Your résumé is a marketing document. First, it works in conjunction with your cover letter to produce a job interview. Then, it presents your qualifications for a detailed review. To ensure that you capture and hold the interest of prospective employers, you must construct a powerful document that markets your Value Propositions.
A strategic résumé distinguishes you from the rest. Your goal is to highlight your specific qualifications, experience, and background in the very best way possible in light of the position you are targeting. To market yourself effectively, you need to look at things from the buyer's perspective. Before you write, shift your mindset away from your needs and towards your next employer's requirements.
In Canada, we do not overstate our value. However, we tend to be open and sincere in our résumés, so don't be afraid to discuss your best strengths. Go for it and you will see results.
Market Your Value Selectively
Having completed Part 1 of this book, you have probably discovered that you have a vast portfolio of qualifications. Only some of these qualifications are critical to market to your next employer. Your Value Proposition successfully answer the employer's question, "Why should I hire you?" Your résumé must respond directly to this critical question.
What this means is that you need to determine exactly what you want to put on your résumé that will benefit your prospective employer. Put on the recruiter's hat. Go through your complete résumé and determine if every section, sentence, phrase, and word has value to the reader. Think like an employer. The best résumé gives the recruiter only the parts of the candidate that the employer wants.
For example, an accounting professional in Northern Canada happens to have lost experience related to the mining industry. She is planning to transition out of the industry into a role based in the Greater Toronto Area. Strategically, it may be best to leave her specific mining information off the résumé. Rather, she should focus on her accounting and finance skills and accomplishments that the next employer will value.
As you write your résumé, think strategically about everything. Another example, if you are an experienced professional, you are selling your experience. It is unlikely that an "objective statement" will help you. Rather, put together a powerful professional profile to show the reader who you are and what you have to offer that the others do not have.
Question every section that you would like to create. Deliberately compare your educational credentials in relation to your experience. Determine which are most relevant to the type of position for which you are applying. Then arrange each category of your résumé in order of importance.
Take advantage of Canadian Legislation
Canadian human rights legislation guards against discrimination by strictly forbidding recruiters and employers to ask for certain personal information. Companies are not allowed to make employment decisions based on attributes other than a person's qualifications to perform a job. Therefore, it is not necessary for you to include your age, sexual, political, or religious orientation, marital status, health, or race in your résumé.
In addition, for your own protection, it is advisable that you never give out personal information such as bank account numbers, social insurance numbers, or credit card numbers in a résumé. Laws vary by province and territory. When is doubt about what to include, check with the Human Rights Commission?
Deal Effectively With Your Obstacles
Everyone has obstacles in their career history. Some people are starting out in their career and have no work experience. Others are transitioning out of one role into another where they have a litter or no background. Still, others are coming back to work after a long leave of absence. Whatever obstacles you have, you must deal with them effectively.
There are many ways to minimize obstacles in your résumé. Often, this requires creativity on your part, Remember, the résumé is your marketing document. Therefore, you can minimize or leave off anything that will not help you get the interview. Always maintain honesty and integrity in what you choose to do.
Be careful when deciding what to include and what to exclude. For example, if you are dealing with a large gap in your career, there are many ways to minimize the obstacle, eliminating employment dates probably will not do. Employers are looking for the dates, so you must have them there. There is no reason that you can't restructure the format of your résumé to highlight your skills rather than the dates. Alternatively, you may list the year only, instead of month and year. This buys you time by strategically taking the focus off the exact number of months you worked. You may fill a gap with the volunteer work that you did during that period. If you really cannot figure out a way to minimize the obstacle, try explaining the issue in your cover letter.
Another obstacle that many older workers run into is their age. Although Canadian legislation strictly forbids age discrimination, job seekers regularly encounter this issue. You can minimize this obstacle by going back only ten to fifteen years in your career instead of listing everything from the start. Another tactic is to leave your graduation dates off the résumé.
Write A Unique Document
There is nobody on earth like you. You have a unique blend of experience, skills, and accomplishments. Nobody else has exactly what you have to offer. Your résumé must be different from the rest in order to sell you effectively. Therefore, copying directly from your job description, a job posting, or someone else's résumé may seem like a great idea, but it is not likely to work. Unoriginal content tells the reader "I'm too lazy to write a creative sentence on my own, so I'll just cut and paste someone else's wording.' Most importantly, plagiarism is unethical and ineffective.
