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Resume expert offers advice to job-hunting Albertans

As more Albertans find themselves looking for work, one career management expert’s biggest tip is to “understand and appreciate the value you have to offer.”

Albertans leaving oil and gas sector need to showcase transferable skills, expert says

The best job search strategy is to target a potential employer and not shotgun your resume to anyone and everyone, says career management expert Ken Docherty. (CBC)

As more Albertans find themselves looking for work, one career management expert's biggest tip is to "understand and appreciate the value you have to offer."

Ken Docherty of Docherty Career Management Inc. said most of his clients don't appreciate their skills and accomplishments gained over the years.

He suggests taking a half an hour to sit down and really think about it or even asking friends.
Career management expert Ken Docherty says most of his clients don’t appreciate their skills and accomplishments gained over the years. (expertresumewriter.ca)

"You have to be able to show your prospective employer that you can add value, so if they hire you, you're going to make a difference and it's going to have an impact on the bottom line for that company," said Docherty, whose clients mostly hail from Alberta.

"If you can't tell an employer why they should hire you, they probably won't."

Docherty previously worked as an executive recruiter and recruitment consultant in Europe and North America, recruiting candidates on behalf of multinational corporations such as IBM, Shell, Deutsche Bank and Red Cross before launching a resume-writing company, mainly serving Alberta clients.

He has noticed a moderate increase in business from people leaving the oil and gas sector.

Many come to him seeking assistance in making their skill set relevant and transferable to new industry sectors, in the hope of finding stable employment for the last 10 years or so of their working lives.

'Fearful and uncertain time'

"It can be a very fearful and uncertain time for people, especially in that age bracket," said Docherty, pointing out many can no longer rely on their professional network to find new jobs.

"This poses a unique challenge for them as they haven't had to actively market their skill set to an employer for a very long time in some cases."

​Docherty suggests working with a career coach or resume writer.  The key is to identify competencies that can be marketed in a different sector rather than focusing on the nature of previous work, he said.

For example, moving from directional drilling to a public-sector project, the idea would be to highlight transferable skills such as planning, scheduling and budgeting, he said.

One of the biggest mistakes he sees is applicants who don't follow instructions on a job description. The other is "shotgunning" their resumes.

"The best strategy is to be targeted," said Docherty. "You don't want to shotgun your resume out there to anyone and everyone."

Top five resume tips

  • Understand and appreciate the value you have to offer
  • If changing industries, market your directly relevant and transferable skills, not the nature of previous work
  • Always take time to customize your resume and cover letter
  • Don't shotgun your resume
  • Pay attention to instructions on a job application

Docherty advises people to understand why they're targeting both the job and the sector, put some thought into what they have to offer an employer, then customize their resume and cover letter accordingly.

He said if you give them what they want to see in that first half page of the resume and show them you're someone who can add value then "they're going to want to meet with you."

Using the terminology of the prospective employer is helpful when applying to larger organizations that use electronic applicant-tracking systems to scan for keywords and education levels, he said.

It also shows employers of smaller companies the applicant speaks the same language, creating "a connection and feeling that 'this person has what we need'."

'No loyalty'

Docherty also has advice for employers who are taking advantage of the current economic climate by lowballing new hires.

"That person who you lowball, they will never stop looking for another job," said Docherty, describing it as a shortsighted recruitment strategy. "And as soon as the market turns — they're gone. There will be no loyalty there."

He said the downturn has some companies raising requirements to deal with a deluge of resumes. He pointed to the example of a financial services company.

"They're getting one and two thousand resumes for positions that two years ago would have attracted six or seven candidates," he said.

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