Updated: Jul 14
It's not easy to find work in Canada. Let alone finding a job that corresponds with your skills and experiences. Anyone who tells you otherwise might have gotten lucky or settled for an unfulfilling job. Or they learned how to properly research the company, tailor their resume for the job posting, and practice their interviewing skills. According to ideal.com, for every 100 resumes, a company is recommended to shortlist only 12 people, interview 2 people in person, and hire 1. That means, only 12% of all submitted resumes are suitable for a given job posting. How do you ensure your resume stands out and makes this cut-off mark?
Tailor Your Resume to a Specific Audience
Depending on the job you are applying for, resume requirements will be slightly different. For example, an investment banking resume will be more formal (black and white with bullet points) whereas a marketing resume might be more colorful and creative. Also, depending on which city you are looking in, resume and job requirements will be slightly different.
Vancouver and Toronto are very similar markets. Their annual employment growth rate and employment rates are nearly identical (with Toronto slightly higher in both areas). Toronto is more favorable for finance, marketing, banking, and accounting. Whereas Vancouver is more favorable for IT and communications roles. Vancouver is also more favorable for immigrant workers.
Calgary, on the other hand, is very different from Vancouver and Toronto as the city is heavily dependent on oil and gas. As a result, almost all jobs are related to the oil and gas industry (administrative, finance, accounting, marketing, etc). Your purpose as a job seeker is to find out what employers expect in the specific occupation and the city where you plan to settle, and write your resume tailored to this audience.
How to boost your resume
1. Write only about relevant experiences
It is very important to include credentials, experiences and accomplishments that relate to the job description and your current career objective, and remove experiences that aren’t relevant.
If you’re a current student or recent graduate, finding a list of relevant job positions that relate to the job posting might be difficult. If this is the case, just include transferable abilities from a previous, unrelated experience. For example, if you’re applying for a finance position, explain the time you, as the cashier manager, created an excel spreadsheet to track all the transactions and invoices. And how, as a result, the number of errors decreased drastically. Or maybe you developed skills while doing academic projects in University. In any case, if you’re a hard worker and like to take initiative at your job, you can always find impressive experiences that can be relevant to the job description.
2. Include Critical Keywords
All companies and recruiters use keywords to describe the job position. These are the exact keywords that hiring managers use to identify qualified candidates. If you don’t use the right ones, your resume will be ignored by the electronic applicant tracking systems (ATS) that most companies use nowadays. Even if you’re the ideal candidate, you won’t be selected for an interview.
But how do you find the right keywords to include in your resume? The best way to do this is to scour the web for similar job postings. For example, if you’re looking for a marketing intern position, look on Indeed.ca for job postings with the keyword “marketing intern”. There you’ll find many postings with keywords such as “social media management”, “digital marketing”, “content writing”, “photoshop”, “graphic design”, etc.
Go through several similar job postings and take the most commonly used keywords. These popular keywords are guaranteed to be critical to your application—so use them to your advantage.
3. Ditch the Career Objective, Use a Summary Instead
“When you include a Career Objective statement, you’re telling the employer what you want from them and, to be honest, they don’t care,” says Ivy Chen, an expert career advisor in Vancouver. That’s why the Summary section — a short paragraph that highlights your experience, job history and major achievements — is used in nearly all modern resumes today. For example, if you’re interested in HR positions, you might want to try the following:
“Human Resources Generalist with progressive experience managing employee benefits & compliance, employee hiring & onboarding, performance management processes, licensure tracking and HR records. Dependable and organized team player with the ability to communicate effectively and efficiently. Skilled at building relationships with employees across all levels of an organization. Proficient with HRIS, applicant tracking and benefits management.”
4. Shorten your resume
If your resume makes it through to the hiring manager for physical screening, that means you followed the above tips well—congratulations! But now, you will have to “wow” the hiring manager. “Most hiring managers are reviewing hundreds of resumes per week,” says Nan Mu, co-founder and career consultant at Alba. “You must keep your sentences concise and meaningful. Remove unnecessary filler words and sentences.”
Follow these tips to shorten your resume quickly:
Quantify your achievements—Numbers help companies measure your performance. Wherever possible, use figures, dollars and percentages to add credibility.
Strong action words—Start every paragraph or bullet point with a strong action verb like “achieved”, “generated”, and “Maximized”. Here are 429 verbs to help you out.
Eliminate insignificant phrases—certain terms like “duties include” and “responsible for” don’t add any value. And phrases like “references available upon request,” is an obvious statement.
Remove filler words—Once you finish your resume, go through it once again and remove little words like “a”, “an”, and “the” to shorten the sentences.
Cut down your contact information—Include live links to your email address, blog, and social media and replace them with the words “Email”, “Blog” and “Linkedin”. Include just one phone number and only include your city and postal code.
Use bullet points—Each job experience should be no longer than 3-4 sentences. Any more and you are saying too much. The best way to keep your job experience short is by using bullet points. It also provides “breathing room” for your reader.
5. Make your resume stand out
Colors, charts, tables, and images can all be valuable additions to make your resume stand out. But make sure the design matches industry norms. For example, a graphic designer can be more creative with their resume than an accountant.
You should also use headings and sub-headings to make it easier for the reader to skim through your resume. For example, you can use a header on various sections of your resume like “Job experience”, “Education”, and “Awards”, but a sub-header on the names of the company you worked for. Making your resume more skimmable will give you bonus points from the hiring manager and it helps them save time when evaluating your candidacy.
How Alba’s Career Consultants Can Help
Alba is staffed with career consultants across many different fields: marketing, finance, accounting, computer programming, human resources, and more. We have programs regardless of what phase in your career you are in, from current students to working professionals. Speak to one of our Vancouver career advisors today for more information.
Enterprise Immersion Program
Duration: 90 days
Description: In this program, students work on a 3-month project for a large North American corporation (i.e. Bell, Telus, Shaw Communications, etc.).
Enhance Your Resume: Similar to co-op, the Enterprise Immersion Program (EIP) allows you to work on a real-life project with real mentors from the company. This enhances your resume and creates a relevant experience to discuss for your future interviews.
Reference Letter: Upon completion, you will receive a reference letter from the company (not Alba). This will further enhance your resume and increase your candidacy for your dream job.
Graduate Students: Career Engagement Program
Duration: 90 days
Description: In this program, you will be assigned several job search consultants who will walk you through every step of the job search process. Resume preparation, job searching, application and interview, follow-up emails, etc.
Land Your Dream Job: Alba has helped over 100 students and job seekers kickstart their career. Many of these students were able to find a job in Canada that surpassed even their own expectations.
Job Guarantee: We guarantee a job position within 90 days. In fact, you don’t pay us until we find you a job. This is the confidence we have in our students, and the confidence we have in our job searching system.
Young Professionals: CQ™ (Career Quotient) Summit
Frequency: 2-3 times a year
Description: As the organised of Career Quotient Summit, Alba dedicates itself to connecting young professionals with industry leaders. CQ™ Summit is a speaker event, a networking event, and an educational organization. It acts as a bridge between students and companies, a place for students to share, learn and grow.
Alba Job Consultants: If you are job seeking or simply looking for career advice, speak to someone at Alba today.