Rant: Effective Resume Writing

We get lots of resumes on the fourth floor, and while there are definitely some great candidates in the mix, we can’t help but question some of the submissions we receive, from PR newbies to seasoned pros alike. Some are riddled with errors, some spell Debra‘s name incorrectly, some don’t spell check – we could keep going. So to help out all the wannabe rockiteers out there, we’ve compiled our top tips (in random order) for writing a PR-focused resume.

1. Always spell check. There is really no reason not to. It’s free, it’s built right into your computer, and you’re applying for a communications position – we need to know you can communicate error-free.

2. Remember this episode of Seinfeld? Well, we’re with Mr. Lippman. Chill out on the exclamation points – they are rarely necessary in a resume/cover letter. When in doubt, leave them out.

3. Not sure who to address your resume to? Don’t write “to whom it may concern” or “hiring manager”. That’s taking the easy way out. Check the company’s website for clues. Still can’t find it? Call them! Don’t ask to speak with the president, but ask a receptionist or junior staffer who would be the best person to address your resume to. It shows initiative and attention to detail, and it’s super simple to do.

4. Most people embellish a bit on their resume, we know that. Just make sure you’re not flat out lying. For example, if you don’t know Canadian Press Style, don’t say that you do. Part of our hiring process includes a writing and editing test – we’ll catch ya if you’re lying, and then we’ll just be annoyed that you wasted our time. Most companies will expect you to be able to hit the ground running with the skills you list, and it will show pretty fast if it turns out you’re not as experienced as you implied.
5. Try to keep your resume to one page. Two is okay if your experience is super relevant. But don’t list the part-time burger-flipping job you held in Grade 11*. It’s perfectly okay to only list the jobs that will serve you in the position you’re going after – in fact, it’s preferred.

*Teacher’s Pet exception: If you’re a student applying for your first-ever internship, it’s okay to list a few part-time jobs you’ve held, especially if they demonstrate a skill relevant to PR (customer service, writing, sales, etc). It’s better than leaving your resume empty. Part-time jobs show responsibility and workplace experience, but they should only be seen on very junior resumes).

6. Read the job posting from top to bottom and follow the directions. If it says to submit your resume only (and no cover letter), then do so. If it asks you to quote a competition number, make sure you include it. PR is all about attention to detail!
7. This should go without saying as it applies to all industries, but tailor your resume to the position you’re applying for. Don’t send generic carbon copies to every company you apply to. Your resume will be stronger if it reflects what the hiring company is seeking.

8. For cover letters, be creative and let your personality shine through in your writing, but keep it professional. It will help you stand out from the pack.

9. This is Canada. Make sure all your words are spelled the Canadian way: flavour, honour, centre, etc. You get the idea. We hate to see “color.” It’s COLOUR, people!

10. Follow up. Nearly all of us at rock-it landed our first interviews thanks to good follow-up. Many bosses get hundreds of emails a day, so if you’re not persistent, chances are you’ll fall through the cracks. Use good sense though – don’t follow up with Robin Kay during LG Fashion Week, don’t follow up with Cameron Bailey during TIFF, and don’t follow up with Debra Goldblatt-Sadowski during either of those events. 😉


Sending us a resume? Please, please consult our checklist first!
Do you have more resume tips? Tweet us @rockitpromo or comment below!