After scouring the job boards for hours, days, maybe even weeks, there it is. That perfect job you’ve been waiting for. It has everything you’re looking for; flexibility, an opportunity to be creative, and a steady pay cheque.
There’s only one thing stopping you—the dreaded resume.
Are you one of those unfortunate souls that have spent a lot of time staring out into the vast white abyss of your computer screen, wondering how to even begin?
The first thing to realize is that a perfect resume is like a unicorn; both are myths.
If there was such a thing as the world’s best resume, ensuring success at every interview, Kristen Gray, an employment counsellor with Job Gym, says she would hand out templates to every job seeker that comes to her for help.
Don’t worry, though. There are a few things you can do when preparing your resume to ensure more call-backs from prospective employers.
Read your resume over, then read it again, and read it out loud to yourself.
Spell check is a fantastic tool that has come a long way over the years. It can tell you when you’ve spelled a word incorrectly, but it doesn’t tell you when you’ve used the wrong word.
“I’ve seen resumes that said the person had “great costumer service” and had someone who “worked as a PSW to improve the quality of lice,” Gray says.
Save yourself from slipping up and losing out on a great job experience because of poor spelling. According to Gray, these small mistakes could cost you big, and it doesn’t take a lot of effort to avoid.
Keep it simple. Don’t use multiple fonts and stay away from flashy images.
Unless you’re in the Graphic Design field, anything other than a simple resume isn’t necessary.
Use a simple font like Times New Roman or Calibri. Pick one and stick with it.
It should be easy to read — you don’t want the employer to get caught up on fancy designs on your resume and not your qualifications for the job.
“You’re lucky if an employer looks at a resume for more than 45 seconds initially,” Gray says.
Putting the year that you graduated from high school can be a huge mistake.
If you’ve recently graduated from a secondary school and are looking for work experience, that would answer the employer’s question about why you might not have a lot of work experience.
In other instances where a prospective employee is older, Gray says putting your graduation date might not be such a good idea. It can also be a deterrent for employers hoping to hire someone younger who isn’t close to retirement age.
While employers are required by law to be inclusive of everyone regardless of their age, there’s no law against calling people back after submitting a resume, Gray says.
“There may be a 65-year-old person who is vibrant and bubbly with time to dedicate to a company, and an employer might miss out on a great worker with fresh ideas and experience because they were hoping for a younger employee in their 30s or 40s.”
Don’t list every job you’ve ever had on your resume
Go back 10 to 15 years at most and only list work experience that would be an asset to the company you want to work for. Don’t forget any volunteer experience you may have, says Gray. For instance, if you’re applying for a job in customer service, volunteering for a service club’s event, or handling cash would be relevant if you’re applying to be a cashier.
Don’t go overboard with the pages in your resume
Gray says she usually recommends two pages for a resume, although there are times where longer resumes are called for.
“There are some jobs like at a secondary institution, or government-related jobs where five pages have been called for. I met a person going for a job with a Ph.D. and he included a list of research articles he had contributed to.”
But if you’re applying for a job at a coffee shop? More than a couple pages would be overkill.
It also isn’t good to jam everything onto one page.
“If an average person can’t read your resume without glasses, that’s not good either.”
As a general rule of thumb, there’s no one-size-fits-all in terms of a resume.
No one should hand in a general resume, so when applying for a job look at the job description.
If the job description is asking for someone that has attention to detail, with a focus on customers, and can work in a fast-paced environment, you need to relate your work experience.
“Even if you have no cashier experience, what kind of experience do you have that benefits the company you are trying to work for? Use any and all experience you have to your advantage,” Gray says.
Have a master resume at all times
It’s a good idea to have a master resume listing all of the work experience you’ve ever had in your working life. When you’re on the hunt for work, you can use this master resume to create several resumes tailored to the jobs you’re applying for.
“I think the biggest thing for people is to be ready with their resume. Do your resume before you need it. When you suddenly find yourself with an unexpected job loss, you’re already prepared.”
Looking for work? Let one of the experts at Employment Professionals Canada help you today!