Career Practitioners need exemplary resume writing skills
By Sharon Graham.
The Internet is loaded with templates, tips, and techniques to write a resume. Clients are easily able to find core concepts related to resume writing. Still, we know that many are unable to write an effective resume on their own. Clients who retain qualified professionals to improve their resume find appropriate opportunities, get more interviews, and secure better job offers.
Most employment consultants and resume writers are able to arm their client with a resume that is superior to the original version. By applying the reverse chronological, functional or hybrid template style, they can convert a “homemade” resume to something better. However, in a market saturated with professional resumes, “better than homemade” might not be good enough. The practitioner who can truly transform a resume and rejuvenate the client’s career prospects becomes indispensable.
Career Professionals of Canada regularly evaluates the skills of employment consultants and resume writers who apply for their Certified Resume Strategist (CRS) designation. Many qualify and attain their CRS credential with high marks. However, some are unable to make the grade. Here are some key areas where CRS applicants have the most difficulty.
- A client’s value proposition is a holistic representation of what the individual offers a potential employer. Therefore, the message must be integral to the complete resume. Evidence of a client’s value must be expressed throughout the resume. An objective statement, headline, tagline, or profile is meaningless if the rest of the content does not substantiate it.
- For a resume to be selected for consideration, it must not only address the potential employer’s buying motivators, but also distinguish the client’s exclusive value. This is even more crucial as resumes typically go through the recruiter’s Applicant Tracking System (ATS). In an environment where most candidates match qualifications to job descriptions, a practitioner must also differentiate the client’s unique offerings. Both strategies must be applied to raise the resume’s ranking and reveal the candidate’s additional strengths.
- Client obstacles and barriers to employment must be mitigated in the resume. A skilled resume strategist will know various ways to address issues such as career gaps, a short employment term, incomplete education, or a significant change in career direction. Diverse obstacles and barriers require different tactics to address them.
- Meaningful impact statements set clients apart from the rest of the candidates. There is rarely a reason to substitute accomplishments with a list of responsibilities. If a statement does not precisely define a specific situation, delineate the candidate’s performance, and offer an outcome, it is not an achievement – it is an activity. In the eyes of a recruiter, any candidate can perform an activity, but the best ones have achieved something of benefit to the employer.
- It might be astonishing to know that spelling and grammar are the two areas where practitioners struggle the most. The most common issues found in submitted resumes are the basics: inconsistent number structure, incorrect capitalization, inappropriate or missing punctuation, issues with parallelism, and misplaced or dangling modifiers.
Most successful CRS applicants have a few things in common. If you are a resume writer or employment consultant, you might want to assess your abilities against their strengths:
They do not systematically use rules or templates.
Why this is important: To be effective, you must fully understand the guiding principles and practices of resume writing. However, to be exponentially more successful, you need to know more than what is readily available on the internet. If you build deep expertise and knowledge, your clients will benefit from a range of ideas and strategies. Otherwise, your clients may as well write their own resumes.
They understand, intrinsically, that each client is unique.
Why this is important: There is no single formula that will work for every client. It is impossible to provide the best resume service if you are unable to distinguish one client from the next. You must do your due diligence with every client. Create personal, thoughtful, and meaningful content every time you write a resume.
They have an exceptionally strong command of the English language.
Why this is important: If you are writing resumes for clients, it is crucial to understand more than the basics of grammar. Learn all the important guidelines for the use of modifiers, serial commas, subject-verb agreement, apostrophes, hyphens and dashes, fragments, and run-on sentences. If you do not have strong English language skills, pass your client’s resume on to a professional proofreader before finalizing it.
They know how to address concerns specific to their client base.
Why this is important: It is especially advantageous to thoroughly understand your specific client base and know how to deal with their specific issues. You might be working primarily with a client population of immigrants, disabled workers, older workers, youth, or individuals with a criminal record. Whatever your demographic, you must be armed with many tactics and strategies to tackle your clients’ issues.
They have advanced applicable skills in Microsoft Word.
Why this is important: To design resumes properly, you need to know advanced features such as character spacing and kerning, point-size line spacing, tab stop positions, tables and graphs, themes and styles, paragraph and page borders, and text box wrapping. If you are not familiar with these features, you may be unable to format your clients’ resumes effectively.
In today’s technology market, there is no reason for a Canadian Career Practitioner to be lacking advanced resume development skills. If you provide resume development services, you need to know how to produce a quality resume for every client. If you feel that you need further professional development, consider taking the next Advanced Resume Development Program.
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.