Job Search

6 job search mistakes

6 job search mistakes you must stop making right now

If you’re struggling through a long and fruitless job search, you need to stop doing what you’re doing right now.

Chances are, your job-search strategy is the same as it was a month ago, three months ago, six months ago, yet here you are, beating a dead horse.

Consider this: what you’re doing isn’t working. Could it be you’re making one (or more) of these 6 mistakes?

1. Spraying your resume all over the internet

Recently a client visited my office to discuss job search strategy. Barely ten minutes in, I felt I’d been drawn into some weird game of whack-a-mole.

As we trolled job boards looking at postings (against my better judgement) she appeared to take some perverse pleasure in repeatedly blurting, “I applied for that one…and that one, and that one…” Finally, exasperated, she exclaimed “I sent out 200 resumes last week!””

Ding, ding, ding! Give the lady a cupie doll! In the game of job search, this player is hands-down the big winner in the resume-spraying category!

It is a sadly misguiding myth that if you send out enough resumes one is bound to eventually stick somewhere.

It doesn’t work that way. I’m not sure it ever has. So listen up.

The trick to winning the job search game is not waterboarding. The trick to winning the job search game is dripping.

Put away the super soaker and whip out your squirt gun. The idea is to drip out a few highly-customized resumes per day.

You’ll feel far more productive and optimistic in your job search when you’re dripping out just two or three customized resumes a day that you know have a decent shot at being read.

Customized means your resumes are both ATS-friendly and human-friendly. ATS-friendly means you used the job posting’s keywords and phrases to make it a good match for the role.

Human-friendly means you used descriptive language to provide useful and meaningful information for the human reader.

It is enormously more effective to customize and submit a couple of resumes each day than to waste time trolling job boards aimlessly, uploading countless generic resumes that probably won’t even make it into the ATS.

Less is more. When you stop spraying your resume all over the Internet and start dripping out a few customized resumes and cover letters a day, you’ll not only feel more productive in your job search, but you will be more productive. You will start to get some interview calls.

2. Sending out generic resumes


By whatever name… a basic resume, a standard resume, or a general resume, it is the one-and-only job-search document many rely on to compete against hundreds for any and all job opportunities they happen to stumble upon.

From cashier to production worker to sales associate, off goes the same generic resume.

Job competition is brutal. Your resume is competing with hundreds more now than it ever has, and trust me, at least ten of your competitors will send in very well-customized resumes that match the job requirements nicely.

Hell, if even only one of your competitors sends in a customized resume, that one customized resume beats out your generic resume every time.

Here’s the biggie:

Generic resumes seldom make it through the ATS.

Only the absolute best-matching resumes get pulled into the ATS, where eventually, a hiring decision-maker comes along to read them.

It’s very important to understand that as long as you’re uploading resumes through job boards’ APPLY buttons, it is the ATS, a robot, that decides whose resumes get seen by a human and whose don’t.

(If you’re not too sure what an ATS is and does, take a quick break here and go read this.)

Generic resumes please neither the ATS nor the human reader. On the rare occasion applicant’s resumes might go directly to a hiring manager via email, it takes that person an average six seconds to recognize a generic resume, and to toss it.

Remember. Competition. Many applicants are sending in customized resumes. No one needs to waste time looking at generic resumes.

3. Applying for jobs you’re not qualified for


Preparing the Q & A for a client, I asked if she had the Office Administration Diploma the job posting asked for. Her reply was: “Oh, no I don’t. I didn’t see that in the ad.”

This is the biggest mistake I see job-seekers making….Not Reading the Job Posting. Some don’t even get past the job title.

It’s like, Office Manager? Hell yeah, I can answer phones and type. And off goes the generic resume without so much as a glance at the posting’s requirements and qualifications.

I wish I knew why people don’t read job postings. It mystifies me. Why would anyone waste their time and effort sending in a resume for a job they don’t even know if they’re qualified to do?

Qualifications are the most important thing to an employer. Employers list qualifications in their job postings to tell applicants, “These are the must-haves to be considered for this position.“

Those must-haves get programmed into the ATS. The ATS searches resumes for those must-haves…the specific words and phrases the employer used in the job posting. When the ATS finds resumes containing the must-haves, it moves those resumes on to be read by a human.

Everything else gets vaporized.

If you’re not reading job postings thoroughly, or, if you are reading them and somehow convincing yourself you might have a shot even though you meet none (or few) of the qualifications, you’re your own worst enemy.

4. Limiting your job search to online postings


We’ve all heard about the “hidden job market”, which apparently accounts for 80% of the available jobs out there. I don’t know about you, but the prospect of learning all the ins and outs of discovering where these secret jobs are hiding makes me want to reach for the remote with one hand a six pack with the other.

Rather than seek the key to unlocking the mysterious hidden job market, let’s discuss an effective alternative to uploading resumes to job boards.

The official term is “networking”.

I can hear the groans, but hang on.

I’m not talking about formal, professional networking.

Instead, what about casual, and/or in-person networking? With friends, family, neighbors, your hair stylist, your mechanic, your kids’ teachers…essentially anyone you engage with face-to-face, no matter how infrequently.

You might be surprised how often opportunities come up to hear about a potential job opportunity.

You never know when you might strike up a conversation with someone who happens to know of positions soon opening up at his company, or his wife’s company, or his Dad’s company.

Maybe your neighbor’s vet happened to mention their clinic is looking to hire next month.

Or, your grocery cashier’s brother is looking to fill a few positions at his start-up in November.

Casual conversations can be as effective as formal networking toward getting a lead on a job or the name of a hiring manager or an influencer.

It is kind of tapping the hidden job market…learning about potential job opportunities before they’re advertised.

Here’s a hot tip: carry business cards and hand them out like candy. You can make 100 cards at VistaPrint or Zoom Printing for about 20 bucks.

