A Canadian recruiter will scan your resume for 6-7 seconds before deciding if they should read on or toss it in the trash.
Is your resume designed to stand out in those precious seconds to get you that job interview in person or through Skype?
We have reviewed 100s of resumes with new ones landing in our mailbox every other day from:
- New immigrants aspiring to be Canadians looking to break through that Canadian experience barrier.
- Fresh graduates eager to catch their first break into the workforce
- Canadians looking for a new opportunity in their careers
In this week’s post, we’ll cover the 5 biggest mistakes we commonly see in resumes that prevent you from getting a job in Canada – and how to correct them.
#1 Get rid of the objective statement
Many resumes we have seen today still have an objective statement – “I want to join a company where my skills are utilized…..I want to be in a challenging role…..I would like to work in a fast growth company…..” – Me-Me-Me-I-I-I
This opening statement is a turn-off to anyone reading it because it’s all about you. In Canada, if you want your resume to stand out, you have to present yourself as a problem solver to the reader. This means making your opening statement about their requirements, and not what you want.
A Canadian resume opens with a “Professional Summary”, which is a combination of hard skills and soft skills you possess that is tailored to what the job description asks for. If it’s in the job description, it’s a need the hiring manager has, and your summary shows that you can fill that need.
Here is where you’ll find more details of how to make this critical change to the top of your resume. It’s the first thing the recruiter sees, so you have to make sure you get it right.
#2 Don’t be an all-rounder
By now, you should know that a resume that is not customized to the job description is just asking to be rejected.
In Canada, employers are looking for specialists. If your resume portrays you as a jack of all trades and a master of none, you will be job searching for a corporate job for a long time.
For example, if you are applying for a job in the civil engineering industry, you will most likely be applying for one of these specific types of engineers in Canada.
We get it, you’ve accomplished a lot in your career.
But here’s the reality. The recruiter and the hiring manager does not care about the tasks in your resume don’t apply to the current job they have an opening for, at the resume reviewing stage.
You have a few seconds to convert that resume to an interview, why would you want to waste time and space covering a responsibility that is not asked for on the job description?
Use the job description as a map and customize your resume so that it only covers what’s being asked for now. You’ll get the chance to speak about the rest of your experience during the interview.
#3 Highlight your accomplishments
Canadian recruiters want proof!
If you are applying for an accounts receivables job, it’s not enough to state that you collected money from customers.
How much money did you collect? What was your monthly target and what percentage of your target did you meet? Were you awarded any bonuses for on-time collections?
If you are applying for a job as a project manager, don’t just state you handled projects on time and on budget and within scope.
How much budget were you handling? What was the average length of time of your projects? What percentage of scope creep did you prevent or maintain?
If you are a fresh graduate, and a school project is on your resume, how much time did it take? How many members were in your team? What were you graded on that project?
You may feel that education is your key selling point. While it is a significant personal accomplishment to you, in Canada, education is secondary to experience and accomplishments.
There are exceptions of course in certain regulated jobs where a professional certification or higher education is a hard requirement.
But for a corporate office job, the accomplishments from your professional experience carries more weight than your education.
Make sure your accomplishments shine in your resume because it’s the one thing that makes you different from your competition. Everyone else applying for the same job has the same laundry list of tasks as you do. What makes you different are the numbers behind those tasks. Use them!
#4 Fill the gaps
Canadian recruiters want to know what is the last thing you’ve done and when you did it.
You may have a recent gap in your resume for the following reasons:
– You’re a new immigrant looking for work
– You’ve had parenting responsibilities or other family care responsibilities
– You have graduated from school and looking for your first opportunity
– You were trying to make it as an entrepreneur
During this time, you may have done some volunteer or taken educational courses in Canada to learn a new skill or gain Canadian experience.
Call out those activities, as you would a regular job, in the experience section of your resume. Any activity, even volunteering, is appreciated in Canada, as long as that activity pertains to your professional industry.
If you don’t do this, the first thing the recruiter will see in those few seconds that they scan your resume is that your last job was several months ago and toss your resume aside.
Gaps can be your worst enemy if you don’t call them out explicitly. Why? Because if you don’t provide the reason explicitly, the recruiter or hiring manager will come up with the reason for you. And most likely, it’s not going to be a reason in your favor.
#5 Tie-breaker: Link to your online brand
Do you have a LinkedIn profile? That’s great, but so does everyone else. If you really want to stand out in Canada, creating your own online website and referencing it in your resume and cover letter. Worried you’re not techy enough to handle it? Don’t worry, it’s quite simple.
You can either use their built-in templates or if you have a creative eye, you can create it from scratch like I did – www.connelvalentineresume.com
There are tons of videos on YouTube that walk you through the process.
Canadian experience bothering you as a new immigrant? Most recruiters relate Canadian experience to your communications skills. If you have the stomach for it, create an introduction video for yourself and put it up on your site like I did over here. This will take care of any unconscious bias about your communications skills that a recruiter may have against you as a new immigrant.
As stated earlier, if you don’t explicitly take ownership of assumptions that recruiters will make about you, it will impede your job search in Canada.
From personal experience for the last job that I got, the hiring manager called me back after the interview and the first question he asked me was how I created my website because he wanted to create one for himself.
Time for a makeover
If you were concerned your resume was holding you back from your job in Canada, these 5 steps will make a big difference.
Now that you’ve got the basics down, the next step is to make sure your content is sound.
The biggest mistake new job seekers make on their résumé is they make it read like a job description.
They get in front of their computer, brainstorm the most common tasks and responsibilities they did in their last/current job, and pour it out on their résumé.
This does not help you stand out, which does not impress a Canadian recruiter, and your résumé gets tossed aside.
Another mistake, new job seekers make the mistaken assumption that what they did in their last job(s) is what their new employer needs the most.
If you want to learn more about how to spice up the content of your résumé, check out our online course: How To Create The Perfect Canadian Résumé
Watch as your response rate to job applications shoots up after these changes, and you’ll be getting those call backs for interviews.