First-time resume writing

This information is great for students who have never written a resume before. Once you've written your first resume, make sure to check out the Resume & Cover Letter Toolkit.

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General Guidelines - Resumes

  • Resumes can be one or two pages
  • Use basic common language font such as Times New Roman or Arial. Also, do not use graphics—this eliminates technical problems with scanning your resume or with employers receiving them on potentially incompatible programs or printers
  • Keep margins ¾” to 1”; use font size 11 or 12 for the body of the resume
  • Italics, underlining, shading and sometimes bolding can be a problem as these do not always look the same on other operating systems and/or printers
  • Create a "reader-friendly" document that uses white space effectively
  • Research employer requirements and highlight your qualifications that match requirements
  • Proofread your resume for grammar and spelling errors

Contact Information

  • Include mailing address, telephone number with voicemail, professional e-mail (avoid slang in your e-mail address); you may want to make your name a few font sizes larger than other information so that it stands out
  • Ensure you have control of and access to all e-mail and phone numbers used
  • Use between two and four lines for contact information
  • Centre or left justify


  • Not mandatory and can often be stated within your cover letter
  • If you do include an objective, make it as specific as possible (for example, “University student with good customer service skills seeking part-time retail position)”

Profile/Skills Summary/Highlights of Qualifications

  • Optional
  • If you include this section, use a bullet format and highlight three to five skills and/or qualifications that are relevant to the position you are applying for, and substantiate with brief explanation of the experience (s) that helped you build that skill or quality


  • Include dates attended, program, area(s) of study, institution
  • Include relevant courses if related to job posting
  • Include GPA if it is above 3.0
  • Include high school if you are in first or second year – note if you graduated with honours; include high school if it is unique, such as the International Baccalaureate
  • If you don’t include high school but wish to include awards/honours from high school, put them in a separate “awards” section

Experience (paid, unpaid, volunteer)

  • Include paid and unpaid or volunteer experience
  • You can separate the sections into “Work Experience” and “Volunteer Experience”, or you can call the sections “Relevant Experience” and “Other Experience”, or simply “Experience” which could include both paid and unpaid
  • Order your experiences in reverse chronological order within each section
  • Begin each point with an action verb
  • Within the experience descriptions, place the most relevant and important tasks or accomplishments first

Extracurricular Activities

  • Include university and high school activities such as class representative, club membership, leadership roles
  • Include a brief description of accomplishments and results if possible


  • Include any awards during high school, university, or as part of a paid job or volunteer experience

Professional Memberships

  •  Include any professional memberships, role, duties and any accomplishments


  • Include sports or leisure activities that demonstrate other areas of your life


  • Do not include your references on your resume
  • Optional – “References Available on Request” – when a potential employer is interested in making an offer, they will ask for your references
  • For more information, see the References Tip Sheet