One Tip For Your Resume

When you’re crafting your resume and targeting it to a single, specific job posting, it is recommended that you include a profile statement. This much most people know. What you may not know is how beneficial it is to compose this when you’ve completed all other sections of the resume.

You see by the time you go back to writing the profile statement, you have a much stronger understanding of what the employer is in need of and a clearer idea of the applicant’s strengths, personal suitability, skills and experience. In other words, you’ll craft a more enticing profile statement and that alone will send the message to the reader that it’s in their own best interests to read on.

In the receding past, it was fashionable and appropriate to simple have an objective at the outset of your resume; located immediately below your contact information. Typically this was where applicants put a single line, communicating what they were after and sometimes even why. They often read some version of, “Seeking a full-time position as a ________ where I can use my ________ skills.”

The reason objective statements have fallen out of favour with employers is specifically because those kind of objective statements were solely about what the applicant wanted. Employers as we know, are not interested in knowing what you want and how they can help you meet your goals. They will be eventually of course, but only once you’re part of the organization. Then yes, good employers will want to know how they can support your development and make you a more valued commodity which means increasing your productivity.

However, at the point when you’re applying to work for an organization, they don’t know the first thing about you and as such, have no commitment to developing your skills. It’s all about the employer’s needs and how you as the applicant are going to respond to their needs. How does bringing you onboard resolve a staffing need? If you keep this in mind as you compose your profile statement, the end result comes out as here’s what I can do for you as opposed to here’s what you can do for me.

The best resume profile statements use some of the key words from the job posting’s qualifications section. Ah, but not to be overlooked is the preamble of the posting. There are hints buried in the, “What you’ll do”, and “What we’re looking for” sections of many job ads. Too many applicants skip or skim these sections at best and zoom right in on the qualifications.

So today I give you this one piece of advice: write the profile last.

This is especially beneficial if you are in the business of helping others craft their resumes. You will gain little insights into the people themselves as you sit with them during the resume crafting experience. You’ll pick up valuable information as you ask for details of what they’ve done in the past and what they’ve accomplished. You come to understand what’s important to them and you end up having a much better idea of their value proposition. By the time you return to the profile statement, you know two things better than when you started; the job being applied to and the person you’ve partnered with in writing the resume for.

Hope that single tip helps you in strengthening the opening of your resume. If you’re looking for work in 2020, a sincere wish that you meet with the success you’re after.




Let’s Clean Up That Resume

How much can be written on the subject of resumes that hasn’t been covered before? Well, it doesn’t matter and that’s not the point I want to make today. What I do want to advise or remind you of are some of the most common mistakes I see with respect to resumes; mistakes that are made daily. I tell you up front that I’m picky when it comes to critiquing resumes and that’s a good thing if it helps you submit a document that’s error-free.

Let’s get right to it then. Get out your resume and pick up a pencil or pen. As I mention things to look for, note anything that needs attention on your document and then take the time to make the necessary revisions. Here we go….

Let’s start with what ends sentences; periods. These are not necessary at the end of each line that starts with a bullet. However, whether you use them or not, the one thing that is a definite no-no is to switch between sometimes using them and sometimes not. Be consistent. Personally, I remove them altogether. Not a big deal you say? Being inconsistent reveals poor attention to detail.

As for those bullets, make sure they are aligned throughout the resume and the best style to use is the round black dot. Why? Round black dots are sharp, crisp and don’t distract the reader’s eye from actual content. Forget the cute little scissors or the small hammer. Stand out for what you actually have to say, not your ability to click on a bullet.

Watch for that single letter, ‘s’ which can suggest to a trained resume reader that you did not in fact write your own resume. While this may in fact be the case, you don’t want to advertise this as it works against your intent to come across as authentic and genuine; capable of representing and marketing yourself. Add the letter, ‘s’ at the end of a word – typically at the start of a bullet, and the language switches from 1st person (you talking about you) to 3rd person (someone else talking about you). See the difference below:

  • Work well in teams
  • Works well in teams

The first bullet is in 1st person language; the word, ‘I’ is implied at the start. In the 2nd bullet, the word implied at the start switches to, ‘she’ or ‘he’ – as if someone else is talking about you. If you’ve had someone else actually craft your resume, they may have made this error themselves but it’s up to you to pick up on this.

The next thing to look out for is the use of italics. Yep, that entire previous sentence is in italics and this is used often to draw attention to something important. Unfortunately italics isn’t recognized and read by all ATS (Automated Tracking System) software. What it can’t recognize and read gets skipped therefore, and whatever you were drawing someone’s attention to just scored you a fat zero which could be the difference between getting your resume even viewed by human eyes.

