Skip to main content
resume review

Prior to the pandemic, Samantha, 28, worked as an operations and social media manager at a children’s arts centre. Her hours were reduced significantly during the pandemic, giving Samantha time to upgrade her skills. “I had been considering going back to school, but found it hard to leave full-time employment to do so,” she writes. In September, 2020, she began a two-year, full-time public relations diploma, while occasionally working at the arts centre.

This fall, Samantha will begin looking for a work placement during her final semester. Her placement could also act as the start of a full-time job if she finds the right role. She’s targeting jobs in social media management, communications or content creation, and she’d love to work for a non-profit. “I’m really keen on working for an organization that helps others,” Samantha writes.

She hopes her next role has room for growth and allows her to do fulfilling, inspiring work. “I’m passionate about making a difference in the world and would really like to work for an organization that aligns with my values,” she says. In five years, Samantha has the goal of managing a marketing team at a successful non-profit.

We reached out to career coach Peter Caven and Nora Gorman, senior vice-president of marketing and communications at the YMCA of Greater Toronto, to review Samantha’s resume and offer advice for her next steps.

The resume

What the career coach says

Mr. Caven encourages Samantha to think of her resume as a “print ad.” “It creates an impression before a single word is read,” he says. “You want to invite reading, so maximize the white space – do not make it appear dense and challenging to read.”

Samantha’s profile could also be reworked to include more hard skills, like communications and teamwork, along with her current education. Samantha should also add hyperlinks to her e-mail address and LinkedIn profile to make it easier for readers to click and view online.

Mr. Caven also says that Samantha should add more specificity to her job descriptions. For example, offering a brief overview of the organization’s business and scope, such as how many employees work there and the title of the person she reported to. “Her accomplishments should start with an action verb in the past tense,” says Mr. Caven. “Be as specific as possible and include metrics.” For example, she can include how many clients she has worked with, what social media platforms she has managed and what type of marketing collateral she helped design.

For Samantha’s five-year goal of managing a team, Mr. Caven recommends she look for leadership opportunities where she’s currently working and in her next role. And that doesn’t necessarily mean having direct reports. “She should ensure that she raises her hand when projects arise,” Mr. Caven says. “She should choose smaller, rapidly growing organizations where it is likely that opportunities will arise.”

What the industry expert says

Ms. Gorman says Samantha’s resume is clean and organized. But it can be strengthened by further showcasing her communications and marketing skills, as it’s currently focused on administration and office management. “Highlight communication and social media throughout the resume,” Ms. Gorman recommends. “This should be the first thing a recruiter reads to show your interest in the field.” She can highlight these interests in her profile section, along with her knowledge of specific social platforms, monitoring and metric programs.

Samantha should also ensure her resume remains consistent in formatting, especially when it comes to spacing, fonts and colours. “Currently the space between Profile and Experience is bigger than between Experience, Education and References,” says Ms. Gorman. Fonts for subheadings should also be consistent (currently, the font used for the ‘Profile’ subheading is different from ‘Experience’). Samantha can also remove her references from her resume because it’s no longer a standard practice. This would allow for more space to describe her work experience.

Communications and social media manager roles at the YMCA require five years of experience, so Samantha should gain experience as a communications adviser, marketing specialist or marketing and communications co-ordinator before applying for these roles. Once she’s in her next job, Ms. Gorman recommends Samantha “focus on learning and strengthening her experiences in comms and social media through core skill sets, including certifications (LinkedIn, Google etc) or attending virtual professional development conferences.”

Given that Samantha has a few months before she needs to start applying, Ms. Gorman recommends she organize virtual or in-person coffee chats with non-profit communications leaders. She can also start building a portfolio based on projects she has completed in school. “Try and position school projects based on not-for-profits to showcase your interest in the sector,” says. Ms. Gorman. “This will help during interviews as you share your portfolio with hiring managers.”

The new resume

Samantha has opted for a layout refresh to help increase white space and improve readability, as Mr. Caven suggested. Her profile has been updated to include more hard skills and her education info, and her job descriptions include more details and metrics, such as the number of employees she worked alongside and how many clients the company served.


E-mail us with your resume at with ‘Resume Review’ in the subject line and we’ll ask a career coach and an expert in your field to provide their feedback. Emails without the correct subject line may not be answered. Names and some details are changed to protect the privacy of the persons profiled. If you’re a hiring manager interested in reaching out to the person profiled, we encourage you to contact us. You can find all our resume reviews here.

Stay ahead in your career. We have a weekly Careers newsletter to give you guidance and tips on career management, leadership, business education and more. Sign up today.

Follow related authors and topics

Authors and topics you follow will be added to your personal news feed in Following.

Interact with The Globe