The importance of the resume

The Prince Rupert Northern View and Prince Rupert partners are publishing an ongoing series highlighting employment in the area.

In conjunction with the B.C. Jobs Plan, the Prince Rupert Northern View and Prince Rupert partners are publishing an ongoing series of articles highlighting employment in the area.

The series will focus on the key future sectors of employment, as well as the present. From how to get a job to how to plan for a career, to how to transition to another career, we will endeavour to point out the truly exciting career choices and business   opportunities for Prince Rupert and B.C. that lay ahead… and those that are available right now.


Nothing makes a prospective employer shake their head more than a poor resumé.

Although only one component of the job search, a resumé can be the difference-maker. A poor resumé can easily move the best candidate into the recycling pile — a great resumé could seal the deal.

Later in this series we will discuss the not-so-often thought about the ongoing resumé, such as public behaviour, however for most job applicants, the resumé is the first impression an employer receives.

“The biggest mistake people make is their resumé,” a Prince Rupert Human Resources manager told The Northern View. “I probably toss three-quarters of the applicants out within 10 seconds of looking at their resumé.

“That maybe isn’t right… and maybe I miss the odd good person… but that’s the way it is.”

Kathy Bedard at the Hecate Strait Employment Centre in Prince Rupert said while a resumé isn’t the only factor involved in a job search, it is important.

“This is an area where I think a lot of people need help,” she said. “It’s amazing… what people leave out… like volunteer work and life skills.”

Here are the TOP 10 tips for a winning resumé

1. The Basics: Formatting

Like any good brand, your resumé needs to be eye-catching and effective. Choose a professional font, such as Arial or Times New Roman, and ensure the font size is legible, generally 10-12 point, except for your name and headings which can be larger and bolded. Most hiring managers prefer an at-a-glance format, using bullet points rather than paragraphs, although ensure you keep your sections lined up and consistent throughout the document.

Be cognizant of the length — 1-2 pages for less experienced and non-management roles and 3 pages for senior-level applications. Also, proof read, proof read, proof read. Surveys have shown that as many as three out of four hiring managers will discard a resumé with as few as 2 typos. Don’t put your faith in spell- check; have others review and try reading from the bottom up to catch any additional errors.

2. Reverse chronological or functional? That is the question.

Most hiring managers prefer a reverse chronological format — listing the most recent job first with previous jobs following. This gives them a more fluid account of your career progression and typically highlights the most pertinent skills in greatest detail. This may not be the right format, however, if you have any breaks or gaps in employment or if you have a fragmented background with many jobs, professions or industries worked in a short time period. In this case, a functional resumé — summarizing key areas of experience — may be a better solution. Another option, however, is using a reverse chronological resumé and closing the gaps or fragments in employment. For instance, if you did temporary work or education between permanent roles, list this information. Likewise, if you performed the same job function with several companies in a short time period, group this information together. For instance: Administrative Assistant, Company A, Company B, Company C 2007-2009. This answers some of the questions hiring managers will have about your experience and career progression as well as increase your chances of securing an interview.

3. How much is enough?

When looking at levels of experience, how much should be included on a resumé?

For older job seekers who fear age discrimination, you don’t need to include your full career summary.

While situations differ based on the number of jobs held, think of including either the last 3-4 jobs or 15 years of experience, whichever is less. For those lacking experience, it is acceptable to include voluntary, unpaid or relevant educational involvement on your resumé. If you were a committee member of a student club or volunteered for a non-profit organization, extract those duties and indicate why that experience is relevant in your career progression.

4. What’s too personal?

As marketing techniques vary by country and culture, so do resumés. What may be expected in some countries is not required in North America, generally because it can lead to discrimination. You do not need to reference your marital status, age, children, ethnicity or religion. Also, don’t include a photo. While you may be trying to convey your level of professionalism, instead include a link to your LinkedIn page or similar where you can include a professional headshot which, through this medium, is an acceptable and even expected practice.

5. List accomplishments, not just duties

Companies are looking to make an investment in employees, in fact, aside from real estate, labour is the highest cost to a company. You therefore need to prove your return on investment. Instead of simply listing your performed duties, try using CAR statements that outline the Challenge, your Actions, and the Result. Most hiring managers know what the basic duties include for most roles. To stand out, you need to demonstrate that you are a valuable employee who goes above and beyond.

6. Use keywords to get noticed

Many companies, particularly those that are large or are household names receive hundreds, if not thousands of resumés, and therefore use a recruitment program to sort applications. They do so by scanning your resumé for keywords that match the requirements for the role. Review a few job postings that interest you and pay attention to certain keywords that stand out. Ensure you include these throughout your resumé and cover letter, keeping in mind that they should appear at least three times, preferably near the top. This will increase the chances of your resumé passing the initial screening and getting into the hands of the hiring manager.

7. Power-up

Reduced, improved, accelerated, launched, identified, eliminated and managed — these are all power words that may be included in your resumé. By starting each bullet point with one of these action words, your CAR statements will have more impact and you will demonstrate to employers that your actions produced results.

8. What are your priorities?

You’ve identified your CAR statements and used power words to describe them, the next step is ensuring that you are referencing those points that are priorities in your desired job. Similar to including key words, ensure that those duties that are most closely related to the job you are applying for are at the top of your experience for each job function. This will make it easier for hiring managers to match you to the role.

9. Target specific opportunities

Just as it is important to customize your cover letter, you’ll have a leg up if you also do so for your resumé. While this requires more time and attention to detail, you’ll increase your chances of being noticed by hiring managers. Review the job posting and ensure you list the keywords, job priorities and CAR statements that are most pertinent to the role. Consider including a specific career objective or goal that directly relates to the job and if desired, include the company name in the statement.

10. Not all resumés are the same

Still uncertain about how to profile your specific skills and experience to a job within your field? A resumé for the hospitality industry naturally differs from that of an accountant or labourer. Review examples online to ensure that you are presenting an accurate depiction of yourself and your experience.

Like all good brands, you need to manage your resumé and professional profile. With social media making it easier than ever for employers to check up on you, it is essential that you maintain a consistent and professional image across LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and any blogs you may write or participate in. In addition to ensuring that there are no disparaging remarks or unwanted photos that are visible, you also need to ensure your LinkedIn profile supports what you have referenced in your resumé.

By creating a strategic personal marketing campaign and brand, you’ll enjoy greater success both in your next job and throughout your career.

Source:  10 Tips for a Winning Resumé.

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