As for fonts, stick with a uniform size 12 and I’d suggest using Arial. Look at almost any companies resume guidelines page and you’ll see that size 12 is the overwhelming favourite. It’s big enough to read comfortably yet small enough that you can get what you want to say nicely contained in a tight document. Please don’t vary your font size or styles throughout the resume. It’s hard on the eyes, and while you’ll definitely stand out if you do vary your font, it won’t be in a good way.

Another common mistake is to vary the size of the spaces on your resume. Look at yours now and see if you’ve got a uniform space after each heading on your resume. Some people will have a single space sometimes and a double space at others. Same goes for spaces after job titles and before your bullets associated with that job. In this case, remove the spaces and connect the two. This makes it easier for the reader to see what goes with what, especially when they are reviewing many resumes in addition to yours.

Please pay attention to your spelling and grammar. When proofreading your document, you may actually read what you intended to write rather than what you actually put down. For this reason, proofread very slowly; slower than you would normally read it. When you do this, you brain will pick up more mistakes, and it’s always a good idea to have someone else look over that resume before you send it away. You worked hard on it so take the extra few minutes to give it a real thorough check.

Finally, pick up your resume and look at it objectively. You know what job you are applying for and you know your strengths and what qualifies you, etc. However, look at your document as if you were unfamiliar with this person. Have you made it clear what job you are even applying for? Would you be hooked in the first 5 seconds and be motivated to read on?

Look if you’re going to do a resume, do it well. These are just some of the picky small things that could damage your presentation. The good news is they are quick fixes for the most part and easy to clean up. All the best when crafting yours!

Update Your Resume Now

I sure hope you don’t read this and say to yourself, “The guy makes a lot of sense, people should update their resumes; but I personally don’t need to.” I’m addressing this to you; if you have grown comfortable and stagnant in your current job and the last thing you think possible is that you might soon be looking for work.

So you’re working and you’ve been there for some time now. Could be that it’s between 4 to 20 years let’s say, and you seldom if ever think seriously about having to look for another job. Why on earth would it be good for you to update your resume? Wouldn’t that just be a lot of work for no immediately obvious reason? So why bother?

The most obvious reason of course is that you are involuntarily added to the ranks of the unemployed. Whether its your company moving in a new direction, downsizing, cutting it’s workforce, picking up and moving to another city or country where wages are lower, or you find yourself fired, you’re out of work. In any of these situations, you’re going to spend some time (short for some, longer for others) in a state of shock and denial. This stage is not the best time to be intelligently putting together your resume. You’re not going to produce your best.

You may also find that your old resume is locked securely in your desk drawers at work, and you no longer have access to it. All those dates, training courses you’ve taken, certificates you earned; oh how much easier it would be to recall them all if you could just browse your file where you kept that information. You may eventually get that information, but it means contacting the employer or HR, and you’re just too angry to do that with grace and class.

On the positive side, let’s assume you don’t lose your position. In fact, let’s go in the other direction and view you working with a proactive Supervisor who takes an active interest in their immediate employees. He or she comes to you and talks about wanting to help you grow and re-ignite that desire for self-improvement. You look at potential opportunities together and realize there are some positions in the organization that you hadn’t previously considered and now want to apply to. You’re going to need a decent resume and in short order. So much easier if the resume is fairly up to date to start with.

Now these are but two kinds of situations you might find yourself in. Others might be that while the organization as a whole is going to stay solvent, the department you are in is penciled in for dismantling. Move quickly and make a lateral move or risk being out on the street. What about a physical move to another city by your spouse requiring you too to journey to another location where you have to look for a new job? Yes, that too would be so much easier with a resume already relatively current.

But I suspect that you are still clinging to the notion that this is a good idea for others but not for you. I for one sincerely hope you don’t find yourself looking back and chastising yourself for not heeding such advice while you had the luxury of time.

While resume construction isn’t something that gets people all excited, it does make a lot of sense to do, even if just to remind you what you’ve done, achieved and the scope of the skills you’ve used and now possess. Do it well and you’ll look at yourself on that marketing document and feel pretty good about yourself. Let a co-worker seemingly see it by chance and you can have some fun with the rumour mills in your workplace too as they whisper to everyone that you must be moving on even if you’ve got no plans to do so!

