Sharon Heenan
Heenan Consulting, Independent IT Recruiters
25 Maitland Street, Ste. 505
Toronto ON M4Y 2W1

Resumes, Suggested Format                                                                         July 2003

Contact Information: Name, Address, Phone, Email: TOP centre of first page. We may put paperclips on the sides.
  • Name: Write your name as it is said, bold but not all caps, not in italics. To avoid confusion (and appearing pompous), do not include your middle name in full unless you are addressed by it. If you are called by a nickname, include that name in brackets between the first and last name. E.g. Robert (Bob) Jones. If your name could be misunderstood as to whether male or female, and you wish to let the employer know which you are (which I recommend), indicate by using Mr., Miss, Ms., etc. in front of your name.

  • Address: Do not omit your address and phone. We cannot include you in a search unless we have your full address. Put it at the top.
  • Postal Codes: There are no hyphens in Canadian postal codes. There is a space between the two sets of three characters: Letters are all caps. Correct postal code format: M4Y 2W1
  • Phone Numbers: To avoid appearing eccentric, use dashes, not dots, in phone numbers. Also, to enable us to importing or scan into our database, use this format: 416-912-1234. Using other formats may cause delays.
  • No cute email addresses, aliases, or silly, too-personal websites, please.
  • Left-justify your resume. Centre-justifying it can create a problem with scanning.

It is crucial that you present a professional image from the beginning.

Career Objective:
  • A Career Objective can be very helpful to the screener.
  • It should be in the resume, not in the cover letter, which may be discarded before reaching the screener. It should tell the company what you can do for them, not the other way around.
  • It should be brief, just one or two sentences, and say specifically (not vaguely) what kind of job you want or could do, so that the screener does not have to try to guess.
  • Think carefully about what to say here. * Avoid the words "progressive", "challenging", and "dynamic" which are trite to the point of being meaningless. Do not say you are a "team player" or other over-used phrases.
Examples of how NOT to do this:
  1. "To work for a major corporation" (doesn't specify a position.)

  2. "To learn and grow in my career through company education" (Don't tell the company what they can do for you, they want to know what you can do for them.)
Examples of GOOD Career Objectives:
  1. "To be an IT manager for an electronics manufacturer."

  2. "To be VP of Sales in computer software or networking solutions."

  3. "To be a Systems Engineer for a software developer in the Toronto area."
Professional skills:
  • In point form or short, simple, concise paragraphs

  • No boxes, no charts, no fancy formatting, no shading behind lettering, they are too hard to read and do not import, scan or fax well. Columns may or may not scan well.

  • To avoid clutter, you do not need to put the software version number.
  • Do not list word processors, email, fax applications, browsers, or anti-virus programs in skills, everybody knows these.
  • For sales positions, be sure to include in your resume for each position in your work history detailed info on 1) sales numbers and quotas achieved, and, 2) the types and levels of IT and business contacts to whom you have access. 3) the industries you have sold to.

Education: (Put education near the top of your resume, we want to see that first.)
  • Name of school, location of school, what you studied. Be sure to include dates
  • Other training or courses. School projects do not belong under Employment Experience; they are part of your education history. Coop work may go under work history with the word (Coop) in brackets.
  • What you plan to study next. (Work-related education only.)
Employment Experience: (most recent job first)
(PAID work only, not volunteer, nothing unpaid except coop if clearly marked as such.)

Dates (including months) Company (City or Country) URL Job Title
(note: 1997-1998 could be 2 years or 2 months, make sure the months are there.)
Business of the company

Jan. 1997 - Nov. 1998 Sales Rep (contract)(permanent)(Part-time)(Coop)
Big Systems Company (Toronto)

Big Systems Company designs and manufactures software. <--
This info is important!

In point form (using conservative bullets)
  •     Title of person(s) to whom you reported. Do not include the person's name.

  •     Duties and responsibilities (briefly!)
  •     Achievements (briefly!)

    (Repeat for each employment.)
    • If the company you worked for was not in the Toronto area, it is especially important to put the name of the city and/or country beside the name of the company.
    • If it was a co-op or contract job, put that in brackets after your title. Do not make the screener try to guess why you worked only 3 months somewhere.
    • If you have worked on a project as a volunteer, or worked at your school for no pay, or did intern work, please indicate as such under Volunteer Experience, do not put it under Work Experience.
    Volunteer Work: All unpaid volunteer work belongs here, not in your work experience, unless it is full-time and clearly marked as volunteer work.

