by Ethan Paquet
Since the pandemic, many employers have changed how they receive, accept, and read job applications. More companies are using Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), which can screen out resumés before they make it to a hiring manager’s inbox.
UPEI Experiential Education recently held a workshop that offered job seekers strategies to help make sure their resumé passes through these systems and is more engaging for employers to read.
“Employers don’t care about everything you’ve done,” says Krissi Ewing, Student Advisor. “They just want to know how your skills and experience make you the right match for the job you are applying for.”
Avoid using templates
Krissi says the most common mistake job seekers make is using a resumé template. “Templates have a set way that decides how you describe your information and organize each section. That can put the focus on areas that aren’t as important.
“Another problem is that the text might not display properly on every computer. The ATS might not be able to analyze it properly, so it will be rejected, or the formatting can become mixed up when the employer tries to open it.”
Instead, she recommends creating a new resumé in a Word document and tailoring it to match the job you are applying for.
“Look at the description of the job you are applying for and pick out the key words, skills, and responsibilities. Provide examples of these things in your resumé.”
Quality over quantity
While you might want to share all of your previous experiences and accomplishments with an employer, they really only need to see the information that will help them decide whether to hire you.
“Employers would rather read through a one-page resumé with all of the relevant examples, than three pages where they have to search for what is relevant. If it doesn’t directly relate to the job you are applying for, don’t include it.”
She says the ideal resumé is two pages long and should not include paragraphs or multiple sentences. “When it comes to your skills section, I’d suggest listing a maximum of five skills.
“Include a sentence to give an example of how you used each skill so that you can prove you have the skill. Don’t include it if you can’t prove it.”
When describing previous work experiences, list your accomplishments rather than the tasks you were assigned.
“Everything you did, you did for a reason, and there was an outcome or a result that came from your work. Employers would rather hear two accomplishments that you had than 10 tasks that came with the job.”
Submitting a resumé
Krissi says that when you are ready to submit your application to an employer, be sure to closely follow what the job listing asks for.
“If they say to submit a resumé, cover letter, and references, make sure you submit all three. If they say a cover letter is optional, I suggest you submit one to show professionalism and that you are interested.”
While you might be tempted to deliver a resumé in person, she warns it can be risky.
“You might not get someone who knows about the position, or it might not make it to the right person. If you want to stand out and meet the employer, call and arrange a time so that you can get it to them the right way.”
Advice for students
Students who are trying to transition into work in their field of study may find their resumé lacks relevant experience or skills. Krissi suggests creating a section to highlight what they learned in your education program.
“For example, if you took a science program, list your lab experience, and call the section ‘Relevant Lab Experience.’
“Some students forget to include work placements, projects, or volunteer experiences, which may be just as important as previous work history. Just because it wasn’t a paid work experience doesn’t mean it wasn’t important.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION
about UPEI Experiential Education, visit www.upei.ca/exed
For more Job Search Tips, Videos & Job Fair Info, visit www.employmentjourney.com/jobs/job-search-tips-videos-job-fair-info.