Help wanted

Illustration by Ed Appleby

Illustration by Ed Appleby

What not to do with your résumé or cover letter

By Carlos Bilan, Staff Writer


Summer is coming, and if you’re planning to take a semester off to get a job here are a couple things to avoid before you type up your résumé.

Submitting the exact same cover letter and résumé  for each application.

That résumé you wrote for a job in retail may not be applicable to that accounting job you want. Also, your résumé may not be up to date if it does not include your recent qualifications, current address, number, etc. so you can see how this is an automatic rejection.

Try to not only keep your résumé and cover letters up-to-date, but also tweak them a bit to highlight relevant experience that applies directly to the job you’re applying for. 

Ignoring information given on the job posting.

Strong résumés are specifically tailored for the job position you’re applying for, so pay attention to the qualifications they list. It’s a gift to you, and you can use this as a guideline for matching these requirements based on how you’ll sell yourself as the ideal candidate.

 Using personal pronouns.

You might have seen some résumé templates where a candidate uses personal pronouns, but psychologically this does not appear formal. Instead of saying “I manage/I managed,” write in third person, but omit the personal “he/she/they” pronouns. So instead of writing “I managed a store front,” simply write “was a manager” or “managed.”

Putting in personal data like your age, race, gender, marital status, etc.

Applying for a modeling agency is an exception. However, for 99 per cent of the job market, you’re being hired based on your skills, not your appearance. It’s also illegal for employers to ask this.

Making it colourful.

Headings in colour might be appropriate if you are applying for a job in marketing or a similar creative field, but make sure they are not bright colours and are instead in dark shades. I also suggest you ditch using different colours. A résumé with many colours can look noisy and disruptive. The black standard looks sleek and professional.

Mentioning every job position you’ve ever had.

If you have had a lot of jobs in your life, you have to ask yourself if they are still relevant. Maybe that job in food service you took years ago is not really as relevant to the work and volunteer experiences you have taken recently. And as a general rule, take out jobs that you did over five years ago.

Exceeding more than two pages.

Two pages is the maximum, but I strongly suggest that you limit it to one page. A strong résumé is compact and straight to the point. A résumé that’s a page long with narrow margins should be enough. Remember, your application  should include a cover letter, so the résumé is technically the second page already.

Working on the résumé without doing résumé writing research beforehand.

The best way to know how to write a résumé is through performing research, or attending résumé workshops. The college offers workshops from time to time, so be sure to attend one if you’re struggling with how to write your résumé. The student employment centre also offers help. If you know a friend who’s been accepted for many job interviews, you should ask them for advice too.

The Other Press

The Other Press, Douglas College's student newspaper since 1976. Articles, insight and updates from the New West and Coquitlam campuses.

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