resume, cover letter, screening, job, career, Laine Bodnar, Laine Jaremey, Pencil Skirts & Punctuation

The secret things resume screeners look for

Searching for a job is a job in itself! We put hours into our resumes. We often think that this effort won’t go to waste, as many of us assume that the person who reviews our resume will spend lots of time doing so. However, a study of the people who screen resumes revealed that they do so for only six seconds on average.

Yes, I said six seconds. To put that in perspective, it probably took you nearly 25 seconds to read the first paragraph of this blog post.

So, how do you get a person who reviews resumes, also called a resume screener, to take a longer look and consider you for the job?

Understanding the information that a resume screener is looking for, and providing them with it in an efficient manner, is critical.

Person typing on keyboard next to yellow watch

Focus on key areas of your resume

There are four key parts of your resume that resume screeners hone-in on to check if you’re a good fit for the job. These sections, and things to think about as you prepare them, are below:

  1. Work objective or career summary – In the interest of space, you may only include one of these sections at the top of your resume. Here you can highlight the value that you can bring to the organization right off the bat. Review the job description to understand key words and make sure they’re present here too.
  2. Relevant skills and qualifications – Are your skills and qualifications tailored to the job you’re applying for?
  3. Employment history – Have you demonstrated an upward trajectory in past roles with promotions at the same company, or when moving from one company to another? Are the jobs relevant to the position you’re applying for? Are there gaps in your employment history that you should proactively explain?
  4. Industry experience – Are your previous jobs in the same industry as the company that you’re applying to work at? If not, demonstrate how you’ve gained knowledge of the industry, and showcase transferable skills. 

Attention to detail matters too

If the role you’re applying for requires attention to detail and accuracy – and let’s face it, most jobs do! – you must review your resume with a fine-tooth comb. Common red flags for resume screeners include:

  • Incorrect company name or job title – Yes, this sounds obvious. But if you’re applying for more than one job, or if you’ve older versions of your resume, it can be easy to accidentally submit a document with incorrect information in these fields.
  • Errors – Typos and grammatical errors are prime examples. Factual errors, like discrepancies in past job titles between your resume and cover letter, or incorrect dates of previous employment, should also be avoided. Consider asking a trusted friend or family member, or a third-party resume/career services consultant, to proofread your documents to reduce errors.
  • Skimping on your accomplishments – Connect the dots for the screener by clearly stating your achievements in previous roles and make a positive impression early in the hiring process. This can be done in both your cover letter and resume, but don’t be too repetitive between the two.

Job candidates should also know that some companies use software, not people, to vet resumes as they are received. Learn more about how this software examines resumes here.

What other tips do you have for catching the attention of resume screeners? Share in the comments.

Image credits: Pixabay.com.

Resume, cover letter, job interview, career, public relations, project management, Pencil Skirts & Punctuation, Laine Jaremey

Free career resources from the Toronto Public Library

“The best things in life are free.”

If you have a Toronto Public Library (TPL) card, this saying is true when it comes to ways to boost your career.

TPL provides access to helpful resources for searching for a job, refining your resume, and updating your skills and knowledge.

Career-related workshops

The fall 2017 edition of TPL’s What’s On publication lists some career and resume-focused sessions at library branches. They cover:

  • An introduction to LinkedIn
  • Job market opportunities
  • Resume writing and critiquing
  • Improving interview skills
  • Networking and job search tactics for newcomers to Canada

resources

Online education at lynda.com

LyndaTPL card holders have access to lynda.com for free. Lynda.com provides “over 3,500 video tutorial courses led by experts on web design, software development, photography, business skills, home and small office, project management, 3D + Animation, graphic design audio, music, video editing and more.” This perk gets you a Premium monthly membership, which has a value of $29.99 per month.

Completing courses at lynda.com can increase your knowledge of tasks you’re doing on-the-job or that you’re curious about, impress your boss, and boost your resume or LinkedIn profile.

Need a library card?

September is National Library Card Sign-Up Month, so there’s no better time to get or renew your card. Further to the TPL resources listed above, the other benefits of having a library card are numerous. You can get a TPL card if you live, work, go to school or own property in Toronto. Learn more about getting a card here.

Image credits: Laine Jaremey; Lynda.com.

