How to Write Your Best Resume

June 30, 2023 | Career Coach

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Esther Shin
Esther Shin, one of our Career Coaches in Residence, shares her resume writing tips.

Making a good first impression with your resume is vital, especially since hiring managers only look at resumes for six to eight seconds while deciding whether to invite the candidate for an interview. So, you need to make a great sales pitch on your resume.

When employers hire new employees, they are searching for a candidate with a specific set of "features" (knowledge, skills and attributes) required for the job. Similarly, if you plan to make a big purchase, such as a car, you will likely look for specific features that fit your needs and lifestyle. Whether it is a sporty, electric or family-friendly vehicle, you will move forward with the option that delivers the best features for you. Your resume must convince the employer that you have the relevant qualifications (features), and whether this makes you the right candidate for the job.

As you write your resume and cover letter, consider the following:

Show the value you bring to the role 

To make a good sales pitch for a job, your resume needs to show "why" employers should hire you by explaining the value you can add to the role rather than "what" tasks you can perform. The best way to demonstrate the value you bring to the table is by sharing your past successes and the results you delivered in your previous roles. To do this, ask yourself the following questions using the CAR method:

Challenge: What was the existing problem?

Action: How did you resolve this issue?

Results: What result did you deliver? (quantifiable results, achievements, outcomes)

Turn your tasks into accomplishments

Rather than listing every task you completed in your resume, include your accomplishments by using the following formula to highlight the value added to your previous roles:

Accomplishment statement = impactful action verb + describe the task + highlight the results

Here are examples of two accomplishment statements:

• Processed accounts payable and receivable, prepared accounting reports, and investigated and resolved account discrepancies.
• Reduced reconciliation discrepancies by 40% through better QuickBooks use.

Take the time to tailor every resume you submit

Demonstrate to the employer that you match the essential qualifications (knowledge, skills and attributes) they are looking for. Scan for keywords in the job posting and provide examples of your skills and knowledge in your resume. Just like the analogy of purchasing a car, you need to show the employer that you possess the "features" that are required for the job.

Additionally, use the same keywords posted in the job posting in your resume to ensure that you demonstrate you are fit for the role. This is especially important if the employer is using an applicant tracking system to scan resumes to flag candidates who match the requirements listed in the job posting.

Your resume is not your life story

Of course, everyone should be proud of all of their accomplishments, experiences, and educational achievements. However, one of the biggest mistakes that applicants make when writing their resume is placing the focus on themselves rather than the employer. So, get into the habit of asking yourself, "So what?" after writing every line on your resume. Is this relevant to the role, and does this help me to show my relevant skills and knowledge? The focus of your resume should be on what you can do for the employer in a concise and direct manner. Sometimes less is more, especially when the goal is to impress the employer within a few seconds that they will take to scan your resume.

For more support, check out the resume lab on Brainfuse! Submit your resume and receive feedback from a Brainfuse career coach or get live help from a Brainfuse instructor. Free with your library card.

Would you like to discuss your career goals? Book a free, one-on-one appointment with a Career Coach in Residence.

Post written by Esther Shin, 2023 Toronto Public Library Career Coach in Residence.


The Career Coaches in Residence program is generously supported by lead donors Azrieli Foundation and RBC Future Launch and supporting donors Linda Dagg and Kenneth Wiener and Ted Rogers Community Grants.

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