Casual networking can be a surprisingly effective method to getting leads and, if you’re lucky, an occasional referral.

Referrals are fantastic to get! When you can name-drop in your cover letter, you’re miles ahead of the competition.

5. Ignoring LinkedIn


I barely know where to start when it comes to how incredibly useful LinkedIn can be in your job search.

If you’re in a serious job-search, I urge you to get acquainted with LinkedIn.

I’m linking this video: The Right Way to Network on LinkedIn by Cass Thompson, Career Advisor, because she’s fun and amazing and her videos are fantastic!

For those not planning to discover and use LinkedIn’s robust set of job-search and networking features, that’s okay.

You can send messages to connect with the right people at the company you want to work with. A quick message to the right person can go a long way to eventually get you in front of either a hiring decision-maker or a hiring influencer.

You need a LinkedIn profile to use any of LinkedIn’s features, no matter how basic, and it’s not a hard thing to do. There are hundreds of tutorials out there to help you quickly develop your LinkedIn profile. Oh look, here’s one now!

6. Failing to send a cover letter


When you’re competing with hundreds, what gets you into the top ten?
What makes you better than the next guy?

When 300 resumes all look the same, give or take, how do you make yours stand out? How do you convey your unique value proposition to the person reading your resume?

You write them a cover letter.
Your cover letter is your golden ticket…that extra little bit that tells the recruiter why you’re better than the rest.

Your cover letter gives you an exponentially greater chance of competing, and here’s an encouraging bit of news: about half of applicants don’t bother to send in a cover letter, even when the job posting asks for one.

Recruiters and hiring managers aren’t known for their empathy. Also, they are the busiest people on the planet. They look for reasons to reduce the number of resumes they’ll eventually have to read, and those unaccompanied by a requested cover letter may be the first to get axed.

So, right off the bat, half of your competition will almost certainly be eliminated simply by failing to follow instruction.

Sending in a cover letter strengthens your competitive position tremendously.

Here’s everything you need to know to write a compelling cover letter: How to Write a Cover Letter with 13 Examples You Can Use.

Job-searching is time-consuming. When you consider the time it takes to customize each and every resume and cover letter you send out, yeah, for sure, that takes time.

So does developing an impressive LinkedIn profile, and researching the companies you want to work at, and networking to get an “in”. But what’s the alternative?

Trolling online job boards and firing-off 5 or 10 generic resumes a day for jobs you’re not qualified for?

That’s not an alternative. It’s employment suicide.

Job searching can be discouraging, frustrating, and __________ …you fill in the blank. There’s no easy-to-follow formula.

But if you eliminate the tactics you know don’t work, and replace them with effective actions – proven effective actions – that do work, you will start to see progress and, ultimately, results.

terri at resumepro

Terri is an expert resume-writer and a pretty good job-search coach. During her 30 years in the conventional work force, Terri was fired from 11 jobs, got laid off from 2 jobs, quit 3 jobs, sued 1 employer (successfully), made another cry, and wrote over 100 resumes for herself alone! Since embracing the good old “take this job and shove it” attitude, Terri decided to put all of her shitty “workin’ for the man” experiences and life-lessons to good use, and thus was born www.goresumepro.ca/blog. Enjoy!

Woman wearing face mask waiting for job interview

How to Get a Job During the Corona Pandemic

If you’re unemployed and need to get back to work, you’re probably feeling a sense of urgency. Getting a job during the corona pandemic isn’t really harder than it was before the outbreak, but it’s a different process getting there.

Here are a few things you can do to maximize your job-search efforts, and, maybe even get an interview!

Getting a job is a job in itself

Make job-searching your unpaid full-time job. Take it seriously. Get up early, shower, dress, and head to your job. Right now, your job is looking for a job. That means being on your computer or phone several hours a day.

Claim a space in your home and dedicate it to your uninterrupted job search. Take job-searching seriously and treat it like a job. You might be surprised how quickly you can get yourself back into a paying job.

No man is an island

Talk to people. I won’t use the N word (networking) because I personally don’t like getting out there and talking to a bunch of people about my professional self. But it’s something you need to do to tap into the hidden job market. I know, I know – very cliche, but very true.

The hidden job market is alive and well. Get on your phone and talk to people – the right people. This can be friends, family, old coworkers, old bosses….make a couple of calls everyday. Above all, talk to reputable recruiters. Get a few professional recruiters who know what they’re doing in your pipeline.

Squirm but adapt

Push yourself out of your professional comfort zone. So you’re an airplane mechanic – great, but maybe you’ll have to sit on your phone doing customer service for Telus or someone. It’ll be only temporary, so don’t sweat it. You’ll know how far out of your comfort zone you’ll have to go once you identify the growth industries who are hiring.

Check out this list of who’s hiring.

This is one of the things you do in a serious job-search – find out where the jobs are. If it’s an industry you’ve never worked in before, go look at my article, 3 Tips for Landing a Job Interview (in an industry you’ve never worked in).

There are a few ways to get yourself into a job during the corona pandemic.

There’s always the “in the right place at the right time” good fortune, but these days, job opportunities aren’t really falling from the sky.

It’s going to take a combination of networking, which is really just talking to people, and a G.D. amazing resume that’s going to make the employer or recruiter say, “Why the hell isn’t this guy working here already!”

Do 1, 2, 3, above and grab your free copy of:

HOW TO WRITE A KILLER RESUME!

You’ll be back to work in no time.

how to write a killer resume

Get Free e-Books
& Expert Advice on:


  • Resume-Writing
  • Cover Letters
  • Job Search & More!


