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The Toronto Sun CareerConnection


View your resume as a sales tool

By Shannon Jackson
Special to The Toronto Sun

Let's face it, not everyone likes sales. It's one of the jobs people often avoid. It takes confidence, charisma and a product you believe in to be able to sell effectively. When you are job searching, you are selling, and the product you're promoting is yourself.

Your resume is your ad, and it's often the first contact you will have with your potential employer. It is important that your resume clearly states -- and sells -- your knowledge, skills and abilities.

The hiring authority usually has a pre-established checklist in their mind about what they are looking for. The closer your resume matches that checklist, the more attractive your candidacy will be.

How do you know what's on their list? Job postings usually detail the requirements of the position. If you have relevant experience, make sure it is on your resume.

Here are some quick resume tips that will help promote your success:

  • Make sure your contact information is on the top of each page of your resume.

  • A one or two page resume is standard and acceptable. Three pages is generally too long.

  • Begin with a clearly stated objective, telling the reader exactly what type of work you are seeking. This is a fantastic opportunity to catch the recruiter's attention by customizing your resume to the job posting. Avoid unspecific objectives, such as "a position that matches my skills and experience." This is a common recruiter pet peeve; it fails to provide any information.

  • List dates along the right-hand side of your page. Because the eye scans the page along the left margin. It's better that the reader pick up your previous job titles than the dates of employment in a "quick scan."

  • Use an easy-to-read font, i.e. Times or Arial, with a font size of at least 11 cpi.

    Human eyes differ from computer "eyes." If you are entering your resume into a computer database, the computer may not accept formatting (i.e. bold text, italics, bullets, borders/shading, lines, etc.) When the database finds symbols other than plain text, it can automatically convert those symbols into code, making your resume impossible to read. If entering into a database, enter your resume in plain text without formatting. It may look boring to you, but the audience will be able to read it.

  • In all cases, without exception, review your resume for spelling or grammar errors. Spell check is a great tool, but it will not catch all mistakes. Error-free correspondence is critical to your job search success.

  • Avoid "dear sir/madam" salutations. If you don't have a contact name, omit the salutation entirely.

  • Do not state your marital or health status, age or date of birth, SIN, physical description or photo.

  • Do not state reasons for leaving previous positions.

  • Follow up with a phone call after you submit your resume (unless the ad states phone calls are not welcome).

    Possibly the most important advice I can give you -- BE HONEST! Fabricating your experience on your resume may get you into the interview, but if you are "found out" (and people often are), it's guaranteed to keep you from getting/keeping the job.

    Good luck on your search efforts!

    (Shannon Jackson is the national recruitment manager for Manpower Services Inc., the world's leading provider of higher value staffing services and quality employment opportunities.)

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