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Survey on Canadian Resume & Interview Trends

Whether we are career coaches, professional resume writers or job seekers, we want to know what’s current and what’s out-of-date when it comes to resumes and interviews. Here is an opportunity for recruiters and hiring managers from across Canada to have their say and let us know what they look for in resumes; whether they bother to read cover letters, and what are their pet peeves.

Please complete this short survey at Canadian Resume & Interview Trends, and pass it along to others in your network.

Thanks. I will be sharing the results in the next few weeks.

When it Comes to Your Résumé, Focus is Key

One of my clients is currently in staffing, has a payroll background and wants me to tweak her résumé for a job in HR. I asked her to send me a sample HR job, so I can begin the work. She told me that I must use the résumé I have on file. That résumé is all about payroll.

It occurred to me that many people are not aware that a one-size-fits-all résumé, especially if one is applying to a variety of positions even within the same industry, just does not work. As accomplished and qualified as you may be, if your résumé lacks focus and does not address the employer’s needs, it will be tossed in ‘File 13’, which is the garbage bin. You can have one résumé as your master, but be prepared to tweak it for each position.

To begin writing or reformatting your résumé, dissect the job posting to see exactly what the employer is asking for. Think of your experience and see how closely it aligns with the requirements of the job. Do not include any information that does not relate to the position. Then, take your time to reflect on the challenges you faced in each situation, the actions you took, and the outcomes or results of your actions. This process allows you to show your accomplishments, gives an idea of your potential, and let the employer know that you understand their needs, and if given the opportunity, you can replicate youre successes, and even exceed their expectations.

If you would like to give your résumé a better chance of being plucked from the pile, make sure it’s focused and answers the employer’s WIIFM question: What’s in it for me? I tell my clients from time to time that if the employer asks for apples in thejob posting, give them apples, not bananas, oranges and grapes, unless these will enhance their chances of being called for an interview. When it comes to your résumé, focus is key.

If you require help with this very important job search document, don’t be afraid to seek professional assistance. Consider it an investment, not a cost.

6+ Phrases to Avoid in your Cover Letter

In the daily discourse on career matters, a lot of time is spent discussing how to create resumes that are  tight and focused on  the employer’s needs. This attempt to be brief becomes even more relevant in this 140-character Twitter era, when ‘less means more’. If we are going to aim for brevity in our writings, let’s forget the resume for a bit and take a look at the cover letter.

It is widely said that half of hiring managers don’t read cover letters, so it’s safe to assume that  the other half does. For those who do, we wouldn’t want them to throw the cover letter in ‘File 13’ (the garbage bin), because it contains too many clichés or over-used phrases.  Here are some popular phrases to avoid in your cover letter if you want to capture and keep the attention of the hiring manager:

1.     “Please be advised…”. Unless you are in the role of an advisor, eliminate this phrase. Simply state what you have done. “I have sent a copy to Human Resources”.

2.     “Enclosed please find” or “Attached herewith.” If it is enclosed or attached, the reader will find it. Use “Enclosed (or Attached) is…”.

3.     “Yours very truly”, “Very truly yours”, and “Respectfully”. These archaic phrases disappeared many moons ago. Using the word ‘yours’ gives the impression you belong to the reader. Use “Sincerely,” instead.

4.     “Feel free to contact me”, or “Please do not hesitate to contact me”. These clichés have outlived their times. It’s better to say “Please contact me.”

5.      “Above-referenced”. Don’t ask the reader to take his or her eyes back to the reference line. Instead, re-state whatever you are referring to – the subject, title or position.

6.     “I have forwarded…”. Say “I sent” instead. Short and to the point.

Is there a phrase or two you would like to add? Go ahead and comment below.

Lying On Résumés Alarmingly Common

 

“Official Résumé Wrong”! That was the headline in the Sports section of a popular newspaper a few years ago, when it was discovered that the then manager of a major league baseball team had inaccuracies in his bio. He was not an “All-American basketball player” and he did not “play basketball at UCLA prior to signing with the Dodgers”. When asked by the sportswriter, the manager admitted the statements were incorrect, and said he should be judged by what he does on the field, not by what’s written about him.

