By Karin Lewis, Toronto Job Search Examiner and Workforce Specialist, JVS Toronto
Step One Of A Job Search- Updating Your Resume For A Changing Labour Market
Many new job searchers are finding themselves facing a radically different labour market in 2010, with new ways, tools and sites for finding work, which come with a whole new set of expectations from employers. Resume writing is often the first big challenge in this process for a job searcher, who faces the daunting task of trying to produce a two page document that is expected to describe their work history and skills, as well as attract the attention of employers. In addition to all this, it has to be worded and formatted in ways that fit in with new tools used by recruiters and employers (“scannable” resumes, anyone?)
Even more confusing is the discussion on some blogs about the possibility of resumes becoming obsolete. But, a general scan of job boards and major employer sites, reveals that as convincing as this argument may be (and perhaps even appealing to some), most tend to take a traditional approach to recruitment and continue to expect a well crafted resume to be available when applicants apply for positions.
So, how do you writing a resume that is that is concise, well written and fits in with the ever changing expectations of employers? Here are some good starting points:
While it is a good start to begin by unearthing your old resume and adding information about your most recent position, this is clearly not sufficient. Keep in mind that the quick pace of change in the job market has affected employers’ expectations of you – both in terms of your skills (i.e. the content of your resume), as well as the way your write it (i.e. the style and layout).
Once you have added some information about your most recent employment, it is worth seeking out advice. There are many credible “how-to” sources to guide the resume writer. Some of the best and most accessible are the major job boards, who tend to have up-to-date advice from well known experts in the field. For example, have a look at Workopolis Career Resources or Monster Career Advice (you might also find that looking for job postings on these sites might be helpful to find key words and descriptions of job functions which may be integrated into your resume).
There are a myriad of other excellent sources online (e.g. About.com and Susan Ireland), as well as books at your local library. Keep in mind, though, that as you scan the available resources you are bound to find some contradictory tips. Sometimes it is caused by the nature of job sector for which the resume is written, as well as the location of the advisor. Banking, for example, is a much more conservative sector for which resumes tend to be more traditional, whereas marketing resumes, especially in social media, can be quite creative and may include a range of media such as videos or web links. In terms of location, for example, American and Canadian resumes differ in their format, content and style, often reflecting cultural differences between the countries.
Once you have gathered information and have begun tackling the process of rewriting the resume, it is worth seeking independent personalised feedback from those who you might regard as “in the know” – this could include Employment Counsellors or Workforce Specialists in local government funded services (in Ontario, check the provincial government site to locate one of the excellent local services) or professional head hunters and resume writers (be careful not to pay too much for a service that you may be able to source for free via publicly funded services, though).
Ultimately, the best sources of feedback on your resume will always be people who hire those who work in the fields which you are targeting. Make sure to ask as many as possible to ensure that you get a broad picture, and target people in large companies who see many resumes. Eventually, you will reach a point in the writing process, where you have a “good enough” resume with which to start the process, keeping in mind that it will be adapted for EVERY job, so keep in touch with those advisors!
A good resume will be useful when you job search and network, and it will also be an excellent tool for setting up a detailed www.Linkedin.com profile to initiate the online networking process. Sites such as Linkedin have excellent advice blogs on how to showcase your resume online. Taken further, there are even more ways of using your resume as a tool to increase your online presence, such as Visual CV.
Overall, the process of writing a resume is very stressful and demanding, but it can also be an excellent way to re-evaluate your skills and learn about the changes in the job market. Be prepared to take on the challenge fully, and make the best of what you can learn. It is well worth investing some time and energy (though not necessarily any money) to make this a worthwhile learning experience that will enhance the chances of you finding the work you want more effectively.