Expert advice to get ahead in your job hunt Tips to make your resume and cover letter stand out

Applying for jobs can be tedious, overwhelming, and draining, leaving people confused as to where to begin.

Mark Parsons, human services representative at MacEwan University, said, “The general rule of thumb is to make sure that your resume, cover letter, and any answers to pre-screening questions align with the job posting.” For example, if the job posting is looking for five years of experience, but you only have three, don’t apply.

When it comes to your resume, be creative.

“Never use a template. It’s the easy way out taken by the bottom 50 per cent. Your resume will be like everyone else’s,” explained Parsons. He said the current trend is to make your resume look more like an infographic. However, valuable information may get lost or misinterpreted, especially if the company uses computers rather than people to screen applications.

“Any application process that requires you to create a login will have computers screen and rank your application with how well it thinks you match the ideal candidate profile.” This process can cause issues with information being misinterpreted. “You stand a much better chance of getting an interview if your resume is screened by a person.” But you still need to be clear.

When Parsons looks over resumes, he spends 60 to 90 seconds scanning them.

“In this time, I will look at where you live, have you held a role similar to the one where you are applying to, and do you have the education/credentials we require.” He explained this will weed out about 90 per cent of applicants. Then, he will examine the shortlisted applicants’ resumes and cover letters.

The best way of getting an interview is by matching the ideal candidate profile.

“This can’t be stressed enough. Job postings will literally tell you what they are looking for and the further you are from that description, the lower your chances,” Parsons explained.

When it comes to what’s most important, education or experience, Parsons said, “Attitude, then experience, then education (but only in some cases). If you have an ego, I don’t care if you invented Google: I’m not hiring you.” After that, he sees if the person has either done the same job elsewhere or has transferrable skills.

Networking plays a huge role in finding employment.

“Make a good impression on the right person and you can skip multiple levels of the recruitment process,” he said. When people change jobs, those contacts still remain valuable.

Nadine Riopel, founder of the We Hate Networking Club, explained networking is anything that builds a supportive, productive, and mutually beneficial web of connections. It can be done in many different ways, but is a lifelong activity. It doesn’t simply start when you are beginning the job hunt.

Riopel cautions networking to find a job is not a replacement for being qualified, only complementary.

“If you know tons of people, but you’re not qualified, they either won’t give you a job in spite of your relationship, or they will give you a job and it will be very bad for your relationship when it becomes apparent you can’t do it.”

For further resume assistance, many free resources are available, such as ALIS Alberta, The Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers, and the City of Edmonton website.

Featured Image: The best way to get an interview is to be as close to the ideal candidate as possible. | Pixabay

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