There’s been lots of talk in Canada about a national skills-mismatch. Whatever the case your resume has to showcase the skills necessary for the job. Its commonplace now to have a different resume specific to each job.
After speaking with many, many recruiters in Canada, here are some hard truths I’ve learned.
1. Showcase your relevant experience, education, and skills specific to the job. If they are hard to find at a glance, your resume might as well be blank.
Write a resume summary with your most relevant qualifications or maybe pulling all your most relevant experiences into a separate section at the top of your resume that are specific to the job you are applying for and relegating the rest into an “Additional Experiences” section.
As long as you’re trying to maximize traditional resume formatting rather than do something entirely different, you should be safe.It’s understandable to want to make your resume stand out a bit from the typical resume, but getting creative in InDesign isn’t the way to do it.
2. Your resume should be clear concise and to the point
Whether you’re a career changer or just applying for a reach position, if a recruiter’s initial reaction to your resume is confusion, you’re not going to get very far. Yes you may have 5 years experience in strategic communications but if you’re applying to a position in marketing then highlight that experience first. If you can make the link and state how one field can help you in another then go ahead but it needs to be kept clear and concise.
It’s likely that you have an idea of how your skills can be transferred or why you’re more skilled than your years of experience might let on. But, unless you spell it out on your resume, the recruiter probably won’t be able to put the pieces together—and you’ll never have the chance to explain in person.
One way to solve it? Using a simple objective statement. While you should definitely not use an objective statement if you’re applying for a position that makes perfect sense—or if it’s a clichéd “I’d like to use my skills at an innovative, fast-growing organization”—if your background is a little unusual for the job you’re targeting, a brief explanation might just be what gets you to the interview.
3. Focus on Achievements and Demonstrable Results
Many candidates are often screened out because they can’t demonstrate either in their resume or cover letters that they have demonstrable experience and skills. What exactly does this mean? It means that you have to demonstrate from past experience that you meet the job criteria. So focus on statements like “increased sales by 100%” or “doubled revenue over two consecutive fiscal periods” – and state the correct timelines associated with these statements.
4. Cut the Jargon, Acronyms and words too long to pronounce
Make sure that a layperson can understand what you’re talking about in your resume. It doesn’t matter if you’re managing complicated supply chains, coding complex algorithms, or conducting cutting-edge research on nanolasers—none of your impressive feats will reach the appropriate hiring manager if you can’t at least explain it in a way that a nontechnical human resources representative can understand well enough to put you in the right pile.
This means cutting the jargon, giving proper context, and focusing on results. Use the job posting to your advantage here—find the keywords and present your work the same way they do. I know, jargon can be pretty fun to use and starts to get instinctive when you’re around it for long enough, but step outside of your industry bubble for a bit and try to approach your resume as an industry outsider. The easier you make things for HR, the more smoothly your application process will go.
5. No spelling errors, please
Finally, don’t be that person who has everything a recruiter is looking for but didn’t use spell check. Check, double check, and test your contact information as well. Typos are always bad, but a typo in your contact information is probably as bad as it gets.