Article, How Does Your Résumé compare? by Sharon Graham :

GMG Research Study Results: How does your resume compare?
Sharon Graham Canada’s Career Strategist

As a professional resume strategist who has analyzed thousands of Canadian resumes, I have seen it all. Documents that come across my desk frequently astound and confound me. I have read “home-grown” resumes that are compelling, some that are amusing, and a number that are quite dreadful. Today, I am ready to share with you some of the insights gained from our organization’s recent research study.

It is Graham Management Group’s responsibility as a leader and innovator in the Canadian resume writing industry to keep a finger on the pulse of the market. Recently, we completed a research study to evaluate 200 randomly selected resumes that we received in 2007. These resumes were sent to us from senior executives, managers, and other experienced professionals across Canada.

The results we uncovered were no surprise. The sad truth is that the results of our study supported our continued concern that Canadians are making critical errors on their resumes. Here are some of the most common errors we encountered and how to avoid them.

Target your resume

Often, when I receive a resume to assess, I have no clue what job the candidate wants. That’s not surprising when you consider that 31% of all resumes we analyzed did not reveal a clear job target. The point of your resume is to attract employers. The recipient of your resume needs to know what position you are seeking. Instead of being a closely guarded secret, this basic principle must be the foundation of your resume.

Present a sales pitch

To be positioned at the forefront, resumes need to present a sales pitch that answers the recruiter’s most important question “Why should we pick you instead of other qualified candidates?” A whopping 97% of resumes that we looked at did not have a targeted proposal at all. Think carefully about how you can address the needs and objectives of the organizations that are considering “buying” your services. When you distinguish yourself and explain how you can help them succeed, they will connect with your resume in a very powerful way.

Incorporate results (numbers talk)

There is much literature out there about how to create strong, quantifiable accomplishments, yet most job seekers just don’t seem to get it. In our sample, 86% of resumes did not include any. In most cases, it is unnecessary to list past job duties and daily responsibilities on a resume. Recruiters know the job descriptions of most jobs; what they really want to see is what you will accomplish for the company. Take advantage of this and incorporate real-life examples of your successes. For each accomplishment you write, show how the company benefited from what you did. Numbers talk. Whenever possible, use dollars, percentages, and other values to show measurable results.

Check your spelling and grammar

Here’s another interesting fact – 81.5% of the resumes had spelling and grammatical errors. If you are serious about portraying yourself professionally, you must have a qualified person review and edit your resume. Select someone with expertise in using Canadian English spelling, grammar, and style and ask him or her to go through your complete resume with a fine-tooth comb.

Create a striking design

Scientists have been cloning animals for many years but, to date, I am not aware of any cloned job seekers. Yet, time and time again, I see the very same resume come across my desk. In our survey, 83% — that’s 166 out of 200 — were nearly identical. It is clear to me they were created from templates found on the Internet, in books, and in popular word processing applications. Try to create a branded look for yourself. Make your resume stand out from others vying for the recruiter’s attention. Try incorporating a distinctive bullet style, font, colour, line, table, graph, or any formatting element that you believe will look professional and distinguish you from others. Bring your new “look and feel” to all your documents including your cover letter, business case, thank-you letter, and reference list.

Now that you are aware of what other job seekers are doing, here is my challenge: Look at your resume from a different perspective – that of a resume strategist. Challenge yourself to clarify your target, refine your sales pitch, incorporate powerful accomplishments, re-check your spelling and grammar, and create a striking design. By upgrading your resume, you are sure to improve your chances of being noticed and selected for an interview.


Sharon Graham is Canada’s Career Strategist and Higher Bracket’s principal résumé expert. A recognized career transition expert, she is president and principal consultant for Graham Management Group, founder and executive director of Career Professionals of Canada, and author of Best Canadian Resumes. With multiple certifications in résumé, interview, and career strategy, Sharon has elevated the industry by delivering cutting-edge innovations to résumé writers and career practitioners across Canada. She assists six-figure job seekers though her consulting firm Graham Management Group, and is executive director of Career Professionals of Canada. You can reach Sharon by e-mailing


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