Some job seekers indicate that they are willing to take "any job as long as it pays the bills." These individuals create an open-ended résumé that covers all the bases. Anything and everything about their background is included. The problem with this strategy is that most employers will look at the résumé and may find something that they need, but they will also find many unrelated items that they do not require.

Concentrate your efforts on applying for jobs that you are suitable for and really want. A résumé targeted towards the industry, employer, and job will produce much better results than an unfocused one. The narrower your focus, the better your results will be. Of course, realistically, you cannot create a unique résumé for every position that interests you. Instead, tighten your focus as much as you can. Match the industry, types of employers, and typical jobs you are targeting.

Focus on the Industry You are Targeting

To write a résumé that meets your potential employer's needs, you need to know as much as you can about your job target. Learn what you can about the industry or career field on which you are focusing.

There are many ways to find out more about the industry. In Canada, many government organizations provide a wide range of career and business information. Most often, their services are provided free of charge. You can do your research in government offices such as your local Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) Centre, provincial and territorial ministry offices, and local chambers of commerce and boards of trade.

In this information age, the Internet has become an important job search tool. If you require access to the web, Industry Canada through the Community Access Point (CAP) program, has put a number of computers in rural communities. These computers are installed in public places such as libraries, schools, and town offices. They are available to the public and have Internet access. CAP access also includes the free use of a telephone, fax, printer, and paper.

Another way to obtain industry information is by reviewing professional, trade, and business association publications in your local library.

The best way to learn about a field is by talking with people you know who work in it. Set up a brief meeting and perform an informational interview. Ask good questions to draw out valuable information about that individual's industry and career field.

Focus on the Companies You are Targeting

Investigate your prospective employer. Learn about the company, its product line, the services it offers, and the corporate culture. Find out what you want about your interviewer and your potential supervisor's background.

You can learn about companies from their website, marketing brochures, and any other material you can get your hands on. Obtain company pamphlets, booklets, and annual reports, if you can. Don't forget to touch base with a person who works for the company. A key informant on the inside can be your best resource for understanding the organization you are targeting.

Focus on the Jobs you are Targeting

You must know the job you are targeting. Determine the requirements and responsibilities of the job. Learn about the objective of this position. Find out what goals and targets the company expects you to achieve.

An easy way to learn the outline of a job is by studying the job posting or job description if you can get one.

For an insider's perspective, ask someone who is working in the position about his or her role. This person will be able to provide a realistic picture of the job requirements - pluses and minuses.

Research Resource Checklist

  • Canadian Government Resources
  • Professional, Trade & Business Publications
  • Informational Interviews
  • Company Websites
  • Company Marketing Material
  • Job Postings & Job Descriptions
  • Other Resources
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