6 Intriguing Ideas in Canadian Resume Writing


By Sharon Graham.

Times have changed. Advancements in technology, globalization, politics, and economics are creating shifts in the Canadian labour market. Resume writing strategy must also change to meet the needs of a new labour market. You might be thinking about taking your resume writing to a new level. Consider these six progressive ideas that may seem contrary to current opinion.

Two resumes are better than one

Because juggling multiple versions of resumes can be onerous, job seekers across Canada have been advised to create one master version that can be tweaked for applications. This is a good tactic to reduce frustration and confusion on the part of the candidate. However, many companies now use sophisticated Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to receive, sort, and select resumes. Although a short, well-formatted and designed resume is preferable for human readers, a lengthier, stripped-down “plain text” version is easier for computers to read.

Create two base resumes. Write one that captivates recruiters, employers, and other contacts. Build a separate one considering the strengths and limitations of an ATS that is able to read and parse a massive amount of information.

Shorten formatted resumes even more

Because people are increasingly inundated with written content on a daily basis, preferences are shifting. Brief resumes are typically preferred over lengthy ones. Across Canada, two to three-page resumes were generally acceptable. Now, in many cases, one page may be sufficient to give the reader a strong overview of strengths.

As the trend towards brevity continues, consider condensing every section of the resume. Shorten sentences and paragraphs. Whenever possible, try to use fewer words. Leave off anything that may not be of interest to the reader. By including only what is crucial, you will have a tighter document. You will also increase the chance that the resume will be read and matched with an opportunity.

Emphasize unusual competencies

When applicants rely entirely on the job posting, their focus is narrow. The resume tends to itemize only those generic competencies that are detailed in the posting. Since this strategy directly matches the needs listed by the employer, it is sensible. However, every applicant might do the very same thing. Because the competencies listed for everyone are similar, no candidate is likely to stand out.

In addition to generic competencies, add unusual ones. Identify and feature special skills, talents, and strengths that the employer may want, but are not as easily discernible in the posting. Focus primarily on special value that others may not be able to offer. By including appropriate keywords in the resume, it is possible to improve the chances of being selected.

Tone down the design and colour

It wasn’t long ago that black and white template resumes were the standard in Canada. With the features available in Microsoft Word, candidates can now easily create highly stylized resumes. Colour and design can be powerful tools to distinguish one candidate’s resume from another. It seems that the pendulum might have swung too far. There is nothing wrong with creating a distinctive document – if the candidate does not go overboard.

Above all, the resume must make a professional representation of the candidate. It can be daunting to make a shift from traditional templates to brands, but the basics can be learned and applied. Good design can do much more than make a document look nice – it can draw in and influence the reader. Pay rigorous attention to every aspect of design and colour. Construct the “look and feel” of the resume judiciously to ensure that it is progressive and compelling, but not too unconventional.

Include achievements in the profile

Resume profile sections typically include generic phrases that match the job target. It is good to ensure that strengths required by the employer are included within the profile. However, if the profile is general and broad, the reader cannot distinguish one applicant from the next. For the best results, the profile statement should also illustrate, by example, what that specific candidate brings to the table.

Present hard evidence supporting personal and professional strengths in the profile. Dig up one or more extremely special achievements that the employer will value. Then, briefly introduce them within the body of the profile. For example, rather than saying “generates revenue” incorporate “generated $2 million in the first year” within the profile statement.

Leave some important details off

A strong resume typically includes all the important accomplishments that a client has attained, but there may be some value to leaving some details out completely. If done well, this tactic will encourage a reader to pick up the phone to call the applicant and ask for more information. If this happens, then the resume has done its job.

Include some “generalized” accomplishment statements to pique interest. When you list an achievement, purposely omit some particulars so that the recruiter or employer will reach out to the candidate for the details. For example, this statement might incite a call for more information, “Implemented three separate technology enhancements which directly improved output by 30%.”

Certified Resume Strategists (CRS) are experts in strategic resume writing. They invest time and effort in challenging the norms and applying new concepts to help each client’s resume to rise above all the rest. Take the challenge and try something new today.

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Sharon Graham is CANADA’S CAREER STRATEGIST and author of the top-selling BEST CANADIAN RESUMES SERIES. Founder and executive director of CAREER PROFESSIONALS OF CANADA, Sharon is committed to setting the standard for excellence in the industry. A leading authority on resume, interview, employment and career transition, Sharon provides career practitioners with tools and resources to enable them to provide exemplary services to Canadians.

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