Subscribe to get once-a-month expert advice and job-search tips delivered right to your inbox!

terri at resumepro

Terri is an expert resume-writer and a pretty good job coach. During her 30 years in the conventional work force, Terri was fired from 11 jobs, got laid off from 2 jobs, quit 3 jobs, sued 1 employer (successfully), made another cry, and wrote over 100 resumes for herself alone! Since embracing the good old “take this job and shove it” attitude, Terri decided to put all of her shitty “workin’ for the man” experiences and life-lessons to good use, and thus was born www.goresumepro.ca/blog. Enjoy!

how to write a cover letter

How to write a cover letter – with 13 examples you can use

Not too sure how to write a cover letter? You’re definitely not alone. On average, half of job applicants don’t send cover letters with their resumes, even when the job posting asks for one.

Some recruiters overlook the absence of a cover letter when the resume is phenomenal on its own, but many say it’s a sign applicants either can’t follow simple instruction, or can’t be bothered to put in the effort. Either way, that’s not the first impression you want to make on a recruiter.

But before you sit down to bang out a cookie-cutter letter starting with an introduction to yourself, an expression of your interest and excitement for the position, or your opinion you’d be a valuable asset to the company, take a second to consider what recruiters and hiring managers actually look for in cover letters.

First and foremost, they look for the qualifications and accomplishments that make the applicant a good candidate for the position. Second, they look for effective communication and writing skills, and last – dead last – they look for a glimpse into the applicant’s personality.

Above all, recruiters, hiring managers, and employers look for a reason to keep reading.

Starting your cover letter with an introduction, a thank you, or an expression of enthusiasm may seem the polite thing to do, but writing an effective cover letter isn’t an exercise in etiquette.

Recruiters are some of the busiest people on the planet. They read hundreds of resumes and cover letters every week looking for qualified candidates who can quickly and concisely describe how they meet the employer’s requirements. While recruiters appreciate you want to show your gratitude and enthusiasm, they’d prefer you skip the niceties and launch out of the gate strong with meaningful information they can use.

Use an employee referral to open strong

An employee referral might drop in your lap, but more likely, it’ll take a bit of legwork to get one. Either way, when you can get one, use it. A referral is the strongest way to open your cover letter.

Typically, a referral is someone who contacts you to say, “The company I’m at is looking for a _______; I think you’d be great for it, you should apply.” It may be a former coworker, a friend, or someone you’ve established a connection with through your networking efforts.

To the employer, however, it’s someone they know and trust who knows you and your talent and thinks you’d be great for the role. To the recruiter, it’s a green flag to fast-track you for an interview. Here’s an example of a strong opening using an employee referral: 

When my former colleague, John Smith, urged me to apply for the IT Engineer position recently opened up at AB Company, I wasted no time preparing my resume for this fitting opportunity. John and I worked together at XY company for three years, and have kept in close contact since he jumped on board AB in 2015. Given my significant contributions while working at XY, John thought AB Company would benefit from my talent.

Another way to get a referral is to contact an employee at the company you want to apply to. If they’re receptive, persuade them to talk with you about the company, and ideally, the role. LinkedIn is a good place to try to get a referral, but it can take persistence. Some people are receptive and accommodating when contacted out-of-the-blue by a stranger – others not so much. Your persistence can pay-off though – big time.

It’s not just about getting a name to bolster your cover letter. It’s about showing genuine interest in the company you’re applying to work at, and on it’s own, that’s a big thing. Going farther than merely skimming the company’s About Us page will earn you brownie points with the employer. Here’s another example:

On the recommendation of ComputerCo’s Senior Analyst, John Smith, I’m pleased to bid for the IT Engineer role you’ll fill next month. My qualifications and experience align well with your requirements, and ComputerCo’s supportive clan culture, as John vividly described it to me, aligns well with my tribesman nature, so it seems like a good match.

Recruiters and employers alike appreciate applicants who connect authentically with the company. If you really want to work there, get a referral and use it to make a unique and compelling connection. It will be well worth the effort. Here’s a quick how-to.

Use facts to give clear information

Barring a referral, simply open your cover letter with relevant and meaningful information drawn from actual facts.

After reviewing your requirements for an IT Engineer, I promptly composed my resume to highlight the relevant skills I’ve developed over three continuous years as an IT Technician. It describes how my education, experience, and qualifications align with your requirements, and I’m pleased to be considered for this fantastic career opportunity.

It’s a strong opening that gives the reader useful information. Perhaps the most compelling (believe it or not) is that you actually read the job posting. This is a big deal to recruiters. As much as 98% of the resumes and cover letters recruiters receive are from applicants nowhere near qualified for the positions they’re applying for.

Opening your cover letter stating worthwhile facts, i.e.: you fully read the job posting, are qualified to apply for the position, and wrote a responsive resume, will give the recruiter something they don’t often get – a reason to keep reading.

From opening to close, avoid vagueness. For example: “I have worked on several large projects, completing them to the client’s satisfaction and in a timely manner”. This is vague narrative containing no real description and even less information. Recruiters need specificity to get a clear picture of what you did, how you did it, and what the outcomes were.

Be specific and descriptive. For example:

“I simultaneously worked on four complex model-implementation projects that exceeded all of the clients’ expectations. Adhering to my own strict and comprehensive check-list system, I installed each project bug-free, under budget by an aggregate 8%, and shaved five days off projected turnarounds.

Much better. This is an actual accomplishment – specific and descriptive – giving the recruiter useful information.

Use bits of the job posting

The accomplishments you choose to highlight in your cover letter must be relatable to the employer. There’s no point in describing some amazing feat you pulled off in a previous position, no matter how remarkable, if it’s not relevant to the employer you’re trying to impress.

Put your writing efforts into developing strong descriptions of accomplishments you know the employer cares about. Choose one or two items from the job posting and spin your achievements to match.

how to write a cover letter

A couple of concise, descriptive sentences relating directly to what the employer is looking for will do a nice job of addressing those particular required qualifications.

