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 high five. You’re ready to go and email your application.
Wait! Before you hit send, do these five last minute resume checks to add that polish that will make the employer take notice:
Do you have an “objective statement” at the top section of your resume? You know, the one that says: “Experienced professional seeking meaningful employment in an organization that offers opportunities for growth and advancement”? If you do, you can go ahead and delete it.
Instead of the statement, you should have a professional summary instead. It should answer the question, “Who am I?” 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 will hold their attention and make them interested to read on.
And while you are on the top section of your resume you 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 to see 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’re job-hunting while at work.
- for outdated or unnecessary details. Examples are your career objective, mentioning “references available upon request”, listing hobbies, or adding a photo.
- that you have a clear and compelling professional summary.
- that your email address sounds professional.
Job description keywords
Did you use the same keywords from the job 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 overused 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. This is because we are too familiar with it (our brain fills in small details that are missing). Instead, ask a friend or your career coach to review it for you. If there’s 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 you have complete information. Be sure to check the headings to see 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 the correct years of service for each job.
- After going through the entire document, go through it again this time thinking like a recruiter. Is your resume interesting and relevant? Did you put the most important information in the top half of the document?
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, the reverse chronological order for your job experience or using – Job title/Company/Dates of employment – for each job. Following a consistent 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, if you have the 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 correct version of the documents to the email.
After you have done all of this, now is the time to give yourself that high five for real. You’ve done your best and have given it your all. All you need to do is wait to hear back from the employer. Good luck!
Article updated July 23, 2020.
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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