30 Quick Resume Tips for 2015
The new trend in Canada is having several different versions of your resume tailored to each position you’re applying for. This certainly helps with cutting through the clutter and providing only the experience and skills necessary for each position. However, there are still lots of minor things you can do to make your resume more effective, particularly as you gain more experience as you climb the career ladder.
For a five minute fix with maximum impact
- For maximum impact, use some of the same words in the job posting to describe your experience and skills. You will want to do this both in the cover letter and resume.
- Make sure the text of your résumé contains at least 8 to 10 keywords related to the positions you are applying for. Put the keywords that would be most important for the employer in job titles, as well as in the Highlights, Experience and Education sections. You may find these words in the text of the ad to which you are responding, in similar ads you find at job banks, or you can get them from the Canadian National Occupational Classification.
- Make sure that you have covered all the criteria in the job posting – highlight all the keywords in the posting and make sure you have addressed all of them.
- Make sure you choose the right examples of past projects to use. Projects that can highlight your acheivements are the best ones.
- Use phrases that show that you are a results-oriented worker. Phrases like “doubled sales”, “doubled revenue”, “increased funding by x%” works well to demonstrate that you are results-oriented.
- Are you new to Canada? Highlight your international experience as an asset. A recent survey of Canadian employers (done for the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada) says that employers value international experience as well as intercultural skills.
- Remove high school-related experience or projects unless you’re a year out of college or need to bulk up your resume and did something highly relevant during your high school years.
- Update your skills section. Add any new skills you’ve gained, and remove anything that is dated.
- Canada is a bilingual country. Be certain to highlight “Language Skills” so employers know you have this skill. In major cities like Toronto and Vancouver, that are very multi-cultural employers sometimes ask for Mandarin or Spanish. Did you do french immersion in high-school? Include it in your resume!
- Employers in Canada really emphasize formatting. Double check that formatting is consistent across your resume. You want all headers to be in the same style, all indentations to line up, all bullet points to match etc. You don’t want the styling to look sloppy!
- Spell out all acronyms, and write out the full name of the title, certification, or organization. You should include both, at least the first time, to make sure the recruiter knows what you’re talking about and so an HR screening system will pick it up no matter which format it is looking for. For example: Masters in Business Administration (MBA).
- Remove any photos or visual elements. On a more traditional resume, they generally just distract from the information at hand (and can confuse applicant tracking systems).
- If there are gaps of a few months in your work history, replace the usual start and end dates for each position with years only (e.g., 2010-2012).
- Did you work in multiple jobs within the same organization or had previous acting assignments? Learn how to list them on your resume, then update it as such.
- Showcase only the most recent 10-15 years of your career history and only include the experience relevant to the positions to which you are applying. So if you have anything really dated or random, remove it and use the space to build on other sections or add something more relevant.
- Edit any single words left on a line by themselves. See how you can edit the previous line so they can fit—making your resume look cleaner and opening up extra real estate space to use.
- Change all the numbers to numerical form, instead of written out (i.e., 30% instead of thirty percent). Even small numbers that are often spelled out should be written numerically—it makes them pop to the reviewer and saves space.
For a ten minute fix
- If it’s not done already, switch the font of your resume to Helvetica, Arial, or Times New Roman—in other words, make sure it’s not hard to read. Using a common, clean font may not make your resume the prettiest out there, but it will make it more readable (and less likely to be rejected by applicant tracking systems).
- Remove “References available upon Request” (if they want references, they’ll ask for them!), and use the extra space to add a detail about your abilities or accomplishments.
- Spell check, and correct any mistakes.
- Save your resume as a PDF if it’s in any other format. That way, the formatting won’t get messed up when your resume is opened on a different computer.
- Change the file name from “Resume” to “[First Name] [Last Name] Resume”—it makes things easier for hiring managers and ensures your resume doesn’t get lost in the crowd.
- Move education down below your experience. Unless you’re a recent graduate, chances are your last one or two jobs are more important and relevant to you getting the job.
- To improve readability, increase the line spacing. To do this in Word, go to Format and select Paragraph. In the pulldown under Line Spacing, choose Exactly and set the spacing to two points above the size of your font (so, 12 if your font is 10 point).
- Need a little more space to work with? Reduce your top and bottom margins to 0.5″ and your side margins to no less than 0.75″. This will keep your resume clean and readable but give you more room to talk about your accomplishments.
- Consider adding a qualifications section. This should be a six-sentence (or bullet pointed) section that concisely presents the crème of the crop of your achievements, major skills, and important experiences.
- To create additional space, check and see if any of your formatting decisions are taking up unnecessary space. Does your header take up too much at the top? Do you have any extra line breaks that you don’t really need? Tinker around with the formatting and see how much space you can open up (without your resume looking crowded or messy).
- Examine each bullet point and make sure it’s understandable to the average person. Remember that the first person who sees your resume might be a recruiter, an assistant, or even a high-level executive—and you want to be sure that it is readable, relevant, and interesting to all of them.
- Make sure all of the experience on your resume is updated. Add any awards you’ve received, new skills you’ve taken on, articles you’ve published, or anything else awesome you’ve done.
- Replace bold fonts with capital letters. Do not use italics, underlines or special fonts. Use the spacebar key rather than the tab key to create indents and new paragraphs.
- Use dashes in place of bullets and keep line length to 60-65 characters (letters and spaces).