Think your skills and experience make you a cinch for that open job you’ve had your eye on? Think again.

While it’s nice to think jobs are earned purely on merit, staffing experts say an appealing and eye-catching resume is often necessary to bring that merit to an employer’s attention.

Megan Suckling plans to graduate from Wilfrid Laurier University and enter the job market later this year.

She’ll have a degree in communication studies and plenty of work experience in her pocket, but she knows it will all be for naught if a strong resume isn’t also part of her package.

“Knowing that there are hundreds or thousands of other students applying to jobs is overwhelming, but it makes me want to work harder,” she says.

CTV brought Suckling’s resume to an expert, Christine Lucy of Robert Half Canada, for a critique.

The first thing Lucy noticed: Suckling’s resume included a section on her achievements, which was good – but it was too far down the document.

“I’m working too hard to find them, I don’t know where they are,” Lucy told Suckling.

“My advice is that you have a whole section of achievements first, so that the first thing somebody sees about you is that you get things done.”

Other resume tips suggested by Lucy:

  • Make it visually appealing: Use lots of white space and an easy-to-read font
  • Too many words can be overwhelming
  • Use strong verbs like ‘collaborated’ and ‘developed’
  • Do not bold or underline key points
  • Keep it to two pages or less
  • ‘Job objective’ and ‘references’ sections no longer necessary

Keeping Lucy’s tips in mind, Suckling went to work refining her resume – hoping it would be enough to get her into a communications job with the York Regional Police Service.

“I’m definitely nervous, but I think with all this resume development and the preparation that I’ve been putting into getting a job, I will hopefully have a good shot,” she says.