November 30, 2015
Traps and Challenges
Whether you use a combination or chronological resume, the following content areas may present some challenges or traps for you:
Be selective about the resume headings you choose because they can influence whether you get in for an interview.
Avoid using a job target that sounds like this:
“To obtain a challenging position with a progressive company that will allow me to grow and develop my analytical and problem-solving skills.”
Your purpose as the job-seeker is to persuade the employer that you have something unique and valuable to offer. Instead, this statement describes what the employer can do for you. Explain why you are interested in the job in your cover letter.
“Work History” and “Work Experience.”
These headings may not support the image you wish to create. You want to choose words that convey your professionalism, your expertise, your maturity, and experience.
“Work experience” is a term used for unpaid job placements that provide students with the chance to apply classroom knowledge and develop skills on the job. Your paid employment should not be confused with this.
Information that converts the chronological resume to a combination resume comes under such headings as: “Accomplishments,” “Results,” “Areas of Effectiveness,” “Strengths,” or “Capabilities.”
These headings should be used at the beginning of your resume, immediately following your name and address. That’s because the reader almost always wants to see your education and experience first for screening purposes and expects to find them at the top. Use that spot to emphasize your strengths or accomplishments.
Give the reader a good idea of how you function and what he or she would be getting if they were to select you. To do this, you need to clarify your skill strengths. Think about how you can accomplish your work despite the challenges that invariably arise.
If you have taken numerous seminars and workshops, listing each of them will take too much space. Instead, combine your training under the heading “Education and Development.”
List first your most recent formal education. If you have a degree, diploma or certificate, it is not necessary to list your Grade 12, as one can assume it is a prerequisite to having a high school diploma for post-secondary credentials.
Next, you might use a statement such as “Extensive workshops and seminars on computer skills, leadership, and supervision including ….” Highlighting one or two that are particularly relevant to the reader. Follow with: “Complete list of courses available on request.”
Community Involvements and Volunteer Activities
Increased voluntarism is a significant trend. Job applicants still question whether it is appropriate to include volunteer background on a resume.
Eliminating this information can cost you the job. Many companies have a strong commitment to active participation in the community and actively encourage employees to follow suit.
People seeking promotion to supervisory positions without formal or paid experience as supervisors can illustrate such experience in their volunteer roles. Coaching softball or hockey, leading Girl Guides, organizing major fund-raising events, recruiting, training and coordinating volunteers for a church project are all relevant experience and illustrate your transferable skills.
Under human rights legislation, you are not required to provide your past or present involvement with organizations. It may not be in your best interests to say that your leadership development came as a result of your membership in a particular religious or political group. Use your judgment.
It is not necessary to list dates of these involvements.
Leisure or Recreational Interests
There is still considerable confusion whether to include this item in the resume. You could include it for several reasons:
It gives the reader a glimpse of you as a whole person, not just your professional self.
➔ It supplies information that may help the prospective employer to make small talk at the outset of the interview.
➔ It indicates that you maintain a balanced lifestyle and recognize the need for recreation and diversion.
➔ Your recreational and leisure interests may involve knowledge and skills relevant to the job application.
➔ Limit the space you devote to this section to two or three lines.
➔ Use a heading and immediately underneath it list your activities across the page, separating them by commas or semi-colons.
It is common today for job applicants to state in one line towards the end of the resume: “References available upon request.”
There are reasons for taking this approach. By not providing reference names in your resume you control access to information about your past performance until after your interview. The interviewers are not likely to be biased by a pre-interview reference.
Secondly, a page of reference names adds to the length of your resume and the cost of mailing it out. It is imperative, however, to consider who your references will be. There should be five to seven of them on your list, and they should be academic or employment-related. When you submit your list of references, include their names and phone numbers, the organizations they represent, and their relationship to you (immediate supervisor, client, etc.). It is also a good idea and a basic courtesy to get agreement from your references before you use their names.
Astute interviewers do not rely on reference letters. So it is not recommended that you send your references with your resume. Use your judgment here. You may have one that is particularly relevant that you want to include. For example, a reference letter could work in your favor if you had lost your previous job due to company merger, downsizing or bankruptcy. In this case a letter of reference which also confirms the reason termination can be very worthwhile.
Increasingly, interviewers ask for a variety of references. They may want references from peers, customers, subordinates or supervisors. Take the lead and supply some of these, when requested.
If you’re not sure what else to add to your resume, check with a counselor or other professional. A simple rule of thumb is to ask yourself: “Will this increase my chances of being considered!” Some examples would be:
Under human rights legislation, you’re not required to reveal that you speak another language. However, that skill could be the asset that sets you apart from other applicants. Employees who can interpret verbal or written communication in other languages are an asset to organizations that provide customer service. As the saying goes, if you’ve got it, flaunt it!
If the career ad emphasizes the need for professional membership or a particular skill such as driving, be sure to confirm that you meet those requirements in the resume and the covering letter.
If you feel by your research, it would be to your advantage to indicate your immediate availability, or your willingness to travel or relocate, do so. Mention this in your resume or your covering letter, or both.
Selling yourself is what job search is all about. To be a good salesperson, you must know your product, and you must be prepared to promote it. If you’re like most people, self-promotion may not come quickly to you.
To enhance your “sales” skills, you must:
1. Know your strengths by:
➔ doing skills inventories
➔ analyzing past achievements
➔ listing job-related contributions
2. Review your strengths in written format.
3. Talk about your strengths and accomplishments to friends, relatives, employment counselors — and yourself (through daily affirmations).
4. Add your strengths to your covering letter and resume.
5. Incorporate these selling points into your script for networking and cold calling.
TIP: Do not leave your strengths and accomplishments to the end of your resume where they may be overlooked.
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