Still, this advice is like telling someone to set aside a fund for their next car when they’ve only had the current car for six months. “Yes, good idea but I’ll worry about that in the future”. Let’s hope that car you’re driving now lasts and you do start that fund soon so you don’t find yourself having no money to put down on the next one because you never got around to it.

Remember you don’t have to do your resume in one shot. You can start with your contact information which only takes a few moments. You can gather all your certificates from the folder in your desk or look at the walls if you mounted them there and get the proper names of courses and the all important dates.

You could start with your current job description or get a current one from HR and then write down the things you’ve accomplished in your job or are in the process of accomplishing. What kind of impact are you having on the bottom line or the people you work for?

So my challenge is for you to take action now and start working on your CV or resume. Make a copy and take it home so it’s accessible no matter what. Keep your eyes and ears open for opportunities, news, forthcoming changes etc. Don’t wait until it’s too late and you’re scrambling. Few people do their best work under such pressure!






Starting Dialogue: An Example

Yesterday I found myself scheduled to spend my day in our drop-in employment resource centre instead of running a workshop. These days are good mental breaks and diversions from planning, running and evaluating workshops and are a welcomed change from time-to-time.

Now I find you can do one of two things while you are scheduled to staff that area. You can on the one hand circulate around the room, engage visitors in conversation and spruce the place up a little by tidying up etc. On the other hand you can choose to sit at the staff desk and deal with people as they approach you. I generally opt for the engaging style myself, but on most days you’d find me doing a mix of both.

So it was when I was at the desk printing off some job postings that a woman came up asking to use the stapler. Rather than saying, “Help yourself” and returning to my task, I said, “Help yourself. Hey is that your resume? Would you like me to cast my eyes over it for you?”

That initiative; the decision to engage with the person, start a conversation and extend an offer of assistance is such a small thing. I point it out however as a tangible example of a decision to simply and effectively start a conversation, creating an opening where a user of your service can voluntarily choose to also engage or not.

Now in this instance, the woman handed her resume over and sat down. I was immediately conscious of trying to accomplish two very different tasks simultaneously. First and most obvious, I began to scan the resume, looking for ways to strengthen it. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, I started to size up the person sitting across from me. How open was this stranger to my feedback? To what degree was she able to grasp, understand and be receptive to the changes I was recommending?

Starting with a suggestion to not staple the two pages together that collectively made up her resume, we went through content, grammar and spelling, layout and format etc. All in all we spent about 15 minutes there together until she left to return to her computer and input the suggestions before leaving.

A chance encounter? Maybe. What if she hadn’t needed that stapler and had brought her own? What if someone else had been there instead of me, or I had been too caught up with something else and she came and left quickly just using the stapler without asking at all? Was it fate?

If you break things down, a lot of things go into that 15 minute engagement. She started things off by taking the initiative to approach me and had the manners to ask for use of the stapler which created the possibility of a conversation. I made a decision years ago to engage people where I can and find opportunities to start conversations so it was natural to initiate the offer of help and she was wise enough to accept feedback.

Furthermore, like peeling back layers on an onion, as things were pointed out on her resume to correct, improve, add to or re-format, she was patient and open enough to accept the comments made, making further and more meaningful suggestions possible. Had she been defensive, close-minded or downright impervious to new ideas and dismissed the ideas presented to her, I’d have been less helpful and would have hoped for a better reaction another day.

As someone else needed assistance after our 15 minutes together, she returned to her computer station. I made another decision to go ’round and saw she was in the process of already implementing the ideas I’d given her. That initiative on her part to implement the ideas presented also shows me her wisdom. Wisdom I say, but not because the ideas were mine, but because the ideas and suggestions are borne out of experience accumulated over many years, current best practices, and supported through evidence of job seekers getting interviews when using those ideas themselves.

I wanted to share this encounter with you precisely because it is such a small thing to accomplish. Whether you are the professional employee in a position assisting others, or you are a job seeker, you can interject yourself in either position and see how the engagement process works from both perspectives. What I find noteworthy is that unlike some interactions, this one started off spontaneously without any stress leading up to the conversation.

You might feel mounting stress for example were you to book an appointment with a resume professional or a career counsellor. You might agonize over having your work criticized, judged and by association being judged yourself. If you are a quieter, reserved or introverted person, you might not have the assertiveness to even initiate contact and seek help. These opportunities are in front of you everyday however. Instead of lamenting or beating yourself up over missed opportunities yesterday, jump in and risk a conversation today. You could start with, “Can I use your stapler? Would you mind looking this over?”

