Two Days in Review: Toronto’s National Job Fair & Training Expo – April 2005
By Marian Bernard
What do a group of engineers, administrative assistants, accounting support staff, IT professionals, and scientists have in common? They attended the National Job Fair & Training Expo held at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.
Career Professionals of Canada secured booth space there as well, and I heard repeatedly from other attendees – participants and job seekers alike – that we enjoyed the most activity of any booth on site! The reason? Our booth sported a “Free Resume Assessment” sign, and prospective job seekers responded in droves! In fact, some fair-goers told me that they endured a 30-minute wait in a line-up that extended from one end of the room to the other – all to receive crucial advice that had the power to transform their resumes from ordinary to the extraordinary.
Listed below are five themes I uncovered from hundreds of “home-grown” resumes that I reviewed:
1. No goal or focus to the resume. Some well-intentioned job seekers thought that submitting a general, one-size-fits-all resume to an employer was acceptable, and that employers would take 15 minutes or so to read a resume in detail. I explained to many a person that unless the job seeker expressly states the kind of position they desire, employers will not take the time to “solve the mystery”; as a result, such a resume stands a great chance of lining a garbage can.
2. Inconsistent formatting on the resume. As an example, some headings were set in 14-point Times Roman and appeared flush left on the page; others were set in 12-point Arial and were placed justified right. Such a document is too “busy” to read and can prompt the employer to move onto another resume.
3. No industry-specific keywords or phrases on the resume. I explained to our booth visitors the two primary reasons for a keyword search, leading many of our booth attendees to exclaim, “I didn’t know that!” Keywords play an integral role in two areas of the resume screening process. One is the human element when resumes are screened for words and phrases that match the criteria for the job in question. The second is the computer search, where computers hunt for the data on resumes to select those that match the words and phrases.
4. No achievements or success stories on the resume. Hiring managers may want to know what distinguishes Candidate “A” from Candidate “B,” and an employee’s past successes are indicative of future potential. Candidates “A” and “B” could come from similar backgrounds, but Candidate “B’s” resume – articulating bona fide examples of how he rekindled sales, slashed costs, and improved internal operations – would most likely push him ahead of the pack.
5. Grammatical inconsistencies and spelling errors. Many of our booth visitors immigrated to Canada from other countries, and English is their adopted second language. As a result, their grammatical and spelling abilities may not “cross over.” I can easily relate to this. Born to a Hungarian mother and a Romanian father, I have vivid memories of my parents lamenting that English is an extremely complicated language to master. Nevertheless, an employer wants to see a well-written resume – no matter where a job seeker is born.
If you think I’m griping about the calibre of resumes that I assessed at the Job Fair, I am not. Rather, this experience reinforced in me the fact that we offer vital services to the job-seeking public, and that we do indeed “make a difference” in the lives of our clients.
In addition, I was able to thoroughly empathize with those job seekers who were nervous about the prospect of looking for new employment opportunities. The last thing our booth visitors needed was to interpret my well-intentioned advice as harsh criticism.
I believe that with my suggestions, I communicated a sincere desire for each attendee to strive for success in their job search. Some of our visitors may not take my advice; others, however, have since retained me to “re-stylize” their job search documents.
Hats off to Sharon Graham and Career Professionals of Canada for helping me to make a positive difference in the lives of the job seekers I met!
Editor’s Note: The National Job Fair & Training Expo put on by our own member Daniel Levesque was a huge success from every angle. Marian Bernard, Brenda Jean Lycett, Karen Shane, Howard Halpern, and Sharon Graham represented Career Professionals of Canada and provided free resume assessments to elated job seekers. Other members in attendance were David Rosenblatt and Audrey Field.