Government of Trinidad and

Writing Your Résumé From Start to Finish

writing your resume from start to finish - Masthead

As we continue our series on providing useful information to assist many of you who are either unemployed, underemployed or simply looking for a career change, we thought it useful to provide some guidance on the drafting of your résumé. Afterall, it is an important asset in your application for an employment opportunity.

What is a résumé?

A résumé is a formal document that provides an overview of your relevant work experience, skills, education and achievements. It is usually paired with the cover letter and it is primarily your advertisement and “selling piece” to persuade an employer to interview you. The word résumé originates from French and means “summary.” Your résumé is therefore not a full-length biography of yourself.

Résumé vs CV:

CV stands for curriculum vitae, which means “course of life” in Latin. While a résumé is a more concise document and is limited to one or two pages, a CV is a more in-dept document if you have many job-related experiences that requires multiple pages.  

Three ways to create a résumé are:

  1. Use a résumé builder

  2. Download a résumé template

  3. Write your own résumé from scratch

Choosing a résumé format:

 The first thing you do is decide on a résumé format to use. There are three types of résumé formats:

  1. Reverse-chronological

  2. Functional

  3. Combination

The best option to choose is the reverse-chronological format. It’s the preferred format because it is versatile; it works for résumés for a first job, to experienced and technical résumé and it is the most familiar format to many recruiters. It starts with your most recent, relevant experience which makes it easier for the recruiter to skim to see a progression of your work history, how long you stayed with each company or organization, and most importantly, find what they’re looking for more easily in a potential employee.

Review Examples

Before writing, review sample résumés for similar jobs and model your writing style accordingly.

Formatting Your Résumé

  • Maintain consistency with your cover letter: A4 page or Letter Size, font size (between 11and 12 points), style (Times New Roman) and margins (between 1” and 1.5” all around) 

  • Make strategic use of bold, italics, round bullets and avoid graphics to make a professional impression. (However, persons in the field of marketing or communications may use graphics as a form of introducing their capabilities) 

  • Unless you’re applying for a modelling job, do not include a photo of yourself. Potential employers may ignore your résumé before reading further for fear of potential discrimination claims if they don’t hire you. Use words to stand apart from the competition. 

  • Make use of action words that promote achievements as factual and quantifiable eg. numbers and percentages

  • Spell out abbreviations and acronyms 

  • Use left alignment or justify for the body of your document to make is easier to read

  • Set headers for each section with 1.5” spacing between each section and increase header font size to 12 to provide contrast that makes them easier to spot.

  • Place each section in the appropriate order on the page so that it creates a natural progression to each consecutive section

  • Keep your résumé on one or two pages, listing only what’s relevant. Recruiters only take about six seconds to gather information from your résumé, so put yourself in the recruiter’s shoes and help them to find what they’re looking for

  • Hook the recruiter’s attention to continue reading by first putting the most important and pertinent information. 

  • It is not a one-size fit all. Customize your résumé for each job you’re applying for as it portrays you as a thoughtful and engaging candidate. 

Sections of your Résumé using a reverse-chronological format

  1. Header:

    At the top of the document and centered text, include the following information on separate lines:

  • Your full name: This should be the focal point, larger font size to the rest of the document and bold text

  • Job title: include the position you’re applying for if the employer specifically requested only a résumé or in case your cover letter gets detached.

  • Telephone numbers: Include at least two phone numbers, preferably with different service providers in case there is connectivity problems with one. (Include a professional voice recording to receive messages)

  • Email address: A professional email address (e.g. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )

  1. Résumé Objective or Summary:

  • The purpose is to provide the recruiter with a quick snapshot of your experience, skills and qualifications at the very top of your résumé.  

  • It can be written in either three or four sentences or bullet-point format. 

  • Choose a résumé summary if you have several years of relevant work experience and accomplishments that can be tied to actual numbers

  • Choose a résumé objective if you either lack professional experience or seeking a career-change.  Focus on your professional goals and career path and how they align with the company’s goals.

