Ask the Recruiter

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We all have career goals, big or small. Here are some questions I have recieved over the last month from those actively seeking new employment.

How many versions of resumes should I have - and why?

- Ideally, you should personalize your resume each time you apply for a job. List only your experience relevant to the job you are applying for. The number one issues with the resumes I recieve every day is that they have irrelevant information which makes the resume too long, and too difficult to read.

Today's employers want to quick glance your resume in 30 seconds or less to decide if they want to read further. Irrelevant information makes it difficult to focus on relevant points, and employers are much more likely to pass over your resume. If you don't have the time to write out 100 or more individual resumes, write general resumes for each type of position you will be applying for. For example, if you have payroll, accounting, and administrative experience, write a resume for administrative officers/assistants, accountants/bookkeepers, and payroll officers/administrators. That way, no matter what type of position you are applying for, the relevant information will only be a click away.

Do I really need to write thank-you letters to employers?

- If you want to stand out in the crowd of thousands of applications employer's can recieve, then yes. A thank you letter serves many functions. First, less than 10% of all job seekers bother to send thank you letters. That means, if you do, you will stand out of the crowd. Second, it keeps your name in front of the employer.

Most employers have hundreds of things to do each day, and even more papers to sort through when the time comes to hire. If your resume is at the bottom of the pile, a thank you letter with a summary of your qualifications can send them looking - for you. Third, it can add to your resume or cover letter. If you forgot to mention something, or have come across more relevant information, this can be added to a thank you letter. The bottom line is, a thank you note will make sure that YOUR name is remembered when the time comes to hire.

How do I go about looking for a new job after being fired/terminated/downsized?

- Bottom line, be honest. If you were downsized, say that. Unless you have 30 years of work experience and every job you've had you have been layed off from, honesty is the best route.

If an employer asks you why you do not work at your previous job anymore, tell them the truth. More candidates are eliminated for fraudulent claims than for being laid off previously. If you're not sure where to even look for a new job, try this. Sit down and think of everything you had to do at your previous job. Administration, sales, marketing, manufacturing, technical skills - everything. All of those individual skills could be a new career. Write each of these down, and then prioritize. Number each skill based on how much you enjoyed doing them. When it comes time to search, apply for positions using the highest ranked skills. This will ensure you can do the job, and enjoy it, too!

Cherilyn Lester is a professional recruiter based out of Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada. She can be reached at

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