Standard resume still hard to beat in landing a job
By Lucy Hyslop, Postmedia News
You might have a social network more sinuous than a spider’s web and an online presence that would impress Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg.
But when it comes to landing a job, the old-fashioned resume still trumps all.
That’s the opinion of three experts in the recruitment and job-seeking field nationwide. “Until we come up with a way where we can send a hologram of a person,” says Amos Tayts, a Toronto-based former recruiter with offices across Canada and the U.S. helping people looking for work, “the resume is the only way that people will know who you are, and what you bring to the table.”
Although there is industry talk of a ’resume 2.0’ comprising video profiles in which candidates speak about their impact on increasing sales at a company or reducing costs, for instance, the familiar resume is still expected by anyone hiring or recruiters.
“It’s the standby — like the old pair of jeans that people are comfortable with,” says Jeff Aplin, who recruits out of Calgary. He says the importance of a resume cannot be overstated. “It means everything to get to the next step, such as the phone or face-to-face interview.”
Vancouver-based executive search consultant Shaun Carpenter brands a resume the “quintessential jumping-off point.” He says there was speculation it might become redundant with the rise of online sites such as LinkedIn, which lists your career and recommendations among numerous features. “But I don’t believe it will,” adds the associate partner at Pinton Forrest & Madden. “There’s a holistic approach to getting a job. In terms of social media and resumes, one goes with another. The network helps to get your resume seen by the right people, but a resume is still the key starting point.”
Carpenter says most employers want to see no more than two pages, and all want to see them tailored to their corporation and culture. He advises thinking in terms of a full day’s worth of research: Look at everything online on the potential employer and download its financial reports and any news stories about the company.
Those hiring want to see that candidates recognize what the organization is currently going through and the significance of its business. “The resume needs to really prove that you understand what you are looking at and be speaking to the cogent points that are identified in an advertisement,” says Carpenter. “Pull out points and address issues. It really has to be customized — use your knowledge, intuition and research ability — and avoid using formulaic vocabulary, such as ‘team player’ or ‘highly motivated.’ These will not cut it.”
When describing the assets you bring to a job, make sure it is backed up by your working life. “You want to highlight different dimensions of your experience to be congruent with that organization and that specific job,” says Aplin, the COO at David Aplin Recruiting. “Ensure there are no empty words.”
A resume can be a way to show your personality, he suggests. Include a few aspects that are unique to you such as a health or community initiative with which you were involved, for example, if appropriate to the job. “If a typical HR person is filtering through a high volume of resumes, you might be able to add colour or zing to your resume to make it more interesting to read,” he says.
In explaining your career, adds Carpenter, never put the onus on the reader to do further research. “I can’t stand when I get a resume and they have the company name but nothing about size, scope, nature of business, reporting structure, revenue,” he says. “You should be able to look at the resume and get all the information you need to make a decision.”
Employers find it hard to resist “compelling” resumes, according to Tayts. “In order to stand out and get to the top 10 per cent of the talent pool, you need to have a resume that is able to articulate value very quickly,” says the founder of ResumeTarget Inc. He estimates it takes around nine seconds for a hiring manager to propel the applicant to the next stage.
Enlisting professional advice in writing your resume is often the best approach, according to Aplin. “It’s a good thing to polish or make the writing more attractive or engaging,” he says. Carpenter, however, stresses the need for resumes to remain personal to the applicant. “I don’t want resumes to look like they have all been written the same way,” he says, adding: “If you believe this is your dream job, you should be putting in a lot of effort.”