Every August, when the dog days of summer are more interested in playing fetch than basking in the sun and the Back-To-School flyers appear in the local newspapers, people start thinking about making changes. Labour Day is not as much a celebration for workers of the world, but a marking of a New Year.

 School starts the next day, and would-be students clamour for funding for their courses – a job that should have been done months ago. Job seekers step up their searches. Those interested in lateral or upward career moves begin to eyeball the career advertisements in the newspapers.

 If you are in the last category, and wish to be successful, you should pay careful attention to how you dust off that résumé before submitting it to an employer. You might think that the piece of paper that got you the interview and the job three years ago will do the trick, but think again. Changes in the labour market have dictated what employers want to see on résumés. In fact, the changes were in effect within the past three months as employers respond to the labour shortage. The following five edicts carved in stone five years ago have become passé.

 Keep it to one page

I recently attended a seminar for foreign-trained engineers. A panel of engineering recruiters told the 100 or so attendees that they want details. If you had a supervisory position on a project, they want to read exactly what you did, how you did it, and the results. These thoughts were reflected by a panel of hr people in a meeting of employment counsellors. Your resume needs to tell a story – with a beginning, middle, and an end. If it takes three pages, so be it.

 Employers make up their minds within the first 30 seconds

There is a labour shortage in most communities across the continent. A year ago, employers looked for reasons not to hire people, nowadays employers are looking for reasons to hire. They browse more attentively. They might read your résumé from cover to cover.

 Use white space

White space is no longer important in a résumé. White space used to be good for two reasons: to give the reader a place to write notes, and to give the reader a break for reading. With the labour shortage, most employers will read them. If they need to make notes, they use that pad of lined legal paper and include that in their HR file on you. Using white space will pad your résumé causing you to take more pages to tell your story. Instead of white space, learn the formatting features on your word processor to make your résumé look good.

  Have a clear objective

Forget the objective. The only objective you have is to get that job, and the employer knows it. Instead, tell the employer what you do. In fact, tell the employer three things you do in a single line right after your contact information. Employers are human, and humans like the rhythm of things listed in threes. What you want is to tell a clear story.

  Leave off al the dates to hide your age

Leave the dates on and don’t bother trying to hide your age. They’re going to find out anyway. If you are older and spent a long time at one place, you are attractive because it shows both loyalty and on-the-job endurance. It also shows versatility, as you remained employed during different economic and social conditions. Be aware that in Canada they did away with mandatory retirement, so in theory you can work forever. Also, with the labour shortage, employers are seriously considering older workers, immigrants, and people with disabilities to round out their labour force.

 All of the other rules are the same. Check your spelling, your grammar, and keep track of your references. Above all, don’t work too hard on Labour Day.

Mike Broderick is an Employment Specialist for the Neil Squire Society in Burnaby where he finds employment for people with physical disabilities. Part of this work means affiliation with the Vancouver Board of Trade where he is a member of the Ambassador Club, the Burnaby Board of Trade where he is a member of the Labour Task Force, the Tri Cities Chamber of Commerce where he is an active member of the 10X10 initiative, and the Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce. He does some work as a field Archaeologist and is a  fitness instructor and frequent contributor of fitness humour articles to alive magazine in Port Coquitlam. You can reach him at home at   or at

If you’re looking for a career change, he is the Spin Doctor and can give you a resume makeover at competitive rates



  1. Ener Hax Says:

    nice summary of the big dos and don’ts of a CV

    i always try to keep mine up-to-date, it’s a pain but far more painful if you have not looked at it in some time

    i like to also make sure LinkedIn is up-to-date and that my blog reflects my passions (if an employer thought enough of you to look into your online social efforts – it would be nice to reinforce good expectations)

  2. energywriter Says:

    Good information, well written and easy to understand. I’ve been “retired” for 9 yr and mostly worked at part time jobs since then so didin’t know of the changes.

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