On my side of the desk, remember colleagues that there are opportunities before us each and everyday. They don’t always present themselves in scheduled appointments, and can often start as chance encounters. It’s about being in position, having the knowledge, looking and acting receptive to help and serving.

A pretty simple encounter broken down.





How The Letter ‘S’ Reveals You On Your Resume

Many people these days seek out the advice and consultative services of career counsellors, professional resume writers, job coaches and advisors. Many more don’t unfortunately, and in competitive job markets, you increasingly need every advantage you can muster to be ultimately successful. So if you are seeking or currently getting this kind of support, I sincerely applaud you.

I would offer you a piece of advice myself however, and that is to carefully scan your resume, cover letter, or any other such document you receive before getting up and walking away. While you might not want to have your need to look over the documents misinterpreted as mistrust or suspicion when talking about the quality of the work done, you name is all over the document.

Let me share with you how the letter, ‘s’ for example can expose you in ways you would not normally suspect, and if pointed out to you for the first time in the middle of an interview, could undermine your confidence completely. It has to do with first person versus third person language.

You might want to pull out your own resume as you read this, and see whether or not this common mistake is actually in your own resume. If it is, my suggestion would be to correct it before you hand out a further resume.

Let’s take as an example, the resume of a Personal Support Worker, where the bullet in question speaks to the persons ability to provide respectful care and the residents right to living with dignity. Examine this statement:

  • Respects residents rights to receive care delivered with compassion to preserve dignity

Okay, so do you see anything wrong with the above statement? While it may or may not be obvious to you, it may be a telling sign to the person reading the resume that you didn’t compose the resume yourself. This may or may not be an issue for you, but it might suggest that not only this one line but the entire document was done by someone else, and that could throw your entire authenticity out the window.

By adding the ‘s’ to the word, ‘respect’ what is inferred is another word, ‘she’ or ‘he’. So it reads, ‘She respects residents rights….” This is the third person language I referred to earlier. It’s as if there is a third person present talking with someone else about you.

First-person language is achieved and is the best practice by eliminating the letter, ‘s’ from the word. So it should look like this:

  • Respect residents rights to receive care delivered with compassion to preserve dignity

With the exclusion of the letter, ‘s’, what is now inferred as you read it is the word, ‘I’ as in, “I respect residents rights…” While the word, “I” should not be used on the resume itself, it is inferred by the reader, and when in first-person language, it rings with authenticity, as you made that statement rather than someone else making that statement about you.

If you were with a group of people and someone said something to the group about what you believe, you might find someone speak up and say, “Really, I’d like to hear that directly from him.” When you say things yourself, it becomes easier to either be believed or revealed depending on the confidence with which you state it. The same is true in this case with the written word versus the spoken word.

So why am I bothering to share this tiny bit of advice with you? Especially if you have had your resume produced by a professional? The simple reason is two-fold; 1) I’ve seen the best of resume writers make this error from time to time, but more often the case, 2) I’ve seen people update their resumes after having them done professionally and make this mistake without even knowing they’ve made it.

Now here’s another leap that some readers will make when they are looking over your resume. Should they find such a mistake, they may go ahead an make some assumptions about you, your education level, your proofreading, your attention to details etc. How ironic if the job calls for strong attention to details and you have mistakes in your document.

It is precisely because your name is at the top of a resume that you should carefully go over your document while still in the presence of the person who is crafting it with you. Find a mistake for example, and you can correct it immediately. There are many people who will present themselves as resume writing experts, and like any other occupation, there will be among them, the good, the great, the average and the poor.

I would like to think that if I were paying someone to help me with the crafting of such a vital document, that when all was said and done, not only would I have the completed resume, but I’d also have an understanding of WHY it was made a certain way, and HOW it was done so I could make revisions in the future on my own. More to the point, as your name is at the top, you should be comfortable asking some questions about anything you’d like clarification on.

Did you find the ‘s’ on your own resume where it should be left out? A small thing perhaps in the grand scheme of things, but critical nonetheless.

Can Your Address Affect Your Job Search?

In the Region that I work in, there are pockets of residential neighbourhoods that are more desirable than others. The converse statement to be made therefore is that there are less desirable neighbourhoods than others. By association then, are people who reside in the less desirable neighbourhoods prejudiced against by some employers when they apply for employment simply by being associated with the stigma of living in a certain area?