    Affiliations: Professional activities/designations, only if related to education or employment.

    Hobbies and Interests: They should have some relevance to the job you want, e.g. competitive sports for sales reps. Do not omit this. It is an indication of your personality and peripheral skills, and shows that you have a balanced lifestyle.

    References: Available upon request.
    • References should be on a separate page with your name at the top. (As a recruiter, I do not furnish references to the client unless there is a good reason, and with your permission.)
    • You need at least 3 Canadian business references (supervisors or peers) in a format that shows their name, relationship to you, where they are working now, and telephone number. Important: Ask them first. Get your references ready now, it can take time to get them organised and sometimes we need to move quickly.
    • Note that references are always checked by phone, a letter of reference or email address is not useful to us.
    • Volunteer work references may be suitable, but not relatives or other personal references.
    • Do not send references until they are requested, and do not attach them to your resume, or your referees may get un-necessary phone calls.

    Helpful Hints
    1. Length of Resume: Resumes should be two (2) pages long, 3 pages only if completely unavoidable (That never happens!) Clients do not want to read more than 2 pages, some clients require resumes to be exactly 2 pages long. We only want to know about the last 3 jobs or the last 6 years, whichever is less. Soft skills, e.g. "team player" may be omitted. If we need more information we will ask you. References should be on one further separate page.

    2. Naming your Resume doc: We have to file your resume so we can find it again. Don't call your resume Resume.doc or anything else which is meaningless to the screener. Call it Lastname, Firstname.doc, for example Smith, John.doc. No underscores.

    3. Font size: should be Arial or Times New Roman 10-12-pt., NOT smaller. Anything smaller is hard to read. Avoid a lot of caps or italics. Small round bullets only, nothing else.

    4. Pages (after page 1) should include applicant's name, page number, and month date, all on the top of the page. For example John Jones, March/03, Page 2 of 3. Do not put your full header with address on all pages. Put your address on the first page only.

    5. PLAIN English, please, don't use 5 big words when 1 small one will do.

    6. To avoid appearing eccentric do not write your resume or cover letter or email note all in small letters or all in caps. In fact, avoid caps altogether, they make the resume hard to read. For the same reason use dashes, not dots, in phone numbers. . (In Canada the standard is dashes, not dots in phone numbers.)

    7. To avoid looking really dumb, use proper English spelling and grammar. Common errors:
      There is no such word as "irregardless" in the English language The correct word is "regardless". There is no such expression as "in regards to". The correct expression is "in regard to". There are no apostrophes in plurals. The plural of dog is dogs not dog's. The plural of CD is CDs not CD's. There is no such expression as "as per", it is incorrect use of English; use "further to".

    8. Information should be in point form for ease of reading. Black ink only except headers, which may be dark blue. NO other colours. No italics. White paper only. No white print on dark background. No shading or highlighting, it imports, scans, and faxes badly.

    9. Nothing fancy, please. No logos, cute decorations, flashy fonts, odd bullets, dizzy colours. Your idea of creativity may not be the same as the screener's.

    10. If you have your own website, omit this unless it presents a professional image. No pictures of your family or your dog. No personal diaries.
    11. Do not send a picture of yourself with the resume.

    12. Do not help us by putting a list of keywords in the resume. We are smart enough to find our own keywords.

    13. Do not send your email message in HTML, do not attach an electronic business card. Do not use macros in your word doc. These can carry viruses.

    14. Do not say anything on a resume that is misleading, vague, or not true. Clarify anything that may be questioned before it is questioned. For example, if you worked for a computer school as a volunteer, do not try to make it appear that you were employed there. If it was co-op or contract work (hourly rate), say so. Don't annoy the screener by making your resume difficult to understand.

    15. Send only one resume: When sending your resume by email, do not send your resume in several different formats, just send one Word doc. Do not send addendums.

    16. Subject Line of Email: When sending your resume by email, always put your full name in the subject line, also your occupation or the job you are applying for. This will which will help the screener. For example, I prefer "Mary Jones, Sr. C++ Programmer, Toronto" or "Mary Jones, for English Help Desk. Avoid silly or arrogant messages in the subject line of an email.

