Category Archives: Resume

Job Journey:  Resume Fonts, Formats and File Types

Your resume represents you and your years of hard work.   Make sure it looks great and is easy to read.

We all have hundreds of fonts and colours at our disposal.  Pick something crisp and clean.  Only a small percentage of people will print your resume.  Most will view it on a screen.  It might be a huge desktop monitor or it might be their phone.  You want to minimize any kind of curlicues or super- decorative stuff that won’t translate well to a small screen.

Pay attention special characters as well.  Straight forward bullets are fine but arrows and other fancy indentation markers can get mangled when they are opened in different formats.

Laying your education or career highlights out in boxes can be problematic as well.  If you resume is parsed (translated) by an applicant tracking system, it will frequently make a total mess of non-text elements.

Arranging your content vertically as opposed to horizontally can change how a search engine will find you.  Once your resume has been sucked into a company applicant system, recruiters use keywords to help sift through the database.  Where those keywords are on the page will help determine where your resume falls in comparison to others.

For example, if I use “MBA” as a keyword, the first resumes that I see when I search will have MBA at the top of the page.  If an unsuspecting candidate decided to put their hard-earned MBA in a cool box down the side of the page, the search engine might put that resume way further down the list.

There are many roles and organizations where having a cool or graphic or more creative resume makes sense.  In that case, save it as a pdf.  Most MS Word versions offer this as an option when you save a file.

A pdf is great because it will always look the way it did on your screen no matter who opens it.

There are couple of other file types to keep in mind.  If you are dumping your resume into a company website, you will likely be asked for a “text” version.  This is where all your special characters (like bullets) will get ugly. It makes sense to make a special text version and save it so you have it ready.

And there is nothing wrong with having a good old MS Word version.  It is easy to change on the fly when someone asks for it and you need a quick update.

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Job Journey – Making your Resume Stand Out

Now that your resume has the basic elements (background, education and experience), you can have some freedom to decide what else you want to include.

Hobbies

If you participate in a sport or extracurricular activity, you can definitely include it on the second or final page of your resume.  These help to demonstrate the type of person you are and the things you care about.  For example, you might finished marathons or triathlons or coached a little league baseball team.  Each of them illustrates your character and your ability to set aside time to invest in these pursuits.

I wanted to include French cooking and ironing but, just because I spend time doing the task does not warrant valuable space on my resume.

Community and Volunteering

These activities are also good demonstrations of your values – especially if they happen to align with a hiring manager.  The only caveat is to make sure that the information is real, recent and referable.

Running the stairs of the CN Tower is one thing. Helping to organize your company team to sign up, train, raise money and then participate, that’s the real value.  That’s what will get recognized.

The experience should be recent.  If you sat on the PTA when your child was in elementary school and that same child just graduated with a PhD , that does not count.  If you don’t have something recent, leave it out.

You will be hard pressed to use a volunteer colleague as a reference but you never know who they know. It’s a small world.  If you are going to put a role, paid or otherwise, on your resume, you better be prepared for someone to ask direct questions about it.

That covers most of the content. Next week, we will look at fonts, formats and graphics.

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Job Journey – Perfecting Your Resume

Resumes are as individual as people.  Even when you use a Microsoft template, your document will still be different from other people’s documents.

Objective

Should you have an objective or not? There people on both side of the fence.  It can be helpful to the reader if you lay out a clear objective.

Looking for long term role in a fast-paced customer service team.

You can also have more of a summary statement.  The would be one or two lines that summarize what you bring to the table.

Senior Finance Leader with Expertise in Mergers, Acquisitions and Integrations.

This is one of the parts that can change depending on who will be reading it.  If you are looking to do something different, you might want to work that into a statement about your next career objective.

Inside Sales Leader  with great track record in consumer products looking to move in to an outside sales role.

If you want to do the same thing in a better place, a summary statement might make better use of the space.

Experience

For each job, you want to lay out the name of the company, your title, the dates you held the role and a few bullet points about what you did.

You can also add a link to their website and you can consider adding a line or two about what the company does.  This is a good idea if you were toiling away in a company that no one has ever hear of before.

You can add a detail about why you left but this is not really necessary.  You want to leave something to talk about during the interview.

Most people have details of at least ten years of experience.  You can add more if it’s relevant but just stick to company, title and dates.

Your resume may up being two or three pages.  There are no hard and fast rules about the length.  What we do know if that the average recruiter will take 2-3 seconds to read your resume and decide to move you to the A pile or the B pile.

This means that the top half of the first page is where the most important material should go.  Keep that in mind and make sure you maximize the use of that space.  You only get one page to make a great impression.

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Job Journey – Getting your Resume Ready

Your resume is a bit like a big, detailed business card and having your resume ready and up to date should the first step in the journey to your next job.  While you have a lot of freedom on what you want to include, there are some basic items that absolutely must be there.

