It is a fact. Every year, thousands of individuals apply for coveted positions at the Government of Canada; however, few succeed. There is a very clear formula for talented individuals to get past the initial screening process. Here are the three tips that will place your resume in the “keep” pile.
- Read the instructions carefully
Although this may seem obvious, in each job competition, there is a small population that do not read the instructions carefully and as a result, are screened out. Here are a few elements that the instructions in each job competition will carefully specify:
- The area of selection (if the job poster is looking for candidates to work in Montreal and your address on file is in Winnipeg you will be screened out);
- If a cover letter is required or not. If it is, it will explain exactly how it should be completed (follow these instructions carefully);
- An Outline of the Assessment Process for Candidates;
- Linguistic and Organizational needs;
- High-level qualification needs;
- Conditions of employment; and
- Contact information
- Read the Statement of Merit Criteria (SMC) at least twice
The SMC is your blueprint to success. The two or three pages that this document is composed of provides all the information you need to know to tailor your resume to the needs of the hiring managers. Each SMC provides information on how the resume (and cover letter if required) should be formatted, and what qualifications will be assessed. If the SMC states that all of the asset qualifications will be assessed during the screening process and you do not have any of the stated qualifications, you are taking a risk by applying. If other applicants have these qualifications and you do not, your application will be screened out.
It is also important to use the same language as the SMC in your resume and cover letter. Do not change the words or the meanings. State them as they are and explain how your experience matches each qualification.
- Review your application several times
Your application will most likely be screened out very rapidly if there are spelling mistakes, you did not follow the instructions provided, or if your answers are not sufficiently concise.
Once you deem that your application is finished, here are a few tips to help you:
- Print out each job poster and highlight key instructions and qualifications required. Compare each highlighted point with your application and check off all of the requirements that you have met. If the job poster requests an answer of two paragraphs for a qualification do not write three (yes I know of individuals who have been screened out for something as simple as this). Continue to do this until each point is met.
- Read your resume out loud at least three times (ideally on different days). Ensure that your answers clearly explain what is being requested. Also, verify that each answer is concise. Wordiness will get your application rejected.
- Run a spell check on your application and then print it out and look for errors. Although spell check is a very good feature on word processing software, it does not catch everything. Many times homophones slide through correctors, they offer poor alternatives, or they do not identify certain language rules (e.g., numbers one through nine should be written out and not represented in single digit form).
Remember, the main responsibility of the large majority of most Human Resources managers is not to look at job applications. Job applications are an additional task in their busy schedules. With limited time and hundreds (or sometimes thousands) of applications to review over a small amount of time, do not make their job simple. Take the extra time and effort to ensure that your application is screened in.