Lloyd, 44, immigrated to Canada in November 2017 to support his wife’s postgraduate studies. He’s maintained a few remote contracts for companies in his hometown of Kingston, Jamaica that give him occasional work while he looks for a job in Canada, but so far, he was only able to land a two-month contract in 2019. He has a decade of experience in software development but is worried that his lack of Canadian experience is holding him back.
“I was a senior programmer analyst back home,” Lloyd explains. He’s interested in roles related to Structured Query Language (SQL) development, which is used in databases, but has been unable to find full-time work after applying for more than 20 jobs. So he decided to go back to school with a part-time, self-guided data analytics course at Lambton College. “I couldn’t find any local jobs so I decided to keep busy,” writes Lloyd. “Gaps in employment, I am told, are not good without good reason.” Lloyd has noticed many roles being posted for IT work but he’s getting very few calls back with just three interviews so far – only one of which was related to a position in SQL. So we consulted resume expert Nikhil Kumar from ResumeFormat.ca and Steven Astorino, vice president of development, data and AI at IBM, to offer feedback for Lloyd’s next steps.
WHAT THE RESUME EXPERT SAYS
“Lloyd has relevant skills and experience in the field of software development, but his resume needs a massive revamp,” Mr. Kumar says. To start, Lloyd should move his technical certifications, skills, languages and tools used from the bottom to the top of his resume. “These details act as attention-grabbers and will get you more time spent on the desk of the hiring manager,” explains Mr. Kumar.
Next, Lloyd needs to cut down the length of his resume as much as possible. He can do this by trimming down the number of bullet points for each job role and refining each point to describe the “results achieved from his actions and efficiencies achieved in company processes,” says Mr. Kumar.
Mr. Kumar encourages Lloyd to update his LinkedIn profile and add a link to it on his resume. “People with detailed profiles stand out to hiring managers and receive higher traction during the job search phase,” he says. “Essentially, it can help get you a job quicker.” He should flesh out his LinkedIn profile by adding his job responsibilities, results achieved, his education and certifications. Once his profile is updated, Mr. Kumar says that Lloyd should connect to “relevant companies, hiring managers and even to the people working in similar roles that he is eyeing.”
While hiring in the IT industry has slowed due to COVID-19, Mr. Kumar says there are still plenty of vacancies and that Lloyd’s lack of Canadian experience shouldn’t stop him from finding full-time work here. Further training shouldn’t be necessary either for Lloyd to obtain employment.
WHAT THE INDUSTRY EXPERT SAYS
Mr. Astorino says that Lloyd’s resume is competitive but could use some improvements with his job descriptions. “Add items such as the number of people on a project, cost of deliverables, role within the team and tangible contributions using metrics,” he says. When describing job roles, Lloyd should think about answering the question: “How did you impact the bottom line for your business unit or company?” As Mr. Kumar recommended, Mr. Astorino also suggests that Lloyd feature his technical skills before his work experience. His ‘Professional Skills’ and ‘Summary’ sections can also be shortened and combined into a single ‘Objective’ section.
While Lloyd’s resume currently highlights contributions his team achieved, Mr. Astorino suggests focusing on individual contributions instead. As for Lloyd’s certifications, which Mr. Astorino says are a good demonstration of his commitment to learning, he recommends that Lloyd add the date of completion for each certification. Regarding the field of SQL, Mr. Astorino says the market is strong, but that Lloyd’s resume details a history of experience in another database system called Oracle. “His resume should state explicitly that he is comfortable working with various database technologies,” Mr. Astorino recommends.
Like Mr. Kumar, Mr. Astorino doesn’t see Lloyd’s lack of Canadian experience hurting his chances of employment. “We often get applications from newcomers to Canada,” says Mr. Astorino. “Canadian experience is generally not a deciding factor. The software industry applies standard practices and approaches are similar worldwide.”
To improve his chances at landing a job, Mr. Astorino recommends that Lloyd tailor his resume to the required and preferred experiences listed on the job descriptions he’s interested in. Then, once he gets to the interview stage, Lloyd should research the company’s values, vision, mission, business units and recent news announcements. “He should also come prepared with good questions to have a meaningful conversation with the interviewers,” says Mr. Astorino. “Often, showing you’ve done your homework makes for a great first impression.”
THE NEW RESUME
Lloyd’s weighty three-page resume has been pared back to two pages by tightening up his work experience descriptions and combining two roles for the same tourism company into one entry. He has incorporated some impressive statistics and percentages into his work experience, such as budget and project costs, team sizes and efficiencies achieved to help convey his contributions. Lloyd has also moved his technical skills and certifications to the top of his resume, along with adding the dates he acquired his certifications. A LinkedIn link was added to his resume but he’s still working on updating his profile.
INTERESTED IN HAVING YOUR RESUME REVIEWED?
E-mail us with your resume at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll ask a career coach and an expert in your field to provide their feedback. 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 flip side, if you’re a hiring manager interested in reaching out to the person profiled, we encourage you to contact us as well.
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