you have done your research and familiarized yourself with the important issues in the unit and the division
  • show how your skills and experience can make a contribution to the organization
  • thank the reader for considering your application
  • have been spell-checked and edited for grammar
  • be well organized and concise