Top Resume Tips

If your job hunt is not going well or you’re about to start, the following resume tips may help you get more interviews. Getting in the door and having an interview is the hardest part of the job search. When you get the interview you have the opportunity to shine and impress!

The top tips for your resume are not to give the employer the ability to discriminate, don’t have a skills section, use action/result statements, constantly update your resume, and keep your resume format simple and traditional. Read the full article below to get more detail on these points.

After reading this article you can get some job search tips on my other article called “Top Job Search Tips for Albertans”.

Don’t Give the Employer the Ability to Discriminate

Of all the resume tips here this is a very important tip! Discrimination based on race is prevalent in Canada as this 2019 Global News article states.

There are many ways to discriminate that we don’t think of each day. Essentially, you have to think like an employer and figure out what makes them mad. What daily issues are causing the employer grief? These pain points for the employer are the same points that they are trying to avoid and may be willing to cross the line and discriminate against.

Some resume tips I always tell job hunters to:

  • Don’t put your address or postal code on your resume,
  • Don’t put overly personal info like your social insurance number on your resume,
  • Don’t put your photo on your resume,
  • Don’t put your high school graduation date or the date of any education you completed more than ten years ago,
  • Don’t put any jobs that may also give away your age, for example, your after school job from high school 20 years ago,
  • Do put your real name on your resume even though many new Canadian’s take an “American” sounding name. If you’re worried about your name affecting your chances of getting an interview make a short video saying your name clearly and talking about your skills. The main purpose of this video is to demonstrate your accent and ability to speak clear English. Post this to your LinkedIn account.

Don’t Have a Skills Section

You may think this is a good idea but it’s not. That is to say, listing skills without attaching them to your past work experience is useless. For instance, as an HR professional, I don’t even read these lists because there is no proof behind these statements. Moreover, I feel the worst one may be saying you’re a hard worker. Everyone feels they’re a hard worker so you have to prove it. Therefore, Move these types of statements down to your relevant work experience and flesh it out into an action/result statement. Most importantly, each of your work positions should have at least five to ten bullet points about your skills and tasks for that position.

To clarify, move “hard worker” to a previous work experience where you really did have to work hard. For example, now you can write “This role was very challenging but rewarding. I always had to arrive early to work so I was ready to start work on time. Additionally, often I stayed a little late to clean up and prepare my work station for the next day.”

Use Action/Result Statements for Your Experience

I have seen many resumes list positions worked but not list the work done. To clarify, job hunters don’t always list what the work is that was done at each position. When, as stated above, you should be listing five to ten. Therefore, the recruiter or hiring manager has to try to imagine or guess what work you really did and the skills you really have. Consequently, this guessing game is most certainly giving the wrong idea to the recruiter or hiring manager.

For instance, have you ever applied for a position that is perfect for your skills and experience? But you didn’t get an interview? This is because you may not have been as detailed in your skills explanation as you think you were but another candidate was. So, make sure you explain in detail what skills and tasks you used or learn in your previous positions. Most importantly, make sure you’re using action/result statements every chance you can get.

For example, if we look at the position name of “Admin Assistant”. It is a very broad term that encompasses a large range of actual job tasks. Subsequently, the candidate with a better description of their Admin Assistant tasks will be a better candidate than a person with no task descriptions. Alternatively, an Admin Assistant list of task descriptions that match the skills needed will do better again. Not all Admin Assistants do filing but it may be inferred that is part of all Admin roles. Although, an employer looking for filing experience will be looking for it specifically. Therefore, you must make sure you describe all your tasks no matter how insignificant you think it is. This is because that skill may be the one the employer is looking for.

Action/Result Statement Example

Further to the example above, you should use the action/result method for each description. Listing “I filed office documents on a daily basis both physically and digitally” is a great start but you need to turn it into an action/result statement if you can. So, “I created a new file process for daily physical and digital office filing that resulted in saving me 2 hours of time each day.”  

Constantly Update Your Resume

Above I mention that you should list all job tasks no matter how insignificance you think it is or how inferred a task may be due to a job title. However, we may not remember all the job tasks we have done. As a result, you should be updating your resume monthly or every time you learn or take over a job task. That is to say, it can be hard to create a resume because you need to remember everything you did over the course of months or years that you worked in a position.

When creating your task experience list for each position use your job description from that job as a handy cheat card. Additionally, make sure you also indicate any acting experience you may have done for a high-level position. For example, when you cover for your boss when they’re on summer vacation. Certainly, you may be surprised by the amount of experience you have at a higher level. This could be used for your next lateral move or promotion. For example, over five years in your current position you may have six months or more supervisor or manager acting experience.

Keep Your Resume Format Simple and Traditional

Some resume gurus out there may recommend that you design your resume to “stand out” or “catch the eye” but I would recommend against this. A recruiter, HR professional, or hiring manager may be looking at hundreds of resumes per day during a job completion. As a result, this is hard on the eyes. They’re looking for specific information with each pass of the resumes. That is to say, if a non-traditional-looking resume comes up it will aggravate the person trying to skim it and slow down the process. For example, they may not know where to look to see your skill statements.

Additionally, the new resume scanning programs searching for keywords may get confused about the format. Subsequently, your resume may be cut on the first pass before a human even looks at it just because it’s non-traditional. In short, don’t reduce your chances just because of a fancy format. You can’t shine and impress if you don’t even get an interview.

Need More Resume Tips?

There are many more resume tips and issues I have seen but these listed above are the top issues I see on almost every resume. To clarify, it may be very beneficial if you have an HR professional or recruiter review your resume. I personally review resumes for people all the time giving them personalized tips that increase chances for getting the interview.

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