A Guide to Resume Preparation
For the first time in 40 years, Canada’s unemployment rate is lower than ever at 5.8 per cent as of October 2018. This piece of good news means there are more opportunities for Canadians, motivating you more now take a stab at the job you’ve been eyeing.
The first step to landing that position is to ensure you have a well-prepared resume to submit to the hiring or Human Resources department. This is probably where you hit a stumbling block. Don’t fret because you’re not alone. Even those who have been working for with years and years of experience still struggle on how to have a well-written resume, so more so for individuals like you who are just starting out on their career path. The fact that you’re reading this article means you’re on the right track so that’s what’s important. So let’s get you started, shall we?
Know the essential components of a resume.
Ever heard of the term the “elevator pitch” that’s very common among salespeople? Well, the principle somewhat applies to a resume as well. Sure, a resume is a document that lists your objective, skills, education, and work experience, but it doesn’t need to be lengthy that it can fill out an entire text book. Like an elevator pitch, it needs to be short and snappy. So be sure to stick to the highlights such as your main responsibilities and your greatest accomplishments. For example, hiring managers don’t need to know that as a fill-in administrative assistant, you were responsible for opening and closing the office. The trick on knowing which to include or not? Well, it may be a blunt approach, but if the task seems like a monkey can do it, then it’s best to leave it out.
Create a profile summary that makes an impact.
Hiring professionals scan resumes that land on their desks or show up in their computer screens on an average of 30 seconds. This means that they may not have time to read through all the work experience and the skills you offer, so the best thing to do is provide a powerful and attention-grabbing profile summary or a summary statement right at the beginning of your resume. This will be a snapshot of what exactly you can offer them, and you can do this around 100 words or maybe even less. In just a few sentences, HR people can have a good idea of your skills and credentials and assess how you would fit into their organization.
Only mention the relevant and recent experience.
It’s exciting to prepare resumes as it gives a people a chance to sell themselves, which some may not be accustomed to doing. However, too much eagerness can lead to going overboard—they sell themselves too much and mention items that are not aligned with their job objective or are so far back in the past that the skill or education may not be applicable now. For example, you may be tempted to point out how you have an amazing work ethic, which is good, but this does not mean you’d need to bring up the Punctuality and Perfect Attendance awards you got during your entire middle school. Another instance may be that you were a prolific pianist in your elementary days, even having a recital every year, but you have not touched a piano in years—no need to mention that.
Be proud of your community involvement.
Most companies now are involved in community outreach programs or have committed to give a portion of their profits to a cause they believe in. Some organizations even have their own social responsibility departments. In line with this, don’t underestimate your unpaid volunteer work as this shows your civic-mindedness and can impress potential employers. List those experiences chronologically, from most recent to oldest, and when you can, add a short description of your duties.
Keep it simple.
A resume is not a good time to show off your graphic design skills—unless you are applying for a graphic designer opening. Remember to keep it simple—chose a basic font because readability is priority. Some good font types are Arial, Times New Roman, and Calibri. Use colours sparingly, or stick to the neutrals—black or white, light greys, and light blues. As for the font size, make it 10 if you’re having a hard time fitting everything to two pages. If you have lots of white space, keep it to 12.
The above are all good tips to keep in mind when you’re preparing your resume. In addition, always try to customize your resume for each job posting to ensure that you state the specific skills and qualifications for the position. Good luck!