Your name, email address and phone number are mandatory.  You can put them at the top of the document or you can put it in the header. Bear in mind, if you put it in the header, when it is viewed in “preview” mode in MS Office, those details won’t show.  They only show when they are in the body of the document.  Weird, but true.

You can add all or part of your address. You might not want to share the exact details but it probably makes sense to put in your city.  Prospective employers want to know you are in their typical commuting range.  

Education is important.  It can be listed at the top before your experience or on the second page, after your work details.  Include everything after high school.  Make sure to list the name of the school, the degree, diploma or certificate and the date that you graduated.  Note that I said “graduated”.  You can still include a program even if you did not complete it but mark it “incomplete” or “one course left” or “expected date of completion xx”.  Don’t lie – it will bite you in the pants when you least expect it.

Finally, you need to have details about what you are doing now.  Clearly lay out your title, basic responsibilities as well as the name and location of the company.  You also need to let people know how long you have been in the role.  If you are in transition, then use your last role.

It would be a pretty skinny resume if this is all you include but it would give someone a fairly good idea of where you are today.  What’s missing is the milestones and achievements from the rest of your career.

You have a lot more flexibility with those elements.  We will tackle those sections t0 get your resume ready next week.

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How to Get a Great Job in 2018

Welcome to 2018.  Got plans? Maybe a promotion? Or a new job all together?

It can be overwhelming to even think about. Who to talk to? Where to look? Who would make good references? Where the heck is your resume?  Ack!!

Looking for a job can be a full time job.  Looking for a job when you have a job is tricky.  Both require planning and commitment. 

Random job seeking can work.  We all know someone who met a guy and got hired in five minutes.  But let’s face it, that generally only happens in the movies to people who are far better looking than us.

Like any other goal, you need to make a plan and break out the steps with a timeline.  Also, like any plan, you need to be prepared for set backs and derailers.

In keeping with this idea, I have made a plan for 2018 for this blog.  I will be walking through the process of getting a new gig step by step, week by week.

Oh sure, there will still be posts with random thoughts and comments on the world of work.  There is too much ridiculousness to close that door but the focus will be in the “job journey” and how to keep driving in the right direction.

If you want to get a head start on next week, see if you can remember the last time you updated your resume and where you put it.

Good luck!

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Fix your Career by the New Year

Halloween is over and the rush to the end of the year has begun.  Things are going to get busy….really soon.  If you have career goals that are still hanging out there, this is the time to sit down and make a plan to move forward.

Whether you are looking for a promotion, transfer or something new altogether, now is the time to take action.

But where to start?

Make time – carve out 20 minutes every day to work on your objective – either block it in your calendar or make it the same time every day.

Make a list – who do you need to meet and how can you connect with them.  Email, voice mail, and LinkedIn are all options – decide what is most likely to get a response.

Reach out – start connecting with your targets and following up

Expand your network – send LinkedIn invitations to colleagues, neighbours and the guy you met at that thing last week.

Promote yourself – find articles that are relevant to what you do and post them on LinkedIn.  Your connections will see your content and be reminded of your expertise.

Send thank you notes – everyone appreciates being recognized and the good will that is generated will translate into all kinds of neat things.

Take calls from Headhunters – these calls can provide good market intel on your skills and what they are worth – don’t ignore us.

Apply to job postings – notice this is way down the list?  The best opportunities come from connections and good connections come from doing the work in the first place.  Don’t just rely on the application process.  It will rarely show you any love.

 

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Job Postings and Romance

I have been reading a lot of romance novels.  Don’t hate me.  They are really are lovely.  They are not too long and they always resolve in such a nice, neat package – very appealing.

The problem is that I have now started to day dream about a rich, handsome guy showing up at work or on the train to sweep me off my feet.  Not just any rich, handsome guy. No, this guy has chiseled abs, just the right amount of stubble and a home in Sardinia.

I can wish all I want, but I have already been swept off my feet.  He has the stubble, but alas, no home in a sunny, warm locale.

And wishing is not going to change that.

I tried to explain that to a few candidates this week.  Not the part about getting a new husband, but the part about wishing for a new role that’s a departure from where you are today.

It’s not that a major career move is not possible.  It is just that you need to be rational.

I had someone try to convince me that they would be ideally suited to sell medical devices because their neighbour was a doctor and they had spent a lot of time together building a fence.   He honestly thought that having a beer with a doctor imparted enough knowledge to make him a legitimate candidate for the role.  Come on!

It is fine to daydream about a job when you read a posting on monster, but give your head a shake.  Read the list of requirements.  Can you honestly say yes to at least half of them?  It does not matter whether you agree with them nor does it matter that you think you have a better list of requirements.  The employer has put them there for a reason.  Respect it.

If the posting says “living, breathing human”, then by all means, go ahead and apply but if it says “have a degree in mechanical engineering”, then going on a date with an engineer is not going to cut it.

But if you see a place in Sardinia, could you let me know?

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