My recent role as an IT technician challenged me to conceptualize the hierarchy needed to dovetail solutions across multiple small and medium-sized projects. As the remote technical consultant for a complex 2018 Active Directory networking project, I coordinated and implemented 48 domain controller upgrades for market-leading clients in Africa and Australia, exceeding expectations by shaving four days off projected turnarounds, respectively.

Many job postings open with a bit of information about the company and what they’re looking for in candidates. Pick up on some of the verbiage and use it in your cover letter.

how to write a cover letter

In 2015, XY Company gave me my first opportunity to join an entrepreneurial IT team driven to over-achieve. It was an invaluable experience that demanded applying self-initiative to create imaginative solutions to complex issues. Through impeccable attention to detail, I hit the mark and became an essential contributor to solution-creation for some of the company’s biggest clients.”

It never hurts to talk graciously about former employers. Rather than merely describe something you accomplished, try giving some of the credit to your former employer.

“XY Company was a breeding ground of opportunities, many of which I availed of to develop solution-oriented skills most don’t acquire so early in their careers.”

“Switching gears on a dime is a skill I attribute to XY Company’s fast-paced environment where priorities frequently shifted instantaneously. Adapting quickly and efficiently, I earned numerous opportunities to work on assorted ad-hoc projects typically reserved for senior technicians, ultimately earning a swift promotion to lead technician for twelve clients.

Use I, me, and my – it’s okay

It’s practically impossible to write a cover letter without using “I, me, or my”. The trick is to use pronouns anecdotally. Make your “I’s, me’s, and my’s” serve a meaningful purpose and not merely to express what you are, how you feel, or what you think. Below are some of the most over-used and meaningless statements recruiters see over and over in cover letters – avoid them at all costs.

  • I am excited to submit my resume for….
  • I am confident I would be a valuable asset…
  • I offer a proven ability to…
  • This would be a chance for me to …
  • I am proficient with…
  • My skills are well developed…
  • I am adept at…
  • I bring to the table…

Using pronouns to describe your accomplishments is perfectly acceptable when they make up part of a meaningful narrative. With some deliberate thought and the help of a thesaurus, you’ll come up with ways to both reduce the frequency of pronouns in your cover letter and make the ones you do use necessary. Here’s a before and after to illustrate:

Before: “I was the go-to person for solution implementation and I led a team in designing and implementing interim solutions. I oversaw the processing of requests from customers for a large number of records in several database tables …….”

After: “Having earned a reputation as the unofficial go-to for solution implementation, I gained the opportunity to lead a six-person team designing and deploying interim strategies to process customer requests for 900 records in 10 database tables….”

It’s a subtle change that reduces the number of “I”s from three to one.

Use originality and authenticity

Recruiters and employers know a cookie-cutter cover letter when they see one. A series of cliches copied and pasted from a template or crappy cover letter example (littering the Internet in the millions) are as obvious as a fart in an elevator.

Cliches are the bane of recruiters. Avoid them by using your own original material. The examples provided in this article are intended to give you some ideas and inspire you to write your own descriptive material. If you can adapt one or two to your own professional accomplishments, go for it.

Don’t use your cover letter to rehash your resume. It’s lazy. Recruiters often read resumes before they read cover letters. If they like the resume, they’ll turn to the cover letter expecting (or hoping) to discover how the applicant connects authentically with the company.

Put together a responsive resume then write a complementary cover letter with fresh information. Use the strategy we reviewed above, selecting one or two items from the job posting. Write about your directly-related achievements in a way that will resonate with the employer.

Use the right tone

Adapt your “tone” to mirror that of the job posting. If it’s ultra-technical or stick-up-the-butt-professional, as painful as it may be, follow suit. The same goes for off-the-wall or unconventional ads. I once read a job ad that said, literally, “Our work environment is chaotic and we don’t always know what were doing.” Feel the vibe and emulate it, but always be professional.

“When I joined YZ Company as an administrative assistant, it was young, evolving, and chaotic. My organization skills kicked into overdrive and, in ten days, I designed and implemented a company-wide standardized system to identify priorities and execute strategies, transforming pandemonium into harmony. The immediate result was marked and measurable productivity that put two significant projects ahead of schedule, pleasing one client so much he took the entire office out to lunch.”

Use a call to action to close strong

Thanking the reader is a given, but don’t leave it there. Ask for the interview.

“Thank you for your time today. I invite you to contact me at 901.023.4567 to schedule our meeting, and look forward to the occasion.”

It’s neither needy nor cliche, as in, “Please call me to arrange an interview.”

Rather, it’s polite, it asks for the interview, and it expresses expectation on your part. I wont go into the psychology behind CTAs (calls to action), but suffice to say most people, recruiters included, respond to CTAs when they’ve already formed a favourable impression. 

Polish it up

Don’t let all of your hard work get tossed because you overlooked a few important details. Take the extra steps to polish your cover letter to a lustrous shine.

  • Check your word count – keep it to 300 or slightly under.
  • Keep your paragraphs short with ample space between each.
  • Use ATS-friendly font, no more than 11 point.
  • Spellcheck, punctuation check, and proofread.

Use this full example

The information you present in your cover letter has to grab the recruiter’s attention.
 
Use this example to get inspired to write your own original cover letter with a couple of noteworthy accomplishments the employer will care about.

how to write a cover letter

 

jobs are opening up

Now that jobs are opening up, how will you get one of them?