Some years ago, it was widely reported in newspapers and on the Internet that an individual who was planning to purchase a football team had to revise his Fact Sheet because it contained numerous errors. He did not play in the NFL nor the CFL, neither did he play in the Little League World Series when he was 11 years old. And, he has a degree in social work, not “a degree in Business Administration with an emphasis on Finance,” as his original bio claimed.

These occurrences are not confined to sports. There have been incidents where individuals were caught misrepresenting themselves as doctors, lawyers or professors. There was the man who practiced medicine in the US and Canada for 10 years before it was found out he never had a medical degree. Then there was the politician who had to quit his caucus when it was revealed he never attended law school as he claimed on his résumé, and in 2008, the British-born chef with a once successful cooking show in the US, cooked up a lie that he had been a chef at Buckingham Palace, and was even knighted.

The offenders are not always men, if you are beginning to wonder. Some years ago, a former deputy minister of health in a Canadian Province resigned from her position because she inflated her academic and professional credentials when she claimed to have been “working as a visiting professor at Princeton”. The former Dean at MIT had to resign her position when it was discovered she lied about her academic credentials.

These are not the regular Joe or Mary, but people in ‘high places’. The big question is why do people misrepresent themselves on their résumés? Is it because of increased competition in today’s job market, a desire to stand out from the crowd, or is it a longing for prestige? The answer could be all of the above.

A study conducted by a reference checking firm in Toronto some time ago, found that 27% of applicants embellished their educational backgrounds; 25% lacked job knowledge and 19% were dismissed or not eligible for rehire. The company randomly selected 1000 job applicants on whom they had conducted reference checks and education verifications, and found that 35% of these candidates presented “red flags”. These candidates were already successful in the interview process and their positions ranged from general office to senior executives.

“Résumé fraud takes the form of exaggerated skills or duties at a previous job or a concealed termination”, said the Company’s co-founder and Vice President. The company suggests that organizations “check before they hire” as a way of protecting themselves from unexpected court costs, liability concerns and tarnished brand identity.

In such a competitive marketplace, it is tempting to twist facts, but before you do, think of the consequences when the truth is known. If you are currently pursuing a program at college or university, don’t state that you already have the degree or diploma. If you worked on a project as part of a team, be clear about it. Don’t give the employer the impression you did it all alone. It’s fine to highlight, and sometimes brag, about your achievements, because employers want to know what you have done with your talents, but exaggerating the facts to gain an edge over other candidates, is not the right thing to do.

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Note: This is an updated article first published in 2005

How To Secure Your Dream Job

“The most important thing is that you must understand the company you are approaching. Then show them you can marry the organisation with your personal qualities.

“Most companies don’t care about anything except how the interviewee is going to improve the company itself. So tell them: Sell yourself as a package; present yourself as a business proposition. You are delivering a set of expectations related to your education, upbringing, attitude – your brand.

When you are looking for a job, you’re searching for an avenue to show The Ultimate You. Your main selling point should be to show how you will help the organisation reach its goals, while you are reaching your own.

“Also important is how you present yourself. Your appearance must mirror the image of the organisation. Reflect how the head of the organisation presents himself or herself. The CEO is the embodiment of its brand, and you cannot go wrong projecting a similarity. It doesn’t mean you must spend the kind of money that they do on clothing – it is more about attitude and capturing their brand.”

thebe ikalafeng
Brand expert and author

One Tip Before Posting Your Resume Online

The following tip was taken from Kent Jacobson’s article on www.syndicatedwriters.com:

Make sure the last page of your résumé includes an additional 5 to 10 key words; hide the viewable color by changing the text to white (so these are not printed out). Why? The search engine spiders will find these key words, but they will not show up the print copy.

Be aware that only 20% of people actually find a job via the Internet. Guess how the other 80% got their job? Through personal and professional networking!

Kent Jacobson
www.shortcut2success.com