Resume, cover letter, job interview, career, public relations, project management, Pencil Skirts & Punctuation, Laine Jaremey
Video

Stand out with these 3 traits

A resume can get your foot in the door when you’re looking for a job. But, oftentimes hiring managers want a new hire to fulfill criteria that can’t be expressed on paper. Why? These traits will help hiring managers ensure that the candidate will benefit the organization in ways that go beyond just fulfilling their role.

What are employers looking for when they hire someone new? Emily Heward, co-founder of branding agency Red Antler, explains the top things she looks for in the video from Inc.com, available here.

Screen Shot 2017-05-30 at 10.54.49 AM

What are the three traits she looks for?

  1. Enthusiasm about your industry, your work and the company
  2. The ability to ask thoughtful, challenging questions
  3. Kindness

You can demonstrate these traits to a potential employer in different ways. Try:

  • Before even applying for a job, consider scheduling an informational interview with someone at the organization
  • Carefully crafting a tailored cover letter (learn more about that here)
  • Mindfully conveying these traits in an interview
  • Sending a thank you email or hand-written note after an informational interview or formal interview

Do you agree with the top traits that Emily Heward suggests? What other ways could you express these traits? Please your thoughts in the comments.

Image credits: Pixabay.com; Inc.com.

Resume, cover letter, job interview, career, public relations, project management, Pencil Skirts & Punctuation, Laine Jaremey

When searching for a job, what’s in a name?

I recently heard about a new process in Canada’s federal government that will help reduce bias around who is contacted following a job application in an interview on Toronto’s Metro Morning.

Six federal departments are piloting a blind recruitment strategy with the goal of increasing equity and diversity in its workforce. This process will remove any identifying information like names and educational institutions from resumes and job applications.

Research on bias in the hiring process reveals the reason behind this project. A research report compiled by Ryerson University and the University of Toronto,  by Dr. Rupa Banerjee, an associate professor at Ryerson’s Ted Rogers School of Management, uncovered the extent to which these biases impact hiring decisions.

Dr. Banerjee reported that the study found that people with Asian-sounding names (such as Lei Xi or Hina Chaudhry) and Canadian education and work experience receive 42 per cent less call backs than people with Anglo-sounding names (like Greg Johnson or Emily Brown) and the same Canadian education and work experience.

While I was listening to the interview, I was curious about if researchers had pinpointed why some of the reasons why such biases exist. Dr. Banerjee explained that implicit bias enables people to make quick decisions (it’s important to note that she mentioned that biases don’t necessarily make someone racist). For example, in the study, bias might have impacted hiring managers’ assumptions around a candidate with an Asian-sounding name’s mastery of the English language and ability to assimilate with a workplace’s culture. In reality, we know these things aren’t necessarily linked.

The results of the Government of Canada’s pilot project will provide a recent, Canadian case study on a blind hiring strategy works. Ideally, the makeup of the staff in the six departments will become more diverse as the project goes on. Roles will be filled with the best possible candidates, no matter their names or backgrounds.

If this pilot is successful, I would hope that the practice of blind hiring will spill over to other federal government departments, levels of government, and even the private sector. This would result in the job application process being more fair and equitable for everyone.

What are your thoughts on this blind hiring pilot project?

Image credit: Besttemplates.com.

Resume, cover letter, job interview, career, public relations, project management, Pencil Skirts & Punctuation, Laine Jaremey

Why I admire this student’s “dating resume”

Your resume is a critical tool for a job search. It’s usually one of the first impressions of you that a potential employer gets, so it’s appearance, and each word, is important. No surprise here!

Based on resumes that I’ve seen – including my own – I assume that many professional resumes are in a traditional format. Resumes are traditionally documents that are text-heavy and black and white. Often, this style is the convention, and is expected by both job seekers and employers.

That’s why I was impressed when I saw this fun dating resume on Buzzfeed, which was created by Joey Adams, a 21-year-old student at Michigan State University.

5 Dating Resume JPEG

Here are a few reasons why:

He thought differently. Joey Adams applied his resume writing and design skills in a new and unique way – to get a date for formal.