Let’s start with some good news! Yes! Jobs are opening up…

“We expect the worst of the job losses are behind us and the labour market will slowly recover as restrictions are eased. Looking ahead, employment levels should pick up slowly as provinces are easing restrictions on economic activity, which should bring people back to work in May.” says Cory Renner, Senior economist (The Conference Board of Canada)

So, who’s hiring?  Human resources director, Jessica Hodgson says….“The tech sector for sure is well positioned to handle this [Coronavirus pandemic]. There are also industries where they’re looking for more people. Anybody that’s involved in shipping, logistics, supply chain manufacturing, those people [companies] are still operating and still expect to be operational.”

And, “…there are postings for obvious jobs at grocery stores, pharmacies, seniors’ homes, and for health services, but employers are also looking for cooks, trucker drivers, mechanics, cleaners, and sales people in electronics, building and garden supplies. [MORE HERE]

LinkedIn recently published this article, saying, essentially…as of May 15th, 2020, there are at least 340,000 jobs available across Canada in a variety of industries.

So, now that jobs are opening up, how will you get out there and get one of them?

With your resume?

You betcha with your resume! Covid-19 may have changed the way we work, but it hasn’t changed the way we get work. Whether you’re going after work-from-home-jobs or get-in-your-car-and-drive-there-jobs, you’ll need to submit a resume to get into an interview. And I’m going to make darn sure your resume gets you into the interviews you want for the jobs you’ll be going after!

I’m going to teach you to write your resume exactly the same way I’ve written hundreds of resumes that have put people in the job interviews they wanted to be in. People like these:

Are you confident to present your resume to future employers?

Jobs are opening up, but…

…you’ll need an excellent resume to compete with hundreds of job-seekers. In some industries, you could be competing with as many as a thousand for a single job posting!

There’s a right way and a wrong way to write a competitive resume. That’s a fact.

If you’re sending out resumes and getting calls for interviews, then you’re doing it the right way–kudos! But, if that’s not what’s going on for you, you might need a little help to write your resume the right way.

And, hey. Listen. It’s not your fault. No one ever taught you how to write a resume the right way. Not your parents. Not your teachers. Not even your career counselor. Since the beginning of time, resume-writing has never been considered an essential high school or college subject. Personally, I think that’s because so few people (even teachers, professors, and career counselors) know how to write a proper resume.

Back in the dinosaur days when I was going to high school, we didn’t even have books in our school library on resume-writing. I had to borrow one from the Public Library. It was 202 pages long. I remember thinking, “This must be the definitive book on resume-writing. Cool, I’m going to learn everything I need to know to write a kick-ass resume.” (We said “kick-ass” back in the day)

That 202-paged book was a big disappointment. All theory–no action. But, it wasn’t a complete waste of time. Going through those 202 pages taught me something….

It doesn’t take 202 pages to learn (or teach) how to write a killer resume. Years later, I set out to prove it. I did it in 30 pages. And I did it because I want everyone to know how to write a killer resume!

Okay. Let’s get where we’re going….

…to your free workbook: HOW TO WRITE A KILLER RESUME!

If you don’t need this free workbook because you’re writing and sending out awesome resumes that are getting you invited to the job interviews you want, cool! But, if that’s not exactly your experience, you should grab your free copy of HOW TO WRITE A KILLER RESUME!

This workbook is straightforward, concise, and easy to follow. It’s 60 pages cover-to-cover, but only half are “working pages”. You’ll learn (and do!) 5 distinct steps that are designed to help you write your killer resume by the time you reach the book’s end. It’s full of resume examples showing you step-by-step how to:

  • get your resume through the ATS scan and in front of the hiring decision-makers
  • format your resume cleanly and include only what employers and recruiters want to see (with the Free Resume Format Template ATSs and recruiters love!)
  • write your work experience the way employers and recruiters want to see it
  • get access to the absolute must-have basic resume-writing resources
  • discover the universal Do’s & Dont’s of resume-writing
  • get a fully-completed resume and cover letter sample to use as a guide to writing your own killer resume!

It doesn’t take any special skill or talent to write a killer resume.

In fact, it takes no more than what you already have in your head! With a little guidance from HOW TO WRITE A KILLER RESUME!, you’ll learn how to get what’s already in your head down on paper….the right way.

You’ll learn the right way to write for the Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) that about 86% of companies use to screen resumes, and, you’ll learn how to write for the human reader as well. (Because, after all, it’s the human reader who decides who to call in for an interview!)

Grab your free copy of HOW TO WRITE A KILLER RESUME! now! You have nothing to lose but job opportunities

how to write a killer resume

Get Free e-Books
& Expert Advice on:


  • Resume-Writing
  • Cover Letters
  • Job Search & More!


Subscribe to get once-a-month expert advice and job-search tips delivered right to your inbox!

terri at resumepro

Terri is an expert resume-writer and a pretty good job coach. During her 30 years in the conventional work force, Terri was fired from 11 jobs, got laid off from 2 jobs, quit 3 jobs, sued 1 employer (successfully), made another cry, and wrote over 100 resumes for herself alone! Since embracing the good old “take this job and shove it” attitude, Terri decided to put all of her shitty “workin’ for the man” experiences and life-lessons to good use, and thus was born www.goresumepro.ca/blog. Enjoy!

landing a job interview

3 tips for landing a job interview in an industry you’ve never worked in

Job-searching during the Covid-19 pandemic?Take a breath because it’s not going to be easy to find work right away,” says Sharlene Massie, founder of Calgary-based About Staffing.

Landing a job interview even as countless businesses have closed their doors, putting millions of Canadians out of work, might seem impossible, but it’s not. Though the economy has been hit hard by Covid-19 changes, there are some bright spots. Several critical sectors are surging during the pandemic. Here are 10 that are actively hiring right now.

If you are job-searching right now, you might be applying for jobs in industries you’ve never worked in before. You might also be looking at your current resume wondering how the hell it’s going to get you into an interview for a job you’ve never done before. Don’t sweat it, and don’t over-think it.

