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Ava, 30, became a registered dietitian in 2018, but she has struggled to find a suitable position. She must work a minimum of 500 hours as a registered dietitian (RD) within the first three years of becoming licenced. “I have until October, 2021, to fulfill this requirement, otherwise my licence will be cancelled,” Ava writes.

Since becoming licensed, Ava has only been able to find a part-time role as a diet technician at a long-term care facility where she helps to process diet and texture preferences from residents. But since it’s not an RD position, it doesn’t meet her licensing requirements.

Ava hopes to find a full-time role as a registered dietitian in a clinical community setting, such as a family health team or a community health centre. In a few years, she’d like to obtain her Certified Diabetes Educator certification and work with diabetes patients. “I have been applying for jobs for the past two years,” she explains. “I think I’ve applied to over 50 job postings but I’ve never gotten called for a phone interview or initial screening.”

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We reached out to career coach Wayne Greenway of Career Aviators and Lorrie Hagen, executive director of the Charles H. Best Diabetes Centre, to offer their advice for Ava’s next steps.

THE RESUME

WHAT THE CAREER COACH SAYS

While Mr. Greenway commends Ava’s resume for having a good chronological layout, he believes that the content could use a major edit. “Each phrase in the resume needs to add to her case for why she is a perfect fit for the qualifications and core functions of the target job,” he explains. He encourages Ava to review each statement in her resume and rewrite it in a way that would distinguish her from other candidates in the application pool.

While skills sections are often recommended by resume experts, Mr. Greenway questions whether such a section would be as valuable in Ava’s resume. “It is difficult to list skills that are much different from what would be said by most people applying to the position,” he says. “A skills section takes up valuable space without adding much value for the applicant or the reviewer.”

Instead, Ava can incorporate the skills she uses by refining her work experience bullets. She should aim to have 60 per cent of her job bullets describing successes and achievements while the remaining 40 per cent describe responsibilities under each job. Once Ava has found a position she’d like to apply for, she should further customize her job bullets to show her ability to complete the new job’s core duties.

When writing job bullets, Mr. Greenway suggests that Ava start with a success verb (“words like increased, streamlined, initiated, established, created, improved”) followed by a numerical accomplishment when possible. “If the job bullet reads like a job description bullet, then it needs to be more accomplishment-focused,” he says.

Finally, once Ava’s resume has been rewritten and customized for a specific position, she should go back to the top of her resume and write a short objective statement. “The statement tells a story of ‘why’ she fits the job,” Mr. Greenway explains. “It should guide the reader to notice patterns of success in their job bullets.”

WHAT THE INDUSTRY EXPERT SAYS

Ms. Hagen, who has worked as an RD and a healthcare leader for over 20 years, cautions Ava against using the colour red in her resume. “The colour is aligned with poor results in healthcare, especially in acute care and quality improvement,” she writes. “It may be a turn-off for some.”

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Ava’s job descriptions could also use some rebalancing. While she described her multiple positions as a dietetic intern in half a page, Ms. Hagen believes those descriptions should be condensed. “Combine the time as an intern and bullet the “places” with one key skill, effort or accomplishment that was different from the previous one.”

Ms. Hagen says that the formatting of Ava’s resume could also be improved by reducing the amount of white space at the beginning of her resume. Ava can also work on her objective. “It should be clear and concise and it must strategically align with the role you are seeking,” says Ms. Hagen. “Also reconsider what you would like the hiring manager or team to know about you right away, such as unique skills and experiences.” Ms. Hagen encourages Ava to highlight her multilingual abilities, cultural awareness and her ability to innovate programs accordingly.

While Ava is keen on working in a clinical setting, Ms. Hagen encourages Ava to broaden her scope to consider other RD roles that would still fulfill her licensing requirements, such as nutrition roles in mental health, health policy, health and nutrition education and food security. Ms. Hagen also suggests that Ava be open-minded toward part-time work. “Most junior RDs need to accept contract and part-time work to build their experiences and expand her professional networks.”

THE NEW RESUME

Ava has reformatted her resume to make better use of the space, and has taken Ms. Hagen’s advice of removing the colour red. She has also incorporated strong opening words into her bullet points and has created a summary section to replace her object and skills sections, where she was able to highlight her multilingual and cultural skills. Ava will work toward tailoring her resume for each position she applies for.

INTERESTED IN HAVING YOUR RESUME REVIEWED?

Email us with your resume at globecareers@globeandmail.com with ‘Resume Review’ in the subject line and we’ll ask a career coach and an expert in your field to provide their feedback. Emails without the correct subject line may not be answered. Names and some details are changed to protect the privacy of the persons profiled.

We’re especially interested in hearing from those who have had their employment impacted by COVID-19. On the flipside, if you’re a hiring manager interested in reaching out to the person profiled, we encourage you to contact us as well. You can find all our resume reviews here.

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