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Your resume: What should remain, be removed or replaced

As the workforce continues to evolve, and the workplace along with it, it only makes sense that the way in which candidates search for  – and apply to – jobs has also seen a shift in employer expectations and standard practices.  

A well-crafted, tailored resume is a candidate’s most powerful tool in the application process, and its formatting is critical to both being found by the Applicant Tracking Systems recruiters and hiring managers use to source talent and providing a great professional first impression.  

But when it comes to formatting your resume – which is the right way?


Traditional vs. digital resume formats 
Digital resumes can be impressive, and in some fields like marketing and design, they’re an effective way to highlight creative skills. But the bottom line about infographic or typography resumes, for example, is that the Applicant Tracking Systems can’t read what’s written within them, as the technology is confused by the fancy graphs, icons, graphics and formatting used on these types of resumes.  

So, how do you both beat the bots and get your resume into human hands?

If you’re applying online through the company website, a job board portal, social media platform or any other third-party application, always stick to a traditional resume format. 

If, however, you’re applying to a creative-type role and the recruiter or hiring manager requests applications be sent directly through email, these types of digital resumes won’t be filtered and screened by an ATS. This means the content within them can be reviewed by the human recipient – if he or she chooses to open your email!   


What should remain

Your full contact details

Always include your full mailing address INCLUDING your postal or zip code. Recruiters use a radial search by postal code tool to find qualified candidates closest to the job site first — before going through a second round of searches. If your postal code isn’t listed, you won’t be found during this initial (and most critical) search if a recruiter found enough qualified candidates. 

Work history content in chronological order

Ensure your work history is listed in chronological order, starting with the most recent role, and include these four key pieces of information: Project overview, quantifiable achievements, keywords and program languages used. 
However, if you have an extensive work history spanning anything beyond 10 years, only include company name, dates and title. You could also include a bullet point indicating further details.


List your post-secondary education and any continuing studies related to your field of interest beneath your work history section. Did you receive any certifications, professional designations, educational awards or other degrees? Be sure to include these as well. 

A basic font with unified text

Getting fancy with your fonts can be frustrating for the reader, and can show a lack of judgement. Stick with something basic, and ensure all text is unified and only one colour. 


Headers and footers

Not all Applicant Tracking Systems and parsers are created equal. An ATS can’t read what’s written within headers or footers, so if you’ve included your contact details within either, your resume won’t be found. Instead, leave the headers and footers off and include your full contact details at the top of each page. 
Recruiters and hiring managers will conduct radial searches by postal code to find qualified candidates closest to the job site first, so if your postal code isn’t listed, your resume won’t show up. 

Hobbies and interests

This one can be a bit iffy, but if your hobbies and interests don’t relate to the job you’re applying to, you may want to leave them off your resume and save that valuable piece of real estate to list other quantifiable achievements instead.

References available upon request

Resume real estate is valuable, and recruiters and hiring managers already assume you’ll have references. So, leave the statement off the CV and fill the space with your quantifiable achievements instead. 


Remove: Objective 
Replace with: Headline 
Replace a lengthy summary with an impactful headline. A recruiter or hiring manager will only spend up to seven seconds glancing at a resume before deciding to continue with or dismiss it, so you need to gain and keep their interest – quick!   

Remove: .PDF format 
Replace with: Word .doc
When applying to jobs through a staffing agency, always tailor your resume to each position you’re applying to, and then save it as a word document rather than a .PDF before sending. Recruiters must remove certain contact details from your resume before submitting to their client, and a word document is much easier and quicker to work with than a .PDF. 

Remove: Statements like “responsible for” or “duties include”  
Replace with: Action verb statements with quantifiable achievements 
What you accomplished in previous roles is much more important that what you were hired to do. So, you need to demonstrate your accomplishments with quantifiable achievements.   

Boring: Responsible for increasing social media traffic.
Better: Increased social media traffic by 30 per cent within the first 90 days, generating new business leads and a 5 per cent increase in conversions. 

Remove: Overused clichés like “Quick learner” or “ Go-getter” 
Replace with: Action verb statements with quantifiable achievements  
Stating you’re a quick learner or a go-getter means nothing without context. What did you learn, how did you learn, in what time frame, how did it help you achieve success in your work? Recruiters and hiring managers rely on quantifiable statements, so always ensure to use numbers, percentages and dates.
Similarly, a hiring manager expects you to want to achieve results and get along with co-workers, so it isn’t necessary to say so on your CV. But using terms like “competitive environment” demonstrates an ability to produce under a level of pressure and achieve both individual and group goals.  


What to add

Summary of technical skills

Direct the reader to your technical qualifications by including a bullet point list that details any program languages and/or technologies you’ve used. Although this information will be found within the body of your work history, it should also have a separate section on your resume.


Keywords are critical to your candidacy; because without them in your resume, the ATS won’t find your skills or experience. Resume keywords are the skills and qualifications used in the original job description that need to be mirrored in your resume. 

Link to online portfolio

If you’re applying to a creative role that will require you to include samples of your work, include a link to your online portfolio within the contact details section of your resume. 

Social media handles

Similar to including your online portfolio, if you’re applying for a social media position, you may want to include professional social media handles you’ve delivered work under. These will give a real-time indication of your work and results.  

When a recruiter receives 250 resumes in their inbox per corporate job opening, yours needs to stand out (for the right reasons), in order for you to get in for an interview.   

Are you working with a staffing agency to find your next great opportunity? 

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Your resume: What should remain, be removed or replaced

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