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10 Resume Tips to Help Your Experience Stand Out

Your resume Professional Experience is the most important part of your resume. This is the section where you can shine and show off all your talents and experience.  

1.  LAYOUT

Keep the layout simple and easy to read. No Logos, No Boxes. Emoticons and clipart are not needed on your resume, they’re just clutter. If you are a graphic designer, then put those in your portfolio. Dates, Company Name, Location, Title, Detail. Repeat.

2.  SECTION TITLE

It's your PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE. You are a professional at what you do. Name the section that way. It's not "work experience".

3.  COMPANY NAME

You want people to know who you work or worked for. Putting down MGS will only be helpful for people who work in the government. If you want to use initials, then put in the name as well "MGS - Ministry of Government Services". TD - Toronto Dominion Bank. IBM is okay as IBM. Hiring Managers, Recruiters and ATS systems search on specific words. Those words may relate to a specific company, like banks, ministries, etc. Use Title Structure for your company name - i.e. capitalize each word and underline. If the company is obscure or in a different country, then putting in a 2 line write up is very helpful. 2 lines explaining what the company does, specifically industry:

"A telecom company, employing 15,000 people specializing in _____”

Start Date and Company Name are on the first line.

4.  LOCATION

City, Province, or City, State is all that is necessary. If your jobs are not in Canada or the US then you can just put down the country, i.e. United Kingdom, India, etc. 

End date and Location are on the 2nd line.

5.  TITLE

The all important "what are you" title. ALL CAPS so that it stands out. Your title should be an industry appropriate name.
Make it find-able for search strings and ATS systems. SENIOR PROGRAMMER ANALYST will tell everyone what you are, HEAD JEDI is a cute funky name, and within a company can be fun but will not be found doing a search.

6.  DESCRIPTION

Duties and Responsibilities are the same thing. The key is to make sure you aren't copying down the job description. You want to put in point form the details of what you actually do on a day to day basis. The important ones, not every little detail. Start every point off with an action word, "Updated, Implemented, Created". Don't start sentences off with an "I", instead you should be using the action word. Don't put in the heading "Duties or Responsibilities" just start off with the points (or if needed the 2-sentence company introduction as mentioned above followed by your points). Don't overdo the points, 5 to 10 at the most.  

Follow the duties/responsibilities with your actual ACHIEVEMENTS. Put a heading down for your achievements after your last point. Then list your achievements. 

 "Designed and implemented the company's new webpage on schedule using ____".

7.  DATES

Start date and end date, use actual month not the number, i.e. January 2000. I put the start date on the same line as the Company name with the end date on the same line as the company location. This way the job title stands out by itself. 

8. WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOU HAVE HAD MORE THAN ONE POSITION IN A COMPANY?

Your first heading shows your original start and end dates. This allows the hiring manager/recruiter to see your length of service with the company. Beside your title put your service dates for each position. The first position should be your most recent position.  

For each following position instead of putting down the company name use "Same Company". Again this helps to show longevity within the company.  

 

9.  SELF EMPLOYED VS PERMANENT POSITIONS

If you are a professional contractor then we group all your clients, projects, companies under a blanket heading of Self-Employed. Contractors can have a ton of short engagements, if they are all listed with dates down the side, first glance can make you look like you change jobs a lot. As you can see in the example below grouping them leaves no room for judgement. You are a professional contractor.

 

10.  BE ACCURATE

Don't embellish, exaggerate or LIE. When your references are called, they will be asked details from your resume. Did he/she do this? The last thing you want is your reference being put in a position to lie about what you did.  


Job Hunting Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them

For every person who wakes up one day to a recruiting call for a perfect job, there are 100 people who must pound the sidewalk/internet for openings. Job Hunting has changed dramatically since the introduction of the internet, 30 years ago you did pound the pavement. You had 1 to 200 copies of your resumes in envelopes and you basically went and knocked on doors. "Do you have any openings?", "Here's my resume just in case something comes up". Networking was still important only it was done by word of mouth. "Jimmy's daughter is looking for a job" was a refrain through the workplace, clubs and soccer pitches. And yes my first job came from my dad's friend's girlfriend who worked for Ontario Hydro. Lucky Me!

Job Hunting might be the hardest job you ever do. You want to find the perfect job. You want to be fussy. There are 2 categories of Job Hunters and depending on which category you are can make the hunt more or less stressful.

You already have a job:

Needless to say, if you are the job hunter who already has a job but is looking for a change or upgrade, the stress you have you are putting on yourself. Maybe you don't like your boss or your job. Yes, it is time to move on, looking for a job while you have a job is still the best scenario. Because you aren't behind the 8 ball, you can wait for the perfect position. Hiring Managers will have to make you a competing offer.

YOU DON'T HAVE A JOB:

Other than maternity leaves or going back to school, being out of a job for any length of time can make that climb back into the workforce extremely difficult. Employers start to wonder why no one else has hired you.

FOR BOTH SCENARIOS DON'T FALL INTO THESE PITFALLS:

Getting discouraged is inevitable but try to focus on the positive. Negativity will come across in your interviews. Treat each interview as a learning experience.

Don't take rejection as a negative, it's not that they don't like you, it might just be that the other candidate had something extra to offer. Ask for feedback. What do you need to do to move forward with this company? If this position isn't for you ask about other openings in the company. Keep in touch with the Interviewer and Hiring Manager.

Try not to apply to every job on every job board. Chances are if you are interviewed for a job you don't want, you won't present well in the interview. Interviewing for jobs you want will make you more positive and exuberant about the position.

Don't try and trick the systems by applying to the same job with different emails and changing your name around. Yes, people do that. It clutters up databases and can make you appear desperate.

Networking still works. It can be embarrassing to be out of work, your first reaction can be to hide your unemployment. Some companies give their employees bonuses for referrals. People like helping people, let them. Even just a referral to their recruiter will help you get the door open and pass the 1000's of resumes that recruiters receive in their inboxes. Don't hide. Put it up on LinkedIn, mention it to the parents at your child's hockey game, everyone knows someone who knows someone. You never know where your break will come.

Forget that times change. Systems are updated, there are new languages. You may just have to bite the bullet and go back to school or upgrade those certifications. If you have been out of work for a while, be prepared to lower your expectations both re salary and management positions.

Highlight your achievements when job hunting. Looking back on your career, pick out the key times when you really made a difference. Duties are boring, make your career a story that people want to read and add a chapter too.

Keep in mind there are some great resources out there for job hunters, from government programs to internships to using a professional recruiter. Take advantage of their expertise and remain positive your door will open.