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6 Resume Tips to Land a Co-Op Placement

Landing a co-op placement is one of the best opportunities to work in Canada as an international student. By gaining relevant work experience as you study, you are essentially jump-starting your career. You’ll develop new skills, learn how to thrive in a professional setting, make key industry contacts, and get a leg up on your competition. To be successful in the job market, you need to have employable skills from day one, and finding a co-op work placement is a great first step towards that.

However, finding a co-op work placement can be tough unless you have a strong resume. That’s why we’re outlining our top 6 tips to create a competitive resume. This will help you land an interview to get the co-op placement you’re hoping for… and ultimately, expedite your journey to your dream job.


  • Put Your Most Recent Experiences First


The fancy term for this is “reverse chronological order”. It’s important to organize your experiences using a timeline format so that recruiters can see your career and education progression easily. It’s best to put the newest stuff first because that’s what is most relevant. Whatever you add first, the recruiters will read first, so make it count.


Be sure to include accurate dates (including the month and year of commencement and termination, if applicable) and titles. If you’re still in a role listed on your resume, note the commencement date, and enter “Present” as your termination date. As for titles, be specific. Use your precise role title and include the relevant organization.


  • Create A Tailored Version for Each Application


While it can be inconvenient to create a new resume for each co-op work placement application, it is worth it. Tailoring your resume to include only the most relevant of experiences ensures that your resume is efficient. Recruiters don’t want to read dense resumes- they simply don’t have the time. So, when you have multiple experiences to choose from, only include those relevant to the specific role you are applying for.


The exception to this rule is including your current job/education. Recruiters don’t love gaps in resumes, so even if your job/education isn’t super relevant, include it so they know you’re keeping busy.


  • Go Beyond Employment Experience


As a student looking for co-op work, you may not have a lot of employment experience under your belt. But that doesn’t mean that your resume should be practically empty!


Be sure to outline any volunteer and/or extracurricular experiences you may have. While these experiences may not be directly applicable to the work, they showcase leadership skills and teamwork ability, nonetheless. It’s a good idea to add a few bullet points about each volunteer or extracurricular experience to really emphasize the skills you gained in that position. Anything counts- creativity, interpersonal skills, critical thinking, problem-solving, customer service, management, administrative skills… the list is endless.


  • Be Specific About Your Achievements


Your resume will be compared to those of other work-study candidates, so the more specific you can be in your achievements, the better. Here are some examples:


Instead of “increased online sales”, try “increased online sales by 20% in 6 weeks”.


Instead of “liaised with stakeholders”, try “organized and conducted bi-weekly meetings with senior management”.


Instead of “provided customer service support”, try “provided outstanding customer service, earning Employee of the Month four times in one year”.


As you can tell, the more details you can add, the more impressive your accomplishments will come off- and the more competitive your resume will be! Finding a co-op work placement is largely dependent on how well you can sell yourself on your resume, so don’t be shy to show off a little bit here.


Stumped on how to add more data to your resume? This article can help.


  • Choose Action Verbs


Action verbs are persuasive when used correctly. It’s a good practice to begin each descriptive bullet point on your resume with an action verb to create maximum impact and optimize efficiency. Weak and passive verbs can distract from an otherwise strong resume.


Also, try to switch up the verbs you’re using. Repeating the same action verb throughout your resume will take away some of its impact. If you’re feeling stuck, check out this master list of resume action verbs.


For bonus points, combine action verbs with numbers to really underscore your achievements. For example, instead of “attended monthly update meetings”, try “spearheaded monthly marketing update meetings, improving employee morale by 30% over one year”. Now that’s powerful!


  • Always Proofread Multiple Times


Grammatical and spelling errors are completely preventable. If a recruiter sees that your co-op work application is riddled with errors, they might assume that you’re a sloppy worker who lacks attention to detail (even if that’s not at all true).


By proofreading your resume multiple times, you can feel confident that you are coming across as professional, organized, and attentive. After all, you only get one chance to make a first impression!


Simply reading your resume to yourself in your head is unlikely to catch everything. Try reading it out loud to yourself as well. Consider printing it out and going over it on paper (I catch mistakes and formatting errors every time with this!). You can also try sending it to a friend you trust to catch errors. In addition, you can leverage virtual spelling and grammar assistants who can help you improve your clarity and come across more polished, like Grammarly. We recommend using a combination of tactics to ditch those pesky formatting and grammatical/spelling errors for good.


There you have it: only 6 tips and tricks stand in the way between you and your perfect co-op work resume. Tamwood, an esteemed vocational school, offers several work-study programs. Unlike most co-op programs, Tamwood offers workshops, hiring fairs, and tools to assist you in building a strong resume and landing work in Canada as an international student. You can visit Tamwood’s website to learn more about their programs and resume support services.