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How to simplify and streamline your resume to stand out to employers

Posted by Rowan O'Grady, Hays Canada President on Thursday, Apr 27, 2017

Hays Blog: Simplify your resumes to get employer interestAs an experienced professional you have lots of work experience, and you want to make sure any potential employer knows about it. So now you’ve got a four page resume that few employers are reading to the end. While some industries expect long resumes, for most job-seekers I suggest keeping it to less than two pages – and the most important information should be on the front page.

So how can you shorten your resume to make sure employers are impressed by your experience, not overwhelmed by it? Here’s how to improve your CV so you can get the job and career you want.

Be ruthless
A hiring manager wants to know what you can bring to the role so start by eliminating any information that just isn’t relevant. Look at the job ad or description you’re interested in and highlight the key skills and attributes required. Now look through your career history. Have you used up valuable space describing skills, attributes and responsibilities from years ago, that don’t match up to the role in question? If so, take them out.

There’s also no need to include your early education, or first jobs on your CV. Always bear in mind that you need to ensure your resume is as current as possible, not harking back to the distant past when you were a different person with comparatively less to offer.

Write your resume with your target in mind
Now that you have only the most relevant information on your resume, it’s time to make sure it stands out as much as possible to the recruiter.  As a senior-level job seeker, it is vital that you write your resume with your target in-mind, and not bombard the reader with everything you have ever done.  You run the risk that may bury the most pertinent information and will lead the reader to lose interest quickly.

Follow the below steps  in order to group all of your key achievements, highlights and attributes in the most visible place, ideally on the first page of your resume.

1. Contact details:
Along with your name and contact details, I recommend you provide a link to your online portfolio or LinkedIn profile (If you choose to do this, you must ensure your LinkedIn profile and resume match up in terms of dates and job titles). This way, the recruiter can find out more information if necessary and access examples of your work.

2. Personal statement:
What really needs to stand out here is your USP – what is your value proposition? Why should the recruiter or hiring manager read on? What can you bring the company that no other candidate can? Talk directly to the reader here.

You could also use this section to summarize relevant and notable achievements you’ve had throughout your career. For instance if applying for a Marketing Director position, you would mention the time you increased revenue at a specific company by X value, by implementing a campaign which involved  Y and Z. Give the reader numbers and hard facts. This is great way to highlight any achievements which didn’t necessarily take place within your most recent role, in a more prominent position on your resume.

3. Skills:
List your principal areas of expertise in the form of bullet points. Use the opportunity to condense any information that is most relevant to the role, but not deserving of a whole paragraph. Perhaps try formatting these to the side of your resume, so as not to take up too much valuable room in the body of the resume.

4. Career history:
List your career history in reverse chronological order, listing your most current role at the top. Provide the most information about your current or most current role, and give less information the further you go back in your career history. If a previous job was completely irrelevant to the role you are applying for, but you want avoid any gaps on your resume, simply list your job title, dates and the company you worked for. This will save you space on your resume, whilst providing top-line information.

5. Simplify your language and format:
Don’t use ten words to say something you could say in five. Get to the point in a way that is easy for the reader to understand and quickly makes an impact. Use action verbs as much as possible. Avoid blocks of copy – this will deter the reader – your resume needs to be easy to read and easy to follow, no matter how much experience you have. Also avoid company specific terminology that won’t translate to the reader. Lastly, proof read, proof read, proof read – you will instantly lose credibility if your resume is littered with spelling and grammatical errors. You are simply too experienced to be making these sort of simple mistakes.

Ultimately, your resume is your sales document. As an experienced professional, you must ensure it is pitched at the right level and showcases your offering, as it stands today, not ten years ago.

Follow the above advice in order to streamline your resume and effectively emphasize your many years of experience succinctly and in a way that does your skills and experience justice.

There are lots of job-specific resources available as well, such as the Canadian Payroll Association's career advice webinars, so make the most of any associations or industry groups you know of.

Looking for more career advice? Whether it’s interview tips, salary negotiations, or knowing what your peers are earning, Hays has the expert advice you need.

Now that you know how to improve your resume, contact a local recruiter to find your perfect role, or search current opportunities.

Talk to Rowan O'Grady, Hays Canada President, on the Canadian labour market.

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