Writing a competitive resume for a job you’ve never done before isn’t much different than writing a resume for a job you’re experienced in. Just respond directly to the job posting, use its keywords, and make your resume relevant. Easier said than done? Not really.

Let’s look at how you can spin your resume to make yourself a viable candidate for a job you’re not experienced in.

1. Landing a job interview starts with reading job postings carefully.

Sound like a no-brainer? You’d think. But Indeed’s Client Success Specialist, Sara Buonvivere, recently told me, “due to feedback from employers, our product teams have added the “if qualified” verbiage to the [Apply Now] button to encourage job seekers to ensure they are qualified for the role they are applying for. The hope is that it will prompt job seekers to read through all of the relevant details of the job”.

When you’re reading job postings for jobs you’ve never done before, you should be looking for the employer’s spin on “qualified”.

Just because you have no experience doing a particular job doesn’t mean you’re not qualified to do it. “Qualified” means different things to different employers.

2. Look for job postings that highlight soft skills.

Unless you have a great deal of education and training, and/or the right education and training, skip job postings that list a lot of hard-skills requirements.

Hard skills are taught/learned skills. They are quantifiable and are often learned through education, certifications, training, and/or previous work experience. Hard skills are specific to each job and are often the basis of job requirements.

Hard skills are what they are — you either have them or you don’t. When looking at job postings, be realistic and use common sense to determine what is a viable job opportunity for you, and what isn’t.

Look for job postings that call for soft skills. Soft skills are typically interpersonal skills and desirable personality traits that revolve around character, teamwork, communication, and work ethic.

Soft skills tend to be transferable between jobs or industries and, though more difficult to quantify on a resume than hard skills, soft skills are the ones you can spin to give yourself a shot at an interview for a job you have no experience in.

The job posting below for a line worker in a manufacturing plant is all about soft skills:

Job Duties/Responsibilities

  • Set-up and operation of the seasoning machines
  • Maintaining quality controls for seasoning application and salt tests
  • Manage the conveyor system to ensure appropriate product feed
  • Complete loading/unloading of finished cases into trailers using powered industrial truck
  • Troubleshoot Automated palletizer
  • Complete all necessary paperwork, ensuring accuracy of information
  • Understand and participate in inventory counting and reconciliation processes
  • Maintain a high level of sanitation in work area
  • Able to execute against reject materials, action steps including coordination with the Lab and basic troubleshooting
  • Observe Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP’s) and provide GMP coaching to any personnel coming through work area
  • Support end-of-week sanitation duties and preventative maintenance responsibilities as required

Not a single hard skill mentioned. Everything listed here can be accomplished by anyone who has the right soft skills. When you’re reading job postings, focus less on the actual job duties and more on identifying the soft skills it takes to do the job.

Here’s what I get from the ad:

  • attentive and observant
  • mechanically adept
  • troubleshoots and solves problems
  • pays attention to detail
  • takes initiative and action
  • works responsibly with other departments
  • follows rules and regulations
  • shares information
  • assumes accountability

So even though a job-seeker might never have worked in the manufacturing industry before, he or she would have a shot at an interview by showing the employer how they used these soft skills in previous work.

Once you identify the soft skills the employer is looking for, your resume-writing takes on direction. You then have something to work with to help you write a responsive resume. Think about your previous job(s), focusing less on the actual duties you did and more on the soft skills you used to do them.

3. Show, don’t tell.

Use your previous work experiences to describe your soft skills and how they’ll transfer over. Show you are capable of doing the job the employer needs done by describing how your soft skills match those she’s looking for.

You can’t simply say, ‘I can do that’. Even if you can do it, or think you can, simply saying so isn’t good enough. You have to show the employer how you used your soft skills in your previous work. It’s all about proof.

When you’re digging around in your brain thinking about all the things you did in your previous job(s), remember to go right back to the beginning.

  • Did you go into that job inexperienced?
  • How did you learn to do all of the things you eventually got good at?
  • Did you use your own observation to see how things were done?
  • Did you learn how to operate new equipment, or software, or systems?
  • Did you recognize problems and figure out solutions on your own?
  • How did you conduct yourself in a way that aligned with company regulations?
  • Were you really good about openly sharing information?
  • In what ways did you go the extra mile whether it was your responsibility to do so or not?

Typically, job-seekers tend to emphasize the duties they did in their jobs rather than the soft skills they used to do those duties. This is never a good idea, and even less so when writing a resume for a job you’ve never done before.

Writing a resume for a job you’ve never done before isn’t much different than writing one for a job you’re experienced to do. Follow 3 simple tips:

  1. Read the job postings carefully and skip those that call for hard skills you don’t have.
  2. Identify what the employer is looking for in soft skills.
  3. Show you have the soft skills by describing how you used them in your previous work.

Number 3 in that list, “describing”, is the one most job-seekers have a hard time with. Need some help with describing? Grab your FREE copy of HOW TO WRITE A KILLER RESUME!

Resume e-Book

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terri at resumepro

Terri is an expert resume-writer and a pretty good job coach. During her 30 years in the conventional work force, Terri was fired from 11 jobs, got laid off from 2 jobs, quit 3 jobs, sued 1 employer (successfully), made another cry, and wrote over 100 resumes for herself alone! Since embracing the good old “take this job and shove it” attitude, Terri decided to put all of her shitty “workin’ for the man” experiences and life-lessons to good use, and thus was born www.goresumepro.ca/blog. Enjoy!

Resume Tips

Get Your Resumes Ready for the North Edmonton Job Fair

You can write one generic resume and throw it around the Job Fair like mud, hoping it will stick somewhere, or, you can put in a little effort and give yourself a real shot at getting noticed.

The “one-size-fits-all” resume just doesn’t work. Employers and recruiters aren’t interested in applicants who are merely taking a shot at a job. They are interested in people who have a true desire to work in a particular occupation and, even better, at a particular company which, ideally, is their company!

