- When to apply? Please don’t wait until the very last minute. It is always better to apply early in the process so you get the recruiters full and positive attention. And, if there are any issues with the application system, email or your own time, you won’t miss the deadline.
- Yes, you do need a resume! Directing a search firm or employer to “have a look at my LinkedIn profile” does not serve you well. It clearly shows that you haven’t customized your application and makes me think you’re lazy. It’s fine to do that when a search consultant first contacts you to point them to your basic background and credentials (they’ve probably already looked at it), but once you wish to apply for the position, you need to do a customized resume/cover letter.
- On the other hand, DO have a LinkedIn profile. As a search consultant, I use LinkedIn frequently to help me source candidates. If you aren’t there, I can’t find you. In fact, being active online is important in general. Creating and maintaining an appropriate personal brand online can be a very effective way to position yourself.
- Company online application systems are all quite different. When in doubt, always attach a single PDF copy of your cover letter and resume, preferably in one document.
- And, although key words are used by some organizations to do a preliminary scan of resumes, if your resume is chock full of obvious key word choices that don’t really work together to tell a story, your resume isn’t doing you justice. It may get pulled from the pile for a review, but the review won’t be successful.
- Don’t get fancy. Pictures, lots of different fonts/colors, infographics and alternative formats may not scan into company application systems properly. Your format may obscure your content. And, sometimes your resume won’t come through the system at all.
- Do include your name and contact information in the body of your document, not in a separate header. Again, the header may not read properly in some systems.
- Include all of your online addresses and social media accounts in the contact information section or as a separate section at the end of your resume.
- When you send a digital copy of your resume to a potential employer or search firm, DO title it with your complete first and last name. If you want the receiver to be able to file it easily, help them do so by making it a one click save.
- It is best to always send your resume as a PDF. Then you can have confidence in your formatting.
- As for the length question…I don’t subscribe to the 2-page maximum rule. If you’ve got a 20-year career to describe, it’s okay to extend your resume to 3 or 4 pages. If you work so hard to reduce your career to a one or two-page format, you likely don’t provide sufficient information or context for me to understand what you offer.
- And, please people…a minimum of 12-point font! With margins. Employers and search consultants actually need to be able to read your resume.
- I have a strong preference for a resume that follows your career chronologically and tells me what you actually were responsible for in each job. The resumes that mush together all of your skills and then puts a simple list of jobs at the end don’t work for me. Again, it’s all about context. I need to know WHERE you did that great communications plan (then I will understand how complex the situation was, who you worked with and what the standards were) or other project.
- Dates ARE important. I want to know WHEN you worked at each place and WHEN you graduated from each educational institution. I’m not trying to guess your age, but I am trying to understand context for everything.
- DO tell me about more than what you were responsible for. If you can tell me about your accomplishments, including some idea of measurement I’m going to be VERY impressed. I see this in only about one or two in a hundred so they really stand out!
- If you were employed in a smaller organization or one from another region or country, make sure to use a sentence or two under the job/title/organization to tell me what the organization was so that I have some context.
- If you have a title that implies leadership, I would expect your responsibility list to include something about the size and makeup of your team. If you don’t mention your team, I’m going to either assume that you didn’t have one, or that you don’t particularly value the role of people leader.
- Remember, I’ll be looking for actual evidence of specific skills, accomplishments, education, years of experience etc. If you haven’t included that basic information, I can’t give you credit for it.
- Use the actual title for your degrees or diplomas. If you don’t use the correct title and the date, I’m going to wonder if you actually graduated. If your degree or diploma was granted under a different name, include that in brackets.
- DO include a summary of key professional development activities to show your continuous learning efforts. This is even more important if your educational credentials are a bit light or are in an unrelated area.
- DO include community or volunteer roles in a separate section near the end. Edit your list to include relevant and recent roles. And, think carefully about including any that are likely to be controversial or politically charged in any way.
- Errors! If your resume contains spelling, grammar or other errors…I’m not likely to have faith in your work.
- Lies! I WILL check with the educational institution to make sure you really did graduate and I may check on actual accomplishments or other employment data.
- DO use your cover letter to – explain briefly why you are a good fit for the specific job posted; use the correct name and title for the application process; show me that you have some idea what the organization you’re applying to does; let me know if there are any specific dates that I need to know about (you’ll be on vacation during the selection process or out of town on business etc.); let me know how you prefer to be contacted (cell, home, okay to contact at current job).
- DON’T use your cover letter to do a summary of your resume.
- DO state your attributes with confidence and a positive attitude, but DON’T overdo it! People who tell me they are the “best” at something or “superior” or other terms like that make my “style/attitude issues” radar go off.
- If you are from another country, please include a statement about your legal status to work in Canada in your cover letter.
I hope this is helpful to those of you who are looking for work. And, once your resume gets you that interview…check out my tips for preparing.