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Your McMurray Career Advice - Resumé 101

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With the current economic downturn we have seen a large number of layoffs, reduction in jobs and increase in unemployment. Less jobs and more job seekers means more competition for the job opportunities that do exist. How do you separate yourself and stand out from all the other applicants? Start with your resume; it is one of the most important aspects of your job search. If you find yourself stuck, applying for numerous jobs but getting no calls for interviews then it’s time to take another look at your resume.

A resume is meant to provide a snapshot of your skills, qualifications and experience. Your resume is your ‘first impression’ and the purpose is to get you to the interview.  So what makes a good and effective resume?


Focus on quality rather than quantity. 

An employer may receive hundreds of resumes for each job posting and reviewing them can take up a lot of time. There is nothing that puts an employer off more than receiving a resume with multiple pages of information, often referred to as a  ‘storybook resume’. Aim to stick to 1 or 2 pages maximum with relevant and summarized information. Follow the ’30 second rule’, if an employer were to spend just 30 seconds reviewing your resume would the information they get through be enough to make them want to call you for an interview?


Start with a section of highlights.

Include 5-6 bullet points of what you want the employer to know about your skills, these points should be relevant to the position for which you are applying and something that makes you stand out. Highlights may include years of experience, specific qualifications, achievements, personal characteristics etc.


Tailor the content. 

Make sure you are reading the job description and highlighting your own matching skills and experience for each specific job posting. Don’t use the exact same resume for different positions, each job is unique and requires specific skills so make sure this is reflected in your resume and keep it relevant.


Transferrable skills. 

Keep an open mind, you may not have the exact same experience or skills as specified in a job posting, but you may have some skills from previous experience that can be transferred to other types of jobs. Be sure to highlight these skills because they won’t be obvious to the employer unless you put them there.


Avoid repetition and too many words.

Remember your resume should be a summary so you want to avoid long sentences and being too descriptive.


Avoid fancy borders and fonts. 

What is important in your resume is the content not the style. Make it easy on the eyes, avoid different fonts and borders that will make it look busy. When submitting your resume through email often times borders and styles may not open up the way you have saved it so it is safer to keep it simple!


Try different formats to see what works for you-depending on how much work experience you have you may want to try and test different formats, the most common is a reverse-chronological resume however if you have gaps in employment or less work experience you may want to try out a functional resume format.

Keep track of the jobs you are applying for and be prepared to speak about the skills and experience you have highlighted on your resume if called for an interview. The resume may have gotten you to the interview stage but it is the interview that will get you the job.

Need help to create the perfect resume? Want to polish your interview skills? 
Drop by the Alberta Works Centre (9915 Franklin Avenue) and speak to a career and employment expert for more tips and assistance.


Samra Ilyas works for Alberta Works/Human Services in Fort McMurray, providing employment and financial supports and services. With expertise in career development and years of experience, she shares some advice and ideas through the YMM Career Advice column.

Samra is also a community leader and dedicated volunteer; participating in various boards/committees such as the RMWB Landlord and Tenants Advisory Board, Collaboration for Religious Inclusion, Northern Lights Sisters Association and a local school council. She is a strong advocate of Fort McMurray and actively encourages and promotes volunteerism as a way to give back to the community.

Got a question or have an idea for a topic? DM and follow Samra on Twitter @ilyasSamra.