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When I got into the resume business this past summer, I noticed that a lot of resume writing companies do more harm than good for their client’s job search. In order to justify charging hundreds of dollars on a one-page document, these companies do all of the work for you. They will literally write your entire resume for you based off of limited information you provide them. In my opinion, this is one of the worst ways to prepare for a job search.

I believe there is tremendous value in writing your resume yourself and having peers and mentors edit…


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Over the years, I have seen hundreds of resumes that all struggle on three common, but easy to fix issues. Don’t let these mistakes prevent your resume from opening doors to great jobs!

Here are some of the most common mistakes I’ve seen, and how to avoid them:

1. The Resume is Too Long

Many students feel the need to include everything they’ve done on their resume and end up with multiple pages of information that may or may not all be relevant. As an undergraduate student, try to keep your resume to one-page by selecting your most relevant experiences for the job. Recruiters often spend…


Applying engineering design principles to write a powerful resume

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One of the first things I learned during my engineering degree was the engineering design process. In my first year and first semester, I learned the key steps and methods that could be applied to any engineering design project. Over my four year degree, I applied that process in at least 7 projects including a full year capstone.

Starting an engineering project can be overwhelming without a tried and true methodical process to follow. You are given a broad, often unclear, problem statement from your client and are expected to turn out a design solution to solve their issues. …


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A tool to draw out the best of your experiences

Over the last few years, I’ve sat down with many a student to edit and review their resumes. For students who are writing a resume for the first time, the process is fairly daunting. Formatting and precise wording are window dressing for the real content of your resume: your experiences. I’ve seen most students struggle primarily in reflecting on their experiences.

Self-reflection is the foundation of a great resume. Here’s why: you need to remember the work you did and draw value out of each experience you have. That value is both internal and external. …


How to make every word count

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Which of these two statements sounds more impressive?

  • Built project management skills through the UAT phase of the software upgrade by ensuring all test cases were completed on time.

Or

  • Managed the User Acceptance Testing phase of a major software upgrade for the sales team by coordinating the execution of 600+ test cases with a 100% passing rate.

The second one, right? Why is that?

The first statement tells you what skills the candidate has, the context to the project, and the result of completing test cases on time. Yet, when you read it, it falls flat. …


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Why it’s important to be yourself in job applications

I stepped out of the elevator into this gorgeous, modern office space in downtown Toronto, guarded by glass doors. I tried to subtly wipe my sweaty palms on my pants as I approached the door to be buzzed in by the receptionist.

After a brief explanation of who I was and why I was there, I was ushered into a small meeting room by a friendly employee who set up the TV screen for a video call with my interviewer.

“Alright, let’s be calm and professional. Smile. You’ve got this.” I thought to myself.

The interview started with all the…


How to bolster your resume to match the job you want

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I recently looked back at the resume I created in my first year of university to apply for summer internships and cringed pretty hard.

It was wordy, it was flowery, it was generic. At the time I didn’t have much going for me in terms of marketable skills or experiences, but hey, I was trying.

Over the last 5 years since then, I have learned how to format and fill my resume with the most relevant and impressive experiences for a wide spectrum of jobs and companies. …


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What do these headlines reveal about us?

I joined Medium about a month ago and have noticed one inescapable reality of writing on the Internet: clickbait titles sell.

Yet, as I’ve clicked into many catchy sounding articles promising all sorts of revelations, I’ve noticed another thing: I forget everything I just read almost immediately after closing the tab on my browser.

So much of the writing on the Internet is devoid of actual life-changing wisdom. Yes, there are many touching personal stories and pieces of advice that contain some universal relatability which are quite enjoyable to read (and write!). …


Aim to finish strong

Photo Credit: Jeff Holubeshen Photography

4:00 A.M. Alarm goes off.

It takes everything in me not to rollover and go back to sleep. I pull back the curtain slightly. Oh, look. It’s raining outside. Brilliant.

Out of bed and into my workout gear I laid out the night before, I grab my life jacket and paddle and head down to the car. In about 20 minutes, I’m down at the dock lugging a huge dragon boat down into the water with my fellow paddlers. …


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Capturing the memories that matter

The elevator ride to the top of the CN Tower in Toronto takes about 58 seconds, which is pretty quick given that you are climbing nearly 150 floors. As a native Torontonian, I’ve made several trips up the CN Tower, two of which have been particularly notable.

The Edge Walk

The first was when I did the Edge Walk, which yes, is as terrifying as it sounds. I subjected myself to this experience as a publicity stunt for a modeling competition I had entered. This was meant to be “The World’s Highest Catwalk.” …

Ashley Birchwood

Founder & Resume Consultant @ birchwoodresumes.ca. Based in Toronto, Canada.

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