    17. Put your full name in your email Reply address when replying for jobs, NO aliases, partial names, just first names, or cute names. The name in your email reply should match the name on your resume. Make sure the reply address works, so that we can hit the reply button to email you back and the mail will not be returned as undeliverable.

    18. Do not email your resume as "High Priority" unless you really want to annoy the screener. This is just dumb.

    19. Don't make it hard for the Screener: If you are asked to send a resume, do not say "Go get my resume from my website." That is perceived as arrogant. Do not ask for a response from us, we need to work quickly and will phone you if there is a suitable position.

    20. If you have your email set to automatically ask for a Return Receipt, remove it. We don't need that extra work.

    21. Do NOT write your resume in the third person. It makes you appear incredibly pompous.

    22. Do not publish your IQ in a resume, no matter how high it is. Do not say that you are a member of Mensa. (Yes, I have seen this.)

    23. Proofreading: Double-check and triple-check your resume for spelling and grammar errors. English errors leave a very unfavourable impression, they make you appear careless and lacking in attention to detail. Always have someone with good English proof-read your resume for spelling and grammar before submitting it, even if you think it is fine.

    24. When you are finished go to View, Page Layout, set it at 75%, and save the doc. This allows the screener to open the doc and have a clean view of the resume, as if reading a hard copy. In XP the settings are different, just make it easy to read.

    25. Respect our Requirements: If you are sending a resume in the hope that the company or recruiter may have a job in your range, pay attention to the minimum general requirements: for example mine are two years of computer industry experience in Canada.

    26. To gain the screener's favourable attention, resumes must be chronological (NEVER functional), easy to read, easy to understand, complete (no gaps in time), not longer than 2 pages, conservatively formatted, and have correct spelling and grammar.

    27. Location, location, location: If you live in Thunder Bay and are applying for a job in Toronto, we are going to wonder how the heck you plan to get to work in the morning. Let us know in the body of your email what plan you have for moving to the Toronto area.

    Answering the Phone Later
    • Answering Machine: No music, kids, or cute outgoing messages on your answering machine. When you are expecting calls from potential employers or recruiters, your answering machine should have a professional outgoing message, one that briefly verifies the phone number and/or your name (so we know we have the right number and feel safe in leaving a message), and invites the caller to leave a message (not insists that the caller leave a message.)

    • If someone other than yourself might answer the phone (no little kids please), make sure they know how to politely take a message without annoying the caller or asking a lot of questions about what the caller wants.

    • No call screening, that is rude. Make sure they know how to put a caller through immediately without asking the caller the caller who they are or any other nosy questions. NO "Who is this and what you want?" NO "I'm his wife, WHY are you calling my husband???" Just have them put you on the phone in a professional manner and quickly.

    • Call Privacy: If you have Bell Call Privacy, disable it during a job search.

    Cover Letters

    Cover letters can be a nuisance to recruiters. They are almost never sent to clients. If used at all, they should not repeat the same information that is already in the resume or contain information that should really be in the resume. If it is in the resume is should NOT be in the cover letter. All important information should be in the resume, especially address and phone numbers. Many recruiters, including myself, prefer not to have any cover letter at all, we will figure it out, don't worry. Assume that the cover letter will be discarded without being read.
    The cover letter (if any) and the resume should be 2 separate docs. Do not combine them in one doc, or we will have to spend our time trying to remove the cover letter from the resume.
    Cover letters (if any) should be brief, one sentence may be enough, and included in the body of the email. Personalised but not too intimate, (Dear Mr. or Ms.---, never Dear Firstname)
    Your email cover letter if any should contain some of the points below. Keep it BRIEF, the screener will appreciate that you are respecting his time.
    • Mention of which job you are applying for, or if you are sending the resume on spec
    • Mention of where you saw the ad if any, or mention of how you got the recruiter's name, or the name of the person who referred you.
    • Salary requirements or range or present compensation.
    • Location requirements, or when you expect to be moving to Toronto if not already here.
    • Preferences re permanent or contract work
    • Other special requirements if any.
    • A polite invitation to review the resume.

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