You might feel that the best person should get interviewed always, and that where someone lives shouldn’t ultimately determine if they even get an interview or not, but it does happen, and some employers are very upfront about their preferences for people who live in certain areas. Did you know that?

I have in the past met people who presented extremely well both in their desire to work, attitude and their background combination of experience and education. In trying to determine what is someone’s major obstacle to employment, I’m used to trying a number of different strategies with my clients. One such strategy used not only by myself but others is to omit the address altogether on a resume or CV and just go with the person’s name, phone number and email.

The result sometimes has been securing an interview using the above strategy when contrasted with using the full address. And in my own case, I currently drive kilometers to get to work each day, driving in from a northern rural community to an urban metropolis; you can bet there are some employers who would prefer hiring staff who are going to live and work in the same city centre over fears of attendance concerns. Still, every year I’ve got myself an excellent attendance award.

Is it somewhat irrational for a job candidate to be discriminated against because they live in the poorer part of town? Isn’t it unfortunate that someone might be labeled as probably lazy, a thief, or a security risk just because their address is in a high crime rated area? That logic – and logic is a bit of a stretch – would also mean everybody in those wealthier neighbourhoods or low crime areas couldn’t possibly be corrupt when in fact no area is entirely immune from criminal activity or people who might make poor choices as employees.

Now a valid concern for an employer might be how you are going to get to and from work dependably. If that is their concern, it may be based on past experiences with other people who have been initially good hires, but had to quit or were let go because they just couldn’t get to the workplace on a daily basis on time. Take the person who doesn’t live near a bus route and relies on public transportation. Or worse yet, the person who does live near a bus or subway stop but the employer is located 5 miles from the nearest transit stop. That’s a logical and reasonable concern for an employer to pose.

One of the most frustrating thing for someone who is job searching is trying to figure out what it is that is adversely affecting their employability. After all, if you can figure out what your employment barriers are, then you are well on the way to being able to address those concerns. Some things are much easier to address than others; a poor resume, needing to take a specific course to compete, updating your wardrobe. How can someone be realistically told by a potential employer however that they’d stand a much better chance of getting an interview if they’d move? Yeah that sounds pretty unreasonable and blatantly discriminatory.

It seems to me that in a tight economy, especially over a prolonged job search where money is going out much faster than it is coming in, that people are looking at cheaper accommodation in an effort to reduce expenses. Sometimes, the natural consequence of those kinds of pressures is moving to apartments and units that one might not wish to be in, but it becomes an economic necessity. The hopes almost always for these people is to gain employment, increase their income and relocate back to the kind of lifestyle and accommodation which they previously enjoyed. That would appear to be sensible instead of trying to live way beyond ones means and being evicted.

Oh and one last thoguht about the exclusion of an address on a resume. I’ve also seen this done in cases where a person is fearful of their ex-spouse who may have friends working at a company the person would like to get a job with. If it’s a large company and they wouldn’t be even in the same department, it is hoped that they may not even bump into any mutual friends. So one reason they give to exclude their address is in the event someone should work in a position to see their address and pass it along to the ex-spouse. Sure that’s a breach of confidentiality and could result in the person losing their job, but the applicant hiding their address is more concerned about being found, beaten or worse.

You may have your own reasons for concealing your address or your own stories – positive or otherwise. Share your experiences and your advice, as others might benefit.

Have a good day during your job search.

Specific Help For YOUR Resume

This entire blog is going to be devoted to a single concept which if you take heed and implement will have the impact of strengthening your entire resume. By the time you are done, you will look at the finished product and feel a rise in your self-esteem, feel more confident about your overall applications in the future and be proud of how you look on paper.

I’m referring to the content of each bullet or line under you various work or volunteer roles. Instead of just putting done a few succinct words that say what you did, indicate your understanding of why you did the work you did and how that benefited your employer. Then as a potential employer reads it, they will understand that you get ‘it’; and if you understood your role for someone else, you will get ‘it’ when working for them. Not everybody gets ‘it’.

So right about now I bet a concrete example would help with your understanding of what it is I’m saying. Fair enough. Suppose the resume you are making is for a job as a Cashier in a grocery store. I like using examples of common jobs we all experience so that the majority of readers can relate. Okay so suppose the resume said this:

– Took money, ran till and bagged groceries

In the above bullet there are three job requirements and responsibilities being performed. Usually when I ask real people who have items like the above on their own resumes WHY they did those things, they reply by telling me it was their job, and they look at me like it’s an obvious answer that anyone should know.

