Applying for a new job often means revamping your resumé — this single page can be the difference between a call-back or silence from an employer.
And while how you format a resumé might depend on the career you’re looking for, there are standards you need to meet, regardless of where you’re applying, said Steve Rohr, a Toronto-based communications expert.
Getting the basics down
It might seem like a given, but spelling mistakes on a resumé is a common error that can be an immediate red flag to any recruiter, Rohr told hosts on Global News’ The Morning Show.
“You wouldn’t think it … but people don’t spellcheck,” he said. “We just get into our heads … and we don’t do the very basics.”
Writing and working on the same document for hours or days might cause you to miss small errors, which is why you should have a friend look it over before you submit it, said Rohr.
Be mindful of using a professional email address as well, explained Rohr.
An email address containing nicknames or jokes or gives away your political beliefs, could be an issue, according to a report by The Poynter Institute.
Hiring site TopResume conducted a study in 2018 and found employers were most irritated about spelling errors, missing contact information and unprofessional email addresses.
Rohr also recommends submitting your resumé in the format of a Microsoft Word document rather than in a portable document format (PDF) when applying to larger companies.
“Bigger companies use a software program that scans the resumés … this computer is matching words and phrases to the job description,” he said. “But it has a really hard time reading a PDF.”
At a smaller company, where the boss is doing the interview, it’s probably fine to submit a PDF, said Rohr.
Shorter is sweeter — especially for new grads
It can be tempting to pack as much as possible into a resumé. But a good rule of thumb to stick with is to never go over a page, said Rohr.
“We want to put everything … we think that everything in our life is so important. It is important, but not for the resumé,” he said.
Unless you’ve had a lengthy, storied career that spans decades, you don’t need to extend the resumé beyond a page, and that’s especially true for recent post-secondary graduates, said Rohr.
Ensuring you’re describing your skills clearly and straight to the point is also crucial, said career expert Susan Murray, chief research officer at the Business Excellence Institute, in a previous Global News report.
“Keep it in three to five bullets related to each role,” said Murray. “What does your LinkedIn say? What does your Twitter say? If you’re able to do it in a Twitter post, why can’t you do the same with a resumé?”
Be forthcoming about your accomplishments
While you shouldn’t lie or exaggerate, it’s important to explain thoroughly what you have achieved, and not leave out service industry work, he said.
“A lot of people leave out the really important ‘work-work’ jobs,” he said. But working at a coffee shop could show you have experience with customer service, representing a business and handling money, Rohr explained.
“It’s a work ethic. If you were going to school at the same time you were working, that shows me time management as well,” he said. “Don’t be afraid to put the work on your work resumé.”
For more information about crafting the perfect resume, watch Steve Rohr in the video above.
—With files from Global News’ Meghan Collie.