Whether you are a Canadian newcomer or Canadian-born, if you are looking for employment you will probably need a resume. Sometimes employers only require an impressive LinkedIn Profile or an online assessment application, however most job posting requests still ask for a cover letter and resume.
The following is a list of 8 common mistakes and suggested solutions:
• Spelling and grammar errors. Believe it or not, despite the era of spellcheck, many employers still state that this is a common oversight. Be sure to proofread your resume and make it error-free.
• Incorrect or unprofessional contact information. Employers cannot contact you if you have not added in your correct phone number or email address. This is another common mistake that employers get frustrated with, along with no voicemail message so they can leave a message. The solution is to review your contact information and make sure your voicemail message is business-like and clear. If you have no voicemail message, no one is going to leave the message you want to hear: “Please contact us for an interview.” For your email address, create a professional one that does not mention your year of birth. Emails such as: “prettygal1975 @hotmail.com” discloses immediately that you think a lot of yourself, you are over the age of 40 and are still using Hotmail which is considered archaic by many employers. Instead, create a Gmail address to be seen as more up-to-date.
• Passive language instead of active language. Using active language sends a message that you have actually accomplished something. Start each line with an active verb such as increased, attained, developed, adapted, solved or managed. Keep pronouns and articles for your cover letter and only use active verbs and adjectives for your resume.
• Mixed and messy format. No one likes to read a resume that is a jumble of assorted font sizes, font styles, colours or emojis. Instead, keep your resume format clean, organized, concise and easy for the employer to speed-read. If your resumes gets through the applicant tracking system, a real person will eventually be skimming it, however usually only for 10 seconds. Make sure your resume can pass the 10-second glance test by making it uncluttered and orderly.
• Too long. Resumes are not novels or the complete history of your professional career. The word resume is defined as a brief summary of your experience, volunteer work, education and qualifications therefore create a one page or two-page resume. The reason you write a resume is get an interview and once you are at the interview, your resume becomes the roadmap that some employers use to create interview questions with. So be truthful and prepared to talk about everything you list on it.
• Using a general resume for all applications. Employers want resumes to be adjusted or customized to the job posting they have advertised. The solution is to incorporate as many key words and expressions as possible into your resume. If the job announcement states “we are seeking someone with superior verbal skills” and your resume states “developed presentations using excellent communication abilities” change the line to what they want: “developed and delivered presentations using superior verbal skills”.
• Using CAPITALS or BLOCK LETTERS. Social media has influenced and changed how people read. When you write a text, email or even a resume, BLOCK LETTERS or all CAPITALS is considered shouting. You can use sentence capitalization but get rid of the CAPITAL letters. Yelling at a potential employer is not a good first impression. Your insistence on using CAPITALS because you have always used them, might be sabotaging your chances to get an interview in 2019.
• Including references or not closing the sale appropriately. For many years, it was expected that you would include references with your resume. Then it changed to ending your resume with the line “References Available Upon Request”. Then it became standard to just delete this line altogether. As 2020 approaches, it might be time to rethink how you want to close your resume. Similar to closing a sales pitch, the final word or line can make a difference. Suggestions include “References Available at Interview” or “Recommendations and Endorsements on LinkedIn”. The final word of “LinkedIn” might encourage the employer to read your LinkedIn profile if they haven’t already.
It might be time for you to revisit, revise or review your resume. You might have these 8 points under control, however there could be more details to revise. If you are job searching, take the time to be coached by a Career Specialist so your resume is what the employer wants to read.
To find out more about how to write resumes, cover letters or LinkedIn profiles, contact your local Employment Ontario Career Centre.
This article was submitted by Lisa Trudel, Career Specialist with the Centre for Education and Training. She works at their Parliament Employment Services location in the historic Cabbagetown district of downtown Toronto and can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org