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7 Easy Steps for the Perfect Resume

Did you know....

  • Sending your resume between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. within the first four days of a job being posted boosts your chances of securing an interview?

  • Employers only look at resumes for an average of only 6 or 7 seconds!

Your resume is the key piece of your job application. Follow the 7 steps below to get it right..

1. Keep your resume short and direct.

The No. 1 rule of writing a resume is to keep it short and to the point. The general rule is no more than one page unless you have a very good reason for it to be longer, like an extensive career or a lot of highly applicable work experience.

An easy way to keep your resume concise is to include only recent, relevant experience. While the 3 summer work placements and various research projects you completed might have taught you a lot, it’s not always necessary to include every detail from your entire career history.

Format your resume so that it is easy to identify your qualifications. For instance, if you advanced in a company quickly, draw attention to that growth. If you excessively job-hopped, bullet those jobs without providing specifics and detail more applicable positions. This will play to your assets.

When structuring your resume, make sure the information is presented in a logical order, a hiring manager read your resume starting at the top and ending at the bottom. However, if they don’t finish reading the whole thing – and they often don’t – you still want to ensure your strongest points come across.

2. Highlight relevant skills and experiences.

Using the same resume for every job you apply for is not a good approach. Instead, your resume should target the specific job you are applying for.

Be sure to prioritize the skills, qualifications and experiences that are directly applicable to the job you are trying to land.

If you don’t have a work history that directly relates to the job you are applying for, get creative with how you present your other experiences. Draw on the skills you used and how your contributions benefited the organization or project.

3. Demonstrate results with numbers and metrics.

When you write about your previous work experience, it is always a good idea to quantify your successes with numbers. Using metrics can highlight your achievements and give the hiring manager or recruiter a clear sense of how you impacted your previous place of employment. For example, someone who previously worked as a sales representative might say that they “executed more than 50 cold calls daily, with an average 5% conversion rate.”

4. Optimize your text.

If a company uses an applicant tracking system (ATS) to collect and scan resumes, a human hiring manager may never even glance at any application that doesn’t fit the job criteria they’ve entered. You need to adapt your resume to the position to increase your likelihood of passing the first level.

Make sure you’ve carefully reviewed the posting and used the appropriate keywords in your resume to get past the screener. Be truthful, but understand that the first pass on your resume is likely via an ATS.

A helpful tip is to make sure you include keywords from the job post in your resume. You can copy and paste the job description into a word-cloud generator to identify the most frequently used terms, and make sure the terms that apply to you are used in your resume. You can also create a “core competencies” or “areas of expertise” section of your resume to list all of your hard and soft skills, and then reiterate those skills when you bullet your experience.

5. Think beyond your job duties.

Hiring managers don’t want to read a list of your job duties. They want concrete examples of your accomplishments in previous positions that show how you can make a difference in this new position.

Specific merits are more engaging to read than just your experiences. For example, “I reduced operating expenses by 23% in six months” is far more interesting to an employer than “I have 10 years of sales experience.”

When deciding what information to keep or cut out of your resume, focus on striking abstract traits and qualifications in favour of concrete, quantifiable results.

6. Use the right language to stand out.

Trite, lacklustre descriptions of your job duties and accomplishments won’t do you any favours. Make sure you’re using strong action words, such as “achieved,” “designed,” “improved” and “established,” to describe your roles and projects. This will make you sound confident while imparting vital information. But be cautious about depending on action verbs – make sure to include details about how you improved a process or achieved a goal.

7. Check for errors!

Triple-check your own work, and then have someone else look over your resume to ensure its 100% clean.

There is no room for sloppiness on your resume.

  • Spelling, grammar and punctuation: A hiring manager will likely automatically dismiss your application if they spot a typo or grammatical error. Make sure it’s error-free and easy to read.

  • Formatting: Review formatting very closely, including font, alignment and spacing. Related issues can often be perceived as a sign of lacking technical skills and/or attention to detail.

  • Headings: At times, candidates often submit applications addressed to the wrong employer or outline experience that’s irrelevant to the role. This can be a huge turn off and will set a negative tone even if the HR manager chooses to continue reading your application.

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