But here’s the key thing. If you are only putting the absolute minimum on the resume of things you’ve done, and the only reason you did them was because the job description or boss told you to do it, you don’t get it! You are not marketing yourself to the best of your abilities and an employer can hire just about anyone to do those three things I think you’d agree, so why then don’t they hire just anyone? Why do they keep going through resumes until they settle on a select few to interview, and in the interview why not hire just anyone? No they keep looking for the right people. In both the resume and the interview they are looking for someone who will communicate to their satisfaction that they get it; and ‘it’ represents what exactly?

‘It’ is the understanding of the role you are applying for and how it fits into the overall business. So again, let’s look at that revised bullet first and then break down what’s being communicated.

– Entrusted to receive and accurately process payments including debit, cash and credit card transactions
– Carefully and quickly bagged groceries for customers to keep lines moving, all the while smiling and chatting with customers, thanking them for shopping with us and encouraging them to return which creates strong customer loyalty

Okay so it took two lines on a resume to get those same three job requirements. Can you see now however as this revision not only says what the person has done, but it demonstrates that they go about doing their job understanding that their role in the big picture is to be friendly, helpful, and by doing things this way they encourage repeat business which increases a stores profitability? I also point out the simple word, ‘”Entrusted’. This single word strengthens the words which follow because it states they trusted you and the implied message is that the person reading the resume considering you can trust you in the future.

Words that set up or add descriptions to words that follow beef up a resume and make the reading more interesting. You go from what I call a, ‘Tarzan’ or ‘Caveman’ kind of resume to one that is rich and brands you as someone who can not only do the job, but goes about the job with a higher purpose and understanding of how that job fits in the organization.

So imagine a store where people go about their business and all of them are, ‘just doing what’s in my job description’. Now imagine that same grocery store where people go about their business with purpose, with a greater understanding of their role in the overall operation. The people in the second example are going to do more, and do it with a smile, take a genuine interest in helping their customers, and the customers are going to flock to that second store because the experience – and that’s the key – the experience is much more enjoyable and they’ll want to repeat that experience again and again.

So back to the resume. Imagine now each and every bullet on your resume being rich and showing that you get ‘it’. The overall impact is going to land you more interviews no matter what job you’ve done and are talking about. Try searching online and look for, ‘action words for resumes’. You’ll get reams of good words to start each bullet and will be on the way to making a better and stronger resume that gets more results.

If you want true success, ensure each bullet on your resume doesn’t just state what you’ve done in a job, but shows why you did it, and the best bullets always relate these to the job you are now applying for.

Good luck!

My Resume; My Resume 1, My Resume 2…

It’s funny how sometimes the things that are so obvious to us are not always immediately obvious to others. Of course I’m smart enough to know that the opposite is equally true; and there are plenty of things that others think I should obviously know but don’t until it’s pointed out to me. And that’s why it’s always a good idea to never make anyone feel too bad when the light bulb does shine on them and that moment of realization dawns.

In sitting down with two men yesterday and working with them on improving their resumes, I started off by looking at a list of their saved documents and asking them to pull up the resume from a list of resumes that was applicable to the job they were applying to. This way, we could start editing together the resume that was being crafted to fit the position. So far so good because each knew to go about making an individual resume for each job. Yeah!

Looking at the list for each however, I could already detect a potential problem that I would help them correct; and both of them had made this error. Both men had me click on what they thought might be the right resume, only to find it wasn’t, and it wasn’t until we opened 4 for one and 7 for the other until we got the resume open we needed.

So what was the problem? One guy had saved his resumes with his name and a number as in, ‘Bob’ 1, ‘Bob 2′ etc. The second guy was calling his things like, ”Joes super resume’. You see neither of them had got their thought process to the point where employer’s would see not only the resume, but the name of the file itself. “Oh, oh! You mean they see that? Well that’s a problem!”, as one of them so clearly put it.

It’s true of course. Think about it when someone sends you a file as an attachment in an email. You click on the email to read what has been sent your way, read the email and the person says to open the attached file. Your eyes then locate the attached file, and it’s at this point that just before you click on it to open it, that you’ll see whatever they’ve called the file. The process is exactly the same if you are the employer and someone sends their resume as an attachment.

So what message is communicated to the employer when they get a file called, “Bob’s resume 5”? First and foremost they immediately know there are in this case 4 other versions of your resume. Now they start wondering a few things: Are you the kind of person who just wants a job anywhere or the kind that wants this job in particular? Doesn’t appear that way. This tells them about your electronic filing capability too. So if you are seeking a job where you’ll be saving computer files and organizing things, you’re not showing yourself to be particularly good.