The design is great! It is colourful, provides visual representations of information, and uses impactful headlines. If this were a professional resume, this creative, eye-catching layout would make this resume stand out amongst the resumes of competitors. Depending on the industry you’re in, for example, if you’re in a design or communications-focused industry, taking this type of approach to your resume would also showcase your skills in graphic design and layout.

He knows his target audience. The information in this “dating resume” is tailored to what a potential date might want to know about him. For example, he reports that he’s good at making small talk with parents, he’s skilled at replying to long texts, and he spends time on FaceTime with his mom. I would suspect that he thought critically about the sections and information that dates are interested in before embarking on designing the resume.

Try dipping your toe. You might not want to revamp your entire resume to look like Joey Adams’ “dating resume”. You may not have the design skills (learn more about boosting your skills here), this style may not be appropriate for your industry, or the necessary information in your resume might take up too much space to weave your information into visuals. That’s okay! But, why not try incorporating a few small visual elements into your resume? For example, in the “dating resume”, a small calendar icon and location pin are used under his job title (think emojis), descriptive icons are used in the list of things that make him “Moderately Interesting”, and he uses colour throughout. These simple concepts could be incorporated into a traditional resume to help differentiate it from others.

What do you think about this style of resume? Would you incorporate visual elements into your own professional resume?

Image credits: Pixabay.com; Buzzfeed.com.

Resume, cover letter, job interview, career, public relations, project management, Pencil Skirts & Punctuation, Laine Jaremey

Google your way to a new job

If you’re like me, you use Google to find out pretty much everything you want to know. But, Google probably hasn’t been your go-to for one of the most important types of searches you can do – a job search.

Well, there’s good news! Google has created Google for Jobs, which is a new product that can help people of all skill and experience levels find jobs.

Announced by Google in May, Google for Jobs will provide a new search feature that collects and organizes millions of jobs from all over the internet, making them easier to find.

I thought it was interesting that job search results can be refined, allowing the user to learn more about the specific qualities of jobs. For example, you can find jobs with full or part-time work, accessibility or public transit nearby.

Google for Jobs is being launched in the US first. Launches in other global regions – hopefully including Canada – will follow.

Will you try using Google for Jobs when it’s available in Canada?

Image credit: Google.

Resume, cover letter, job interview, career, public relations, project management, Pencil Skirts & Punctuation, Laine Jaremey

Should I start my career with an internship?

Internships are very topical right now. Last week, Bank of Canada head honcho Stephen Poloz recommended that unemployed young Canadians should take on unpaid internships to gain experience in their professional fields. The fact that top government officials accept that unpaid work is the only way to get ahead indicates that internships have become commonplace in today’s economy. Further, the competition to actually get an internship – paid or unpaid – is fierce.

Therefore, it doesn’t seem like internships will be going away anytime soon. From the job hunter’s perspective, an internship, paid or unpaid, is a means to an end. The ultimate goal of an internship is to put you in a more competitive position as you launch your career.

I had two internships in the early days of my career, both of which were paid or associated with an educational program. Although I was not paid great sums by any means, I had the benefit of living at home and also was a part-time server to help balance the books.

I’m of two minds when it comes to internships. First, I know from experience that taking on an intern role is one of the best ways to get a start in your career. Internships can provide some key benefits. For me, they were:

  • I learned how to cut it in a nine-to-five job and began to cultivate my professional identity
  • With broad exposure to many different activities, I learned in leaps and bounds about marketing, communications and advertising, and also determined what I liked to do
  • I made connections with smart and successful people, many of whom I’m still connected to today
  • I learned how to work with senior leadership and executives, including VPs and presidents
  • Having internships on my resume demonstrated I was eager to learn, willing to try new things and could take initiative

At the same time, it can be difficult to take on full-time unpaid work. Some ways to make an internship realistic include the following:

  • Plan ahead – To help save money before taking on an internship, I first took on full-time work outside of my career field so that I could squirrel away some savings.
  • Academic internships – An internship associated with an academic program can help you apply what’s learned in university or college. Your school may also help you find the internship, giving you a competitive edge in the job hunt.
  • Working part-time – Consider a combination of paid and unpaid roles while completing an internship. For example, being a server in the evenings or on weekends helped to supplement my income.

Do you have any other tips for making an internship role realistic? Share in the comments.

Image credit: Pixabay.com.