August 8, 2010

CNE Job Fair ... Resume tips

Recently, I received an email from a reader asking about what he should put on a resume to get a job during the Service Canada Centre for Youth CNE Job Fair.

And ever since my days with Service Canada when I helped out in organizing the event, I've noticed that employers of all stripes who attend the job fair tend to look for similar things.

So what should you put on your resume for a CNE-related job?

First things first, make sure you've got a good foundation to work from - and by that, I mean a great template. And no, I don't mean the templates offered by word processing software like MS Word and Wordperfect. Avoid those templates at all cost cost!

Here's why - because these programs are so popular, everyone has access to the templates. And that means everyone could hypothetically hand out resumes formatted in the same manner. But when you're job searching, you want to stand out any way that you can.

To overcome this, I've created some great - and free! - resume templates that you can download and fill in with your own information.

Remember that there are three different types of resumes that you can use and you should use the type that works best for you:

1. Functional resumes are great for those with little to no experience. This type of resume focuses on your skills as opposed to your experience.

2. Chronological resumes are best for those with experience in the same field as they job they are applying to. This type of resume focuses on experience instead of skills.

3. Combination resumes combine the main ideas behind the functional and the chronological resume to create a resume that's ideal for those with some experience but who also want to offer information on their skills.

Now, even though the templates just require you to input your own information, personalize them by changing the style to fit your own personality and preferences. For example, change the font to Arial or Verdana. Or add some bold and italic text to emphasize important information like your previous job title.

Once you've got a good base, it's time to look at the content of your resume.

Before you do anything, you should look at the job ad of the position you want. Look to see if there's any specific things that the hiring manager is looking for. If you can identify particular skills or experience that you have and that match what the hiring manager is looking for, make sure you include it.

For example, some of the advertisements for CNE jobs mention that potential employees should have Smart Serve certification while others ask for a Food Handler/Preparer certification. Other ads ask for customer service or cashier experience.

And should you be applying for more than one job, tailor each specific resume for each job. That means you should not be using the same resume for a cashier job with Pizza Pizza that you would for a food preparer job with Pho 88.

But there are some general skills that most, if not all, of the hiring managers are looking for:

- Communication and interpersonal skills
- Teamwork skills
- Able to make fast, quick, and accurate calculations
- Skilled at multitasking
- Maturity
- Responsibility
- Reliability
- Flexible availability and can work a variety of shifts
- Quick learner
- Professional appearance
- Courteous and respectful

These skills, regardless of the job you are applying for, are definite assets and are the hidden soft skills that all employers are looking for.

INSIDER TIP: Make sure you include a cover letter. You'll stand out because some students won't create one while others will use a generic one. A properly formatted and tailored cover letter will really help you stand out from the crowd.

If you're going to include a cover letter, feel free to download the free cover letter templates I recently uploaded. And make sure you tailor it as much as possible for each job.

For example, that means putting in the "RE:" section the name of the employer and the job. Also, if the name of the hiring manager is available, you can address the letter to them directly. And remember to highlight your skills and experience as they relate to the job you are hoping to secure.

If you've got any questions about how to create your resume or cover letter - or if you want me to take a look at yours - feel free to email me at andrewhercules(*at*)gmail.com and I'll try and respond within a few hours.

Good luck!

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