If you’re fairly new to job searching, you might have been led to believe that a resume is the document that gets you hired. That’s not precisely how it works. Your resume is indeed the document you use to apply for jobs (along with a customized Cover Letter where appropriate). However the real function of your resume is to impress employers you contact so that they’ll bring you in for a job interview. That is its main purpose!
Employers hire people for specific jobs. Each job comes with its own duties and responsibilities. An employer needs to know that you are qualified to do the specific job properly. Some jobs need people who are generalists, such as General Labourer or Handyman. But most jobs are best suited to workers who are specially trained and have the necessary credentials in that line of work.
Your work history, educational background and earned credentials, career summary/objective, and contact information are must-haves on your resume. So are a few other relevant details. However certain information should not be revealed to employers, on the grounds you might be exposing yourself to potential discrimination. Your age and marital status should be left off. Also your religion (and country of origin if it happens to be other than Canada).
On the old style of resume it was enough to describe the duties and responsibilities you’ve held as an employee. Not so anymore. An employer is looking to see how you have actually added value as a worker. In most cases you’ll want to Create Accomplishment Statements on Your Resume. It’s competitive out there and you want to stand out from the crowd.
Confused by the possible variations in resume styles? No need to be. Our articles can help you figure out which format to use under different circumstances. In brief: a reverse chronological resume is the typical style most employers expect to see. The functional resume is popular with career changers, people with little work experience (like students and recent grads), or those who’ve been out of the work force for an extended leave. Mixed (combined format) resumes combine the chronological and functional formats. And a Curriculum Vitae (CV) is mainly for professors, teachers, lawyers, scientists and related professionals.
The biggest error of all in putting your resume together is simply this: being sloppy. A careless spelling mistake here. Sending it out in the wrong format. Small bits of sloppiness add up quickly. They can end up getting your resume tossed into the “don’t call us, we’ll call you” pile.
You may be a terrific employee but a lousy proofreader. It’s easy to get so close to your own resume that you fail to see that it may not be as effective as it could be. That’s why people decide to reach out for a second opinion, or even a third. You can get others to review your resume for free (trusted friends, recruiters and local career centers), though it may pay dividends to hire a professional resume writer for an experienced opinion.
If you try to stuff too much info onto your resume, it will get cluttered and lengthy. Two or three pages maximum is the generally accepted rule for Canadian resumes (although CV’s may run much longer). Trimming your resume means cutting out the excess wording and unimportant information.
Have you heard about keywords and resume scanning? Now that many employers sift through resumes electronically, you’ve got to know how to adapt your document. Add words and use phrasing that scanners will be looking for. With a bit of research and sound judgment calls, you can maximize your resume's keyword density and improve your chances of getting noticed.