The simple answer is NO. If we were to ask 10 Vancouver and BC employers or recruiters what a perfect resume was in their eyes – we would get 10 different answers.
But, we can definitively say there is no ‘one size fits all’ resume. So if you’re just using one standard resume to blast out to different job opportunities then you’re making a big mistake. You need to put some effort into each and every job you are applying for by carefully reading the job posting and ‘customizing’ your resume to ensure you align (and make standout) your job skills and experience to the specific requirements of the job.
We can share some industry ‘best practices’ on the formatting of your resume.
Simplify the format and content. Lose the fancy fonts. Your resume needs to be easily readable or it will not be read. Choose a standard font, such as Arial, Calibri or Helvetica. The font size in the body of the resume should be 11-point or larger. You need to ensure the format is easy for employers to read or they won’t read it!
Type your name in bold at the top using a 14-point or larger font and don’t forget your contact information. Ideally, you should use 1-inch margins all around to retain some white space. Don’t go under 0.5 inches or it will look too crammed, and some employers may decide not to read it.
When using headings, such as “Work Experience” and “Education,” they should stand out. The headings should be larger font than the text in the body of the resume, preferably 14-point. Bold and capitalize the names of companies, and bold or italicize your job titles to set them off.
You need to pay very close attention to grammar and spelling – too many times we have seen resumes with spelling mistakes and poor grammar – this tells an employer that if you can’t take the time to check the quality of your resume – how effective will you be to details of the job if they were to hire you.
Include a career profile. You should include a career summary at the top and it should always be customized to the job posting that you’re applying for. It should be aligned to the job posting requirements and give the employer information that focuses on what you can bring to the role and company.
Core competencies upfront are optional and depend on your specific profession. There are key technical and professional skills you possess that specifically match what the company wants. They can be useful to put here because many Employers and Recruiters won’t read beyond this section if they don’t see what they’re looking for at the top of your resume.
Build your “Work Experience” and “Education” sections. If you are currently working, “Education” should go below “Experience.” The only exception would be if you are changing careers and have minimal or no experience in the new field. In this case, your “Education” can go above “Work Experience” if it’s directly related to the field you want to enter.
Ensure you use reverse chronological order for work experience. Include your company names, very brief descriptions if they’re not well known, locations, dates and your titles.
Include specific example of your work, achievements and positive impact it had on the company. Please don’t simply list job duties or copy your job description verbatim. Things you did in the past should be in the past tense, and things you do now should be in the present tense. Group bullets according to tense, so it does not look like a mistake. Use numerals for numbers to help your work stand out more.
Include other information in separate sections. Have a separate section for any honors or awards received from work or school. If you graduated more than 10 years ago, only note significant scholarships or honors. Include the name of the award, institution awarding it and year received.
List any noteworthy presentations you have given or publications you’ve contributed to or authored. Ensure you include hyperlinks if possible.
Note additional skills. List technical skills that are unique or relevant to the job you are applying to. If you know foreign languages, belong to organizations or have done any significant or relevant volunteer work, include that here.
As we mentioned at the beginning of this article, there is no such thing as a ‘perfect resume’ and there are many types of resume formats and styles. However, some of the basics don’t change.
Highlighting your relevant experience right off the bat and demonstrating specific examples of your work and its results are good rules of thumb, no matter what type you use. Just as important is proper grammar, spelling and consistent font and formatting. Take the time to get these elements right and it will at least give you the strongest chance to get past the first ‘gate’ and be invited to an interview.