You've got lots to offer and employer. You're smart, a snappy dresser and your manners are impeccable. You know your industry and profession inside out. Yet, you have a sinking suspicion your resume is never at the top of the pile and, until it is, you'll never have a chance to prove yourself in a job interview. While there are career opportunities out there, you're probably facing stiffer competition than the last time you went job hunting. That's why your first impression – your resume – is crucial.
"Because of the economy and so many people applying for positions, the only way to stand out is to make a connection," explains Adrienne Tom, a Calgary-based resume writer. Like your favorite suit, your resume needs to fit the job you're applying for, she argues. "I recommend that people take the time to custom tailor a resume for every job they apply for."Read More
Q: I will be graduating from college in a couple of months. Although I have excellent grades and lots of extra-curricular activities, I'm having a really hard time finding a job. From what I've experienced, it seems like companies aren't doing much college recruiting this year. What can I do to improve my chances of getting a good job, so I can start my career off right?Read More
To increase your chances of getting a job you want, some career coaches are suggesting that besides writing a strong resume, you should focus on drafting a value-proposition letter for yourself. Mark Hovind, president of JobBait, says that by sending letters to those who make hiring decisions – such as the CEO, president or owner – you can uncover "hidden" job openings.
There's no need to use fancy adjectives or rattle off years of experience and education, Hovind says. A value-proposition letter simply quantifies, in dollars or percentages, what you can do for the employer. If you can't measure it, it doesn't count. This method can work for everyone from janitors to executives.Read More
Q: Give me a choice between writing a cover letter and swimming with sharks, and I'll head for the beach! Can you offer an easy-to-follow approach for writing cover letters that captures an employer's attention and increases my chances of landing a job interview?Read More
Dear Sam: I am 57 years old and was downsized in February after almost 9 years on the job. Since then I've applied for a number of jobs, but I'm not getting for any interviews – and I suspect that it's because of a problem with my resume. My previous income was $70K, with a $7K car allowance and all of my gas paid for. In today's struggling economy, I know that this compensation package is generous, but most of the companies I'm interested in require me to present a salary history as part of my application. By providing this information, I'm afraid I'm pricing myself out of the market. How can I get around this problem?
Dear Art: When an employer requires a salary history as part of the application process, it's important to list your previous salaries right on your resume, and not on a separate sheet of paper. Some job seekers feel that listing salary history separately will help them, since employers will read your qualifications first, and then see what kind of compensation you require. The problem is that they can also view your application in reverse order – disqualifying you based on an assumption of desired salary before your resume even gets read. By clumping all the information together, hiring managers are forced to give you full consideration, weighing your talents, experience and salary needs at the same time.Read More
Dear Sam: Due to downsizing, I'm back in the market searching for a job. I haven't had any issues getting my resume noticed in the past. I have over seven years of experience and have my resume organized in chronological order. Do you think I would get noticed by more employers if I used a functional resume format instead? –Lauren
Dear Lauren: Probably not. In fact, functional resumes are rarely effective because they leave the reader wondering exactly what you did when, and where. Functional formats should only be used if you have no chance of getting through the screening process with a traditional, reverse chronological format – if your resume shows frequent job hopping, limited work experience or large employment gaps, for example. You can certainly pull out some career highlights and organize those by functional area, but be sure to note where each one was achieved.Read More