Are you looking for an IT job in Vancouver? Or an oil and gas job in Calgary? Wondering how to write a good resume? Whether you’re a current student, recent graduate or a young professional looking to transition into a higher role, you came to the right place. In order to get noticed by potential employers and secure job interviews, your professional resume needs to look amazing. Particularly during these uncertain economic conditions plagued with disease and pandemics, and talks about recessions.
You already know that a resume should be easy to read and error-free, but there might be some tips that you aren’t thinking about. By following these 10 tips, you can amaze hiring managers, secure more interviews and maybe even land your dream job.
How do you write an effective resume?
Wondering what to write in a resume? While you may refer to popular templates for guidance, your resume should be unique and ultimately reflect your education, experience and relevant skills. Most importantly, your resume should be tailored to the industry and (ideally) the specific job posting. Here are some important resume writing tips to help you write an effective resume.
1. Include keywords from the job posting to resume
Today, the most important part of your resume are your keywords because they determine whether your resume makes it through the next round. Most resumes are first scanned by computer software (known as application tracking systems) before it reaches the hiring manager’s desk. In other words, if your keywords don’t match what the employer is looking for, your application won’t even be viewed.
The best place to look for these keywords are in the actual job posting itself. For example, if you’re applying for a marketing position, an employer might list keywords such as “marketing”, “social media,” “website,” or “graphics design” in the job description. If you’re looking for finance jobs in Vancouver or Toronto, try keywords such as “financial planning”, “monthly reports”, or “financial models”. Pay close attention to keywords listed in the “Requirements” or “Qualifications” sections of the job posting. If you believe you have those skills, make sure you add them to your resume.
2. Review sample resumes for your specific industry
Sample resumes are useful to look at as examples of good resumes in your industry and for the specific job you want. However, they should not be copied completely. Here are the 3 most important elements of a successful resume:
Simple and easy to read. Employers typically scan through resumes for less than a minute for integrity, so readability is key. Selecting a clean, professional font is step one.
Short and concise. Include only key and relevant information so employers can quickly consume information about you. Each section of the resume should consist of short and to-the-point sentences. Not long, lengthy paragraphs.
Quantifiable results. Numbers allow employers to better understand the value you bring to the position. For example, “executed a new sales funnel for vendor contracts, increasing yearly sales revenue by 30%.”
3. Use professional fonts for your resume
“Employers spend very little time reviewing each resume—studies say about 6 seconds,” says Nan Mu, co-founder of Alba. “Make your resume easy to read by using a basic, clean font like Arial or Times New Roman. A font size between 10 to 12-points is ideal.”
Also, make sure you keep white spaces on your resume to a minimum. White spaces make your resume look incomplete and raise red flags on your lack of relevant experiences. By reducing extra white spaces, the resume reader will focus only on the content of your resume rather than the spaces. Tips to reduce white space include increasing your font size to 12 points and adding extra sections like “Skills” or “Professional Achievements.”
4. Include relevant information only, putting the most important ones first
As mentioned earlier, hiring managers spend on average 6 seconds reviewing each resume. Therefore, it’s important to keep your resume as brief as possible. The best way to do this is by including only work experience, achievements, education and skills most relevant to the employer. Remove items such as jobs held 10 years ago, minor degrees and achievements, or job experiences that are completely irrelevant to the position. For example, if you’re applying for accounting jobs in Vancouver, try not to include your experience as an art school volunteer. Instead, create a “Skills” section where you can include items such as excel, GAAP reporting standard, and QuickBooks (even if you learned these skills on your own at home). Make sure you prioritize the most relevant information first as the employer will naturally look at this section first.
5. Only use active language
Write your resume with active language such as “achieved”, “completed”, “executed” or “accomplished”. Doing so makes your sentences shorter, more concise and easier to read.
Here’s an example of a passive and lengthy sentence:
“During my time at [an IT firm in Vancouver], most of the team-based projects were ran by me. These projects required me to help each team member with various project-related tasks.”
You can shorten the sentence by starting it with a power word (or active word):
“Led multiple team-based projects and effectively coordinated group tasks.”
The revised version enables you to communicate the same ideas and accomplishments while keeping the text short and concise.
6. Highlight important achievements
Rather than talk about job duties (especially if they are repetitive), you can list out the 3-4 top achievements in each of your roles. Wherever possible, include figures that measure your success for that particular achievement. For example, “Recognized as top salesperson of the year by signing $200,000 of contracts – something never achieved before in company history.”
You might also want to consider adding a separate “Achievements” section to highlight relevant achievements in your career, education, or volunteer experiences.
7. Only include necessary headings and sections
For experienced job applicants, the most important headings and sections are as follows:
· Contact information
· Career Summary
· Work experience
However, if you recently graduated from college or high school, you might not have any formal work experience. In this case, don’t include an empty work experience section. Instead, create a new heading called “Relevant Coursework” or “Extracurricular Projects”. Here you can put any school-related or volunteer experience that you excelled in. Talk about what you did, the skills you used and acquired, and the final results.
8. Choose appropriate margins
The standard resume uses one-inch margins on all sides to create a well-balanced design. “If you need more space, decrease the top and bottom margins slightly,” says Teresa Mei, a career advisor at Alba. “But avoid decreasing the side margins as it will make your resume look weird.” On the other hand, if your resume has a lot of white space, you can increase your top and bottom margins. However, make sure you stay below 2 inches because this will make the resume look small and unimpressive.
9. Proofread and edit your resume
Before sending in your resume, carefully proofread it several times over to ensure no spelling or grammar errors. Use proofreading programs like Grammarly as a starting point, then ask friends and colleagues for their opinions as well. The best thing is to hire an unbiased third-party who specializes in resume writing. For example, all of the career consultants here at Alba have many years of resume writing experience, and have collectively seen millions of resumes. It will be very powerful to have an experienced career consultant in Vancouver helping you optimize your applications throughout the job search process.
10. Decide whether you need a unique resume for different jobs
If the employer you’re applying for has unique requirements, or if the jobs within your industry require different skillsets, you may want to create a second resume to highlight different skills. If you studied accounting, for example, you may be applying for accounts receivable jobs as well as financial analyst jobs. Both jobs, although quite similar, require different hard skills. Accounts receivable positions require strong math and computer skills, and require someone with bookkeeping software experience. Financial analyst positions also required strong math and computer skills (so you can keep this part of the resume), but require more analytical and decision-making skills. It would be beneficial to have two separate resumes in this case to get more job interview opportunities.
Final tips: Improve Your Resume to get more Job Interviews
Unless you have access to a large network on companies, your resume is typically the most important factor in getting job interviews. It, therefore, makes sense to spend a lot of time preparing your resume. Even if you have to hire a professional resume writer to review your resume – it could be worth the money. Make sure you include the most relevant information on your resume, organize it nicely, and carefully review it for errors. A nice, polished resume will get you more callbacks, interviews, and job offers.