McGill

Resume writing

If you feel explaining gaps in your resume (because of health challenges) puts you at some disadvantage in finding work, there are several steps that may help you when drafting one.

Here are 5 tips on resume writing:

1 Become an expert in resume writing

Adopt the attitude that your resume is never finished, and you are always looking at ways to improve it. Read up on how to write a resume and take any course available to teach you how to make the best one. This will you give you the edge over those who think they know it all and could not be bothered to do what it takes to find work.

2 Use informational interviews

Before you submit a resume for a job, it is best to explore the job area, employment prospects and job leads through informational interviews. Informational interviewing is a form of networking between you and an employer or those working in your intended job field/workplace that helps you develop contacts and find out more about a job and the workplace.

An informational interview is done before a job is posted with the aim of finding information and contacts and is not a direct job search technique (although it can be highly effective in helping you find a job). When conducting an informational interview, pay attention to how the employer/worker describes the skills desired in the field, as these are the skills or words you want to make sure you include in your resume for future use.

If you feel it is appropriate and your resume is getting closer to being ready to submit for a job search, you can even ask the employer or worksite representative to review your resume and suggest ways to improve it to help you become more competitive in their field. This is also a good time to ask what resume style (chronological, functional or hybrid) is preferred in the field.

The advantage of the informational interview is that if it goes well and you connect with the employer, they may be likely to overlook any gaps in work history due to health problems when a position opens.

Relaxed businessman with his feet up against white background with vignette3 Use a skills-focused resume

Rather than using a chronological resume, which puts your job history in the order of time, use a hybrid style to highlight the skills you have to offer. To see examples, try viewing some on Google Images.

Hybrid and functional style resumes are good at identifying transferable skills, that is, skills that can be transferred from one work field to another. They are also ideal for hiding gaps or little work history.

The downside of functional resumes, which have no description of job history, is that savvy employers and human resources representatives might notice the gap and they may assume that you are trying to hide something. This may result in being excluded from being invited to a job interview or prompt them to ask you for an explanation of the gap at an interview. Choosing the hybrid style resume, which shows some job history but with minimal emphasis, may be able to prevent this. Part of selecting a resume style is to see what format is expected in the industry; for example, more academic jobs may require a chronological type.

4 When you see a job posting

Highlight the verbs in the posting and tailor a resume for each job by incorporating and categorizing these verbs into sub-headings and skill areas. For example, working as a food server may require skills in customer service, teamwork and experience handling food and beverage. You can list examples of your work and volunteer experience as well as education under these categories.

5 Anticipate resume reading fatigue

Always put your best foot forward in your resume and feature what accomplishments you are most proud of and what employers want to see first. If you want to de-emphasize your job experience, place it toward the end of the resume. Use extra spacing to emphasize your strengths and fewer spaces (single spacing) for your weaker areas.

Remember your resume is only one part of representing yourself in the job field and there are many ways to make yourself be noticed and valued in the job search process.

Additional resources on resume writing: The Cancer and Careers website offers the following tips:

  1. Tailor your resume format to your needs.
  2. Use your network.
  3. Rehearse your job interview ahead of time.
  4. Know about employment laws that are relevant to your situation.