On average, an employer receives more than 250 resumés for each position that is posted online. Some of the most preferred employers receive even more. For example, WestJet receives between 2000 and 3000 applications for each position!

So how do you get your resumé to stand out from the competition and end up in the ‘yes’ pile?

Develop your value proposition

A winning resumé will differentiate you from other applicants by concisely showcasing your unique skills and highlighting how you can help the organization to which you are applying.

To do this, you have to understand your personal value proposition—what you can offer the employer. Many people find this difficult and feel uncomfortable discussing what they are good at, but this is something that you just have to do. Talking about your strengths is not arrogant or boastful; it is what you need to do to impress an employer enough to get invited in for an interview.

The most valuable real estate

The top third of your resumé is the most valuable real estate. This is the section that employers spend the most time looking at, so a keyword-rich and differentiating profile or summary can make all the difference to whether or not you get that call for an interview.

Your profile or summary should immediately show that you have the required and—if possible—desired qualifications, skills and experience for the role. It needs to showcase the key skills that the employer is looking for and provide evidence of how you have these skills.

Don’t just say that you have excellent communication skills—every single applicant will say this. Instead, let the employer know that you have excellent communication skills developed from two years of customer service employment within the tourism industry, utilizing both your English and Mandarin languages.

Skills and accomplishments… not job descriptions

An employer wants to know what makes you a good employee; they don’t need to be told the everyday duties of a server or a customer service representative. For each of your employment experiences, even volunteer work, ask yourself:

  • What would you brag about?
  • How do you compare to your co-workers?
  • Was there anything that you did above and beyond your normal responsibilities?
  • Was there a time when you were recognized for a job well done (by a customer, manager or colleague)?
  • Was there something that you did that resulted in improvements in performance, service or profit?

Whenever you can, quantify your experience to provide the employer with some context. For example, how many volunteers did you supervise or what percentage did you beat your sales target by?

Make it work for you

Many of the traditional resumé rules can be broken. If your volunteer work is more relevant to the job you are applying for than your part-time paid employment, you can position the volunteer experience at the top of the resumé. Just because it is unpaid work, does not mean that you cannot showcase the relevant skills that you used and developed.

Don’t worry… help is available

The Capilano University Resumé Guide is available to download. This guide has been recently updated to include current resumé advice, information and examples to help you craft a winning resumé that gets you noticed… for the right reasons!

Career Management workshops are scheduled each week and can be found online. Email ses@capilanou.ca if you have any questions.

Submitted by Eilidh Sligo, Student Employment Services

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