But let’s look at it from another perspective that is self-serving; In other words, for your own good and in your best interests. Each one of these men opened the right resume through trial and error. That’s wasted time. And can you imagine the rising anxiety each might feel if they had to access it quickly – say an unscheduled call from an employer wishing to do a phone interview and they wanted to get it up on a screen to reference while talking?

So here is the simple solution. When you save a document and are asked to give it a name, name it using a combination of the job title you are applying for and the name of the company. “Dietary Aide Whiteside Villa”, or “Auto Mechanic Canadian Tire”.

Can you visualize now a list of perhaps 15 or 20 resumes a person has made in their job search, and each one clearly labelled and easily identifying the contents? Now see an employer calling you for an interview and asking you to do an interview right now on the phone. You agree and go to your resume list, and on the first click open the resume you made just for that job, as it was easy to locate based on the job title and name of the company who is on the phone. Your resume opens the first time, and you’re anxiety level is minimal meaning you are off to a good start.

And if you are going for an Administrative position where you will be doing electronic filing, you are demonstrating to an employer that the filing system you use will be similarly clear to whomever else has to locate a file you’ve created. They can imagine that if you were creating client files, you’d probably use the clients name instead of opening up a shared filing system to find you’ve named the files by some system like, ‘Client 1’, ‘Client 2’ etc.

Oh and the guy who called his resume, “Joe’s super resume”? Can’t you just see that appearing to be a sarcastic or flippant challenge to the company person about to open it? If I was them, I’d already be thinking, “Super? Really? Well let’s just see how ‘super’ this resume actually is!”

The good news is both men got it and neither attempted to defend or argue. 1 small job search error corrected. Pass this on please and help someone.

Get Past A Tarzan Resume

Okay I’m dating myself with this post but I don’t mind. Ever heard of Johnny Weissmuller? After reading this post, you should use your favourite search engine and look up “Tarzan Johnny Weissmuller”. Watch a video or two and you’ll see the best Tarzan on the screen in my opinion. And if you’re scratching your head saying, “Whose Tarzan?”, it will be an education.

Famously mocked as having a weak vocabulary, many who spoof this character resort to, “Me Tarzan, you Jane.” All those years being raised in the deep jungle by the animals after being separated from his parents left the fellow with an amazing ability to communicate with the animals, but a poor grasp of the English language. The result was that while he could get along with his elephant friend Tantar and chimpanzee friend Cheeta, he’d often be viewed as a simpleton by those humans he came into contact with.

Now that first impression would often prove to be the undoing of those planning on making trouble in the jungle, and only later did people change their views. That’s a great general plot line of the movies from long ago. But in 2014, would you be surprised if I told you that many people still make a similar first impression with their resumes and CV’s on employers? Yes you can learn from those early movies and improve your own chances of getting ahead if you read on.

All too often I look over a resume someone has made, and in about 3 seconds, I not only am not impressed with the resume, but it tells me a great deal about the person whose name is on the top line, especially if they seem happy with it. The paper itself suggests the person has a weak vocabulary, a poor education, poor grammar skills and then the next leap in assumptions is that the person wouldn’t be a good person to ask to an interview because if this is the very best they can do on their resume, what they might produce in a job would be worse.

So here’s what I’m talking about. Let’s say the resume is that of someone who previously worked as a cleaner in a factory. When they are in the area where they are telling the reader what they did in the job, they say:

* Mopped and cleaned floors
* Cleaned washrooms
* Emptied garbage

The words are just plunked down on the page. I’ll ask the person this question in some of these situations. “Why did you mop and clean the floors?” They then usually say, “Because it was my job.” If I get this answer, I’m not surprised, but I am disappointed. So I next ask, “Why do you think they want someone to do this job?” Then they look at me like I’m dense, and say, “I dunno”.

Following this kind of inquiry I keep plugging away asking more questions to make the person think and discover for themselves the real reason behind why the company pays someone to clean and mop the floors, empty the garbage and clean the washrooms. With some patience, they usually get around to what I’m driving at, and if they can’t I fill in the blanks. What we end up with is something like this:

* Cleaned and mopped floors to ensure work areas were safe for employees to work in
* Cleaned and sanitized washroom areas to eliminate the spread of germs and met Ministry of Health standards
* Removed debris from waste bins off work floor in a timely manner, coordinating with municipal waste pick up schedules

In the above, you can see the difference between the words just plunked down that don’t really say much, and the second revised version that not only states what the person did, but gives me the reader the knowledge that the person knows WHY they did what they did. This shows they get the big picture and how their job fits in with the whole organization. If the washrooms are disgusting, the workers complain. If they complain, they’ll stop being productive and grumble to management. Management then has to stop working too and find the cleaner to solve the problem. If the cleaner has to repeat the cleaning job, that’s a redundancy that can’t be affordable, and the cleaner will be replaced.