Be true to yourself. Select words that you commonly use. When you walk into that interview, your vocabulary, tone, and style must be appropriate and consistent with what you have put on that réesumé.
Always Maintain The Highest Integrity
Always choose truth over fiction. It cannot be stressed strongly enough that integrity is critical in your life and career. One white lie can destroy your chances because most reputable organizations rigorously screen candidates. In Canada, background checks often cover previous employment and academic history. Even if you are not caught lying in a job search, you will always be carrying the guilt that comes with dishonesty.
Never misrepresent yourself on your résumé by overstating your experience or skills. Even if you do not have every qualification sought by the employer, stick to the facts. Tell the truth and emphasize your qualifications. With integrity, you will earn genuine credibility, trust, and respect.
Make Your Résumé Rich In Keywords And Key Phrases
Employers often use keywords and key phrases to select appropriate candidates. Usually, these words and phrases represent the knowledge, skills, and abilities required for the position. Employers derive the words and phrases from industry jargon, job titles, and job descriptions. When the recruiter going through a database to find appropriate applicants, he or she will enter these words and phrases in a search field. The only résumé that includes them will then surface.
It is that you include effective keywords and key phrases throughout your résumé. The words and phrases that you select should show your Value Proposition to your prospective employer and match what the recruiter is looking for. If you select the right keywords, you will greatly improve your chances for success.
You can find a list of keywords and phrases in Appendix C.
If you want your résumé to be selected, the recruiter must read it. Do everything that you can to ensure that this happens. You can make it easier on the person reading the résumé by delivering your message concisely and directly. If your résumé is enjoyable to read, it is more likely that the recruiter's positive experience will produce that all-important interview.
You can strategically make your résumé more readable by using active language rather than passive language. Use words that make sense and are easily understandable to the reader. Stay away from acronyms, initials, and abbreviations unless everyone will know the terms. Be consistent in the structure of sentence and bullet point within your résumé. Avoid using "I" oy "me" excessively, and always speak professionally, not colloquially.
One way to determine ease of readability is to read the completed draft aloud. Listen to the flow of the phrasing. If you have to pause to take a breath at an inappropriate place, or if something doesn't sound right, revise the wording.
Proofread Your Résumé
Your résumé is a tool that the recruiter may use to screen out unqualified candidate. If there is any reason to eliminate you, the recruiter will. To ensure that your document is completely error-free to pass the screening process.
Before you submit your résumé to an employer, ensure that you proofread it thoroughly. Proofread the document on your computer screen. Perform a thorough "spelling and grammar check." Print a hard copy and proofread that as well. Finally, give your résumé to someone else to proofread.
When proofreading your hard copy, read the résumé aloud at least three times. This way, you are likely to find all the structural, formatting, spelling, and grammatical mistakes that maybe there. Make the extra effort to fix all the issues you uncover to ensure that the recruiter does not eliminate you from the running.
Follow The Employer's Lead
When submitting your finalized résumé, do it in the way that the employer wants to receive it. Most Canadian employers accept applications submitted by e-mail or online, but some still don't. Cater to your recruiter's preference. If he or she requests a résumé in hardcopy or by facsimile, do it. When you are printing and mailing your résumé, select a high-quality white or off-white résumé stock. If you are faxing it, use black print on plain white paper.
Many Canadian employers scan résumés into a database called an Applicant Tracking System (ATS).
ATS scannable résumés are like traditional résumés, but with fewer design enhancements. You may want to create two versions, one in a scannable format for computers and one for humans. Avoid using unusual fonts, underlines, or graphics in your scannable résumé and print it on white paper.
Some Canadian employers require a plain text (ASCII format) résumé by e-mail. Others will ask you to submit your résumé online. You may need to paste the text-only into a textbox on the company site or on a job board. You can convert your résumé into ASCII format by saving it as a text (.txt) document in Microsoft Word. Then, open up the new file in a text editor such as a notepad. You will need to clean your document up and ensure that everything is in the right order. In addition, plain text does not have any design elements at all, so add some dashes or asterisks to separate sections and improve the look of the file.
In Canada, no matter how you submit your résumé, recruiters are likely to keep it on file for three months or longer, so any contact details you give have to remain accurate. If you need to resubmit your résumé, make sure to let the employer know in advance that a replacement is on its way.
Résumé Strategy Checklist
- Selectively focused on the value proposition
- Compliant with Canadian legislation
- Dealing with obstacles effectively
- Truthful and maintains the highest integrity
- Free of proofreading errors
- Following the employer's lead