  1. Work Experience: 

  • Begin with your most recent job followed by previous jobs in reverse-chronological order 

  • List in bullet points the most relevant and important achievements that you’ve accomplished at each position you held. Look carefully at the skills mentioned in the job description and showcase any of those skills you have with clear examples of matching projects and situations and their outcomes. 

  • Don’t just say you were “responsible for…”, or re-type the job descriptions of your current and previous jobs because the recruiter is only interested in hard evidence.

  • Use present tense when talking about your current job and past tense for previous jobs held. 

  • Do not lie or inflate your experience because you’ll be found out at the interview. 

  1. Skills:

    List a few hard and soft skills that are relevant to the job:

  • Hard skills are techniques or knowledge you learn at school or through on-the-job training. For example, accounting, computer programming, plumbing techniques. 

  • Soft skills are related to your personality, people skills and work ethics. For example, interpersonal skills, empathy, curiosity, observation, decision making, critical thinking, leadership, attention to details.

  • Prove to the recruiter you’re a balanced candidate by including your hard and soft skills in the experience section.

  1. Education:

  • In reverse-chronological order, list your education. If you have tertiary qualifications, there is no need to include primary or secondary levels qualifications unless it is requested within the application. It depends on the educational requirements of the job you’re seeking.
  1. Additional Accomplishments:

  • Include volunteer work or project. It gives the recruiter some insight into your personality and if you can reasonably relate it to the position it can be a bonus.

Are hobbies relevant on a résumé?

There is no simple answer to this question. However, to err on the side of caution, you should either only list hobbies if they have professional relevance to the job that you are seeking or leave it out completely. If you are asked about your hobbies at the interview, talk about how your hobbies have translated to skills.  

Should references be included on a résumé?

There is no clear answer to this question. Human Resource Managers have been seen to specifically request it in their vacancy advertisements. If employers are actually considering you as a potential candidate, you will be requested later in the hiring process to provide at least two references. You should therefore have them readily available.  If you do include references on your résumé, remember to first get their permission and it should be formatted as follows:

  • First name and last name
  • Professional title
  • Name of company your reference works at
  • Full address of company your reference’s company
  • Phone number (preferably mobile number)
  • Email address 

Proof read your résumé

Remember, “appropriate content is king”.  There are many job seekers in the job search market so it’s important to ensure your résumé has no typo or grammatical errors, properly formatted, not lengthy with unnecessary words and makes a positive impression of you. 

Submitting your application online

  • Read and follow instructions carefully ensuring that you provide all the documents / information requested in the format and size limit given

  • To scan your documents easily you may download an App from either the Google Play Store (Android) or App Store (iPhone) that can allow you to straighten, trim and focus the document to give a clean and professional look 

  • Ensure to save your document with a suitable title Eg. Judy_Smith_Resume

  • Save your application for submission in the format specified in the job advertisement

  • If a format isn't specified, the best option is to save your application in a PDF format. This way your application is seen in the intended format, no one can change the layout and spell check underlining doesn't appear.
    (Note: PDF is an abbreviation that stands for Portable Document Format. It's a versatile file format created by Adobe that gives people an easy, reliable way to present and exchange documents - regardless of the software, hardware, or operating systems being used by anyone who views the document.)

  • Use Standard English when drafting your email and do not use abbreviations. Please re-read the body of your email and consider having a second person review.

  • The subject of your email should also be clear, concise and appropriate – E.g. “Application for the position of Legal Officer”

  • Review the entire email to ensure that all the attachments are included and correct any errors made before you submit.


For More Information

Persons seeking assistance with employment opportunities or wishing to access further information on the National Employment Service, can visit the National Employment Service Unit at:

  • Duke Place, Level 1, 50-54 Duke Street, Port of Spain

Or can call/email using the following:

  • Telephone: 299-0300 Ext. 2016 | 2023| 2173 or 2186
  • Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

For a complete listing of office locations and telephone numbers, click: