Talent Development Centre

Tag Archives: resumes

All Talent Development Centre posts for Canadian IT Contractors relating to resumes.

The Key Differences Between Contract and Permanent Resumes

Alison Turnbull By Alison Turnbull,
Delivery Manager at Eagle

The Key Differences Between Contract and Permanent ResumesYour resume is one of your best marketing tools.  In addition to a great social media profile, your resume is the primary tool used to get you through the door for an interview, affording you valuable face-to-face time to ultimately sell yourself to a potential employer.

Candidates often ask how their resumes should differ if they are targeting permanent vs contract employment.  In many cases there would be significant differences, and we strongly recommend having more than one CV if candidates are genuinely interested in both permanent and contract work.

For consulting opportunities, clients are generally focused on a candidate’s ability to come in, hit the ground running and successfully deliver on a very specific mandate.  Consulting resumes are often longer and more detailed, particularly when consultants are bidding on public sector work.  In these cases, clients require very detailed information to clearly show that a consultant’s experience fits their mandatory requirements.  Clients are typically seeking someone who has ‘been there, done that’ as there is little ramp up and training time afforded in the contract world.

For permanent employment opportunities, clients are trying to gauge a candidate’s overall fit for not only the role, but the organization as well.  It is, therefore, not only essential to focus on past achievements and quantifying details on how you have benefited your previous employers and added value to the organization, but also to provide some insight into your work ethic, leadership style and ultimately your personality.

To offer an example, a Project Manager’s consulting resume should always have details provided for key projects including budget, team size, initiative and the outcome (was the project completed on time, under budget).  It’s also important to list specific dates as clients are particularly interested in frequency and duration of contracts.  For a Project Manager’s permanent resume, it would be more important to keep the resume concise and to capture the reader’s interest — but also to show how you can provide value to the organization beyond just leading projects.  It might make sense to provide more of an overall synopsis of achievements but offer an addendum of projects that can be provided on request.

There are many free tools and templates available today, so be sure to do ample research and ensure that your resume is keeping ‘up with the times’.   Is it time for you to revamp your resume(s)?

The Myth of the ‘2 Page Resume’

Alison Turnbull By Alison Turnbull,
Delivery Manager at Eagle

We often have candidates tell us that they received advice from others (often outplacement agencies) to pare their resume back to fit into a 2 page format.  While this is possible for some to accomplish, it can pose a challenge for people who are several years in to their career and have many experiences and successes to highlight. The Myth of the ‘2 Page Resume’

We recommend keeping a resume as clean, clear and concise as possible but don’t mind seeing a 3 or 4 page resume, particularly for someone with over 15 years of experience.

It is well known that most recruiters or hiring managers will spend 5-10 seconds reviewing a resume to determine if a candidate is worthy of further exploration. Once you capture someone’s attention it is important to have enough details to further substantiate your fit for an opportunity.  The following are a few key tips to ensure that your resume makes it past the ‘5 second scan’.

  • Keep it chronological rather than functional. Highlighting your overall skills in a functional format is frustrating for anyone reading your resume.  They must spend time figuring out where in your employment experience each functional area ties back to.  If you have a great skill or success but it is from your first job out of school 20 years ago, it may not be considered marketable.
  • Avoid lengthy intros/bio summaries. Your ‘intro’ statement should be no more than 2 sentences, and should be very concise.  Paint a picture for the reader that summarizes your history, highlights and career goals in a very streamlined manner.  An example might be:  A global Program Manager with 20+ years of experience successfully managing highly complex, enterprise wide transformational initiatives.  Seeking a challenging opportunity with an industry leader that will afford me opportunities for growth.
  • Forget the long list of skills at the beginning of the resume. Anyone and everyone can mention ‘Hard Working, Great Time Management Skills, Team Player, Conscientious’.  Focus on highlighting quantifiable achievements rather than a vague listing of skills that simply take up valuable space.
  • Focus on successes/achievements rather than highlighting ‘day to day’ core activities. Every bullet point that you list should be impactful and highlight a success, achievement or initiative that you undertook.  Use words like ‘Successfully, Spearheaded, Exceeded, Efficiently Created, Fostered’, etc.  then finish the sentence with what positive result you achieved from the initiative.
  • No paragraphs, ever.  A bullet point should be less than 2 lines, and should not contain more than one sentence.  If you are using a paragraph format, the reader will lose interest very quickly and you likely won’t make it past 3 seconds!
  • Keep a reasonable font. It is not a great achievement if you manage to get your resume to 2 pages by reducing the font size to 5.  Use a professional font that is easy to read and as a general rule, never use a font below 10.

Ask your recruiter for feedback on your resume, and take their advice.  A resume should be a constant work in progress and should be ever evolving as your career progresses.

For insight into the differences between a typical contractor vs permanent employee resume, stay tuned for my next post!

Are You Really “Detail-Oriented”?

Are You Really "Detail-Oriented"?There are a number of buzzwords and phrases that show up on resumes and LinkedIn profiles across all industries, whether you’re an IT contractor, a fast food worker or anywhere in between. Perhaps one of the most over used is “detail-oriented”.

Most people do pay attention to detail to some degree, but if everyone does, then is it really a differentiator worth putting in your profile summary? If you truly want to stand out as a detail-oriented person, then you need to demonstrate it in everything you do. Here are a few places you can show that you’re detail-oriented before you even start your project with a client.

The Application

Applying for a job through a job board, recruitment agency or directly through a client is usually a simple process but you’d be surprised at how many candidates miss a field or add the wrong information because they failed to read instructions properly. When a recruiter notices this, they immediately laugh at your “detail-oriented” claim in the first line of your resume.

Your Resume

Speaking of your resume, that may be the easiest way to show you pay no more attention to detail than the average person. Spelling and grammar are obvious must-haves, but consistency is another crucial element. Are you using the same fonts throughout? Do you keep the same format for each of your headers, bullets and body text? Does the tense remain the same as you describe your experience? The unfortunate part of a resume that achieves these points is that people rarely notice, but you stick out like a sore thumb when you don’t consider it.

Social Media

Often when creating social media profiles, we quickly fill out the information to get started and promise ourselves we’ll go back later to enhance it. When this next step gets forgotten, it leaves a blank, non-detailed profile for the world to see. Another area to review, especially LinkedIn, is how often you update it. It’s no secret that recruiters compare resumes and LinkedIn profiles to verify honesty, so they will notice if it’s outdated.

Completing Forms and Contracts

Similar to the job application process, but usually more complex, when contractors are asked to complete forms — contracts, security clearances, client policies — we sometimes see them miss important sections or insert the wrong information. More often than not, it’s because the form wasn’t clear on what it was asking. In these cases, it’s best to ask for clarification than make assumptions. Asking for help and admitting to trouble understanding the form may require some humility, but showing that you’ve read it demonstrates your attention to detail, and it’s better than submitting the wrong information.

The Interview

When detail-oriented people attend a job interview, they’re well prepared at a minimum. This means arriving on time, knowing who they’re meeting with and having a copy of their resume and portfolio available. Those who stand out demonstrate their attention to detail throughout the interview. They take extensive notes and ask good questions, building on what the interviewer has told them and proving they’ve been absorbing every word that’s been said.

The First Day

Finally, your first day on the client site plays an important role on showing that you didn’t just add another cliché to your resume. After all, first impressions will form how a client rates you through the entire project. As with the interview, being organized is a minimum requirement. Truly detailed people will have already done their homework on the project and organization so they’re ready to start immediately. Like the interview, ask questions based on what you learn and dig deep into the layers of the project as you familiarize yourself with it.

The term “detail-oriented” makes regular appearances on resumes, but it’s also in many job descriptions, proving clients do believe it to be important. With everybody claiming to have this trait, your challenge is to prove that you are above average and that needs to begin immediately.

Quick Poll Results: Do you customize your resume?

Last month’s contractor quick poll set out to find out how many independent contractors follow the age-old advice of customizing their resume for each job application submitted. Experts tell us time and again that this is one of the best ways a professional can stand out.

The results below show what the IT contracting community across Canada thinks about customizing resumes, and it seems the vast majority do it at least some of the time. If you don’t do it, what’s stopping you? Does it take too much time? Do you disagree with those who say it will make you more competitive? If you are customizing your resume, have you seen results that justify the time commitment? We’d love to get your thoughts in the comments below!

Quick Poll Results: Do you customize your resume?

Apparently, This is What a Perfect Resume Looks Like

Is there such thing as a “perfect resume?” We’re hesitant to think so. With factors such as skillset, experience, industry, sector and client, there may never be a one-size-fits-all recipe to a resume. However, there will always be best practices that make it easy for recruiters and clients to evaluate your profile and know if you’re the right person for the contract.

This Business Insider video features an expert who believes she has the perfect resume down to a science. While the term “Perfect” may be questionable, it absolutely hits some crucial points that will help you create a winning resume. If you haven’t been getting as many phone calls from your job applications as you’d like, then consider watching this video to improve your CV.

Contractor Quick Poll: Do you customize your resume?

A very commonly heard technique when applying to jobs is to customize your resume so it’s tailored to match the specific job description. We hear it a lot, but how many independent contractors actually take the time to do it?

It’s completely understandable why you wouldn’t. IT contractors apply to numerous jobs with many agencies all the time, and continuously customizing would be a massive time commitment. As well, many job boards including Monster, Indeed and even Eagle allow you to upload your resume once and apply to multiple jobs without having to upload another. This allows you to quickly apply to new technology opportunities on the go, but if you’re on the go, you’re not able to customize a resume. (Tip: You can upload multiple files to your Eagle profile and track past jobs to which you have applied. Return any time to upload a new resume, changing the file name to match the Job ID of each specific job).

This bring us to our Contractor Quick Poll for this month — how many IT contractors customize their resume? Even more, we’d love to learn in the comments if you think it is, in fact, a helpful strategy.

Graphic Resumes for Technology Contractors?

Crystal Nicol By Crystal Nicol,
Delivery Manager, Eastern Canada at Eagle

Graphic Resumes for Technology Contractors?A recent article by Vladimir Popovic of Epic CV discusses the pros and cons of a graphic resume. Throughout the post, he brings up 10 positive reasons to consider a graphic resume, four downfalls and 5 risks. While I agree a graphic resume could be an interesting differentiator to grab a recruiter’s attention, I agree even more about the fifth risk he mentions at the end of the article — graphic resumes are industry-specific. And IT contracting is not included in that list of industries.

Of the four pitfalls Popovic lists, the first one stands out the most — “Graphic resumes are not meant for Applicant Tracking Systems.” It’s a fact that all major recruitment agencies use an Applicant Tracking System (ATS). It’s also a fact that to access the most job opportunities, independent technology contractors frequently work with recruitment agencies because they have already built relationships with large organizations and possibly earned Preferred Supplier status through a proposal process.  Consequently, if your resume isn’t easily readable in an applicant tracking system, it won’t be found by recruiters.

When you submit your resume to a staffing agency, it is put into a database that is searchable by recruiters and the ATS automatically scans the document for keywords to categorize your specialty areas. You may have applied to a specific contract opportunity and you’re now in the database. This means recruiters will find you while seeking to fill other positions for their clients. So, the recruiter is working to find you jobs and all you had to do was upload your resume. But, this only happens if your resume was ATS friendly — either a .doc or .pdf document, and originally created in a standard word processor, like MS Word. The staffing agency’s technology won’t be capable of reading your graphic resume and, even if it can, you’ll be lacking the detail required to categorize your resume… which leads to the next point.

In the Epic CV article, some of the pros provided by the author include “clearly shows information,” “highlights strengths,” and “graphic resumes are interesting.” This couldn’t be further from the truth if you’re an IT contractor. When recruiters and clients review your resume, they want to see all of your recent and relevant experience. In many cases, they put your resume beside the job description and, line-by-line, verify that you clearly explain and prove how you meet the requirements. A graphic resume that only highlights your strengths will not land you any gig worth bragging about. When recruiters screen resumes for IT contractors, they’re not seeking an interesting read, they’re seeking a qualified professional. Even the young recruiters — who Popovic seems to believe are all uneducated with no attention span and are “used to reading text and watching pictures” — will prefer a detailed resume that makes it easy to sell your skills to a client.

While graphic resumes are less than ideal when submitting to a recruiter for an IT contract, I do agree with a couple of the pros referenced in the article. A graphic resume will help you stand out and it could be a beneficial networking tool. Instead of a “graphic resume,” think of an infographic as a marketing tool. You would not you provide it when applying to a job, but instead, it would be a great leave-behind after an interview or when networking. That infographic is not going to be what gets you the job, but it will ensure somebody remembers you. And, when you’re top-of-mind to a recruiter, opportunities start pouring in.

5 Things Recruiters Hate About Your Resume (Video)

For IT Contractors, recruiters are the gatekeepers of your employment destiny as they are the ones who read and evaluate your resume. If they like what they see, you’ll move on in the process; if not your hopes for that role are over and your jobs search starts over again. So, it is pretty important to tailor your resume to what they want to see.  This quick video shows you 5 things you absolutely must avoid having on your resume, under any circumstances, no matter what, if you want to keep your recruiter happy!

The 10 Best Fonts for Your Resume (Infographic)

Resume advice is one of the more popular topics on the Talent Development Centre. We provide IT contractors with many formatting tips and discuss content that you should (or shouldn’t) include in your technology resume, but we rarely go into specific design topics. After all, how important can the design of your resume be if it’s only going to be read by a computer anyway? Surely, computers don’t care how pretty something looks.

Although the chances are big that your resume will be screened by a computer before anyone else, if you’re qualified for an IT position, a recruiter will still end up looking at it… and they’re human. How your resume looks will affect a recruiter’s perception of you before they start to review your background and skills, even if it’s on a smaller, subconscious level. Therefore, it’s a good idea to put some thought into this and, the simplest way is to double-check the font you’re using.

Have a look at this infographic from Monster. You will probably find that you’re already using a proper font (note Comic Sans is not listed). If you’d like to stand out, you will also find some different fonts that are both appropriate and can give your resume a modern feel.

The 10 Best Fonts for Your Resume

Write the Perfect Profile Summary for Your Resume

How to Write the Perfect Profile Summary for Your ResumeIn case you missed the memo, the “Objective” section in your resume is dead. It means very little to anybody evaluating your resume and is quite useless. What’s not dead, and in fact is still very well alive and kicking, is the Professional Profile or Profile Summary.  If you’re an independent contractor and don’t have a Profile Summary in your resume, stop whatever you’re doing right now and start writing one. It may just be the fastest way you can help yourself get more call backs from recruiters.

Successful sales people develop an elevator pitch — a quick blurb about their product they give to clients that grabs attention, opens a door, and allows them to deliver their complete sales pitch. Independent contractors need to follow the same logic. Your product is you and your services. Your client is the recruiter or hiring manager. And your Profile Summary is your elevator pitch. It’s what grabs the reader’s attention and makes them want to read the rest of your resume. Without that great elevator pitch, a sales person risks losing the opportunity for a future sale and without a great Profile Summary, you risk having your resume overlooked.

Let’s take a closer look at six items you need to consider in your resume’s Profile Summary that will make it exceptional so you stand out among the other job applicants:

  1. Positioning: It should be obvious. The Profile Summary needs to be at the top. First thing, right after your contact information.
  2. Easy-to-Read: You want this to be a quick and easy read. Consider bullet points or a short paragraph with simple sentences. This is not the time to try and impress people with your complex academic writing (unless it really fits the position to which you’re applying).
  3. Tailor it to the Reader: When possible, write a different summary for every application you submit. Know what the reader will be looking for in the application and highlight those points.
  4. The Meat: As noted above, you need to include information that the reader cares about. Give a high-level summary of your experience, education and skills that are relevant to this position. Remember to add quantifiable facts, such as “Managed 15 people ” or “20 years of experience.”
  5. The Fat: You know all of those fancy clichés and unique adjectives? Delete them. All of them.
  6. Your Differentiators: Like every great product, you must have one or two qualities that separate you from your competition. Perhaps you led a very successful and complex project, or maybe you’re and expert in a single skill you know that client is looking for. Know what separates you from the pack and then make sure the reader knows it too.

As noted in #3, ideally you will tailor a Profile Summary for every resume, but you also want a generic one. That base Profile Summary needs to be absolutely flawless. Spend hours working at it, re-reading, and the re-writing. When it’s done, pass it to friends for feedback and continue updating it until you have the perfect elevator pitch about yourself (that’s also 100% fact). Your final summary will be more than just a block in your resume, it can then be used for intros to emails when you send a resume or your LinkedIn profile.

Even Recruiters will appreciate your great Profile Summary. In fact, once you’ve sold them on your abilities, their job is to sell you to clients and, that’s right, your Profile Summary will be their number one tool. Sure, if you write a terrible one they’ll re-write it to something awesome, but it won’t be as great and you will have less control over the content.

Do you have a Profile Summary? Are you proud of it or is it something you’ve just thrown together? If that’s the case, we recommend you have a look at it.