You’ve read and followed a dozen tips to make your Canadian style resume. You’ve tailored it and made sure that your skills, education and impressive achievements will be hard to miss. You’re thinking: even I would hire myself and give yourself a (mental) high five. You’re now eager to draft your email and send your application.
Wait! Before you hit send, do these five steps to ensure that your resume will have that added polish to make the employer take notice:
5 last minute resume checks
Do you have an “objective statement” at the top section of your resume? You know, the one that sounds like this: “Experienced professional seeking meaningful employment in an organization that offers opportunities for growth and advancement”?
If you still have this section, it’s time to replace it with a career statement or professional summary. This answers the question “Who am I?” You can use a simple statement like: “Marketing professional with proven skills in lead generation and promotion for corporations in the insurance and investment industries.” Or “Warehouse supervisor with more than 10 years of management and training experience. XX Certification holder and skilled at coaching staff.”
You will notice that a professional summary is more effective than an objective statement because it immediately tells the employer what you are capable of and what you can offer. This can hold their attention better and make them more interested to read on.
While you are on the top section of your resume, might as well double check if your name and contact details are error-free. This is such a no-brainer but sometimes we trip up on the simplest details. Check if you included links to your LinkedIn profile, personal website or blog (if you have). If it’s relevant to your job (for communications specialists or social media/marketing professionals for example), add links to your social media profile (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, etc.) too.
You should check:
- Your name, contact details, necessary links (and if they’re working).
- That you used your personal phone number and email address. Don’t use contact details from your current employer. This will give recruiters the impression that you are job-hunting while at work.
- There are no outdated or unnecessary details like career objective, “references available upon request”, hobbies, or photos.
- You have a clear and compelling professional summary.
- Your email address sounds professional.
Job description keywords
Did you use the same keywords from the job description in the want ad? Using the same keywords is the best way to tailor your resume to fit the recruiter’s requirements. Also, since most employers use Applicant Tracking Systems and quick scans, it increases the chances that your resume will be picked out from the pile.
You should check:
- Your career statement – Did you describe yourself as a perfect fit and meeting the most important requirements in the job ad?
- Your top job experience – Does your listed skills sound similar and use the same terms as the job description in the want ad?
- Do you have a “Skills” section to highlight your top skills and match it with the keywords in the job ad?
- Did you use strong verbs to describe your job experience?
- Did you stay away from using trite buzzwords like hard working, proactive, dynamic?
Proofreading is a step you should never miss! HR professionals warn that resumes with misspelled words and grammatical errors are sure to land in the wastebasket. However, you may not be the best person to proofread your document. Most of us are prone to passing over some details when checking our own work because we are too familiar with it. Instead, ask a friend or your career coach to review it for you. But if there’s absolutely nobody else who can do it for you, at least let your resume rest for one to two days before you go back to it. This will allow you to proofread with fresh eyes.
You should check:
- Each section to see if all the information is complete. Be sure to check the headings if they are spelled and formatted correctly.
- Check spelling, punctuation, grammar and tenses (for example, use past tense for describing tasks you did in your previous job/s and present tense for describing tasks in your current job if you are presently employed) and correct years of service for each job.
- After going through and correcting the entire document, go through it again this time thinking like the recruiter. Are all the important information in the top half of the document? Is your resume interesting and relevant?
Consistency and white space
To make your resume polished and easy to read, it should have a consistent format and enough white space. Format refers to how your information is arranged. For example, using the reverse chronological order for listing down your job experience. Or using the order: Job title/Company/Dates of employment for each job. Following one format throughout the document will make it easy to read.
You should check:
- That your resume is a maximum of two pages.
- Consistent use of font type and size (choose a simple, easy to read and professional-looking font, preferably 10-12 pts.)
- Strategic use of boldface, capitals and italics to make important points easy to find. Be careful not to over use them!
- Proper spacing and consistent margins all around. Your document should not look crowded.
One of the biggest pet peeves of HR professionals is when applicants don’t follow application directions. The instructions are there to make it easier for employers to find and process your application. Remember, they have to go through hundreds (if not thousands) of applications per position.
If the job ad has no specific rules about file names, make yours easily recognizable and simple. For example: Maria_Tan_Resume and match your cover letter file name to it Maria_Tan_Cover Letter. This will make it easier for anyone to retrieve your files. Lastly, and this is important: Make sure to revisit the job ad and read the instructions again before sending your application.
You should check:
- If you’re sending your application to the right person, using their proper job title, and the right email address.
- If you followed all the emailing directions, for example: the subject line, required file format, maximum file size, etc.
- If you properly named you file.
- That you’ve attached the right version of the documents to the email.
Now is the time to give yourself that high five for real. You’ve done your best and have given it your all. Now all you need to do is wait to hear back from the employer. Good luck!
Sources: 10 worst resume mistakes to avoid, Peter Vogt, Monster; Last minute checks before submitting a resume, Erin Bazinet, John Leonard blog; and 7 things to remove from your resume ASAP, Jenny Foss, the muse. Accessed November 14, 2019.
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