By demonstrating your understanding of your role, the employer thinks, “This person gets it and stands out from every other person who just cleans because they are told to without any real enthusiasm for the job. If they did this for that other employer, they’ll be able to do it here and soon understand how they are valued and therefore do a better job”. Bingo! You’ve got an interview coming up.

Now the other thing is that any revision of a job description should use words that you fully understand and can explain if asked about. If it looks too fancy for you, it could be obvious that you didn’t write the resume and therefore may come across as deceptive. So make sure if you get help re-writing your resume that you can understand all the language used and if not, ask for other words that essentially say the same thing. Better to change it now and be a little embarrassed then wait until you’re in a stressful interview and they ask about something you don’t understand.

Now go look up Johnny Weissmuller and hear the jungle cry of Tarzan!

The Importance Of Grammar And Spelling

Pick up a good book, and if you are like the majority of people, you start to picture in your mind what the character looks like, largely because of the information provided. Interestingly enough, the image you envision is different from the image other readers have, even though you read the same description.

Now look at a CV or resume. Unlike a work of fiction, this is the work of a real person who you may not have actually met yet. Do you find yourself forming a picture of what they look like, how professional or casual they are, maybe the language even suggests that they are from a foreign country. If the document contains spelling errors and grammatical mistakes, you might find yourself making all kinds of judgements about their level of education and literacy too. And do you get exasperated when they say somewhere that they have strong attention to detail, and communicate effectively?

When I see someone working on their CV or resume in our Resource Centre, I often start-up a conversation with them with the line, “Ah, working on the dreaded resume; mind if I have a look?” What I’m really doing is trying to do is make their effort worthwhile. I think it is very sad that some people feel proud of their work, believe it to be error-free, and then head out with an inferior document with such high hopes for success. The choice of telling them what they want to hear or sharing honest feedback from a supportive but critical point of view is easy for me, but sometimes difficult for the person to hear.

For some, it’s a matter of English not being their first language, and when they talk and write, they mix up the placement of verbs and adjectives, neglect the use of plurals and you can almost hear the accent as you read it. For others, the message they want to convey is trumped by an unintended message which is either that they can’t be bothered to proofread, or don’t have the education to know when something is wrong. Neither of these last two are messages you want to convey to an employer.

It is precisely because we all have different skills and abilities that it is imperative that as you construct your resume and cover letter, that you seek out the help of someone who does it for a living. How foolish would I be as an Employment Consultant, to tackle the job of adding an addition to my home unless I also had qualifications in that area. I would use the services of a professional to do the work. Why would I assume that anyone can do it? Likewise, if my vocabulary is rather basic, my spelling and grammar are suspect, or the language I’m writing in is not my first language, I’d be wise to seek out some professional feedback.

I really believe that a good critique of your resume and cover letter is one that is thorough. While it might be nice to only have one or two corrections or revisions to make, if the person you are asking is limiting their feedback because you strike them as hostile to suggestions, you haven’t gained much. Communicate that you really would value a critique of your whole document, no matter the extent, and you might initially be embarrassed and frustrated, but in the end, you’ll leave with an error-free document that you can really feel confident in, not just confident in out of ignorance; be smart enough to know the difference.

By way of example, just yesterday a colleague of mine was reviewing a resume and offering to correct some glaring errors. As I entered the situation, he had met with such resistance, he was passing over many errors, trying to just fix the worst of the lot. Not knowing this however, he brought me into the conversation and used me to support his position that there were many errors to be found on the paper. So as I started making the same suggestions without knowing it, the client got more and more defensive. I backed out of the situation and soon the client left with a very poor document. While my colleague was choosing his words carefully, all the client could hear was negative I suppose, and they just weren’t ready and open for honest feedback.

Remember that an employer looks at resumes and cover letters in an attempt to screen OUT candidates. If your documents have spelling and grammar errors, they may replace the content of WHAT you are communicating in HOW you communicate it. Having all the right qualifications and experience may not be all you need; spelling and grammar really do matter!