The people who know this are the ones who invest time and energy to customize their resumes and cover letters to the jobs and companies they’ll be approaching at the Career Fair. So. With that in mind, let’s get your resumes Job-Fair-ready!

Resume Tips

Get Free e-Books
& Expert Advice on:


  • Resume-Writing
  • Cover Letters
  • Job Search & More!


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5 Mistakes Almost Everyone Makes on Their Resume

So, you’ve sent in your resume for a great job opportunity. Do you envision the employer pouring himself a cup of coffee, settling into his chair, kicking off his shoes, and devouring every word of your resume with riveted attention? Not exactly.

He’ll devote six seconds to scanning your resume and if you’ve made even one of these fatal mistakes, your resume gets tossed. All your hard work—in the garbage. Don’t let that happen. Avoid these 5 resume mistakes to give your resume a chance!

The #1 Mistake

Failing to show how you meet the job requirements.
Employers try to be very specific when listing their requirements in the job posting. They do this to attract applicants who closely match the job requirements, thereby drawing qualified candidates which streamlines the screening process.

Yet, an average of 98% of the resumes they receive do not show how the applicants meet the job requirements listed in the ad. No matter the lengths employers and recruiters go to to clearly describe their requirements, 98% of the resumes they receive are full of irrelevant, useless information that contains no value to the employer.

If you are qualified to apply for the jobs you’re applying for, your resume should include all (or most) of the keywords and phrases used in the job posting’s description. You should develop your own descriptions using keywords and phrases used in the job ad.

If your previous work experience is sufficient to qualify you to apply for the job, you should have no trouble describing that experience using the job ad’s keywords naturally in your descriptions. Employers, hiring managers, and recruiters spend an average of six seconds scanning a resume. They are looking for only two things:

1. how applicants’ qualifications, experience, and skills directly meet their requirements, and,

2. the number of years of direct, relevant experience.

That’s it, and it takes only six seconds for whoever is reading your resume to find out what they need to know.

The #2 Mistake

Including every job you’ve ever had, no matter how irrelevant or long ago.
A resume isn’t meant to be an exhaustive accounting of every job you’ve ever held. The employer cares little, if at all, about anything you’ve done that is not relevant to the job he needs to fill.

Job-seekers tend to fill their resumes with all of their work experience thinking a potential employer may find some value in their previous, unrelated work experience. Not so! Employers are interested in only how you are skilled and qualified to fill the positions they need to fill. They need you to speak directly to, and only about, the job requirements listed in the job ad and how you meet them. That is all employers and recruiters are interested in!

The #3 Mistake

Listing only job duties, rather than accomplishments.
Resumes that really stand out go way beyond showing a laundry-list of job duties. Today’s resumes are all about describing accomplishments and achievements.

That doesn’t mean writing a book about what you did in each job. It means describing not only what you did, but how you did it. That can be easily accomplished in a single, meaningful sentence. Here’s a before and after:

Before:
DutyDrove crews to job sites.
Yawn.

After:
Accomplishment: Maintained a spotless safe-driving record with the company while transporting daily crews to and from job sites on time by planning routes and leaving time for unforeseen conditions.

One little sentence that packs a punch! The person reading this can visualize this applicant conscientiously driving a crew truck and making sure he gets those guys to the job site safely and on time. I love it!

It’s a single sentence packed with meaning! Once you start thinking about not only what you did, but how you did it and why you did it, you’ll easily come up with some meaningful work descriptions to wow-up your resume. Here’s some extra help on writing accomplishments.

The #4 Mistake

Making self-assessed claims about yourself.
Your resume is a document to describe experience and accomplishments only. It’s not the place to offer your opinion of yourself, like “great leadership skills” or “creative innovator.”

Hiring managers generally ignore anything subjective that an applicant writes about his- or herself because so many people’s self-assessments are wildly inaccurate. If you do have great leadership skills and that is something relevant to the job requirements, create a meaningful sentence describing how and why you are/have been a great leader. Quantify!

By describing how you gained and used your leadership skills you quantify your claim and show you have a valid definition of what a great leader is. Here’s another before and after.

Before:
SkillGreat leadership skills.
Yawn.

After:
AccomplishmentFormed, led, and motivated a five-person office-renovation committee coordinating human resources so efficiently the project was completed early and under budget.

Wow! Again, one can almost visualize this great person leading a small team to victory! They would definitely want to meet her and ask her all about it! If you cannot substantiate your claims with a simple, meaningful sentence, don’t bother laundry-listing them on your resume.

The #5 Mistake

Relying on outdated sources of advice.
Resume conventions have changed dramatically in the last 10 years. If you’re following advice or sample resumes you find on the Internet, chances are good you’re reading something outdated (or listening to someone who hasn’t written a successful resume in the past ten years).

An “Objective Statement“, is the BEST example of what not to do on your resume, yet I promise you, if you jump online right now and look up “resume samples” you’ll see dozens and dozens of resumes using an objective statement. It’s garbage!

Also, do not buy or borrow printed books on resume writing. By the time the writer finishes writing the book and it goes to publishing and finally hits the bookstore shelves, it’s outdated! e-Books, on the other hand, are great because the author can update them regularly and send the updated version to his or her readers.

I spend countless hours researching everything to do with resume-writing and job-searching. I pull information from several resources, one of which, perhaps the most reliable, is Recruiting Agencies.

These agencies would not be in business if they could not furnish their clients with qualified employees. Recruiting agency personnel are in close relationships with the employers and the HR departments who hire them to find qualified people. They know what employers are looking for, and they know, in turn, what they need to see on resumes to develop a viable pool of suitable applicants.

