Having a decent resume will provide employers with your past experiences and achievements during your career and let them know why you would be a good fit.

Providing your previous work experience, skill set, education, hobbies, and education can showcase your skills to an employer in a quick brief way. Find out how you can maximize your resume for success below.

Resume Format 

Be both creative and professional with your design so your resume sets you apart.

  • For example, create a custom letterhead that gives a consistent, professional looks across your resume, cover letter and reference list. 
  • Choose a font and use colours and lines (in moderation!) to have your resume ‘pop’ out of a sea of black and white.  
  • Try to maximize as much relevant experience as possible while staying under two pages.
  • Don't include everything! Cater your resume to the most worthwhile experiences tailored to the job.


Want to take your resume to the next level? Check out self paced Canvas workshop on resume building to learn how to take your resume to the next level!

Canvas Course

Researching Your Resume

Self Research

Researching jobs is only half of the battle while career searching! Taking the time to reflect on your own interests, values, and passions can help you discover industries and occupations you might not have thought of. Check out our Explore section for more ideas on building your self perspective.

Industry Research

Read the job posting carefully, as it is the employer's wish list for their ideal candidate. Ask yourself: "if you were in charge of hiring for a position, what would I look for in a candidate?"

Highlight key qualifications and skills that the employer is asking for, as well as any key verbs. This will give you an idea of what the employer places high importance on and what you should focus on in your application.

Pair highlighted skills or duties with examples from your experience that "prove" you have what they need and use them to create accomplishment statements for your resume.

From the job posting, determine the most relevant experiences that showcase the most important qualities and use these for your cover letter body paragraph(s). 

Keep in mind you are writing these documents for both the human reader and an applicant tracking system (ATS). Deconstructing will help you to find the keywords necessary for both.

When incorporating keywords for ATS remember to:

  • Use hard skills and industry specific jargon that directly relate to the position
  • Use both long-form and acronym versions of keywords


Employers may use an applicant tracking system (ATS) to help filter through the resumes they receive. ATS helps employers save time and eliminate unqualified candidates. Therefore, it is also important to ensure that the ATS identifies your qualifications so that your resume can pass through its algorithm.

Creating Your Resume

Visual Appeal

Be both creative and professional with your design so your resume sets you apart. For example, create a custom letterhead that gives a consistent, professional looks across your resume, cover letter and reference list. Choose a font and use colours and lines (in moderation!) to have your resume ‘pop’ out of a sea of black and white. 


Employers won’t waste their time on a hard to read resume. There are no minimum or maximum font sizes, but ensure text is legible and well-defined by use of surrounding white space. Ensure headings clearly stand out and text is consistently aligned vertically.

Strategic Ordering

Based on what you know about the position, place the most important sections on your resume first, starting in descending order from the top of the first page. Consider using targeted headings to highlight relevant experience. For example, “Accounting Experience” or “Community Engagement” is more targeted than “Work Experience” and “Volunteer Experience”.

Resume Content

The best way to show an employer what you can do for them is to tell them what you have already accomplished. It is so important to not only tell readers what you have done in your past roles, but also the impact of your actions by using accomplishment statements.

Consider using this formula to develop strong bullets on your resume

What + So What?

  • What: The task you accomplished or were responsible for
  • So What?: The result or impact of your actions, or the rationale behind what you did

Use specific examples, and quantify results when you can to illustrate the scope of your work:

  • What: Built a website
  • So What?: Developed an intranet site that helped increase inter-office communication between twenty staff members across three locations


Microsoft Word offers plenty of free templates for resume building. As an SFU student (or recent alumni) you have FREE access to Microsoft 365. While you begin to construct your resume, check out their templates for inspiration.

Resume Checklist

Think your resume is ready? Book an appointment with our career peers for one on one feedback and review of your resume! While you wait to see us, se this checklist to be sure employers will take notice of your resume and that it reflects your strengths and experience.


  • Have I used a personal letterhead that is unique, with easy to find key contact information?
  • Is my name clearly visible on every page?
  • Is the text (font and size) easy to read?
  • Is there enough white space?
  • Does the order of headings reflect what is most important to the position?
  • Is my formatting consistent?
  • Will my resume stand out in a pile?


  • Have I considered the employer’s perspective?
  • Have I shown the employer I can do the job?
  • Do my bullet points include details about the quality and impact of my past work - the “So what?”


  • Can I say the same thing with fewer words?
  • Is it free of spelling and grammar errors?
  • Have I asked someone to proofread it and offer feedback?

Employer Perspective

Consider the employer as the audience.  Do they have any other tasks to accomplish aside from hiring for this one position? How many resumes will they need to sort through to find their shortlist? What are they looking for in the resumes they short-list? Is reading these resumes time consuming? Is it hard on their eyes over time? If they are trying to fast-track this task of sorting resume, is that reasonable?  

Employers are individuals—each with unique ideas on how to get through a task. They do know what they are looking for and (in most cases) communicate that outright in job postings, on their website, in the marketing materials of their company, and in annual general reports on Social Media.

Resumes with eye-catching design and layout that are easy to read and contain relevant content make their task easier and get that writer into the short-list pile. They also look appealing to both the human eye (the employer) and the technical eye (the ATS).

Next Steps

Now that you have fine tuned your resume, book an appointment with one of our Career Peers for feedback or you can move on to our guide on writing a passionate and unique cover letter for your application below!