And that’s why I love sharing this information with my readers – I know it’s real, it’s timely, and it comes from the people “in-the-know”.

How to Avoid the 5 Mistakes Most People Make on Their Resumes

• clearly and quickly show the employer you are qualified, according to his description of qualifications provided in the job posting
• show only your work experience that is directly related to the work he needs done—not your entire irrelevant work history
• avoid throwing a bunch of meaningless words at him, but instead describe not just what you did, but how you did it, and, go a step further by describing the outcomes

The only way to get your resume past an ATS and in front of human eyes is to write in direct response to the job posting. Remember, employers and recruiters spend only about six seconds scanning resumes looking for the keywords and phrases that match those they took the time to spell out in the job description.

Why not grab your FREE copy of HOW TO WRITE A KILLER RESUME! to really learn how to avoid these 5 fatal resume mistakes!

 

Resume e-Book

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& Expert Advice on:


  • Resume-Writing
  • Cover Letters
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terri at resumepro

Terri is an expert resume-writer and a pretty good job coach. During her 30 years in the conventional work force, Terri was fired from 11 jobs, got laid off from 2 jobs, quit 3 jobs, sued 1 employer (successfully), made another cry, and wrote over 100 resumes for herself alone! Since embracing the good old “take this job and shove it” attitude, Terri decided to put all of her shitty “workin’ for the man” experiences and life-lessons to good use, and thus was born www.goresumepro.ca/blog. Enjoy!

Resume Tips

Get Your Resumes Ready for Career Fair February 25th!

You can write one generic resume and throw it around the Career Fair like mud, hoping it will stick somewhere, or, you can put in a little effort and give yourself a real shot at getting noticed.

The “one-size-fits-all” resume just doesn’t work. Employers and recruiters aren’t interested in applicants who are merely taking a shot at a job. They are interested in people who have a true desire to work in a particular occupation and, even better, at a particular company which, ideally, is their company!

The people who know this are the ones who invest the time and energy necessary to customize their resumes and cover letters to the jobs and companies they’ll be approaching at the Career Fair. So. With that in mind, let’s get your resumes Job-Fair-ready!

Resume Tips

Get Free e-Books
& Expert Advice on:


  • Resume-Writing
  • Cover Letters
  • Job Search & More!


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Surprised Man

Hey Job-Seekers! Did You See the New Thing on Indeed!

Trolling Indeed.ca the other day, I noticed something new. Did you see it?

The big, orange Apply button now says “Apply if Qualified”. Having a pretty good idea what that was about, I wanted to confirm my suspicions and reached out to Indeed’s Customer Service department. Client Success Specialist, Sara Buonvivere, got back to me right away with this: “Due to the feedback from employers, our product teams have added the “if qualified” verbiage to this button to encourage job seekers to ensure they are qualified for the role they are applying for. The hope is that it will prompt job seekers to read through all the relevant details of the job. This is both in the interest of the job seeker and employer”. So, yeah, my suspicions were confirmed.

98% of Job Applicants are Unqualified

Later that same day, I happened to be chatting with one of my recruiter contacts at a well-established Calgary staffing agency who told me that “2% of the applicants sending in resumes [to her agency] are qualified for the jobs they’re applying for”. Two per cent! Now that, I did not know.

But with the economy being what it is here in Alberta, it’s not surprising to hear. People are desperate for jobs – they’ll apply for anything they think they have a hope in hell of getting. And that’s okay, but there’s a trick to showing you’re qualified to apply for the jobs you’re applying for. It’s all about the resume.

What I wrote in my incredibly-helpful e-Book: HOW TO WRITE A KILLER RESUME!, is supported by each of the comments I shared with you above. Early in the book I explain why reading job ads with a magnifying glass is so critical before you start writing and firing-off resumes. That’s what Sara was saying: “The hope is that it will prompt job seekers to read through all the relevant details of the job”. Qualifications are everything to the employer! If you don’t show the employer you are qualified to do the job he or she needs done, you don’t have a hope in hell.

But Here’s Some Good News!

I came across a great post on reddit’s r/resumes sub written by a friggin’ genius (as far as I’m concerned:) He talks about using keywords and phrases in your Indeed job search to open up a whole new world of opportunity using the qualifications you do have! My reddit friend kindly consented to me sharing his post with you, so have a look: My Analysis of Job Keywords and How to use them Effectively. 

Then, go grab your FREE e-Book, HOW TO WRITE A KILLER RESUME! It’s actually a workbook, designed to help you write your killer resume by the time you reach the book’s end, which probably won’t take you more than a couple of hours. It’s written in plain language, easy to understand and follow, and is full of “how-to” examples. It gives you a free Resume Format Template to make sure your resume is laid out properly. At the end of the book I give you a full resume and cover letter sample to model your own resume and cover letter after.

If it seems like too much bother to learn how to customize your resumes to show you’re qualified to apply for the jobs you want to apply for, you’ll likely remain in that 98% unqualified group of applicants. And that would be unfortunate.

Why not give yourself the best shot you can at the job interviews you want?

Get HOW TO WRITE A KILLER RESUME! and give it a go! Best of luck!

Resume e-Book

Get Free e-Books
& Expert Advice on:


  • Resume-Writing
  • Cover Letters
  • Job Search & More!


Subscribe to get once-a-month expert advice and job-search tips delivered right to your inbox!

terri at resumepro

Terri is an expert resume-writer and a pretty good job coach. During her 30 years in the conventional work force, Terri was fired from 11 jobs, got laid off from 2 jobs, quit 3 jobs, sued 1 employer (successfully), made another cry, and wrote over 100 resumes for herself alone! Since embracing the good old “take this job and shove it” attitude, Terri decided to put all of her shitty “workin’ for the man” experiences and life-lessons to good use, and thus was born www.goresumepro.ca/blog. Enjoy!